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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    Lorain County, OH, USA
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    Default New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    Hello all,
    I'm doing some research before my very first package of bees gets here in late April. I'd like to be able to treat them without pesticide-type chemicals, but I need advice and suggestions on how to do that.
    For my purposes, I'd say the definition of "chemical free" would just be "if I can put it in my mouth without getting sick, I'm ok with putting it on my hive." Essential oils are fine, fogging with FGMO is fine, sugar dusting is fine. I just want to know if: 1) Have those of you who use/have used these treatments found them effective? 2) Does anyone have any other suggestions for "chemical free" treatments?
    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Baltimore, MD, USA
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    24

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    I'm very new, so can't answer your questions. But will be watching your thread.

    There's a whole board farther down the list dealing with nothing but treatment free beekeeping. Probably find all your answers down there.

    Here's a link to that board. http://www.beesource.com/forums/foru...ree-Beekeeping

  3. #3
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    Mar 2013
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    Lorain County, OH, USA
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    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    Thanks for the reply fritz_monroe. I have checked out the treatment free beekeeping forum here, but I'm not so much interested in going treatment free as I am in just not treating with chemicals.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
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    4,014

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    All new bee keepers are interested in chemical/natural/treatment free bee keeping. "I would rather just have healthy bees" sounds great - but it's hard to resist the dark side. The bar you are setting doesn't leave many options - powdered sugar dusting, hand picking mites, IPM and bointensive, homeopathy, dianetics, prayer, high tolerance for hive lose - that sort of thing.

    Plan to Make a lot of splits for back up hives - seriously.

    Good luck.

    On second thought, for real - You should read everything on both of these sites:
    Randy Oliver - Scientific Bee Keeping
    Michael Bush - The Practical (treatment free) Bee Keeper

    Do that and you will at least be exposed to both the yin and yang of what you are thinking about. You're welcome.
    Since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Weeki Wachee, Florida,USA
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    1,960

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    Dianetics?

    At what level do you see manageable mite resistance?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    45,925

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    My experience is they will be much healthier if you don't treat them. Things like essential oils and organic acids disrupt the flora and fauna of the natural system in the hive.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoursimplesteps.htm

    I agree I feel safer eating essential oils than eating cumaphos, but why mess up the balance of the hive?
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Arlee MT USA
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    548

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    Listen to this man^^^^^

    Its not really about if the treatment is considered a chemical or not, treatments will always make more resistant parasites and weaker hosts. Its been devastating to our own species, no reason to think it will work better with bees.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Athens, OH
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    2,668

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    Quote Originally Posted by Aerindel View Post
    Its been devastating to our own species,
    I treat ear infections with antibiotics, don't feel devastated.
    Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. -Frank Zappa

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Walker, Alabama, USA
    Posts
    896

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    If you are serious about avoiding chemicals, then start with resistant bees--Carniolans, Minnesota Hygienic, VSH, Pol-Line. Even if you start with a package of Italians, you can requeen that package with a resistant queen to help them on their own to deal with mites and disease.

    JMO


    Rusty
    Rusty Hills Farm -- home of AQHA A Rusty Zipper & Rusty's Bees ( LC and T)

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Walker, Alabama, USA
    Posts
    896

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    Quote Originally Posted by Aerindel View Post

    ...Its been devastating to our own species, no reason to think it will work better with bees.
    If it has been so devastating, then how come we manage to live longer and have a much higher survival rate among our infants and toddlers than they did in previous centuries?

    Rusty
    Rusty Hills Farm -- home of AQHA A Rusty Zipper & Rusty's Bees ( LC and T)

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Stilwell, KS
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    1,799

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    Quote Originally Posted by berzee View Post
    "if I can put it in my mouth without getting sick, I'm ok with putting it on my hive." Essential oils are fine, fogging with FGMO is fine, sugar dusting is fine. Thanks!
    There are plenty of essential oils that are a skin and eye irritating, caustic, and toxic if not down-right poisonous.

    Just because something is perceived as “natural" doesnt make it safe.
    Honey Badger Don't Care ಠ_ಠ ~=[,,_,,]:3

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Acworth, GA
    Posts
    31

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    Listen to Organically Managed Beekeeping podcast. Many topics on there address these types of treatments. Also checkout http://www.wolfcreekbees.com/ they have a downloadable pdf of essential oil treatments and http://www.backwardsbeekeepers.com/

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Lorain County, OH, USA
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    13

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    cg3, thanks for the tip. I'll do some research on formic and oxalic acids.
    Rusty Hills Farms, thanks for the advice on bee species. The bees I'm getting will be Carniolans. I picked them because I read that they survive winters better then Italians. I didn't know they were resistant to mites and diseases too.
    Last edited by berzee; 04-01-2013 at 04:14 PM.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    45,925

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    The problems with acids are the same as the problems with essential oils. They will kill off virtually all of the microbes and those are necessary for the health of the hive.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesmorethan.htm
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoursim...m#notreatments
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Mendham, NJ
    Posts
    57

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    Look at it this way. as was told to me by the head apiarist in my state.

    If your dog gets sick and you take it to the vet and it needs medicine, do you treat it?

    If your child gets sick and the doctor says they need medicine, do you treat them?

    If you get sick and the doctor says you need medicine, do you take it?

    If your bees get sick and need medicine, do you treat them?

    Do you want your bees to live? or struggle and die? How much time, energy, and money do you have to put into your bees?

    Just a few things to think about


    There's a LOT that goes into it. the best thing is to go around and talk to as many successful bee keepers you can and make your opinion and decisions from what you learn.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Walker, Alabama, USA
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    896

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    Quote Originally Posted by berzee View Post
    Rusty Hills Farms, thanks for the advice on bee species. The bees I'm getting will be Carniolans. I picked them because I read that they survive winters better then Italians. I didn't know they were resistant to mites and diseases too.
    I don't know what scale of beekeeping you are planning, but you can incorporate a couple of hives of VSH queens along with your Carnies. Then raise a few queens from the Carnies and make sure you have plenty of VSH drones to mate them. Or vice versa. That way you get the best of both strains and have a really good chance of hives with some nicely resistant workers.

    HTH

    Rusty
    Rusty Hills Farm -- home of AQHA A Rusty Zipper & Rusty's Bees ( LC and T)

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Lorain County, OH, USA
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    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    When I start gardening in the spring and throughout the summer, I'll apply a spray of onion, pepper, and garlic to my plants to kill the tomato worms and aphids and such. I don't like using a lot of the commercial pesticides but the spray I make works well and kills or eliminates the bugs that would kill my plants.
    I guess I'm looking for a bit of the same sort of thing here. I'm not against treating bees. I suppose I'm not even really against chemicals but, because I'm going to be eating the honey the bees produce, I'd like to go as low-lethality as I possibly can. Probably I should be asking, then, is: does anyone know any nifty ways of keeping the mites and SHB down that I can maybe make in my very own kitchen? Any beekeeping recipes akin to my anti-bug garden recipe?
    Rusty, I only have the one hive for now. I'll keep your advice in mind, though, for the future.

    Also, on an only semi-related note, when I was researching oxalic acid, I found this cool website if anyone is interested: http://scientificbeekeeping.com/

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
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    1,256

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    Quote Originally Posted by Waterbird17 View Post
    Look at it this way. as was told to me by the head apiarist in my state.

    If your dog gets sick and you take it to the vet and it needs medicine, do you treat it?

    If your child gets sick and the doctor says they need medicine, do you treat them?

    If you get sick and the doctor says you need medicine, do you take it?

    If your bees get sick and need medicine, do you treat them?
    I'm not sure these are truly analogous situations, since individual bees are really just flying cells in a superorganism, and people and dogs are not. If you treat your dog, the worst that can happen is that he passes his illness-prone genetics on to his puppies. There's no superorganism of dogs that will die if enough dogs get sick enough. In addition, you can't take a split off a favorite dog and in a few weeks end up with a dog very similar to what you had before you started. (I sort of wish that were so; in the last six months we've spent several thousand bucks trying to keep our big Lab cross Izzy alive, and thank goodness, it looks like she'll survive.)

    But, maybe another useful analogy is heroin addiction. A junkie soon reaches a point where the drug is no longer entertaining, and he has to keep taking it in order to avoid getting "sick." I understand that heroin withdrawal is a pretty rough kind of sickness, but still... is it a great idea to keep "treating" it?

    Good doctors these days are fairly careful about passing out antibiotics, because the excessive use of antibiotics are breeding super bugs that are resistant to most (or all) antibiotics. If you read up on the subject, many medical research scientists are becoming concerned that new antibiotics that work against these super bugs are not being developed quickly enough. It is a familiar-sounding situation, isn't it?

    Now, I've already become very fond of my bees, and I'll be sad if they die. That said, bees are livestock, not pets or children. They are, after all, boxes full of stinging bugs. If by not treating, and letting the weakest strains among them die, we can breed a better and more productive species, why wouldn't we want to?

    Very few commercial beekeepers are in a position to take this sort of risk, or even consider it as a possibility, as I learned to my sorrow in a thread on treatment free beekeeping over on the commercial forum. But this past winter, some very highly regarded beekeepers have reported horrific losses in spite of treating, so some different approach is clearly needed. In my opinion, sideliners and devoted hobbyists might be in the best position to create the bees of the future... but I doubt if those bees are going to appear as a result of treating diseases and pests with the sort of stopgap, soon-to-be-ineffective treatments we've tried so far.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
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    9,317

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    Quote Originally Posted by berzee View Post
    2) Does anyone have any other suggestions for "chemical free" treatments?
    Thanks!
    berzee, what are your goals? What will make you happy?

    I have never put anything in my hives including sugar past the first one that died because of a top feeder. I have endured extensive losses, three hives in three years and I have two survivals this year. My goal is to have one hive to pollinate the gardens.

    Michael Bush is my idol but I do not have small cell or natural cell.

    So the bottom line is, what are your goals?
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    1,662

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zd464K3u5aA

    I don't mean to brag but so far they are doing a great job at cleaning themselves and each
    others too. I split 4 hives and one got mated and laying now. Both Italians and Carni are
    the hygenic bees. I have seen even 2 will help clean each others. Yes, it is possible to get the
    hygenic bees that are gentle to work with. So far the worse thing they done was only buzzing
    in front of my face. No hard landing yet. I work them every morning checking for any
    sign of possible mites infestation. But none I have seen from all the hives. Must be their excellent
    grooming behaviors. Lots of carni drones flying now. No any kind of treatment done thus far.
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