Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline
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.
We can't really have a discussion about a topic if the definition of the topic keeps changing.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.
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.
Of course not.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.
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.At what number of hives (past or present?) does one "qualify"? Who cares? This whole semantics question of who is "commercial" is irrelevant, imo.
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.It is NOT disrespectful to say someone is NOT a 'commercial', at least on my part.
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?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.
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.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.
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".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.
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.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.
The irony is free. It's the sarcasm you are paying for....ironically.
-Felicity Jones in "Chalet Girl"
“Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have travelled.” - The Quran
Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards
>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.
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.
Last edited by JohnK and Sheri; 04-02-2013 at 08:36 AM. Reason: typos
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
>>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,
>>This thread needs some #'s<<
might need another 35 pages to draw that out
Seems like you regard anyone not being migratory as not being commerical. Why or why not??
I’m really not that serious
>>If you want to make money plus be an inspiration, yeah, that complicates things.<<
thats my goal Sherri !
I checked out your site.
Come down half of Canada is already here!
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.
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".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.
....and this I don't understand. Michael is not a commercial beekeeper...he is not making his living keeping bees.....but I don't consider Michael Bush or Dee Lusby commercial beekeepers.
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.
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.If you feel it is denigrating, it is in your mind, not mine.
Tell Mike Palmer he isn't commercial because his wife has a job, and let me know if he feels if it is denigrating.
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: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.
"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.
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.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.
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.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.
Of course it does...but if it only had to do with making "the most money possible", it probably wouldn't be "commercial _beekeeping_".Commercial still comes down to making money.
The irony is free. It's the sarcasm you are paying for....ironically.
-Felicity Jones in "Chalet Girl"
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.
Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."
Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."