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  1. #41
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    Dec 2012
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    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    Quote Originally Posted by libhart View Post
    Not true. I've come to believe that being successfully treatment free with a small number of hives is affected greatly by location. I'm envious of those who are in a location where they can successfully be treatment free with a small number of hives, but that is not my area as evidenced by the losses in my area for those who do not treat vs those who do. The Managed Pollinator CAP project is doing a multi-year study on the effect of location on colony mortality. To say that someone's bees in Vermont (or anywhere else for that matter) are no more likely to die than anyone else's is IMHO not the case at all.

    http://www.beeccdcap.uga.edu/documen...umnDec2012.pdf
    Okay, let's say that his bees seem to be no more likely to die than nearby commercial beekeepers who treat, and that they survive better than some nearby beekeepers who treat. If we go by that interesting study you posted, Kirk Webster shouldn't have any hives left alive, since the test apiaries mostly died out completely after two or three years, including the one in Maine, very similar climatologically to Vermont.

    What I would have liked to have seen in that study is treated companion apiaries that were managed in exactly the same manner-- no increase, no requeening, etc, so we could see how many of those colonies could survive three years of benign neglect, except for Varroa treament. (I realize that wasn't the point of the study.)

    The point I keep trying to make, and that no one seems to want to respond to is this: how sustainable is the practice of treating for mites? How long can we keep doing this and expecting that the outcome will somehow be different from what we see now--- more virulent mites, and increasingly less effective treatments?

  2. #42
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    Sep 2011
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    Corvallis, OR
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    223

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    I guess I should have allowed for a third type of new beekeeper: those who are both very invested and their bees and very invested in the idea of being treatment free. That can be a harder row to hoe, but it sounds like rhaldridge is doing all the right things (brood breaks, creating surplus colonies to make up for losses, small cell, foundationless, etc.). I wish him/her well, and suspect that the effort will pay off.

    It's a bit like gardening. It's not hard to substitute certified organic pesticides (Bt, pyrethrins, Sluggo) for synthetic ones and still get a good crop. It's much more challenging to garden with no chemicals whatsoever. There are plenty of folks that do it, but as with mite control there are factors involved (pathogen-suppressive soils, micronutrient fertilizers, beneficial insects, resistant varieties) that are site-specific and/or not well understood, such that they are not yet universally applicable. It's a worthwhile endeavor, but for someone just getting started with gardening I would recommend using the organic controls, as anyone losing all their lettuce to slugs and all their beans to bean beetles will quickly conclude that gardening is hard. Gardening should be fun, and once you've gotten a few good harvests you can start experimenting with omitting the chemicals without risking severe disappointment.

    Similarly, it's not hard to use thymol, formic acid, and oxalic acid instead of synthetic pesticides like coumaphos and fluvalinate and still keep mite loads in check. ("Organic" standards have not been finalized for beekeeping, so we can argue about whether these would fit the definition, but given that they are naturally-occurring compounds in food I'm willing to accept them.) As with gardening, going the next step and forgoing chemicals entirely is much more difficult. The learning curve is steeper, and there are tradeoffs involved (higher losses especially early on, more splits = less honey). Factors required for success are not well-understood and may be location-specific (e.g. microclimate, mite loads of other hives in the area, locally-adapted genetics). There is no denying the success of those who have been treatment-free for years and see losses lower than the national average. At the same time, those who have been successful have not yet been able to write a foolproof prescription for success that will work anywhere. As an example, most (but not all) treatment-free beekeepers use small-cell, but side-by-side comparisons have not been able to show that small-cell bees have fewer mites. I think we will get there eventually, possibly even in the next five years. Once there is a "recipe for success" to manage mites without treatments then more and more beekeepers will choose to go that route.

    Beekeeping should be fun. Watching your bees die isn't fun. Overwintering hives is the hardest aspect of beekeeping, and for new beekeepers having their sole hive (or two or three) die the first winter feels like failure. So I say treat for mites, unless you are absolutely committed to not treating and have done some research into treatment-free methods. I don't buy the argument that once you start treating you will always treat. I feel a lot better overwintering five out of five (one of which was untreated) than I did my first winter at zero out of two (both untreated). Once I believe I have developed the skills to keep bees successfully (and I'm getting close to that point), I will feel more comfortable forgoing treatment, as any subsequent losses will then feel like a management outcome rather than failure on my part.

  3. #43
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    May 2012
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    DFW area, TX, USA
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    1,102

    Thumbs Up Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    berzee, you can see that one's philosophy to treat or not to treat is a polarizing subject on any bee forum.

    I've just come back to beekeeping after almost a 20 year absence. Back then it was easy to be treatment free. Today, with arrival of a new nosema, small hive beetle, varroa mites and an idiopathic brood syndrome the bees are under attack every moment of every day.

    I laud the researchers looking for bees and genes that resist viruses & disease while aiding resistance to mites, but their work, and the evolution of bees to live with these mites, is a slow deliberate process, sometimes with two steps backward.

    For the moment, I've chosen the IPM philosophy to help keep the bees alive, while others more gifted than myself, search for the genetic secrets that help the bees deal with these problems that kill colonies.

    I have to tell you that my bees do not have many mites, thanks to Minnesota hygienic, BWeaver's survivors, and some feral bees that found their way to my house. The powdered sugar and hopguard treatments have been successful. I've ordered an oxalic acid vaporizer should the need present itself, but that is in reserve for a really sick hive.

    I do not criticize natural beekeepers, realizing their view is as valid as my own. But, I will do everything I can to have queens that head healthy colonies, intervening with whatever treatment is necessary (I don't ever expect to use synthetic miticides however). HTH
    LeeB
    I try to learn from my mistakes, and from yours when you give me a heads up :)

  4. #44
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    Apr 2013
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    Red bluff, CA USA
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    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?

  5. #45
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    Mar 2010
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    Walker, Alabama, USA
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    923

    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)

  6. #46
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    Apr 2013
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    Red bluff, CA USA
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    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!!

  7. #47
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    Dec 2012
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    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
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    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    Quote Originally Posted by Luterra View Post
    It's a bit like gardening. It's not hard to substitute certified organic pesticides (Bt, pyrethrins, Sluggo) for synthetic ones and still get a good crop. It's much more challenging to garden with no chemicals whatsoever.
    I like this analogy. I don't blame any organic gardener for using stuff like BT and pyrethrins, and I've done it myself, but the long term goal of an organic gardener should not be avoiding chemical inputs. It should be to create such good soil that the plants grown in it can withstand most pests untreated and still give a good crop. This is something that critics and "debunkers" of organic gardening either fail to get, or disengenuously ignore. They plow up some bad soil, throw seeds in it and fertilize and spray half the test garden, and of course that half does a lot better than the "organic" half. They conclude that organic gardening doesn't work.


    Quote Originally Posted by Luterra View Post
    As an example, most (but not all) treatment-free beekeepers use small-cell, but side-by-side comparisons have not been able to show that small-cell bees have fewer mites.
    I've looked at a couple of those studies, and I wasn't terribly impressed with the protocols used. For example, in the Berry study, she had small cell bees draw out comb for her test colonies, and large cell bees draw out comb for the control colonies. But when it came time to install the bees in the colonies, she mixed them all together, in an effort to randomize her inputs. So she had a mix of bees in every hive. Additionally, these were not longterm studies, and relied completely on comparing Varroa counts after a short period. I'm not sure what conclusions can be drawn from the study, at least in relationship to the longterm survival of small cell colonies.


    Quote Originally Posted by Luterra View Post
    Once I believe I have developed the skills to keep bees successfully (and I'm getting close to that point), I will feel more comfortable forgoing treatment, as any subsequent losses will then feel like a management outcome rather than failure on my part.
    I think this is good thinking!

    Ray

  8. #48
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    Sep 2011
    Location
    Corvallis, OR
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    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...

  9. #49
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    Apr 2013
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    Red bluff, CA USA
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    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!

  10. #50
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    Oct 2011
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    Santa Monica, CA, USA
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    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    Quote Originally Posted by Nature Coast beek View Post
    Read the latest ABJ (April 2013) interview with Dennis Van Engelsdorp (Bee Informed Partnership). He states (direct quote, exactly including all caps), " YOU NEED TO TREAT FOR MITES....
    It is non-sense to me! If I have feral/survival bees, who NEVER saw the "treatment", why I have to damage them by chemicals? There is another aspect in this endless discussion - see, any organism, which did not see "treatment", would respond differently on the "treatment" than organism, which was regularly treated. Treatment (any) itself changed the physiology of the body. I would expect that treated subjects would have better tolerance to the chemicals used for treatment. Chronically untreated subjects would probably die from the normal full dose of "treatment"... Also, I do not see any reason to keep sick bees. Parallel between the kid treated against illness and beehive chronically treated is not a good comparison. If I decided to keep, horses, for instance - I will make sure that they are healthy. Once I have them, I'll do everything possible to keep them healthy, so the treatment is unnecessary. Of coarse, in emergency situation, treatment may be necessary, but it is emergency, it is not everyday (every fall/spring) practice.

    Such statements (" YOU NEED TO TREAT FOR MITES....) published in respected journal made me think about biases in its publications.
    Серёжа, Sergey

  11. #51
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    Oct 2011
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    Santa Monica, CA, USA
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    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    Quote Originally Posted by Moonfire View Post
    ... 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!!
    I think thyme and its oil is most close to "natural" treatment. Also, I heard that mint candy used to mitigate mites in old days. I have a lot of thyme in my garden and bees love it. May be, it is a part of unintentional treatment for my bees?
    Серёжа, Sergey

  12. #52
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    Apr 2013
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    Red bluff, CA USA
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    33

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    [QUOTE=cerezha;916987] I heard that mint candy used to mitigate mites in old days.

    So... since I posted that question, I have been searching around different sites and so far I have read that planting mint, lavendar, thyme, and...there was another one that I can't remember... anyway if you plant them around your hives, supposedly you will have less of a mite problem because mites don't like these plants! On that note, I think I will give this idea a go and keep records of the progress! I don't really want to "put thing in" my hives, so I'm going to put thing out of it!!

    Also, I do think that most all things natural have a natural counter, like manzanita berries healing poison oak or basil enhancing tomatoes and preventing pests, and cedar repelling fleas!! I'm thinking that this is probably something that I will be getting into in a major way for my bees, I'm feeling pretty intrigued by the idea!

  13. #53
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    Jun 2010
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    Calvert, Md,USA
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    1,701

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    I really think it would be a hard roe to hoe to start bee keeping and be TF. Doesn't mean it couldn't be done. Would recommend a mentor of some sort and a stock of bees that the odds are in their favor of surviving TF. IMHO, a big key to success, is determination to do it,,,,accept the fact that you may/will loose some hives,,,you may have to start over,,,,and that it is NOT failure if that happens. This is what has worked for me. This is my fifth season TF. Relatively new compared to some. Some may not agree but IMO, when the bar is set higher the rewards are more satisfying. I'm not anti treatment,,,,it is just not for me.
    Rick

  14. #54
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    Mar 2012
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    Delhi, New York, USA
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    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    to RHALDRIGE...Hello and good evening...I live in upstate NY in the Catskills and tried beekeeping the first time last year and lost my hive to varroa in the Fall; I has purchased a NUC from a successful beekeeper about 2 hours north of me...I am starting again in a month with 2 packages from Texas and a NUC from a local beekeeper....I am curious as to why you want to have hives up here if you live in Florida and can I ask who you purchased your bee's from in NY? Thanks.

  15. #55
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    Nov 2011
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    Novato, CA
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    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    Wow, hot topic and can't read them all! But I am treatment free so far and waiting for the big 'fall' others tell me should come -- maybe next year I guess since it did not come this year. I am part of a group that promotes survival stock hence, in the fall if we have weak hives we requeen and/or combine them; do not treat or feed and propogate only the once who are strong survivors. This is going back to the basic passing on the stronger genetics and traits that allow the hive to survive. Some of the ways they survive: by going into a natural dearth 2x a year and breaking the brood cycle which breaks the mite breeding cycle, shrinking, expanding and allowing the bees to MOVE up and down the hive (no queen excluders), allow them to create their own comb how they see fit and like I said, proprogating the strong hives, getting rid of the weaklings. I know "I" feel better about eating my honey and raising bees that are strong in my climate and surviving all the artificial problems we've made or imported for them. And I did not learn this stuff from no where...we have many good, successful beekeepers here on the left coast that are doing and passing on the same exact thing. Good luck to you!

  16. #56
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    Feb 2012
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    Hartford, CT
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    607

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    This is my 2nd year beeking and I only used sugar as my only supplement last year. I would suggest if you get a package of southern bees you get a northern Queen. Or try finding a over wintered nuc in OH.
    1) you get drawn comb for pollen storage already
    2) they survived winter up north.

    This year more will likely they'll begin swarming as they spent last year drawing comb in their double deeps.

  17. #57
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    Mar 2013
    Location
    Lorain County, OH, USA
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    13

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    Wow, I really didn't expect this many replies! Thanks for the advice everyone.
    I have quite a lot to research now: IPM, beehive companion planting, etc. There's always more to learn!
    For now, I think, I'll go with what was said by Luterra and Lburou (and possibly some others?) and do what it takes to keep my one hive alive while drawing a line at synthetic pesticides.

  18. #58
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    Mar 2013
    Location
    Jacksonville, FL
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    226

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    I did a quick Goggle search, I guess there is a VHS Varroa Sensitive Hygiene VSH

    http://www.glenn-apiaries.com/vsh.html#anchor119282

    Any thoughts? Anyone have these?

  19. #59
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    Dec 2012
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    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
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    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    Quote Originally Posted by Cloverdale View Post
    to RHALDRIGE...Hello and good evening...I live in upstate NY in the Catskills and tried beekeeping the first time last year and lost my hive to varroa in the Fall; I has purchased a NUC from a successful beekeeper about 2 hours north of me...I am starting again in a month with 2 packages from Texas and a NUC from a local beekeeper....I am curious as to why you want to have hives up here if you live in Florida and can I ask who you purchased your bee's from in NY? Thanks.
    I'm a native New Yorker; the North Country still feels like home to me. Our children are raised, and last summer we bought a few acres along the edge of the Adirondacks, and hope to have a cabin there. I'm going up to do some site development this spring, and the area seems very well suited to bees, so I'd like to get started.

    I'm getting my nucs from Joel Klose at Nature's Way Farm in the Finger Lakes.

  20. #60
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    Jun 2012
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    Citrus County, Florida, United States
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    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    Quote Originally Posted by rhaldridge View Post
    If treatment were a reliable way of keeping bees healthy, most sensible folks would do it. But the evidence suggests that it is not.
    How so? The latest mass survey, Bee Informed Partnership, is showing a trend that losses sustained by those that treat vs. non-treat is significantly different 20% fewer hives lost. Only about 39% of beekeepers surveyed treat at all. The majority are treatment free. Sure, treating doesn't mean you will not have losses, but overall, the lower losses. Lower losses to the tune of 20% fewer than non-treatment. You even quote a 7 - 15% better rate in losses. A 20% relative risk reduction is pretty darn effective. Put it this way, if you had cancer and your chance of it reoccurring was 35% without any further treatment or reduced by 20% with chemo, what would you do? Again, I'm not here to persuade anyone on anything, but the data is the data.
    Last edited by Nature Coast beek; 04-02-2013 at 06:15 PM.

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