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  1. #401
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Virgil, NY USA
    Posts
    71

    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    we run 600-700 colonies. Our bees are mongrels,queens are from a breeder that started with 18 lines of hygenic bees.but they are the best performing bees i have seen in years. They produce honey( when there is a flow ) like the bees used to when we first started in the 80's. Still have to treat.Our best hives made 6 mediums of fall honey this year to harvest.We have tried most of the advertized resistant queens on the market over the years. they all die from the mite/virus loads if left untreated,sooner or later. We worked in a coop with jack Griffis and the Honeybee Improvement program in Mi. back in the 90's breeding from our untreated THRIVING 2 year survivors and AI breeding them with drones from the same program. We spent a lot of time(4 years) and money and still had dead bees. No silver bullet.



    Mites are always an issue and need some type of treatment whether it is different styles of management, chems or organic acids etc. I may be going out on a limb, but there is really no such thing as a mite resistant bee.Some are more resistant to the viruses ie;russians,as they tend to last longer before the viruses kill them as opposed to other stocks.They still have plenty of mites and seem to manage them ( reduce the mite load) better by being a very swarmy bee.We ran 100 colonies of relatively pure russians a few years ago and this was my observation.



    I spent some time in the mountains of Nepal 2 summers ago and worked apis cerana cerana and apis cerana indica with a missionary friend who lived in the remote village of Jumla in the mountains. The bees were kept in topbar/log hives and swarming was actually looked forward to. the hives usually only make 2-3 KG of honey per year surplus and the beeks were excited for swarms to increase production and hive numbers. At the time I was there we witnessed some colonies sucumbing to PMS and crashing, just like ours do when left untreated. This appeared to be due to the weather patterns and bloom, there was almost NO swarming for the normal period that swarms usually issue. We used apistan to try to save this farmers hives. Most of the commercial beeks there (50 colony ave.) kill all the queens after the flow and put in a sprig of artemesia plant( a relative of wormwood that contains essential oils that repel and kill mites). So the bees are treated for mites during a queenless /broodless period.

    They also have an insect called a psudo-scorpion that lives in the crevices in a hive and you can actually see them eat mites. These bees do not propolize the cracks and the scorpions have a place to live.



    My question is how can we say that this bee ( apis cerana) which, is the native host of varroa, is resistant to mites? It seems that the management( swarming) and the psudo scorpions normally control the mite populations. Why would the natives treat with artemesia and kill queens to reduce the mite populations it they were naturally resistant.



    I am not against non treatment and would LOVE to not treat myself, but when your paycheck depends on your bees making honey, you hafta do what is necessary. Dead bees dont make honey. We use formic in early may,late july to have healthy bees going into fall so the winter bees are not heavily mite laden. A fall only treatment is too late as the bees raised in the early fall are already weakened and those need to survive till spring broodrearing.

    lots to consider
    Nick

    Virgil NY _Not spring here yet

  2. #402
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Anderson County, Texas
    Posts
    1,254

    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    I started from scratch in March of 2009, totally treatment free and on small cell, screened bottoms w/top entrances. I bought hygienic queens from different sources for genetic diversity. The colonies I bought were all on large cell but I quickly [within a few months] converted them to small cells by dropping small cell frames in between the large cells and as the small cell frames were drawn out I removed the large cells. After my first 2 years, I covered my costs of all my bees, queens, and equipment purchased, including 20 frame extractor, uncapping plane etc, even kept up with my gas expense. But, of course I am small time and donít count; and this was during a time of severe drought here in Texas.

    Last year, I had my greatest losses. Moved my bees to west Texas on sunflowers with the bee coordinator telling me that they donít spray, while we are standing there ľ mile off a plane is spraying sunflowers. Then he tells me they only spray early in the morning or late in the evening when the bees arenít out. He is telling me this at about 10:30 a.m. while we are standing there watching the plane spray the sunflowers, needless to say I moved my bees back several hundred miles to a friends house until we found irrigated cotton in that same area that the farmer assured us wasnít getting sprayed. I went with 16 colonies, and brought home only 13, all with low bee populations. I lost down to 9 before I could get them built back up for winter. So, I guess I can say from experience that moving [migrating] all over the State is hard on bees, even treatment free bees. All 9 of those came through the winter, but one was queenless but still had a good bee population. I have still cleared several thousand more than I have invested.

    I have now split to 17, and hope to split more and sale 15-20 colonies this year and produce 600-1000# of honey as I have a local market for that much honey, and I clear a whole lot more than the wholesale price of $2.00 per pound. I have sold 10 double deep colonies over the last 2 years, all treatment free, and those I have sold them to have only suffered 1 loss [cause of loss unknown, but I suspect they starved during the drought], all treatment free. I wouldnít consider myself commercial but I am not doing this for the fun of it either; but rather, I do it to earn money to at least help provide for my needs.

    I have had a few losses over the past 4 years, but my greatest losses were covered above while moving my bees all over Texas during the drought last year. Of course I am not materialistically inclined, and having food and raiment I try to be content [I Tim. 6:8].

    Can this be done on a commercial scale, apparently as Chris Baldwin, Dee Lusby, Michael Bush and others are doing. But donít try to fit my methods and needs into your category because I donít know that I would want to live my life in your shoes, nor would you probably want to live yours in mine. My life is somewhat like a boxing match, I try to roll with the punches, and if I get knocked down, I try to get back up and avoid that same left hook next time. But I won't treat my colonies although I will use management techniques that enhance my chance of success, whatever that might be, other than chemical treatments.

    Kindest regards
    Danny Unger
    "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." Nathan Hale, 1776

  3. #403
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Worcester County, Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,679

    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    A few thoughts...

    1. When I'm choosing my friends and picking people to do business with, like everyone, I pick those that I think are most likely to take any personal and business information I tell them, or they figure out/come across in the course of our relationship....and post it all over the internet.

    2. When I have questions about something I read, instead of asking the author or someone else who might know the answers to the specific questions I have, I find it's more productive and a better use of everyone's time to simply ask a third party to explain the whole thing to me _without_ letting them know what my understanding is based upon what I've read. The best part about this approach is that it doesn't require that I actually read the things I say I read, and I can criticize the person I'm asking for not answering the questions I never asked.

    3. Just as Dee's P&L, production numbers, and tax returns should be publicly available for everyone who doesn't share such things to critique, Michael's electronic medical records should also be open for public scrutiny.

    deknow
    The perils of benefactors; The blessings of parasites; Blindness blindness and sight -Joni Mitchell 'Shadows and Light'

  4. #404
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Owen, WI, USA
    Posts
    2,549

    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    " but bees don't provide health insurance".
    ..snip..
    What does this all mean? If you want to do treatment-free, look somewhere else. Commercial beekeepers for the most part aren't interested in treatment-free, especially the ones who use Beesource.
    Solomon, what you don't seem to want to acknowledge, or maybe don't understand, is how seriously we commercial beekeepers depend on our bees health and productivity for our livelihood. This is no hobby. I'm not sure of Michael Bush's bees, but our bees MUST pay for insurance, and the utilities and all the food and gas and any other living expenses we have. We buy our own health insurance. We pay for our children's education. We buy our own retirement funds. If the bees don't pay for it, it doesn't get bought.
    It is easy to speak of 50-70 percent losses when the meal on the table comes from another job. It would be a major disaster for a commercial beekeeper. A business plan that suggests multiple years of big losses is a hard thing to contemplate, and financially impossible for most. It isn't that commercial beekeepers aren't interested in treatment -free. The length of this thread is evidence to the contrary. They just aren't willing to bet the farm, literally, on a hope and a prayer, and consolation that those losses will decrease over time. A couple years of 50% or more loss to a typical commercial keeper would mean major hardship and possible bankruptcy.

    Your is an entirely different viewpoint from most for whom this forum was created. You shouldn't be disillusioned or take it personally when someone with their family's well being at stake asks for concrete information. Most who take big risks without pretty good odds of a positive outcome aren't in business any more.
    We are all looking forward to the time when the stats on smaller operators can be expected on a large scale, and some larger operations are setting aside some to experiment with, but beekeeping isn't so lucrative that we can take the financial hits that have been suggested.

    You are probably correct that this forum isn't the best place for those focused on treatment -free, which is why there was a forum on Beesource specially created for them.
    Sheri
    P.S. I am pretty sure if Mr Bush wanted to work bees full time he most certainly could, and pay his insurance as well.

  5. #405
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    27,601

    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    But, Dean, you claimed no one was interested, so I asked.

    Do you believe that Bob Brachmann is a treatment free commercial beekeeper? I will speak to Bob myself for details about his management practices. But I would think that you would be able to answer the question as to whether you believe he is treatment free or not.

    Solomon,
    I know only one person who you consider a commercial beekeeper who can walk away from their bees for two years and still maintain a commercial status.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  6. #406
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Worcester County, Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,679

    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    I expect I know quite a bit more about Dee's production than Michael does. I also expect that those beekeepers posting here expect their friends and associates to keep confidential information confidential.

    You can trust me to tell the truth. You can't expect me to post about everything I know from every source. You can also expect me to keep a confidence confidential.

    deknow
    The perils of benefactors; The blessings of parasites; Blindness blindness and sight -Joni Mitchell 'Shadows and Light'

  7. #407
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Worcester County, Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,679

    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnK and Sheri View Post
    It is easy to speak of 50-70 percent losses when the meal on the table comes from another job. It would be a major disaster for a commercial beekeeper.
    So, if a commercial beekeeper has a spouse that works...a job that provides insurance, are they somehow not a commercial beekeeper?

    Diversifiying a business or family income is generally seen as a smart approach to business in general. It seems a bit odd to present this as somehow "cheating" at being a commercial beekeeper...these are smart things for a commercial anything.

    deknow
    The perils of benefactors; The blessings of parasites; Blindness blindness and sight -Joni Mitchell 'Shadows and Light'

  8. #408
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Worcester County, Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,679

    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    But, Dean, you claimed no one was interested, so I asked.
    Do you believe that Bob Brachmann is a treatment free commercial beekeeper?
    Did you read my posts where I said he was?

    deknow
    The perils of benefactors; The blessings of parasites; Blindness blindness and sight -Joni Mitchell 'Shadows and Light'

  9. #409
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    6,219

    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Quote Originally Posted by deknow View Post
    It's worth noting that my post (number 4 in a thread with over 360 posts):

    >>Off the top of my head....Dee lusby, Kirk Webster, Bob Brachmann, les crowder....Chris Baldwin is darn close (no varroa treatments). Sam comfort would probably qualify, but I'm not sure he would want to be considered a commercial anything.<<

    It took quite a while to get to any of these....the fact that no one really seems curious indicates to me that no one really wants to know.

    deknow
    your willing to point these guys out, and curious why we are not asking about them, and then get offended when we ask you about them,...

    oh please, in general terms, tell me the secret
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  10. #410
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,113

    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnK and Sheri View Post
    Your is an entirely different viewpoint from most for whom this forum was created.
    And as I've mentioned repeatedly, there's no other option for someone like me who does have a day job and yet pours a whole lot of time and energy into making money on bees too. And despite my requests and those of others as well, the situation remains firmly on this same road. There is no Sideliner forum.

    And what you don't seem to what to acknowledge is that I continually acknowledge how seriously you commercial beekeepers depend on your bees health and productivity for your livelihood. But that doesn't change the answer to the question as to how a commercial beekeeper is going to become treatment-free. It's the same way everyone does. They simply quit treating. So if you as a group are not interested in doing it, stop asking the question.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  11. #411
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Virgil, NY USA
    Posts
    71

    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Solomon, what you don't seem to want to acknowledge, or maybe don't understand, is how seriously we commercial beekeepers depend on our bees health and productivity for our livelihood. This is no hobby. I'm not sure of Michael Bush's bees, but our bees MUST pay for insurance, and the utilities and all the food and gas and any other living expenses we have. We buy our own health insurance. We pay for our children's education. We buy our own retirement funds. If the bees don't pay for it, it doesn't get bought.

    well put sheri. deknow, you have a good point as well.

    Bob Brachmann is a good friend of mine and he is treatment free. From the outside looking in( MY personal opinion)his treatment free management of the russians is due to selling lots of nucs and the continous splitting keeps the mite loads manageable for the russian lines.Maybe Mark can clarify when he speaks with Bob. Same management as a few others in upstate that have treatment free operations.These are not on a 1000 hive plus operations.

    It can be done, but special management or treatments are required.
    Nick

  12. #412
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    6,219

    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    They simply quit treating. So if you as a group are not interested in doing it, stop asking the question.
    Id wonder if you would have the same stand point if I dropped you into managing my beekeeping op of 1000. Your perspective would change or my bees would all be dead, and the banker would be locking the door. Then how far would your treatment strategy go,? No bees, no operation, no treatment free strategy

    remember the question is being asked on a commercial forum, not the treatment free forum,
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  13. #413
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Worcester County, Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,679

    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    your willing to point these guys out, and curious why we are not asking about them, and then get offended when we ask you about them,...
    I'm not offended...you are going to get more accurate information from them directly.

    oh please, in general terms, tell me the secret
    The "secret" is that if you want to be treatment free, you have to make it a priority. There are many ways to accomplish this....but it isn't going to happen by accident.

    deknow
    The perils of benefactors; The blessings of parasites; Blindness blindness and sight -Joni Mitchell 'Shadows and Light'

  14. #414
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,113

    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Ian, I would love to take over management of your hives. As you may remember, I started out wanting to be a commercial beekeeper. I have ten years of experience keeping bees and I feel that I would be a valuable asset to your operation. Please contact me via PM to discuss compensation.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  15. #415
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    6,219

    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    You are welcome to come work for me anytime! Im looking to hire someone who has a beekeeping background. It would help my spring time work load quite a bit,
    but, . . . I think you were tongue in cheek
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  16. #416
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,113

    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    You said managing! What's this bait and switch?
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  17. #417
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    6,219

    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    ha ha ha, no no no Solomon, I m not going to hire you to manage, yikes
    cheers!
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  18. #418
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    6,219

    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    >>>The "secret" is that if you want to be treatment free, you have to make it a priority. There are many ways to accomplish this....but it isn't going to happen by accident.<<<

    Yes, that holds true to alot of what we do as business owners,
    it is what separates us from the day jobers

    but as many day jobers will tell you, sometimes they can want something so desperately and not get it because it simply is not just that easy.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  19. #419
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,113

    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    I didn't think so. Your operation livelihood on it and you'd never make such a stupid decision as to turn it over to someone you don't trust.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  20. #420
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    6,219

    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    no, not referring to you, but your philosophy of hive management. It simply would bankrupt me soon as my equity would run out.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

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