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  1. #1
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    Jan 2003
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    Default Michael Palmer The Sustainable Apiary

    I've known about this video (http://vimeo.com/23178333 part 1 of 2) for quite some time, but hadn't taken the time to watch them until last night. First, I want to thank Michael for sharing his vast knowledge with us and also the Prince William Regional Beekeepers (thanks Karla) for going to the effort to make this video series publicly available. I'm teaching a short course this weekend and plan to reference some of the great ideas presented by Michael. I really appreciated the historical references to Brother Adam near the beginning and the follow-on reference to Kirk Webster. I believe that the techniques presented in this 2-part series are applicable to anyone interested in breaking a package treadmill and wishing to become a more efficient and productive beekeeper.

    I do have a couple of questions (hopefully Michael will find this thread)

    1. One of the big messages I took away was: don't take resources from your biggest booming colonies to throw at your worst performing colonies, instead re-purpose these dinks into nucs. Of course this is pretty contrary to what is conventionally practiced. My question is: What methods do you employ to control swarming? Your video showed some monster colonies, making 250+ lbs of honey each.

    2. What recommended adjustments do you suggest for different localities? In the Southeast, our honey flow is nothing like that in Vermont. Nectar flows start to peak in early April and usually stay strong through the end of May. June thru September are typically hard months for our bees due to the heat, which results in very little nectar. Getting nucs through this dearth can be challenging. Those around agriculture (cotton and soybeans) don't have this same problem, of course the heat is still an issue.

    I definitely recommend setting aside some time to watch this two-part series.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    Northern Virginia
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    733

    Default Re: Michael Palmer The Sustainable Apiary

    Quote Originally Posted by AstroBee View Post
    I've known about this video (http://vimeo.com/23178333 part 1 of 2) for quite some time, but hadn't taken the time to watch them until last night. First, I want to thank Michael for sharing his vast knowledge with us and also the Prince William Regional Beekeepers (thanks Karla) for going to the effort to make this video series publicly available. I definitely recommend setting aside some time to watch this two-part series.
    Hey Astro Bee. Thanks so much for the shout out. And yes the biggest thankst o MP for allowing us to video and post and to Paul O who figured out how to do it in great quality.
    We posted this video and merely asked folks for feedback. It has like 4,000 "views" and about 5 have given us feedback.
    Email me off line and I can talk your ear off re adjustments for our locale.
    karla

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    Northern Virginia
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    733

    Default Re: Michael Palmer The Sustainable Apiary

    Correction. 5,286 "plays"
    Imagine if all of you gave MP $1 for the education.
    karla

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Strafford, NH, USA
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    345

    Default Re: Michael Palmer The Sustainable Apiary

    I am waiting to give MP $$ for his book, and $$$ for his queens this spring summer

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Glencoe, Okla USA
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    297

    Default Re: Michael Palmer The Sustainable Apiary

    (http://vimeo.com/23178333 part 1 of 2)
    We use films at our local Beekeepers meeting, about two years ago Michael was a speaker at the Big Bee Buzz in Tulsa, I very much enjoyed his presentation. At that time he did not have a film. Do you have an address I can get the DVD? We will be meeting the 4th Monday of this month.
    Myron Denny
    Glencoe Okla

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    Colorado Springs, CO
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    339

    Default Re: Michael Palmer The Sustainable Apiary

    Re: http://vimeo.com/23178333 part 1 of 2

    I would also like to know if a DVD is available for purchase because I would like to show it at my club here in Colorado. Also, is special permision required to show it at a beekeeping club meeting. Please PM me with the information.

    Regards,
    Steve

  7. #7
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    Sep 2005
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    Greensboro, North Carolina
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    Default Re: Michael Palmer The Sustainable Apiary

    Winevines,

    I would be interested in what you have to say about adapting his method to the Southeast. Are you only interested in discussing this via pm and/or telephone, or is in this forum possible as well?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    Northern Virginia
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    733

    Default Re: Michael Palmer The Sustainable Apiary

    Quote Originally Posted by Specialkayme View Post
    Winevines,
    I would be interested in what you have to say about adapting his method to the Southeast. Are you only interested in discussing this via pm and/or telephone, or is in this forum possible as well?
    Well I am in the mid Atlantic really, not the South East so keep that in mind. Northern Virginia is a good 5 hours North of you I think. Maybe more. There are two significant differences in management that I have found over the years and they both are about food. For a single nuc of 4 or 5 frames, I have consistently found that they need fondant or other supplemental food by Jan at a minimum. One difference between us and Northern Vermont is that it is warmer here. Often too warm during winter- the bees are more active, break cluster, use up energy and hence, they need food in winter.

    The other difference is no Fall flow- or at least not like folks in the North East describe. We get some nectar, but no way do we get supers of nectar past July and often it can be a dearth. So the nucs can need food as early as July or August, and again a few times in Fall, whereas it seems like in the far North 1 major feed in Fall is good. They probably shut down a little quicker up there too. Temperature and light. And this summer/Fall feeding is a balancing act- a dance between overfilling and overstimulating and giving them what they need. Sometimes you take out frames to manage.

    I have come to prefer the 2 story nuc- I use a division board feeder upstairs a lot so it is really 9 frames most of the time. Reason I have come to like the 1 story is purely to have the food they need for a longer period of time, and in Spring, to buy some time as these overwintered nucs really want to expand. And I am talking about deeps

    And lastly, I will say that I have started to treat the nucs with apiguard. Sometimes if you treat the Mother colony before you make them up that is sufficient, but last year, mite load was insane. I have lost nucs to mites and that surprised me- but Beltsville analysis proved the massive load that I was blind to. So I really learned from that- at least assess the mite load in the nucs as you would your full size colonies.
    Hope that helps. You have to learn what will work for you in your area best.
    karla

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Hudson, WI USA
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    2,172

    Default Re: Michael Palmer The Sustainable Apiary

    Karla, were your nucs with the high mite loads getting a brood break? Also, what % of them did you lose the time you got a Beltsville analysis?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
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    735

    Default Re: Michael Palmer The Sustainable Apiary

    AstroBee - I am just a newbie, so sorry if this is a dumb question: what is meant by "breaking a package treadmill "?

    Thanks.
    --shinbone
    (3rd year, 14 hives, Zone 5b, 5400 ft, 15.8" annual rainfall)

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    havana fl
    Posts
    1,349

    Default Re: Michael Palmer The Sustainable Apiary

    So I over wintered 5 nuks this winter they are doing well here in N.Fl. Have ti split one in a couple of days it has swarm cells.
    Im really not that serious

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
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    havana fl
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    1,349

    Default Re: Michael Palmer The Sustainable Apiary

    I have the practical beekeeper book by Michael Bush and look forward to Michael Palmer's book
    Im really not that serious

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
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    Suffolk, VA
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    2,463

    Default Re: Michael Palmer The Sustainable Apiary

    Quote Originally Posted by shinbone View Post
    AstroBee - I am just a newbie, so sorry if this is a dumb question: what is meant by "breaking a package treadmill "?

    Thanks.
    Not a dumb question at all. I'm sure that "breaking a package treadmill" means different things to different people, but to me it means breaking the dependency upon package bees to replace deadouts. Package bees seem to be less likely to survive these days than say a decade or more ago. There have been many reports of early supercedure of package queens and of packages not overwintering well. I believe that getting package bees is probably not a great value for your beekeeping dollar. It is not uncommon to lose a good number of newly started package during the 1st winter. Factor that back into what you paid and you get a better sense on the "true" cost of your bees. I think you'll find that it starts to get pricey. This is not to say that package serve no purpose, but the current implementation doesn't seem to be a good value.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
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    Blacksburg, VA
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    416

    Default Re: Michael Palmer The Sustainable Apiary

    I have been reading everything I can from Michael, and picking his brain whenever I see him, though that can be hard when there are very many people around. He is in demand! I have been wintering nucs according to his system, for the most part. It has worked very, very well the last three years that I have done it.

    Karla is spot on about the differences in our area versus New England. Like she and Astro say, we have little real flow in the summer and a minor flow in fall. Because of that, feeding is necessary to get them through winter. I winter mine in double mediums. If I feed them up in fall they make it until the early spring flows. The dearth in summer is not just a challenge for feeding, but the resultant robbing can be fatal to any weaker nuc. I have found that I have to make my nucs up strong and early. If I can make them up during the spring flow, they become established and can defend through the summer more easily. I also use robbing screens and sometimes I only feed in the evening. I use a division board feeder that stays in the top box year round.

    This past year has been a bad year for mite buildup. I have lost 17% of my nucs, twice as many as previous years.

    Fishman- Michael has great queens.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
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    735

    Default Re: Michael Palmer The Sustainable Apiary

    AstroBee - Thanks for answering my question.

    This is my first winter with bees. I started with 4 nucs in the spring. They struggled all season due to our Colorado drought and my lack of knowing how to help them out. About half way through the summer, I finally realized that I needed to feed them pollen substitute and sugar. They started to grow, but had a very late start, and never built much comb.

    I treated them for mites with Apiguard in November. They went in to winter having 3-4 frames of bees, each, and had not stored much honey or pollen. I wrapped each hive in a Bee Cozey, configured each hive with both a top and bottom entrance, and provided each with granulated sugar a la Mountain Camp. In other words, I did everything I could to help them through the winter.

    The smallest hive was dead by the beginning of January. The other three seem to be doing okay. I threw a little pollen substitue into each surviving hive at the beginning of February. Just a few more weeks until it is warm enough to start full scale feeding of 1:1 sugar and pollen substitute.

    I've ordered 4 packages and 1 nuc for this coming spring. I will start feeding 1:1 sugar and pollen substitue from day one this time. At this point, it is looking like it will be another drought year for us in Colorado. It will be interesting to see how the packages fare compared to how last year's nucs did.
    Last edited by shinbone; 02-14-2013 at 12:19 PM.
    --shinbone
    (3rd year, 14 hives, Zone 5b, 5400 ft, 15.8" annual rainfall)

  16. #16
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    Sep 2005
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    Greensboro, North Carolina
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    Default Re: Michael Palmer The Sustainable Apiary

    Quote Originally Posted by winevines View Post
    Well I am in the mid Atlantic really, not the South East so keep that in mind. Northern Virginia is a good 5 hours North of you I think. Maybe more.
    Thanks for the detailed response Winevines. I guess "south east" is a relative term. I personally view anything below the mason dixon line, and on the east coast, in the "south east." Open to interpretation though.

    Even though Northern Virginia is a good 5 hours away from me, most of central NC and Virginia share the same issues. Some of mine are slightly more pronounced, but it's the same flow schedule. For example, we also have warmer winters requiring feeding in January, we also have no (or little) fall flow, but instead of the possibility of a dearth, we definitely have one. I can't open a nuc up during the month of July without losing it. Learned that the hard way these past few years.

    I've had a hard time utilizing the Palmer method where I'm at, mainly because of those issues. We have one main honey flow (Tulip Poplar) that occurs for 30-45 days, usually starting Mid to late April. Usually by the end of May it's done, and clovers usually get me through till mid to late June. From there until the end of August it's just too hot for anything to bloom, and it's a dearth everywhere. The only way I can get a nuc established is to create it before Tulip Poplar and have it build up on the flow. Creating a nuc in mid April has some disadvantages. First, you can't really tell what your "dinks" are just yet. Second, if you make them up too early they will out-grow a 2 story, 4 frame each story set up. The purpose of the Palmer method isn't to create other colonies, but overwintered nucs. Third, I have to get them populated enough to make it through a 4-6 week dearth (and defend against the robbing), but not populated enough to swarm at my second swarm season (usually beginning of August). Fourth, I had a large amount of nucs that absconded (likely due to robbing pressure and heat).

    I'm working to overcome these issues, but it's proved challenging. It doesn't work here quite like it does in VT, where you take dinks and overwinter them as nucs in the fall for next year. No fall flow makes that impossible.

  17. #17
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    Dec 2009
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    Blacksburg, VA
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    Default Re: Michael Palmer The Sustainable Apiary

    Quote Originally Posted by Specialkayme View Post
    Third, I have to get them populated enough to make it through a 4-6 week dearth (and defend against the robbing), but not populated enough to swarm at my second swarm season (usually beginning of August).
    SK- About 30% of my nucs end up as triples because of this. (They are mediums though)

  18. #18
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    Sep 2005
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    Default Re: Michael Palmer The Sustainable Apiary

    Quote Originally Posted by rkereid View Post
    SK- About 30% of my nucs end up as triples because of this.
    I dealt with that issue a little last year, unsuccessfully. I had two nucs that ended up being 5 stories of mediums. I finally said screw it with the nucs, and put it into 10 frame equipment. I obviously made it too strong and/or too early.

    A few others I made as 2 frame (deep) colonies, and they didn't build up enough to defend themselves against the robbing frenzy of the dearth.

    I even had one that expanded into a two story five frame deep that still couldn't defend itself from the robbing. But I think they were weakened out due to mite issues. That experience opened my eyes to the need to treat nucs.

    I'm still working on finding a happy medium though.

  19. #19
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    Dec 2009
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    Default Re: Michael Palmer The Sustainable Apiary

    Quote Originally Posted by Specialkayme View Post
    I dealt with that issue a little last year, unsuccessfully. I had two nucs that ended up being 5 stories of mediums. I finally said screw it with the nucs, and put it into 10 frame equipment. I obviously made it too strong and/or too early.

    A few others I made as 2 frame (deep) colonies, and they didn't build up enough to defend themselves against the robbing frenzy of the dearth.

    I even had one that expanded into a two story five frame deep that still couldn't defend itself from the robbing. But I think they were weakened out due to mite issues. That experience opened my eyes to the need to treat nucs.

    I'm still working on finding a happy medium though.
    Ah yes, the art of beekeeping. Trying to keep robbing down when you would like to be making splits from your booming nucs. It seems as soon as you split they are vulnerable to robbing until they become really well established. That is our challenge with a summer dearth. I'm not sure what the answer is.

    I guess you could remove bees and comb to build up your established colonies, or just do like you did, and move them into an 8 or 10 frame box.

  20. #20
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    Jan 2003
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    Default Re: Michael Palmer The Sustainable Apiary

    Quote Originally Posted by rkereid View Post
    only feed in the evening
    That's sad, but I found myself doing exactly the same thing last summer. I would give my smallest nucs about 6 oz of sugar water after dark several times a week. It was a pain, but did manage to get some weight on them.

    Quote Originally Posted by rkereid View Post
    This past year has been a bad year for mite buildup. I have lost 17% of my nucs, twice as many as previous years.
    I've heard that same thing numerous times. I can't say that I've seen anything unusual with mites this year. I've got one colony that has struggled, but its still alive. I didn't resorted to treating it last year, but may give it some relief this spring. Overall, my colonies are all looking pretty good.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

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