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  1. #661
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    >>and it's not a "badge of honor" to be so far in debt that every decision needs to be run by the banker.

    I agree, but its the reality of farming today, debt is a real thing.

    that is where beekeeping is interesting, because a fellow does not need the huge reserve of capital to start up, build and sustain a beekeeping operation. Most of it is will,
    grain and cattle farming is pretty much an inherited game now a days
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  2. #662
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Quote Originally Posted by deknow View Post

    So, what is the unstretched definition of "commercial" so we can be careful not to stretch it?
    to be able to measure something, we need reference points. There is one end of the spectrum , and then there is the other. I like to operate somewhere in the middle of things
    Where would we put Dee on this spectrum? How about the Adee farm ?
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  3. #663
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    I'm not criticizing you for having debt...we have debt...it's hard to run any kind of business debt free.

    deknow
    The irony is free. It's the sarcasm you are paying for....ironically.
    -Felicity Jones in "Chalet Girl"

  4. #664
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    to be able to measure something, we need reference points. There is one end of the spectrum , and then there is the other. I like to operate somewhere in the middle of things
    Where would we put Dee on this spectrum? How about the Adee farm ?
    But what do we know about the "other end of the spectrum"? How much honey do the Adees produce? What quality of honey? How much from pollination? Labor expenses? Trucking expenses? Do they buy bees to replace losses? How much do they feed (both in terms of cost and volume...it's hard to compare honey production between fed bees and those that winter on their own stores)? What are their medication expenses?

    Can we assume that if they don't tell us about offlabel treatments that they aren't used? Didn't they get fined for OA? Did they ever publicly admit they used OA before being busted?

    Mike Palmer is the only one I recall who, when talking about his honey production, also talks about how much he had to feed.

    deknow
    The irony is free. It's the sarcasm you are paying for....ironically.
    -Felicity Jones in "Chalet Girl"

  5. #665
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    >> I believe Mike Bush used to treat.

    >I'm not sure I would characterize it as "used to treat" ...

    I lost my train of thought... Before I treated for Varroa, out of desperation, I had been treatment free for 25 years... if I had it to do over, I would never have treated at all.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  6. #666
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Quote Originally Posted by deknow View Post
    But what do we know about the "other end of the spectrum"?
    thats what I am saying, and I agree with what you said, its like measuring where you stand in politics, it never one camp, and the other. Lots of in between and idea sharing. I think a lot of people characterize a conversation like this to be one or the other. It doesnt count the beekeepers who take examples from both
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  7. #667
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Quote Originally Posted by deknow View Post

    Mike Palmer is the only one I recall who, when talking about his honey production, also talks about how much he had to feed.

    deknow
    ya, it definitely is intimidating to put all "your" stuff out there to be looked over and talked about. That is why I give all of these guys the upt most respect when looking through their website, or forum comments. Sometimes it is alot easier just not to say anything at all, but then where would we be? They do it for a reason, to start a discussion. Someone who does not like the feed back will not put it out to begin with.

    I keep an open blog, about the farm, and I get a tremendous amount of activity on it. I speak my mind, and all my neighbours read it. So very intimidating but Im having fun in the mean time but most importantly I am learning piles of stuff as I interact with beekeepers around the WORLD !

    the point is we all have that passion and drive to better our bees, I hope disagreements in conversation does not cloud our perspective. I love disagreement, it is the biggest motivator in pulling out substance in a conversation !
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  8. #668
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    here I am, a large grain and cattle producer, who keeps bees. I am very familiar with the chemical world and would have to say I have a good perspective on the issue in general.

    Then I watch a YouTube vid of Michael Bush talking about treatment free beekeeping and most everything that he said in his talk made sense, (wish we could get you up here some time Michael ! )

    Just how the heck do I make that transition to achieve the sustainable non chemical way to manage bee? I simply cant make that connection right now, because of obvious reasons stated within the last 34 pages of this topic. But it does not mean Im not listening. I would hope to think the other side of the conversation would have a similar perspective on the issue,
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  9. #669
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    cheers to that ian. cheers to that! let the record show last summer i started with 200 new hives new queens and treated in may and treated in augst. as soon as the honey was off. and i still went down to 70 live hives as of march first this year. so for me its all about finding a way the bees can fix their problems because i cant do it i guess.....

    so when chris baldwin said keeps bees like the old days... thats what caught me. ive heard nothing but great stories of how easy it used to be before mites.

    i plan to go visit with him while im down here in tx.

  10. #670
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Quote Originally Posted by deknow View Post
    I'm guessing that defs for "commercial beekeepers" will follow the "who is driving at a safe speed" rule. Anyone "smaller" than me isn't commercial...anyone bigger than mr is "too big".

    So, what is the unstretched definition of "commercial" so we can be careful not to stretch it?

    I would venture a guess that there are more new 'conventional commercial beekeepers' that fail because of false illusions than there are new "treatment free commercial beekeepers" that even try. Why isn't this a larger concern to this group?
    The definition, in my eyes, has some wiggle room. We try to maintain a large tent and encourage input from a wide range of beekeepers. Nevertheless, for purposes of this forum, it is having the bees as 'primary income' for the beekeeper. That is a good flexible guideline.
    Someone who has one hive and sells his honey, but is supported by his wife, a trust fund, or his day job would NOT be considered a commercial beekeeper in most peoples eyes. At what number of hives (past or present?) does one "qualify"? Who cares? This whole semantics question of who is "commercial" is irrelevant, imo. We can all learn and take what is useful to us from each other. If someone wants to call himself a commercial beekeeper it really doesn't matter to me. It is NOT disrespectful to say someone is NOT a 'commercial', at least on my part. What matters is: is his experience relevant to mine? I know beeks that have never had over a dozen colonies at a time who know way more about bees than I ever will. I wouldn't put them in charge of controlling varroa in a couple thousand colonies, but I might pick their brains about queen genetics or refer others to them to learn their overwintering techniques. Most of them wouldn't think of trying to advise me on large scale beekeeping. They don't consider themselves commercial beeks and could care less, even if they do sell their honey.
    Then there will always be the new guy with 1 colony (that died over winter) telling me he has the answer to the world's "Colony Collapse". Of course, his bees didn't die of varroa, it was some evil pesticide some evil farmer sprayed.
    The guy with little/no experience, full of vague talk and idealism about how commercials should run their businesses, doesn't have credibility in the eyes of commercial beeks or most hobbyist beeks either, for that matter. It is a matter of relevant information, not scale of the beekeeper.

    Yes, I am sure there are more conventional beeks that fail than tf, but it is my experience the percentage of failure is WAY higher amongst tf beeks, on any size scale.
    The topic of this thread was tf, but conventional beginner beekeeper failures, are of course a concern, and false illusions can be one of several factors contributing to conventional beekeeping failure too. Starting a business, or even buying several new colonies, can be a sizable financial commitment, and no one says it is easy. Lots of things can contribute to failure or success.

    "Following the herd" has been implied as being negative. The analogy I like better is "why reinvent the wheel?" If I were to go into a new endeavor, I would seek out SUCCESSFUL examples of where I want to be, not follow a path piled high with the carcasses of failed attempts. Heed the experiences, good and bad, of those who are where you want to be. This goes for tf or conventional beekeepers, hobbyist, sideliner or commercial. If you are in it for the money, a good business plan with honest numbers and realistic expectations goes a long way. It is problematic trying to figure out what numbers to put into the equation when it feels like the numbers being given you are skewed by a particular philosophy. That philosophy might explain why a path is chosen, but the implications of going down that path should be clearly identified and quantified.

    Whether you want to be a migratory beekeeper who's bees are the total support of your family, a Dee Lusby, a Michael Palmer, or a 2 hive hobbyist, you need to know the economic impact of every decision you make, not just whether to treat or not. Listen and learn from those doing what you want to do. If your priority is to be tf, fine, we have some examples and there is an entire forum dedicated to this here on Beesource.
    If your priority is to maximize your investment, and stay in business long enough to see a profit, let alone pass the business to another generation, you might want to look at the techniques of those who have done just that.

    Sheri

  11. #671
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Yes it was easier before mites.

    But when I hear stories like you just told mnbeekeeper ie "I treated but still lost X number of hives", I have to wonder, did the person after treating, test to see if the treatment actually worked?

    If a person treats, finds a pile of dead mites on the floor & thinks yes, good kill, sweet, That might be fatal, if they only got 70% of the mites. Mites build their population back exponentially.

    Anyhow I'd really like to see you succeed. But be aware there are many beekeepers who have failed because they wouldn't treat. I know some personally it's been tried in my country also. Just this year I dealt with a really nice couple, great folks, who have (or had) 300 organically certified hives, going on three years, and had so far been able to live on that by selling to Boutique markets. When they spoke to me I marvelled at their success. But within a few months, they were back wanting to buy bees, nearly all hives had crashed. The wife went back to a paid job, and they bought all they could afford from me which was 50 hives, plus treatment to try and save whatever was left of their existing hives, they have thrown organic out the window.

    But at least, I believe they will survive. Others have been ruined and never gone back to bees.

    But what you want to do is not impossible, please come back & update from time to time. Maybe you could do what I do, not all my eggs are in one basket. I have treated hives, and some completely separated treatment free hives. Doing this can also give a useful reference point as to how one group is going against the other.

    But if treating, DO CHECK that it worked.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  12. #672
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    >>>"Following the herd" has been implied as being negative. <<<

    I am a down hill skier, Nancy Green, 80's Alpine medalist said it best,

    to win, you do what the winners are doing !
    Last edited by Ian; 04-01-2013 at 03:05 PM.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  13. #673
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    >>>cheers to that ian. cheers to that! <<<

    I love to be cheered on! ha ha ha


    Quote Originally Posted by mnbeekeeper View Post
    so when chris baldwin said keeps bees like the old days... thats what caught me. ive heard nothing but great stories of how easy it used to be before mites.
    ya, but, these are not pre mite days,
    mnbeekeeper, what were you mite levels before your treatments? Nosema?
    do you think a beekeeper pre mite days even acknowledged viral infections within the bees?

    how do you know your losses had anything to do with pest pressures ?
    Last edited by Ian; 04-01-2013 at 03:04 PM.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  14. #674
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    ...
    Last edited by Ian; 04-01-2013 at 03:28 PM.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  15. #675
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    I am going to probably regret getting into this but....

    What would happen if all the beekeepers in the U.S. went treatment free tomorrow and vowed to never treat again. Everyone on the Treatment Free wagon would be o.k. with this? Our food supply in the U.S. would stay the same and we would have treatment free bees in 10 years? There would be no repercussion?
    I am not against someone going treatment free, I think it would be great. I just don't believe it's a viable solution on a large scale.

  16. #676
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    its not about going treatment free tomorrow. its about building bees over time that dont need to be treated. you cant believe that things evolve to survive.

  17. #677
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    gmo corn is not evolution. people eating at mcdonalds their whole lives and being fat is controlled evolution. bees will not survive on treatments and supplement feed in the long run. it just dont add up in mother natures kitchen. you must realize its been a short amount of time we have been feeding and treating the bees. back only 50 years beekeeping was much different. how do you not feel we are having a huge impact on how bees are surviving.

  18. #678
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Noyes View Post
    I am going to probably regret getting into this but....

    What would happen if all the beekeepers in the U.S. went treatment free tomorrow and vowed to never treat again. Everyone on the Treatment Free wagon would be o.k. with this? .
    The treatment Free folks would be very Ok with it.

    Until the reality set in that their support net was gone. They could no longer prop themselves up by buying packages of treated bees to replace their deadouts.

    In the much longer term, bees would survive, and I think that could be surmised because of what happened that produced the primorsky bees. What would they be like? Some of the more resistant bees are less desirable in other respects, and these bad traits may be more apparent than they would have been had breeding proceeded in a more controlled manner, as it is now.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  19. #679
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Quote Originally Posted by mnbeekeeper View Post
    gmo corn is not evolution. people eating at mcdonalds their whole lives and being fat is controlled evolution. bees will not survive on treatments and supplement feed in the long run. it just dont add up in mother natures kitchen. you must realize its been a short amount of time we have been feeding and treating the bees. back only 50 years beekeeping was much different. how do you not feel we are having a huge impact on how bees are surviving.
    Fifty years back we were in the process of recovering from epidemic levels of AFB thru use of TM and Apiary Inspection identifying diseased colonies and enforcing the burning of said diseased colonies. We were also dealing w/ Tracheal mites, aka Isle of Wight Disease. Maybe you weren't aware of this?

    Periodically there have been maladies effecting beekeeping down thru the ages.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  20. #680
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Noyes View Post
    What would happen if all the beekeepers in the U.S. went treatment free tomorrow and vowed to never treat again.
    A rhetorical question Nick? All commercial beekeepers would go out of business. All commercially traded honey would be forgien. Our grocery stores would be stocked w/ a huge amount of imported produce. Pollination would be imported from Mexico and Canada and offshore, for a time. Other things I can't imagine at this time. Twenty or thirty years later we might see treatment free bees being kept at commercial levels, hundreds and thousands.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

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