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  1. #681
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Noyes View Post
    I just don't believe it's a viable solution on a large scale.
    That makes the question not worth answering. That and the fact that humans are notoriously weak at predicting the future. I don't see the point in exploring a hypothetical that those involved have essentially vowed would never happen.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  2. #682
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Here's a different spin and I'd better use the digging hole animation for my safety first off...

    Going way back to somewhere around page 5 I think it was brought up that bees are a foreign species and would be considered invasive if they weren't so necessary to us. I would say that the pressures from varroa keep us on our toes so to say, those that don't want the trouble/can't keep up exit the industry. Because of this I think that if you 'cured' varroa tomorrow all of a sudden you would see the return of people that throw bees in a box throw some supers on once a year and produce a crop. Honey would probably tend back down towards 70 cents a lb dragging the price of bees and pollination back down with it. In short varroa is bad for bees but I'm not convinced that it's bad for commercial beekeeping.

    How you manage it is your choice (Splitting/Formic/Amitraz/Drone Comb Removal/Whatever) but the point is that you have to have beekeeping knowledge to decide what to do, even if that knowledge just sees you check your mite levels and not treat. The days of 'bee having' without management instead of beekeeping are over and I think it's in our financial best interest to keep it that way. Remember this is production agriculture and price protection is as important as anything.

    Alright let me have it.

  3. #683
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnK and Sheri View Post
    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.
    Ok, I asked the question specifically because we (quickly) came to a point in this discussion where examples of TF commercial beekeepers were largely dismissed as "not being commercial". It's been said that the only examples given would only be considered commercial with a "stretched" definition. In a previous post, you said:
    To be blunt, most of the examples given would not be considered “commercial beekeepers” by other commercial beekeepers. Again, this is not to denigrate the examples, it is just hard to translate to a migratory operation expected to put roof over heads.
    We can't really have a discussion about a topic if the definition of the topic keeps changing.

    Someone like Mike Palmer isn't making all of the family income with bees...he has a spouse that works a responsible job. Someone like SQCRK had some inheritance to build his operation with (he has shared that on beesource before). It's all well and good to say that in theory there is a large umbrella, but in discussion there has been a lot of dismissing going on...and no one seems willing to tell us where the lines are, only that the examples we are giving are outside those undefined lines.

    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.
    Of course not.

    At what number of hives (past or present?) does one "qualify"? Who cares? This whole semantics question of who is "commercial" is irrelevant, imo.
    It's relevant if anyone wants to explore a question like, "are there commercial treatment free beekeepers?"....like in this thread. Repeatedly, virtually all of the examples are dismissed as not being commercial beekeepers....without anyone providing a reasonable set of criteria to qualify.

    It is NOT disrespectful to say someone is NOT a 'commercial', at least on my part.
    Of course it is! I know Mike Palmer takes great pride in the business he has built (as well he should)....as do the examples of TF commercial operations that we have been discussing. Telling someone who is making a living with their bees that they are not commercial is disrespectful...especially when the criteria are so ill defined.

    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.
    Yes, but you cited this as a specific problem. Can you even name a single person who, with little/no experience tried to be a treatment free commercial beekeeper (without passing go) and failed/lost everything?

    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.
    I won't disagree, but will point out that most innovations come at the end of a long string of failures...like finally trying a cotton filament as a way to make artificial light in a bulb. I'm amazed by how much subtlety is required for almost anything, and almost nothing works "the way it should" the first time (or first 100 times) we attempt it, even if we are starting with a detailed procedure that has already been proven.

    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.
    We know (from looking at the tested pollen collected by commercial beekeepers if from no other source), that some percentage of commercial beekeepers are using offlabel treatments. Using "innovative" (illegal) treatment regimen is part of a lot of commercial operations...but that isn't clearly identified or quantified by anyone...nor for anyone looking to get into "commercial beekeeping".

    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.
    With that approach, someone with a dream of opening the best hamburger joint on the continent would be better served buying a McDonalds franchise...not an inspiring choice....and not likely to be inspiring for the next generation either.

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

  4. #684
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Quote Originally Posted by deknow View Post
    Someone like SQCRK had some inheritance to build his operation with (he has shared that on beesource before).

    So Mark is a "Trust Fund Baby"..... In that case, I think I am going to hit him up for more than lunch if I am helping him with those bees this morning....

    On second thought... that makes him a TF beekeeper, but I believe that TF has about petered out...
    Dont tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have travelled. - The Quran

  5. #685

    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Noyes View Post
    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.
    This is pretty much what Kirk Webster says....and I agree. Treatment free on the scale that exists and is necessary for large scale pollination will, I believe, never be treatment free. Clearly, an individual like Kirk can maintain a treatment free operation....but it will come at a cost in labor and lifestyle that will be unacceptable to most....in my opinion.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  6. #686
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    >Clearly, an individual like Kirk can maintain a treatment free operation....but it will come at a cost in labor and lifestyle that will be unacceptable to most....in my opinion.

    In my experience treatment free is MUCH less labor than treating. A stable system system does not require constant attention to prop it up.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  7. #687
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    LOL, Mark a trust fund baby? LOL. I guess by that criteria, "having a little help from family", any 2nd or 3rd generation beek is a trust fund baby. Hear that, Brett?

    I really wonder why someone would worry about whom I might consider a commercial beek. Especially on behalf of those who probably wouldn't want to be lumped into that pile to begin with. Sorry, I am not going to catagorize every poster on this thread one way or the other. Even if I had a concrete criteria, (which I don't) how would I know who fit that criteria? Mostly, it is the OBVIOUSLY non commercials I am referring too. We have had some relatively small beekeepers contribute to this thread about their tf operations, and when their example is used as evidence of tf commercials, well, that just won't fly. That isn't to say we might not have something to learn from these smaller beeks, but they just don't fall under the original question of 'are there tf commercials'.

    I have gone through the "recipe" some of these beekeepers use and pointed out "MY" opinions on their potential effect of most commercial beeks on a larger scale. I have acknowledged there are examples of tf commercials, but there are darn few of them. I am sorry if I hurt anyone's feelings (again, why would they care?) but I don't consider Michael Bush or Dee Lusby commercial beekeepers. If you feel it is denigrating, it is in your mind, not mine. Michael Bush is one of the most knowledgeable beeks around and has done as much towards educationg other beeks as anyone out there. Beekeepers starting small, hoping to grow to commercial size might incorporate his techniques successfully and be among the first tf commercials, inspiring the rest of us to move in that direction.

    I agree that innovation usually comes trying something new, taking a chance and accepting initial failure. As I said, if you believe in a particular goal or technique, the losses may well be worth it. Some people are more financially willing and able to take the huge losses associated w initial tf development. Some are not. Although I have never seen a bee that is truly tf when put into a migratory operation, I won't rule out that one will eventually be developed. We are ALL hoping that, after all.

    As for tf failures. It IS a particular problem, in my eyes, due to unrealistic expectations many hold going in. I have no problem people making this choice, more power to them, they just should go into it with open eyes. As there are so many less examples of tf keepers than conventional ones, they are less likely to find a knowledgeable mentor. Add to that the tendency in some tf proponents to minimize the impact of initial probable losses.
    When you come right down to it, if you shadow a tf beek, you are pretty much guaranteed huge losses for at least a couple years, specifically due to the tf. While a conventional beek can also fail for a number of reasons (which all apply to the tf as well), elimination of disease in the operation will have a profound impact on survivability. It is fairly easy to find a conventional beek to shadow if one is willing to relocate, and is recommended again and again for those looking into going commercial. This is part of "following those who are successful". You will learn all the tricks, even ones you might not approve of. Same goes for tf, go learn the tf tricks from "them's that's doin". Some of their tactics are shocking to conventional beeks as well.

    As for the "best" burger joint to emulate, well, that depends on your definition of 'best' doesn't it? We are again, contemplating letting philosophy impact financial decisions. 'Best' might be "biggest" in some eyes and McDs might be the epitome. I don't follow their financials but they may be the most profitable as well. If you were looking at best quality food, yeah, most anyone else would be better, ha. Commercial still comes down to making money. If you want to make money plus be an inspiration, yeah, that complicates things.

    Sheri
    Last edited by JohnK and Sheri; 04-02-2013 at 08:36 AM. Reason: typos

  8. #688
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    This thread needs some #'s

    How many hives do I have to run Treatment free to make $10,000.00 or even how do i make $10,000 as a treatment free beekeeper? What do I produce? Where and how do I get paid for it? What's the model?
    Outline a plan for me to get set up and run those hives in Miami Florida or in Miami Manitoba. (I'd prefer someplace in between like Weeki Wachee!) Depends is not an answer.

    I have a few hives and can roughly imagine how much I might make per hive over the long term. If I were to ask almost any commercial how to make $10,000 after an initial joke or two nearly every one could share how they do it and have concrete real answers that given reasonable skill,capital and drive would have decent chance of succeeding in making $10,000.00

  9. #689
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    >>Outline a plan for me to get set up and run those hives in Miami Florida or in Miami Manitoba. <<

    ahhhh, boy, wish I was in Miami Florida right now,
    still burred under a big snow bank up here,
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  10. #690
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    >>This thread needs some #'s<<

    might need another 35 pages to draw that out
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  11. #691
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Seems like you regard anyone not being migratory as not being commerical. Why or why not??
    Im really not that serious

  12. #692
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    >>If you want to make money plus be an inspiration, yeah, that complicates things.<<

    thats my goal Sherri !
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  13. #693
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Quote Originally Posted by mac View Post
    Seems like you regard anyone not being migratory as not being commerical. Why or why not??
    Im not migratory
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  14. #694
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    I checked out your site.
    Come down half of Canada is already here!

  15. #695
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnK and Sheri View Post
    I really wonder why someone would worry about whom I might consider a commercial beek.
    Well, you are the moderator of the commercial forum, and as a participant, have been handing out rather arbitrary and contradictory judgements (both in terms of criteria an specific people) over who is and who isn't commercial.
    We are trying to address a question about commercial treatment free beekeepers, we have to know who we are and are not talking about.
    From my perspective, all of this adds up to difficulty in even figuring out what anyone is talking about.




    Mostly, it is the OBVIOUSLY non commercials I am referring too. We have had some relatively small beekeepers contribute to this thread about their tf operations, and when their example is used as evidence of tf commercials, well, that just won't fly.
    Did this happen? I don't remember Michael Bush, Sol, or myself being referred to as commercial beekeepers. The ones I listed, Dee, Kirk, Bob Brachmann, Chris Baldwin, Tim Ives...none of them are "obviously not commercial".


    ....but I don't consider Michael Bush or Dee Lusby commercial beekeepers.
    ....and this I don't understand. Michael is not a commercial beekeeper...he is not making his living keeping bees.
    Dee does make her living keeping bees....perhaps moreso than someone like Michael Palmer, who likely has health insurance through his wife's job.

    If you don't want to have a definition or criteria that's fine, but it seems difficult to make these kinds of characterizations...especially in a case that may not be so clear cut.

    If you feel it is denigrating, it is in your mind, not mine.
    With all due respect, if you are handing out judgments as to who is and who isn't a commercial beekeeper (which you have been), and you classify some that do rely on bees for the vast majority of their income as not commercial, and some that don't rely on bees for the vast majority of their income as commercial, it is denigrating and belittling to those that have made sacrifices and made things work without the outside help.
    Tell Mike Palmer he isn't commercial because his wife has a job, and let me know if he feels if it is denigrating.

    Although I have never seen a bee that is truly tf when put into a migratory operation, I won't rule out that one will eventually be developed. We are ALL hoping that, after all.
    A few years ago, we attended an entrepreneur workshop. One of the instructors was semi retired from the metals business. He asked everyone the same questions after they presented what their business was going to be:
    "What do you want"? ...usually the answer was, "$20,000 to start my deli"..or some such.
    But the second question he asked everyone was way more important:
    "What are you willing to give up"?
    The point being that if you are holding all the cards, yet don't have everything you need (especially capital), you have to give up some of those cards to some extent to get what you need.
    I've tried to make this point several times....if this isn't a priority that gets put above some other priorities, it won't just happen.

    As for tf failures. It IS a particular problem, in my eyes, due to unrealistic expectations many hold going in. I have no problem people making this choice, more power to them, they just should go into it with open eyes. As there are so many less examples of tf keepers than conventional ones, they are less likely to find a knowledgeable mentor. Add to that the tendency in some tf proponents to minimize the impact of initial probable losses.
    I've tried to point out a few times that with all the illegal treating that goes on (no specific accusations, but we all know what goes on) that it isn't fair to characterize TF operations as being somehow secretive about their problems while conventional beekeeping is all out in the open. After all, the losses by Dee, Chris, Kirk, etc are known and in this discussion in the first place because those beekeepers have made this information public. You don't have to read between the lines to know about the losses of any of these beekeepers.

    When you come right down to it, if you shadow a tf beek, you are pretty much guaranteed huge losses for at least a couple years, specifically due to the tf. While a conventional beek can also fail for a number of reasons (which all apply to the tf as well), elimination of disease in the operation will have a profound impact on survivability.
    That's all true (although I think Michael Bush would argue with some of it)...but you are not considering that there may be long term gains that offset the short term losses.

    Commercial still comes down to making money.
    Of course it does...but if it only had to do with making "the most money possible", it probably wouldn't be "commercial _beekeeping_".

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

  16. #696
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    >>If you want to make money plus be an inspiration, yeah, that complicates things.<<

    thats my goal Sherri !
    me too. me too. and maybe thats what makes us different from the rest. i have already given up so much to get where i am and will keep giving up god knows what else to get to where i want to be. thats my goal and im sticking to it. thanks every one. many great points made. if we all agreed this would be no fun at all.

  17. #697
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    I am done with the who is and isn't a commercial keeper question. As I stated before It doesn't matter who calls themselves what. If other's find their posts relevant, great. EVERYONE is welcome to post here, but since this is the commercial/pollination board please try to keep it at least a bit relevant to that. I confess I haven't seen, nor want to see, the financials of any of the discussed beekeepers. If Dee or anyone else wants to be known as a commercial beek, fine. I was under the impression she/they were more in the line of researchers. If so, I apologize, but I doubt my opinion matters to her.
    I never said you or Sol or any of your list said the smaller examples were commercials, what I said is "some of the examples given wouldn't be considered commercial". Sometimes a post might be general in nature, and not referring to you or Sol or whomever.

    It seems like sometimes people want to fight for the sake of fighting. I have repeatedly referred to "INITIAL" losses, with not everyone being able to afford those INITIAL losses. I have no idea of the percentage of positive end results that eventually justify those losses. My experience with tf beekeepers suggests that it seldom does. Granted, failure is usually due to lack of capitalization after years of heavy losses. I will concede if they held out longer perhaps they would have been successful, but in those cases, we will never know. We have been presented with examples of success. I have no reason to challenge their validity. What is the argument here?

    My entire focus is that anyone going into tf know what they are getting into. What is so wrong with that? I would advise the same on any business. There is a lot of conventional beekeeping info out there, very little tf. Not saying info isn't there, it is just more difficult to find. Again, learn the tricks of the trade from the successful

    I agree that one must put their priorities in order. The wide divergence of opinions in this thread is mostly a reflection of different priorities. Everyone has the right to determine and pursue their own. Not everyone has a top priority of being tf, although it might be something they are interested it. Another priority might rule the course of action, even as assessment/investigation of tf continue.

    Deknow wrote "..... if it only had to do with making "the most money possible", it probably wouldn't be "commercial _beekeeping_".

    Truer words are seldom spoken, lol.

    Sheri

  18. #698
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    In my experience treatment free is MUCH less labor than treating. A stable system system does not require constant attention to prop it up.
    Michael, do you believe that someone could run 1,000 coloniesof bees for pollination, migrating to one State for the Winter and another for the Smmer to produce honey and not prop them up thru constant attention? Or treating for mites?
    Mark Berninghausen "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." Zora Neale Hurston

  19. #699
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mbeck View Post
    I checked out your site.
    Come down half of Canada is already here!
    The other half is here in coastal NC.... Ian must be pretty lonely.
    Dont tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have travelled. - The Quran

  20. #700
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    Default Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mbeck View Post
    This thread needs some #'s

    How many hives do I have to run Treatment free to make $10,000.00 or even how do i make $10,000 as a treatment free beekeeper? What do I produce? Where and how do I get paid for it? What's the model?
    Outline a plan for me to get set up and run those hives in Miami Florida or in Miami Manitoba. (I'd prefer someplace in between like Weeki Wachee!) Depends is not an answer.

    I have a few hives and can roughly imagine how much I might make per hive over the long term. If I were to ask almost any commercial how to make $10,000 after an initial joke or two nearly every one could share how they do it and have concrete real answers that given reasonable skill,capital and drive would have decent chance of succeeding in making $10,000.00
    Be careful who you listen to Matthew. Anyone who will tell you how to make $10,000.00 w/bees may be lying to you. I'd never attempt to tell anyone how to make money w/ bees, let alone a specific amount.
    Mark Berninghausen "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." Zora Neale Hurston

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