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  1. #201
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    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    >So Michael, I'd appreciate it if you would take the time to break open a piece of drone comb or 2 this year so you can tell us your mite observations (lots, some, few, none)

    The bee inspector does this on a few of my hives every year and here are his results for the last nine years:
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beescerts.htm
    IMO, a visual inspection for varroa mites is a poor way to attempt detection. Just sayin'.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  2. #202
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    With all due respect, zero mites was not the claim, nor does the evidence provided demonstrate such.
    No mites observed doesn't mean no mites present or zero mites.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  3. #203
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
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    Denver, Colorado
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    5,032

    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Right, no one was claiming zero mites. That's what I said.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  4. #204
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    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Yes, that's what you said.

    I had an Inspection here in SC just a few days ago and the report reports no hives w/ varroa. I'd be surprised if I have colonies w/ zero mites. I am also sure that if left untreated, many colonies would suffer and die from an over abundance of varroa mites by sometime in Sept. ot Oct. For what that is worth in this discussion.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  5. #205
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    which begs the question, 'how many mites are too many?'

    i believe this is referred to as 'economic threshold'.

    i have found various numbers offered here and there.

    ian mentioned having to lower his presumably due to increased virulence of the viruses the mites vector.

    sol has a case where a high (number not available) infestation was survived by the colony.

    it would be nice to know what levels are being tolerated by tf colonies, and if there is indeed a threshold at which one should consider at least requeening.

    i'll be looking at that myself this year in my yard, although the ones with the highest counts are slated for requeening.

    the six colonies i lost this winter could have produced a fair amount of honey. this will be my third year to sell honey, and if i'm lucky, i may finally recoup what i have spent so far and then some.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  6. #206
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    Dec 2005
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    I don't believe the answer can accurately be answered or the number/percentage easily and accurately determined. Having seen cases where samples of similar size taken froma single colony showed a variety of resultant numbers of varroa mites per sample.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  7. #207
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    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    yep, i think that is part of the problem mark. plus, it may turn out to be one of things that varies with location.

    but the % infestation by alcohol or ether appears to be the most widely accepted measure in use by those trying quantify it, as imperfect as it is.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  8. #208
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
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    4,218

    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    In the case in point I suppose only the inspector or Mr. Bush know just what this particular visual inspection consists of. Perhaps it's just looking at some drone brood (which may or may not be a good indicator of varroa numbers in a given hive) or perhaps something else. I know it's been a loooong time since I have ever actually spotted a mite on a bee. A number of years ago I got a magnifyfying glass and looked for several minutes on a bee covered frame of brood and wasn't able to see a single mite. A subsequent ether roll of those same bees showed a pretty significant number. That surprised me because at the time I just didn't have a concept for how mites will burrow in to the " neck area" and between the abdomen and thorax. I think it is really important on a forum read by people of all different levels of experience to emphasize that good mite detection methods are critical to making good treatment decisions.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  9. #209
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    Jan 2003
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    Manitoba Canada
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    That number/percentage is hard to guage, but if you account for the time of year and considering other health factors of the hive, you can make a measurement that gives you a reference to work on.

    Without some sort of reference it would be impossible to assess the colony condition. This way we can act proactively instead of acting in a reactive manner
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  10. #210
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    well that is, a reference is useful, unless you dont measure disease within the hive, and just let them die.

    oh wait, these treatment free bees dont have disease, and dont die,
    or wait, maybe its that these treatment free bees do have disease and dont die, because , . . .
    or wait, maybe its that these treatment free bees do have disease and do die, but the keeper doesnt know of any disease in the hives so they dont know what killed them,.

    hmmm
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  11. #211
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    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    I am experiencing the not dying part. And if by disease, you are speaking of mites, I have those too. I do see them, once or twice a year on individual bees and occasionally a few in broken drone brood. That's why I keep questioning the overall relevance of mite testing. Y'all say it doesn't matter because the mites will show up again and kill the hives. I say it doesn't matter because most of the hives aren't dying anyway.

    It used to be I claimed that they weren't dying of mites. Jim was incredulous. Now they don't seem to be dying, so they can't be dying of mites.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  12. #212
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Salem, Oregon
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    938

    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    oh wait, these treatment free bees dont have disease, and dont die,
    or wait, maybe its that these treatment free bees do have disease and dont die, because , . . .
    or wait, maybe its that these treatment free bees do have disease and do die, but the keeper doesnt know of any disease in the hives so they dont know what killed them.....
    OR that the tf beekeepers primary income is derived from books and speaking fees, or.........
    I have exactly ONE hive more than you.
    That makes my opinion beyond question.

  13. #213
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    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    2,676

    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Man this thread keeps on giving, that was a good one Harry. But, I didn't take MB post as having no mites, just that tests confirm what he is saying about them in his bees/apiary/location. I do not know why people have a hard time believing a colony can be mite free. I would say the most important aspect is endemic pressure in the area, and I believe some areas are just naturally low. Combine that with good bees and a good beekeeper, you get instant success. The real test would be picking up some of these hives, and putting them into a commercial setting and see what happens.

  14. #214

    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Quote Originally Posted by HarryVanderpool View Post
    OR that the tf beekeepers primary income is derived from books and speaking fees, or.........
    I'm glad someone else said that.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  15. #215

    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Quote Originally Posted by jim lyon View Post
    I know it's been a loooong time since I have ever actually spotted a mite on a bee.
    I was doing a bee workshop last Saturday....new beekeepers...first time in a hive....and one fellow is holding a frame and inspecting and he asked 'what is the red spot on this bee?' And I looked, expecting to see a dusting of red pollen....and he kept pointing at a particular bee....and suddenly I realized what he was seeing. First time in a hive....now there is a keen observer!
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  16. #216
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    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    sol, is it accurate to describe what you have done over the past 10 years is allow the bees to select for themselves by not treating and allowing the survivors to propagate?

    i believe you report only one winter loss for 2011, and none for 2012. have you kept track of the losses over the ten years, and if yes, can you report them in terms of percent loss for each year?

    looking back, is there anything that you would have changed or done differently?

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

  17. #217
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    Manitoba Canada
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    I have made reference to the Saskatraz project a few times, they are a hard core survivour project, and can relate to this discussion. They are not treatment free though. But it would be about as close to a commercial treatment free project as you can get.

    These guys have loads of testing and analysis behind their work. They know exactly whats going on in the hives. They are working very closely with other breeders here in Canada and seem to be making some head way in their overall goal of varroa tolerance, to a certain extent.

    The reason why I keep referring to the Saskatraz project is that never have they ever claimed that they have been able to breed a type of bee that is resistant to the mite or is unaffected by the mite. Right from the start they suffered demoralizing losses, and still do today. And these guys have dedicated the last 10 or more years on this project, full time with huge breeding efforts from abroad.

    The point is, this whole notion that someone can just simply quit treating, and breed a few generations of survivours to achieve a treatment free operation is ridiculous. I wish it were so easy, I would of gone treatment free 10 years ago as would of the rest of the country.

    There is alot of interesting conversation in the treatment free forum, useful discussion. Do not get offended if you get a different direction of feed back from the commercial forum. I also find all this discussion interesting, but you got to cover the basics, or I will shoot you down every time,
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  18. #218
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Grey County, ON, Canada
    Posts
    101

    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    sol has a case where a high (number not available) infestation was survived by the colony.

    it would be nice to know what levels are being tolerated by tf colonies, and if there is indeed a threshold at which one should consider at least requeening.
    Phrases like a colony survived or a colony tolerated don't mean the same thing as a colony was in good health. The whole goal of a commercial beekeeper is to produce the largest surplus possible, be that extra bees for pollination or extra honey in the warehouse. Going back to Ian's 800, even supposing they did survive being treatment free with a reasonable level of loss (Which I think would be a stretch) I'd imagine he would take at least a super or two less honey off of each of those for the year. Don't know what his margins are like but in my case I know that last 50 lbs is sort of important. (Of course I like to eat three times per day, to each their own)

  19. #219
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    biggest complaint from the VSH stock is that they are lousy producers
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  20. #220
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    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    is it accurate to describe what you have done over the past 10 years is allow the bees to select for themselves by not treating and allowing the survivors to propagate?
    Not exactly. I breed for gentleness, spring build-up, honey production, and reasonable propolis production. In the past, I have sampled queens and nucs from other sources, but not in the past two years. It's much less passive that your statement would infer.

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    i believe you report only one winter loss for 2011, and none for 2012. have you kept track of the losses over the ten years, and if yes, can you report them in terms of percent loss for each year?
    I have in a sense. They've been reported on my blog so you can go research the actual numbers. It goes something like this: 0%, 9%, 28%, 37%, or something. It's hard to keep track. Before then all I can tell you is that from 2003 to 2008, I went from 20 to 6, but that was without any efforts to make up numbers. I realized I had overstepped my capabilities and so decided to reduce my numbers by attrition. I didn't have enough boxes and frames for 20 hives, but I did for about 10 or so. From 2005 to 2008 I was in Arkansas while they were in Oregon, so they only had sporadic inept management buy a guy I knew. I'm certain he did more damage than good. Anyway, those first five years, it averages out to about 15-25% per year. And I did have a commercial beekeeper's feed yard down the road, so I was well influenced by the whole of beekeeperdom as he came from Almonds every spring and left to clover in the summer, and back in the fall. And I'm not isolated here either.

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    looking back, is there anything that you would have changed or done differently?
    Sometimes I wish I had never defended my case against doubters. It has not yielded one fruit. They bicker and nit-pick and mischaracterize. I wish I had discovered queenright cell builders and started grafting sooner. It's far more efficient than walkaway splits.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    The point is, this whole notion that someone can just simply quit treating, and breed a few generations of survivours to achieve a treatment free operation is ridiculous.
    Maybe it's not a "you can" situation, but it is an "I did" situation. But there are other factors as well. I started brand new on foundation, hives never treated, not just ceased treatments, small cell, and active expansion, catching feral swarms. Like I've been saying, I can only share my experience. It may very well be that you "can't simply just..." But that's simply not what I'm doing and neither is anybody else who seems to be making it. So it's really a red herring.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

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