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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Lorain County, OH, USA
    Posts
    13

    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
    Posts
    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
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Lorain County, OH, USA
    Posts
    13

    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
    Posts
    3,898

    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
    Posts
    1,916

    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
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,343

    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 2009
    Location
    Stilwell, KS
    Posts
    1,716

    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

  8. #8
    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/

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Lorain County, OH, USA
    Posts
    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.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,343

    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

  11. #11
    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.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
    Posts
    1,250

    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.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,461

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    Quote Originally Posted by Waterbird17 View Post
    ....
    If your child gets sick and the doctor says they need medicine, do you treat them?...
    Very unwise logic. This is a way to create a pathogen, which is not sensitive to the treatment anymore. Right now, many people are suffering because even most advanced antibiotics do not work for them! There are bacterias "on the market", who actually may not be killed by ANY antibiotic! And, guess where such monsters are living? In the hospitals... If you or bees are healthy - you do not need a treatment. Treatment always must be a last resource. Somebody mentioned above that s/he uses antibiotics to treat ear-infection. In old days we used "camphor-spirit" for that, or geranium leaf (oil). If every minor problem is treated by antibiotics - this is a way to disaster.
    Серёжа, Sergey

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Red bluff, CA USA
    Posts
    33

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    I would like to add to the discussion about treating kids or dogs vs bees... If my daughter has head lice, I have many choices... I can go to the Dr. and get perscription bug killer, go to the store and buy over the counter bug killer, go under my kitchen sink and use vinegar, cover her head with baby oil, or use a fine toothed comb and tweezers after her bath and pick all those little suckers out myself (while this may seem teadious and time consuming, I would rather not dump a buch of pesticides on my childs head so any of the non-chemical routes would be my first choice everytime!). I do not use pesticide flea drops or chemical shampoos on my dog for fleas and ticks, I use all natural non-chemical shampoos infused with clove and cedar oil, it works wonders and my dog smells terrific!! that being said, I believe that Berzee asked for the same kind of thing.... Is ther infact some naturallly occuring thing that these mites can't stand to be around, that won't hurt the bees, much like cedar bark for fleas? does anyone know? if not... then I say it's time we find out!!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Walker, Alabama, USA
    Posts
    864

    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)

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Lorain County, OH, USA
    Posts
    13

    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/

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Red bluff, CA USA
    Posts
    33

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    ok so this is a little off topic but I'm new to the game, starting this year and plan on being treatment free. I have not been able to find anything that answers my question , maybe you guys can help?! I was wondering, where exactly do bees get mites and hive beetles from? My hive ( I only have 1) is on in an isolated area 35 miles from the nearest town in the sierra nevada mountains. to my knowlege, there are not other beekeepers around. Do bees get them from robbing? are they just naturally occuring? do all or most beekeepers have this problem? I would really like to know how likely my bees are to get them?

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Walker, Alabama, USA
    Posts
    864

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    Sometimes they come with the package/nuc. Sometimes they travel from nearby hives that have them. Sometimes you spread them yourself by adding a frame of brood to a hive that needs it. Or if they rob out a hive dying from mites. There are lots of ways.

    As to how likely you'll have them or get them, well, much depends on your own area of the country. Do beeks around you have them?

    HTH

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

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Red bluff, CA USA
    Posts
    33

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    [QUOTE=Rusty Hills Farm;916894]
    Do beeks around you have them?

    That is a very good point... I guess I should be asking around. I just didn't think to because I have them so far away from other beekeepers.
    I will get on that right away! thank you!

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Corvallis, OR
    Posts
    223

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    Varroa mites do not survive outside of hives. If your hive is truly isolated from other honeybees by 10 miles or more, and you could somehow purchase bees with zero mites, you might be able to keep a mite-free hive. Unfortunately all package bees and nucs in the US will have some mites, and even with a brood break there will be survivors.

    It would be an interesting experiment to take a package of bees, treat them several times with oxalic acid vapor to (hopefully) kill 100% of the mites, install them in an isolated location, and see if they would remain mite-free. It might just be possible...

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