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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
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    waynesboro va USA
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    24

    Default something to think about

    a concern from pro-treatment beekeepers i have seen a few times on this board was that if you try to be treatment free anywhere near other beekeepers or close to the city limits, you will be spreading disease to other people's beehives and this could end with forcing them to use more treatments than before and worst case scenario their bee colonies will die.

    to me this sounds like a kind of unfair disadvantage to rebel beekeepers should someone successfully raise treatment free colonies. it means that even if your bees are treatment free and thriving, people would still want you to spray to prevent spreading bee diseases, meaning your own stock will be weakened and eventually no more resistant than anyone else's. does that sound right?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Rowley, MA
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    253

    Default Re: something to think about

    I only treat when counts indicate it is needed and then use "soft" treatments. However, I cant get my arms around people not treating at all and somehow expecting the bees to toughen up and figure out how to handle the mites, you have 1 queen per hive so i am not sure how anybody with less than a few thousand hives could expect a drastic change in the bees ability to handle the mites ? our best hope to my way of thinking is for the big queen breeders to breed a strain of bees that can handle them and in the meantime do what we can to keep our bees alive. I know there are mite resistant bees out there supposedly but I haven't seen one that people are beating down the doors to get which i really think would happen with a truly resistant bee.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
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    Reno, NV
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    3,178

    Default Re: something to think about

    The idea as I understand it is that treatment free is intended to keep the bees pest free. How well that works is the question. No disease to spread is the thinking though. I have also seen conversation that where the exact opposite. treatment free people being infected by treatment beekeepers. The argument being that the treatment beekeeper is dong nothing more than managing a colony of pests.

    In all I don't see the issue as treatment free or not but infested or not. In many cases if you keep infested bees regardless of how yo mange that infestation. you are at risk of spreading that infestation to other colonies and other beekeepers colonies.

    Say in the case a neighbor feels they should have some say in your pest management because it puts his bees at risk. You can say the exact same to him.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  4. #4
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    Apr 2010
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    Rowley, MA
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    253

    Default Re: something to think about

    So I could expect a non-treatment keeper with a badly infested hive to euthanize it rather than spread those mites to mine? Seems a stretch but would seem fair if he thinks he has a say in my management?

  5. #5
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    Sep 2011
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    Reno, NV
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    3,178

    Default Re: something to think about

    You might have to define what "badly infested" means and remember while you are euthanizing his bees he will be doing the same to yours. My point is, establish that only treatment free bees spread disease. Otherwise all issues are equal.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  6. #6
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    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: something to think about

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawkster View Post
    So I could expect a non-treatment keeper with a badly infested hive to euthanize it rather than spread those mites to mine? Seems a stretch but would seem fair if he thinks he has a say in my management?

    i wonder if all the collapses due to mites and viruses (from non-treated as well as treated hives), were from afb instead....

    wouldn't the state apiary units be doing something about it?

    but consider how many more hives are lost each year from mites and viruses compared to afb.

    what's the point of having removable frame laws and the registering of hives if not to prevent the propagation of 'sinks of disease and mites', that could ultimately have a domino effect on nearby colonies.

    if i knew of a beekeeper, (treatments or not), who was not taking responsibility for his/her hives, to the point of letting them collapse, and there after getting robbed out by my bees or any other bees,

    and if a 'friendly' discussion with such a beekeeper didn't work,

    i would be calling my state inspector.

    most beekeepers who treat, and some who don't treat, take care of business one way or the other to prevent this.

    however, some treatment free beekeepers purposely allow their colonies to die completely out, the so called 'bond' method. to me this is irresponsible. i wonder if this is why some treatment free beekeepers do alright for some seasons, and lose their whole yard in another season, i.e. from a domino effect. it makes me wonder how many neighboring hives are lost in this manner as well.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Nova Scotia, Canada
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    54

    Default Re: something to think about

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    i wonder if all the collapses due to mites and viruses (from non-treated as well as treated hives), were from afb instead....

    wouldn't the state apiary units be doing something about it?

    but consider how many more hives are lost each year from mites and viruses compared to afb.

    what's the point of having removable frame laws and the registering of hives if not to prevent the propagation of 'sinks of disease and mites', that could ultimately have a domino effect on nearby colonies.

    if i knew of a beekeeper, (treatments or not), who was not taking responsibility for his/her hives, to the point of letting them collapse, and there after getting robbed out by my bees or any other bees,

    and if a 'friendly' discussion with such a beekeeper didn't work,

    i would be calling my state inspector.

    most beekeepers who treat, and some who don't treat, take care of business one way or the other to prevent this.

    however, some treatment free beekeepers purposely allow their colonies to die completely out, the so called 'bond' method. to me this is irresponsible. i wonder if this is why some treatment free beekeepers do alright for some seasons, and lose their whole yard in another season, i.e. from a domino effect. it makes me wonder how many neighboring hives are lost in this manner as well.
    What about all the beekeepers who ARE treating and their hives ARE dying out? Are they good neighbours? Will you call the state inspector in on them?
    Donna 46N

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Herrick, SD USA
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    4,626

    Default Re: something to think about

    Donna: Let's not fire up that debate, it's not an "us vs. them" thing. It's about managing and protecting your hives from being left exposed to robbing by nearby hives. Prudent beekeepers, regardless of whether they treat or not need to protect weak and diseased hives from being robbed. If you want to be a "bond" beekeeper that's fine just be considerate of others and take proper precautions.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    radauti, romania
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: something to think about

    I think more important is that each beekeeper to know how to distinguish diseases from hive. Just so we can protect each other. Treat hives nothing if the disease is not known. I think that over time, if we treat less hives, the bees will develop natural resistance to some diseases. But for this they need time and a friendly environment without pesticides.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Canada BC Delta
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    451

    Default Re: something to think about

    What's the expected outcome if taking say untreated Russian stock and placing them into a highly treated location at the same time treating them? Would they lose some of those great traits that they spent so long developing?

  11. #11
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    Aug 2012
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    Nova Scotia, Canada
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    54

    Default Re: something to think about

    Quote Originally Posted by jim lyon View Post
    Donna: Let's not fire up that debate, it's not an "us vs. them" thing. It's about managing and protecting your hives from being left exposed to robbing by nearby hives. Prudent beekeepers, regardless of whether they treat or not need to protect weak and diseased hives from being robbed. If you want to be a "bond" beekeeper that's fine just be considerate of others and take proper precautions.
    Point taken Jim, to be fair squarepeg did say (treatment or not), however he did seem to single out the treatment free (bond) beekeeper in his last statement. My point is that whether T or TF there may be dying hives but for different reasons. The treatment guy/gal will probably try more treatment while the TF guy/gal is giving their bees an opportunity to have survival skills kick in, both are doing what they think is best, and I agree both should do what is best to protect their own and neighbouring bees.
    Enough said, I'm moving on.

  12. #12
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    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: something to think about

    Quote Originally Posted by jim lyon View Post
    If you want to be a "bond" beekeeper that's fine just be considerate of others and take proper precautions.
    Quote Originally Posted by d.frizzell View Post
    ...to be fair squarepeg did say (treatment or not)
    perfect jim, i wish i would have said it that way.

    donna, only singling out those willfully not taking proper precautions. (mostly because i haven't read or heard of what those precautions are, or how they would be implemented).
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Springfield, MO, USA
    Posts
    102

    Default Re: something to think about

    Seems to me that we are talking about two different issues at the same time - and that makes this conversation confusing.

    Diseases and mites are two different things. One is a disease, while mites are a pest. Management practices (whether Treatment or Treatment free) are going to be different when dealing with these two different problems.

    No beekeeper should let disease run unchecked in their hives. And no beekeeper should have to pay for his neighbor's negligence.

    Mites on the other hand are ubiquitous - so no beekeeper can claim that the neighbor's hives are overtly impacting his hives.

    On another note; treatment free is not about trying to keep bees "pest free". Is is somewhat the opposite....It is about breeding or perpetuating bees that can deal with or tolerate pests through natural resistance or genetics. An assisted natural selection if you will.

    Treated hives tend to do the opposite - they allow weak genetics/bees that would otherwise died off to continue to dilute the gene pool. The treatments are a crutch - take away the crutch and the hive falls apart. Most treatments are a very short term solutions that fail in the long run.

    This is why treated hives are the primary spreader of disease. The chemicals mask the disease (especially AFB which can only be hidden but not cured), but allow the bees from these hives to continue living and thus spreading the disease. Breeding better bees is the only long term solution I am aware of at this point.


    Treatment free hives on the otherhand, die off and don't spread the disease. If the beekeeper allows these diseased hives to decline to the point that they are robbed out, well that beekeeper is not doing a very good job. A diseased hive should be addressed well before it declines that far.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,758

    Default Re: something to think about

    Most of the diseases should not be treated. AFB should be burned, not treated. Treating for prevention just hides it and according to the latest research makes them suceptible to that very disease by killing off the microbes in the bee that would have prevented it. My view is the people who treat for disaeases and mites are the problem. They are perpetuating genetics that water down the good genetics that can survive without treatments. I think the view that treatment free people are the problem is exactly backwards, but is an idea that has been perpetuated for decades. Mine are inspected every year and they are not the cause of other peoples problems.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beescerts.htm
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  15. #15
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    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: something to think about

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    Mine are inspected every year and they are not the cause of other peoples problems.
    and that is the point that my comments are directed toward.

    michael, i have noticed your replies to questions about robbing are usually something like,

    'robbing should be stopped immediately'.

    can you describe what actions you took, if any, when you first went off treatments, to prevent the spread of disease in your apiary?
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    6,149

    Default Re: something to think about

    The premise in the first post is correct. Any beekeeper who allows a hive to die of disease such as AFB, mites, or whatever, or get close enough to death that it gets robbed, will spread the infection to the hives that do the robbing.

    Having said that, a hive that died of mites, will be mite free just a few days after the bees die. In a lab experiment, mites in a petri dish with no food lived a maximum of 4 days.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    North Bend, WA
    Posts
    504

    Default Re: something to think about

    I started thinking about my treatment-free practices as breeding a more sustainable parasite. i.e. one that can actually co-exist with the bees instead of wiping them out. Given the life-cycles of all the pests vs. the honeybee this is a far more practical approach to breeding. Then again, I'm in a fairly isolated area. Treatments ensure that only the most agressive forms of pests and parasites survive - much like we've seen with the overuse of antibiotics.

    Most of my hives have no mite counts at all. The ones that do have extremely low counts. My only mite treatment is August brood-breaks.

    Just my $.02.

  18. #18
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    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: something to think about

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beescerts.htm

    michael,

    i thought i had already everything on your website twice, (and some things thrice), but i don't remember seeing these certificates before.

    we don't get annual inpections and certificates in my state. how does this work for those of you in other states?

    looks like buzz (the inspector) makes it to bushfarms in april or may of most years. i'm guessing that he knows by now that you are an expert in the field, and probably wishes everyone practiced as responsibly as you. (but then he might not have a job )

    i was most interested in the varroa mite inspections, because i am very curious to know what kind of infestation rates are being tolerated by colonies in treatment free apiaries.

    i guess we would expect mite counts to be lower in april and may anyway, but it is interesting that the method used for 5 of the 9 inpections for mites was 'visual'. would you agree that this is not a reliable way to assess for mites?

    looking at open drone brood was done on two inspections, and powdered sugar was done on two inspections as well. these seem like more reliable methods, but might be subject to hit or miss.

    my view of this part of the inspection process is that it doesn't appear to have much use. locating a few mites by crude sampling in the springtime shouldn't come as a surprise, and so what if you do find some?

    the more useful information would come from doing a proper mite count mid-summer, and correlating that to colony vitality and survival going into fall and winter.

    i'll be looking carefully at this in my apiary this year. it will be the fourth year for these bees without mite treatments, and only one loss due to mites. (4 hives in 2010, 10 hives in 2011, and 21 hives in 2012).

    i haven't found a treatment free beekeeper who takes mite counts. seems like it would be helpful to be able to identify those colonies who are 'getting it right' and vice versa.

    if i understand your approach michael, you like to give each colony every fighting chance to pull through, that sometimes this 'proves' something about those bees.

    i'll concede that perhaps it does prove something about those bees, but i would prefer to select and propagate for bees that don't let themselves get into trouble in the first place.

    so far, my bees have thrived in equilibruim with mites off treatments, and i would like to propagate them and preserve that trait if i can.

    i like the idea of trying to identify colonies in the process of or at risk for collapse, preventing the collapse, and salvaging what's left of the colony, as well as not having to worry about a problem that could spread to other colonies.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: something to think about

    Quote Originally Posted by iwombat View Post
    I started thinking about my treatment-free practices as breeding a more sustainable parasite. i.e. one that can actually co-exist with the bees instead of wiping them out. Given the life-cycles of all the pests vs. the honeybee this is a far more practical approach to breeding. Then again, I'm in a fairly isolated area. Treatments ensure that only the most agressive forms of pests and parasites survive - much like we've seen with the overuse of antibiotics.

    Most of my hives have no mite counts at all. The ones that do have extremely low counts. My only mite treatment is August brood-breaks.

    Just my $.02.
    if you are treatment free beekeeper taking mite counts, i'll take a nickels worth!

    how were you sampling, and what were your counts?

    many thanks iwombat.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    North Bend, WA
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    504

    Default Re: something to think about

    Well, most of the time I don't, unless I start seeing mites on the drop boards (and by that I mean _A_ mite on the drop board). Then, I do a powder-sugar roll. I can afford to do a more time-consuming process like a sugar roll (vs. an alcohol wash) because only do it when necessary and only on that colony. Only once in the last 4 years have I had a hive with any significant mite problems (more than 3 per 100). That hive got isolated and I let that strain of mites run their course. Weak bee genetics, or strong mite genetics I don't know. Both got knocked out.
    Last edited by iwombat; 01-02-2013 at 09:21 PM.

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