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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
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    Kansas City, Missouri
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    32

    Default chemical free package bees

    We are in the process of building a top bar hive and would like to "keep" our bees as chemical free as possible. I ordered a package form a local beekeeper here (who doesn't keep top bar hives and is pretty mainstream I think). I just read that if you order bees that have been raised on chemicals they might not be strong enough to survive without chemicals.

    Now I am worried that I need to cancel our order and reorder through someone who has more natural practices. I was trying to support a local beekeeper and would like to honor my verbal comittment to him, but also am concerned that I am setting myself up for failure. This is our first try at beekeeping and maybe I am over thinking this!

    Any advice on traditionally raised bees (chemicals) being kept in an organic/chemical free manner?

    Thanks for your advice/insights
    Beth

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    4,960

    Default Re: chemical free package bees

    Well, virtually all the worker bees in a package are destined to die (and be replaced) within about six weeks.

    In my opinion, starting out with two hives (or more) is much more likely to affect your success than whether your bees come from a beekeeper who may use chemicals. Also, some consider that local bees have an advantage over non-local bees.

    However, I did choose to buy bee packages from a relatively local producer who says he hasn't used chemicals in 10 years.
    http://www.arnoldhoneybeeservices.co..._for_sale.html
    My bees are doing well, and I was pleased with my interactions with Tess Arnold.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MN, USA
    Posts
    43

    Default Re: chemical free package bees

    Quote Originally Posted by bcotton View Post
    Any advice on traditionally raised bees (chemicals) being kept in an organic/chemical free manner?
    If you're looking for bees that are raised without "chemicals", you could try BeeWeaver Apiaries: http://www.beeweaver.com/home.php

    You understand, of course, that any bees you keep will consume pollen and nectar from non-organic sources, right?
    I love the smell of nectar in the morning.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Walker, Alabama, USA
    Posts
    774

    Default Re: chemical free package bees

    Another possibility is to go ahead and install the local bees. After all, you're going to need answers to a LOT of questions at first, and you may be very glad to have the local beekeeper's expertise close at hand. Then, after your local package is established, you can always requeen it with a survivor/hygienic-type queen. Treatment-free queens are a whole lot easier to find than treatment-free packages. Six weeks after she arrives, most of the original bees will have died off and been replaced by her daughters.

    This way you get to have your cake and eat it too!

    JMO


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

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Kansas City, Missouri
    Posts
    32

    Default Re: chemical free package bees

    I was looking at Arnold's website & beeweaver--they look great. Thanks for all of the advice. I originally ordered from the local gentleman because he is very knowledgable (he teaches beekeeping) & I thought it would be a good relationship to cultivate in case I need local help and he is such a nice guy too It is good to know about the workers being replaced in 6 weeks and also about the requeening idea--I hadn't thought of those things. He gets his bees from california and they are italians & that is about all I know about them.

    I might just call the gentleman and ask a few more questions about where the bees come from/how they are raised etc. I will probably go ahead and order them because I feel like I have made a comittment to him. I wish I had thought of all of this before I ordered and done more research and asked more questions But when you are learning you are learning! I just need to talk my husband into building a 2nd hive Thanks for all of the advice. I am excited to get started on this adventure.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    4,960

    Default Re: chemical free package bees

    If you would like to use a very simple design for your second hive, Michael Bush offers photos and a guide for a very inexpensive and easy design.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beestopbarhives.htm
    Many of the other pages (besides the "top Bar" one) at the link above will also be useful to you, particularly if you want to be largely or completely "chemical free".
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,674

    Default Re: chemical free package bees

    the chems are stored in the wax, and your not getting that. use the package, and after a month or two replace with a local queen, and you have chem free bees. all the older workers died...

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Kansas City, Missouri
    Posts
    32

    Default Re: chemical free package bees

    Looking at the forum topics I did past this question in an odd spot that is a great point about the wax. I think I an going to go ahead and order through the local beekeeper as he will provide a lot of real help. Which I definitely might need! Thanks for all of your help

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    3,520

    Default Re: chemical free package bees

    It would be foolish and immoral to dump this supplier in my opinion. But I am old school and my word is my bond. It is foolish because you will probably lose a critical source of information for your area. How about going face to face with the individual and talking about your reservations instead of letting him make financial commitments unwarranted by actual orders?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Stillwell, KS
    Posts
    546

    Default Re: chemical free package bees

    Quote Originally Posted by Vance G View Post
    It would be foolish and immoral to dump this supplier in my opinion. But I am old school and my word is my bond. It is foolish because you will probably lose a critical source of information for your area. How about going face to face with the individual and talking about your reservations instead of letting him make financial commitments unwarranted by actual orders?
    Good points, especially in this case as your supplier gives back by doing a ton for our 2 local bee clubs.

    www.nekba.org and www.midwesternbeekeepers.org


    Don

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Coatesville, Pa, USA
    Posts
    797

    Default Re: chemical free package bees

    The only other thought I thought would be good to add is instead of a simple requeen you could (once the package builds up) take a few frames from the hive to start a nuc with a more local queen. This way if the package makes it then you're golden. If not then you still have the other hive. IMO it's better to have more options than less. Two are better than one even if one isn't "as good". Example. . . I had one hive that I thought the queen wasn't up to par, but she was laying. It was a queen that came from Ga. somewhere that I got through my beekeeping club. Well she overwintered and then they supered her at the first option in the spring. They had q-cells on 2 frames so I made 2 hives from this one "bad" queen. Pretty good in my opinion. This hive is still going today.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Westchester NY
    Posts
    231

    Default Re: chemical free package bees

    I think the emphasis on "chemical free" for the most part is misguided in regards to package bee purchases. The way to look at a package is a support network and house builder for the queen in the package. The package bees build the first comb get the hive going and feed the queen and then keel over. What you are really buying when you buy a package is the queen herself. In my experience the most important trait that your queens could have would be local adaptablity, in other words, is your queen suited to the climatic conditions of your area or raised in an area similar--if not the strain of bees that the queen is from may not be well suited to your conditions and this is a common cause of hive failure going into winter--The most common cause of package hive failure though has to be poorly mated queen failure....which is why I would rather buy a nuc even if its only 3 frames anyday but that is a different topic of discussion...
    http://www.peekskillnurseries.com
    Specialists in Ground Cover plants since 1937

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    DFW area, TX, USA
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    957

    Thumbs Up Re: chemical free package bees

    entered in error, see below.
    Last edited by Lburou; 02-18-2013 at 06:08 PM.
    Lee Burough
    I try to learn from my mistakes, and from yours when you give me a heads up :)

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Kansas City, Missouri
    Posts
    32

    Default Re: chemical free package bees

    Vance G those are good points. I too try to live my life honestly and wouldn't want to go back on my word. I orignally ordered locally because I do like to support local whenever possible and he was so kind & helpful on the phone. I just did further reading that made me question myself--now I have learned a lot for next time. There is a lot to get to learn in the world of beekeeping.

    Thanks to everyone for the discussion I have learned a lot from you all

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    DFW area, TX, USA
    Posts
    957

    Thumbs Up Re: chemical free package bees

    entered in error, see below. :-/
    Last edited by Lburou; 02-18-2013 at 06:12 PM.
    Lee Burough
    I try to learn from my mistakes, and from yours when you give me a heads up :)

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,648

    Default Re: chemical free package bees

    Our club last year bought both "chemical" and "treatment free" packages. I heard disappointment about the productivity of the TF bees and both types collapsed this winter from mite overload and viruses in brand new waxfree equipment. So don't blame chemical residues in foundation. My TF hives suffer 50-80% losses every year. My small cell hives are down comparably. The TF Gurus will seduce you with their claims about "Treatment Free Survivors". I have been one of their disciples for years and every year feel like one of Jim Jones disciples who followed him to Ghana and sipped the Cool-Aid.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    DFW area, TX, USA
    Posts
    957

    Thumbs Up Re: chemical free package bees

    Beth, I've decided to do the least chemical intervention possible to keep my hives up and running. That means no treatments when they are not warranted, then mild treatments and finally hard treatments only when necessary. Letting bees die because of my 'lofty principles' is counterintuitive to me. My goal is to go untreated, but the IPM philosophy appeals to me personally as I make the journey. You might adopt it as well if you wade through the ideas represented here.

    Choose a queen that can produce bees naturally resistant to diseases, and tolerant to mite infestations. 'Treatment free' for many years is what you need to look for if you order a replacement queen.
    Lee Burough
    I try to learn from my mistakes, and from yours when you give me a heads up :)

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Ft Luaderdale, FL, USA
    Posts
    44

    Default Re: chemical free package bees

    I am a very new beek, my first package was installed in January, from treatment free survivor stock and I plan to keep it that way, BUT another beek asked me if I would treat my house if I had bed bugs, a big YES is my answer to that. Then they asked if I use flea and tick products on pets, and I do because the vet tells me its animal cruelty not to. So, now I think I'm taking the stance of Lburou and use resistant queens, IPM techniques, and then on to treatment if needed. Since I'm only a hobbiest with one hive and one more waiting for bees I don't think the bees will be overpopulated, and they will have a good variety of urban forage so they should be healthier bees. I think I should treat the bees at least as good as I would pets or children. I can't let the bees die with a good conscience just to say they are treatment free. Should I discuss my views about organic nitrogen fertilizer run off being just as bad for the water table as chemical fertilizers and we should grow everything in hydroponics here? I better not bring that up. LOL

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,045

    Default Re: chemical free package bees

    The problems with the chemicals is the packaging. The big ole' skull and crossbones on the packaging. Scares the crap out of you when you read the instructions. Kind of like when you hear about a new drug on TV. Possible side effects, DEATH!!! If a side effect is death, to me that isn't a side effect!

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