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  1. #61
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    Mar 2011
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    Utica, NY
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    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    I have been hearing how difficult it is to go treatment free. I been hearing the horror stories of mass devastation if you don't treat your bees. I am wondering how many years into non-intervention beekeeping that this is suppose to happen.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  2. #62
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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
    .. 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. ..
    Could you provide a direct link to the document? I was not able to find it. What I DID find is that according USDA, mite counts are steadily increases each year between 2009 and 2011 (for 2012-2013 data is not available). If so, I do not understand how treatment helps if mites are growing? At the same time, all other pathogens are growing also - I do conclusion that bees are getting more sick, right?
    http://www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_heal...vey_Report.pdf
    page 10 Fig 6
    Серёжа, Sergey

  3. #63
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    Jan 2011
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    Athens, OH
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    2,646

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    http://beeinformed.org/2012/03/natio...arroa-control/
    Losses down last year, up the year before. Sicker? Who knows?
    Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. -Frank Zappa

  4. #64
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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

    Many thanks, it was not the actual document, but I figured out. The actual document location is there:
    http://beeinformed.org/wp-content/up...-managment.pdf
    Soooo. Very interesting. There is MY summary BASED on data presented in the document:
    1). Effect of known treatment is noticeable only in the northern states in US. There is NO difference in southern states.
    2). ApiGuard provides statistically proven (to me) evidence of reducing bee-lost by 10%, very impressive.
    3). ApiLife - 9%. Formic Acid - 6%. Note: these two are at the border line, practically no effect, but document stated 9% and 6% effect.
    4). Coumaphos, Fluvalinate, Sucrocide, herbal products including thymol, garlic powder, menthol, wintergreen, and mint oils,
    Powdered Sugar, Mineral Oil, Drone Brood Removal, Screen Bottom Board, Small Cell Size Comb - ALL, NO effect!
    Серёжа, Sergey

  5. #65
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    Oct 2011
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    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    Quote Originally Posted by cg3 View Post
    ...Losses down last year, up the year before. Sicker? Who knows?
    My point was that treatment was not able to stop the tendency of increasing mites counts over the past 4 years. More mites on the bee - more sick bee (to me). Based on their data, mites counts increased nearly by factor of 2 each year - it is quite alarming. It was 2/100 bees in 2009 and it is 6/100 in 2011.
    Серёжа, Sergey

  6. #66
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    Dec 2012
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    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
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    1,249

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    Quote Originally Posted by Nature Coast beek View Post
    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.
    I'm not following your arithmetic. Here's a quote from the article in Bee Culture that references the Bee Informed Partnership survey:

    ...based on actual Varroa treatment, mortality was 29.5 percent when any Varroa product was used, and 36.7 percent when no product was used.
    So, 7 percent better survival rate when treating. I don't think that's enough better to accept all the other costs of treating, especially the breeding of resistant mites.

    Lots of interesting data here:

    http://beeinformed.org/2012/03/bee-i...vey-2010-2011/

    I particularly enjoyed "Losses by management philosophy."

  7. #67
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    Jan 2011
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    Athens, OH
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    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    >My point was that treatment was not able to stop the tendency of increasing mites counts over the past 4 years. More mites on the bee - more sick bee (to me). Based on their data, mites counts increased nearly by factor of 2 each year - it is quite alarming.<
    Only 39% treat. How's that affect the spin?
    Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. -Frank Zappa

  8. #68
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    Feb 2012
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    DesAllemands, Lousiana
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    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    When I started beekeeping 8 years ago a decided to do it treatment free. All my hives came from swarms that I caught. Last year 25 went into winter and 25 came out of winter and most were very strong. I know it is very possible to have healthy hives without treatments because im doing it and im by no means an expert. I don't know how people think bees cant survive without treatments because my area is loaded with feral colonies. I know of feral colonies that I have watched for over 8 years and their still living.

  9. #69
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    Apr 2010
    Location
    Lititz, PA, USA
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    708

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    Quote Originally Posted by rhaldridge View Post
    So, 7 percent better survival rate when treating. I don't think that's enough better to accept all the other costs of treating, especially the breeding of resistant mites.
    I think that's a much bigger difference than it appears to be.

    Consider this. Let's say I want to ensure I lose no more than half my hives, thinking that I'll make up my losses with splits. Nothing is guaranteed but I'm putting time,effort,money into this, so I want to have a 95% chance of success (success=lose no more than half). If we treat the probability of a hive dying as a binomial distribution, so like flipping a coin with a 36.7% of tails (dying) and a 63.3% chance of heads (living), I need to have 26 hives to make that happen, to get to my 95% chance of success. If I lower my loss rate to 29.5% so my coin now only has a 29.5% chance of tails, I only need to have 10 hives to make my 95% chance of success. So thinking about keeping 150% more hives to hit my success rate, that 7% drop in the likelihood of dying is a big deal.

  10. #70
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    Apr 2010
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    Lititz, PA, USA
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    708

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    Deepsouth,

    That's really cool, but not all areas are created equally. In fact they're extremely different. Yes, other beekeepers in your area can probably do it and be successful as well, but because you can do it where you are doesn't mean that the entire country can be treatment free. It's the real estate mantra...location, location, location.

  11. #71
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    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    Quote Originally Posted by rhaldridge View Post
    I'm not following your arithmetic.
    36.7 x .80 =29.36
    Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. -Frank Zappa

  12. #72
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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 cg3 View Post
    ...Only 39% treat. How's that affect the spin?
    yes, 10% out of 40% = 4% efficiency of the treatment, very low
    Серёжа, Sergey

  13. #73
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    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
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    626

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    Quote Originally Posted by Moonfire View Post
    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!!
    I believe the other plant is Oregano. I planted that, thyme, and lavender around my hives. I also have rosemary but that was there before the hives and I am not sure if it repels mites. I already had a few lavender plants around the yard because I love them and when I saw the bees shared the love and learned mites don't it was enough for me to add more.


    On the antibiotic line...I don't blindly take what is prescribed. I have had a doctor give me Cipro, which is what they give you for the big nasties like Anthrax, and after reading what the side effects could be I called and made him give me something else on the mild side. No way was I taking that unless it was do or die. For a lot of things I go with the homeopathic approach.

  14. #74
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    Feb 2012
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    DesAllemands, Lousiana
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    209

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    Quote Originally Posted by libhart View Post
    Deepsouth,

    That's really cool, but not all areas are created equally. In fact they're extremely different. Yes, other beekeepers in your area can probably do it and be successful as well, but because you can do it where you are doesn't mean that the entire country can be treatment free. It's the real estate mantra...location, location, location.
    I do agree with location is important. I guess I take it for granted how easy beekeeping is in the south.

  15. #75
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    Dec 2008
    Location
    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
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    2,612

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    To the OP, look for threads by StevenG from S.E. Mo. I have spoken with him in person twice, and found him to be logical and intelligent, with a supporting understanding of the ways of the bees.I would read his posts, and then contact him.

    We do not use any chemicals to combat mites, and are a small commercial outfit. It can be done, but requires a much higher level of beekeeping skills. As for the bees adapting to the mites, don't hold your breath. I believe it is quicker to breed a weaker mite than to breed a stronger bee.

    Crazy Roland

  16. #76
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    Sep 2011
    Location
    Corvallis, OR
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    223

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    Really difficult to draw meaningful conclusions from these data. 39% of beekeepers treated but 86% of hives were treated. Beekeepers that treat managed an average of 142 colonies; non-treating beekeepers managed an average of 15.

    So...beekeepers that don't treat are mostly hobbyists; most commercials and sideliners treat (with a fair number of hobbyists in that group as well bringing the average down).

    We have some confounding factors. Commercial hives might be expected to have lower losses due to more experienced management; on the other hand they might have higher losses due to the stresses of migratory operations. Are we seeing a difference due to management style or due to treatment?

    Also, the act of treating for mites does not guarantee low mite counts going into winter. For various reasons treatments are often ineffective, with follow-up treatments required. Whole-country surveys can't really be used to prove whether mite treatments improve winter survival.

    What proportion of colonies with 20% mite infestation (20 mites/100 bees) in fall survive winter?
    What proportion of colonies with 5% infestation survive?
    What proportion of colonies with 1% infestation survive?
    I don't have the answers in front of me, but there are some data out there.

    If a colony with 20% infestation has a 70% chance of dying over winter, and a colony with 1% infestation has a 20% chance of dying, and I can kill 95% of mites (from 20% to 1%) with a series of treatments, should I treat?

    The answer to that depends on my beekeeping philosophy. Is it more important to preserve my investment for more honey next year, or is it more important to improve the long-term health of my bees by culling (or letting nature cull) mite-susceptible colonies?

    My personal philosophy is to keep bees alive but not to propagate bad genetics. For example I will treat a hive with high mite loads going into winter but will try to requeen it with more resistant stock in spring.

  17. #77
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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 cg3 View Post
    36.7 x .80 =29.36
    Oh, I see.

    I guess another way of looking at these numbers is... if you have 10 hives and you treat, (and if you lose an average number of hives) you'll lose 3 of them. If you don't treat, you'll lose between 3 and 4 hives. Because the average lies between 3 and 4, in this case a little less than half those who treat will average a loss of 3 hives, same as those who treat, and a little more than half of those who don't treat will average a 4 hive loss.

    I just can't see that as so beneficial an effect that I'd want to be breeding more virulent mites and damaging the hives' microflora and fauna. It seems a poor trade-off to me, and to completely debunk the experts who thunder that you must treat for mites.

    I have to admit that I'm not interested in making a lot of honey-- I don't know what I'd do with it. I'm more interested in just learning about beekeeping, so I know that my perspective will be shared primarily with other hobbyists. But it doesn't take a lot of effort to make up a half-dozen nucs, so far as I can tell, especially if you don't care a lot about making huge amounts of honey. In my hypothetical 10 hive yard, that would likely make up for the average losses in untreated hives.

    I might be wrong, but as the virulence of mites increases, and chemical treatments continue to lose efficacy, I think I'd rather be on the side of the ledger that concentrates on having bees healthy enough that they can survive without treatment. There are people doing this successfully, for whom mites are no longer a problem. Can any beekeepers who treat say the same? I think the answer is obvious. If they didn't have a mite problem, why would they treat?

  18. #78
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    Dec 2012
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    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    Quote Originally Posted by Roland View Post
    I believe it is quicker to breed a weaker mite than to breed a stronger bee.

    Crazy Roland
    Either one would be an improvement, I guess. Folks who treat can forget about breeding weaker mites...

    Isn't there a theory among some evolutionary biologists that pests like varroa, if left to work things out, tend to develop less virulence? I believe the thinking is that a parasite that is too rough on its host species thereby reduces its opportunities to reproduce, and a parasite that allows its host to survive will have better longterm reproductive prospects than the one that kills its host quickly.

  19. #79
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    Feb 2006
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    Herrick, SD USA
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    4,228

    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    Quote Originally Posted by rhaldridge View Post
    Either one would be an improvement, I guess. Folks who treat can forget about breeding weaker mites...

    Isn't there a theory among some evolutionary biologists that pests like varroa, if left to work things out, tend to develop less virulence? I believe the thinking is that a parasite that is too rough on its host species thereby reduces its opportunities to reproduce, and a parasite that allows its host to survive will have better longterm reproductive prospects than the one that kills its host quickly.
    In the case of varroa that may not necessarily be true. The really odd thing about their reproductive habits is that as long as their populations remain low they continue to inbreed. It isn't until the populations get high enough for a colony to collapse and be robbed out that cross breeding of varroa occurs to any extent. It seems entirely believable to me that the longer you control your mite numbers the less virulent varroa will become. if there is one thing that probably everyone can agree on its that the best and most desirable control of a pest occurs when their reproduction can be affected and not by killing adults.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  20. #80
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    Default Re: New beekeeper interested in chemical free treatment

    Quote Originally Posted by Luterra View Post
    Really difficult to draw meaningful conclusions from these data. 39% of beekeepers treated but 86% of hives were treated. Beekeepers that treat managed an average of 142 colonies; non-treating beekeepers managed an average of 15.

    So...beekeepers that don't treat are mostly hobbyists; most commercials and sideliners treat (with a fair number of hobbyists in that group as well bringing the average down).
    Well, there you go. We backyard beekeepers, regardless of treating or not, are unlikely to have much effect overall. So I would not automatically assume the OP needs a lecture, but tell him to do whatever makes sense to him.
    Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. -Frank Zappa

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