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Thread: 15 year layoff

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Manchester TN,USA
    Posts
    58

    Default 15 year layoff

    Hello all,
    What I'd like to know is what all has changed with beekeeping in the last 15 years. I've basically had a 15 year layoff where I turned my back on my bees almost 100%. I somehow did manage to keep 2-5 colonies alive during this span of time.
    When I was a beekeeper of proper means I checked my bees at least monthly or more depending on the time of year. I'd treat once yearly with apistan strips and menthol which was all that I ever needed. Here where I live with decent rain fall a good honey crop was all but guaranteed.

    Now that I've decided to restart my beekeeping activities I'm curious to know what's changed with medicine, medication practices, and any different updated management programs. It would seem the biggest challenge to evolve would be SHB, as far as I've read that is.

    Are there new strains of bees that are more tolerant to all the pests that afflict honeybees? If so what are these bees and where can they be purchased?

    I welcome everyone's opinions as I'd expect there to be a wide range of ideas with a set of questions like this

    Thanks in advance,
    Cantrell

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Walker, Alabama, USA
    Posts
    868

    Default Re: 15 year layoff

    Ho-boy, are you in for a ride! Lots of changes in the last 15 years! I've only been away for about 6-7 years and I am STILL reading and reading and making notes trying to catch up.

    Yes, there are finally resistant bees! I think the best place to start reading about them is probably at the Glenn Apiaries site.

    And I am sure lots of others will chime in with their favorite sites, too.

    Welcome back!

    Rusty
    Rusty Hills Farm -- home of AQHA A Rusty Zipper & Rusty's Bees ( LC and T)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    3,835

    Default Re: 15 year layoff

    It was 26 years off for me and am on my second year back. So far I have learned to take mites very seriously and learned that Terrimyicin is no longer a cure for AFB. You have a huge education on any imaginable subject right here on this forum. Learn how to use the search feature and any concievable question has been talked to death. Since agreement is a rare commodity, you will get to select the cure you most closely agree with. If your ignored bees stayed alive, it sounds like you need to cherish those bees and have those genetics in all your new boxes too.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Shoshone County, Idaho
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    567

    Default Re: 15 year layoff

    X2 with Vance G!
    Hugus Creek Honey Farm: St. Maries, ID / Lewiston, ID
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: 15 year layoff

    welcome to the forum cantrell, and welcome back to beekeeping.

    have to agree with vance on the mites. they are really a sleeping giant in that you really can't see them well with standard hive inpections, and they usually don't crash your colony until it's too late in the season to do anything about it.

    working toward getting bees with resistance is a good goal, but even then, having resistant bees isn't going to stop 100% of colony deaths from mites. and if one crashes, your other strong hives can rob it out, take the mites home with them, and end up dying out as well.

    i spent most of last winter reading all of the articles on scientificbeekeeping.com, and i would recommend that as a good place to start.

    once up to speed on what you're dealing with, you'll have the challenging task of deciding how you want to approach it, based on your philosophy and what suits your needs the best.

    you'll find all kinds of approaches espoused on the forum here, with lot's of spirited debate about why each one thinks their way is better.

    in the end, you get to decide what to try with your bees and see how it works for you.

    bottom line: we are all still on a big learning curve.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,298

    Default Re: 15 year layoff

    No mite treatments here, ever, for more than twenty years now, here in my area, and yet, I'm still waiting for my first colony death/crash from mites. Perhaps, like many things, it's "location".

    I say this, not in an attempt to get anyone to eliminate techniques they feel are essential to their beekeeping practices, but to encourage everyone to determine which "essential" techniques are truly essential. I, myself, might even treat for mites, if I ever saw the need to do so.
    Last edited by Joseph Clemens; 01-20-2013 at 12:07 AM.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Palermo, Maine, USA
    Posts
    731

    Default Re: 15 year layoff

    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Clemens View Post
    No mite treatments here, ever, for more than twenty years now, here in my area, and yet, I'm still waiting for my first colony death/crash from mites. Perhaps, like many things, it's "location".
    Joseph, how far are you from crops that are pollinated buy bees that are brought in from away?
    Like us on facebook This is the place to bee!
    Ralph

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Slidell, LA, USA
    Posts
    259

    Default Re: 15 year layoff

    Did they have the Internet 15 yrs ago? I'll bet back then you spoke to the other guys in the bee club or read a magazine to learn beekeeping. Just remember that with all this information there is a lot of stuff that may not be right for you or where you live. Down here in S. Louisiana a lot of Beeks are going to Russians to deal with the mites, not sure if they would be a good choice for Tenn.

    Where small hive beetles (SHB) a common problem before you left?

    Welcome back, sometimes the old ways are still the best ways.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Manchester TN,USA
    Posts
    58

    Default Re: 15 year layoff

    \
    I didn't have Internet service back in the early 90's when I began beekeeping. All info was books,magazine,and other bee keepers.

    SHB has been here less than 5 years I think.
    Last edited by honeyman46408; 01-24-2013 at 03:48 AM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,277

    Default Re: 15 year layoff

    >SHB has been here less than 5 years I think.

    that's another one to get a handle on, but it's an easy one.

    most of what i have i figured out is by having made mistakes. i sometimes joke and say i made 10 years worth of mistakes in my first year.

    we're practically neighbors cantrell, if you ever find yourself down around scottsboro, and would like to stop by for a visit, let me know.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    JACKSON OHIO
    Posts
    485

    Default Re: 15 year layoff

    Got out late 70's got back in 8 years ago. No treatments and no packages all local swarms and cut outs. Did I have hive die out over winter YES. I let the bees draw there own comb no foundation. Make some splits with hive that go 2-3 years. I believe in using local bees that are from your area and have adapted to your local climate I am at 28 hives now and all are doing good this winter. All of my hives have mites they deal with them have not seen a hive beetle yet. GO to BUSH FARMS AND READ HIS WRITING http://www.bushfarms.com/xstar.htm#T...l%20Beekeeper/

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Calvert, Md,USA
    Posts
    1,701

    Default Re: 15 year layoff

    Took my first Beekeeping class in 1971 when I was in college. Got my first hive the next year as part of a Special Project for one of my courses. We worried about AFB, EFB, trachea Mites, and swarming. Midnight Bees and Starline Bees could be ordered from a Sears and Roebuck Farm catalog. I had mild allergic reaction to some stings and decided to sell my hives.
    About seven years ago at the encouragement of a friend, we started some hives. I thought I had a pretty good background in bees keeping. I was blown away with what was new and what had changed! Varroa and SHB was only the tip of the ice burg! It was almost starting over as if I never had kept bees before. Thankfully, the bees still had six legs and three body regions LOL
    My humble advice is to learn what works for bee keeping in your area. Sounds like you may have a jump on that. There is tremendous amounts of info "out there" and again, what works for one author of a book where they are from may or may not work for you. JMHO
    Welcome back. It is the same wagon, just different horses
    Rick

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Kingsport, Sullivan, Tennessee
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    780

    Default Re: 15 year layoff

    If you have colonies still alive, those are the genetics you want. I'd recommend starting by studying all the way through Michael Bush's website and using your survivors as the basis of your stock. Split those and set out swarm traps. Hopefully, some of the swarms your hives have generated over the years (and there surely have been some) have survived in the wild and will, in turn, swarm and you can catch those. I am treatment free, myself. -js

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
    Posts
    3,380

    Default Re: 15 year layoff

    Once you have done your research (if you head hasn't spun completely off) you will no doubt still be torn between at least two different approaches in your management goals. What types of bees to use, treatment or treatment free, large cell or small cell, deep or medium boxes, .... on and on.

    There are so many different paths to choose, but most of them all lead to the same place. Many of your choices will be based on your location and what works best in your area. The rest is what works best for the beekeeper. If you are not fully convinced in a couple of areas of management you may want to find at least two different yards to set up your colonies. Try two different approaches, one at each site, and see which works best for you.

    I first started keeping bees back in the early 80"s. I moved around after that and put beekeeping on the back burner for many years. When I started back up it was an entirely different world. I had a lot to learn, mainly regarding mites. My first few years back I made a lot of mistakes, and learned alot with a tremendous amount of information right here on BeeSource. I tried many different ideas and management styles and have now settled into what works best for me. You will go through the same process. Try some different things and have fun.

    Welcome back to the beekeeping world.
    To everything there is a season....

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    1,372

    Default Re: 15 year layoff

    Survivor bees - the way to go. Protect and guard those 15 year old genetics with your life! Treatments lead to weak bees in my opinion. Haven't done any treatments stronger than a good juniper smoking in years. Mites, no problem - bears, that's another story.

    Survivor bees are like Longhorn cattle, and some people don't like them because of their wild-ish traits.

  16. #16
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    Feb 2005
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    Tucson, Arizona, USA
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    5,298

    Default Re: 15 year layoff

    Quote Originally Posted by ralittlefield View Post
    Joseph, how far are you from crops that are pollinated buy bees that are brought in from away?
    I am a few miles more than normal foraging distance from the agriculture that prospers nearby. Most all of the crops that are just beyond forage distance from my own bees are fields of cotton. I am fairly certain that honey bees are not intentionally used to pollinate the cotton fields. A few miles farther away alfalfa is grown for forage, not for seed. And I have infrequently seen fields of watermelon in the vicinity of the alfalfa fields.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: 15 year layoff

    Talking about books, one thing that may have changed, is the quality of them. If you are only familiar with books that were written more than say, 20 years ago, or pre internet, most books were written by one or more people of huge experience, were well researched and could be relied on for solid information.

    More recently, there has been a crop of books written by any and all comers, some authors having an agenda of some type and harshly criticising others with different viewpoints. Sometimes the author will excude lots of confidence but in fact be lacking in some basic beekeeping knowledge.

    The problem for someone getting back into bees after a long time away, is that new information is needed, mostly in relation to pest management. But wading through the information overload and sifting the wheat from the chaff, is the problem.

    Here's my take. Tracheal mites have pretty much gone away as a problem, don't worry about them. Use of drugs to treat AFB is declining, burning is becoming a more used method. Apistan is not a reliable mite treatment any more most mites have immunity to it. So try to get queens from someone who has been working on mite resistant bees. If you have to treat for mites, there are new methods that do not leave permanent residue in the hive, such as hop guard, oxalic acid, and others.

    There is lots of argument about how to deal with mites. There is not so much argument about how to deal with hive beetles, generally if you ask questions about hive beetles you will get good answers.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Manchester TN,USA
    Posts
    58

    Default Re: 15 year layoff

    That's some GREAT posts everyone, keep em coming as I've seen several good ideas already.

    Cantrell

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    OKC, OK USA
    Posts
    2,869

    Default Re: 15 year layoff

    When I got out in the late 80's beekeeping was EASY, a bit of swarm prevention in the spring, fed Terramycin spring and fall, set 4 or 5 supers on just before the flow and harvested 100 to 150 lbs of honey per hive. Not so now. You have to be in the hive much more now to stay on top of your girls. Only one or two supers at a time due to SHB. But it is still my favorite thing even tho it is harder, I do not want to discourage you in the least. It was quite eye opening when I got back in it but then again there are resources like this forum that made the transition much smoother.
    Mike Forbes
    Red Dirt Apiaries

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    4,081

    Default Re: 15 year layoff

    Welcome,
    You've managed to keep those hives alive all this time, I'd guess you have resistant bees already. Try expanding from the stock you already have. Maybe add some VSH queens to breed into the mix.
    Dan

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