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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Kansas City, Missouri
    Posts
    29

    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
    5,980

    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
    896

    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
    29

    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
    5,980

    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
    2,644

    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
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,861

    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.

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