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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Lebanon, VA, USA
    Posts
    5

    Default Received conflicting advice on going treatment free

    We are new to beekeeping this year and will be bringing our nucs home in the next month. I was told by a beekeeper recently that while it's a lovely thought to go treatment free and "natural" that we should do standard proven methods first and then experiment with treatment free. That most newbies that try a natural approach have too many die and get frustrated. In all my reading and research it seems like nothing is solid proven so why not go treatment free and raise more resistant bees? Seems like people lose just as many bees treating with the works so he completely confused me saying to do all the proven treatments. I guess I'm just looking for a little encouragement to go the treatment free way we were planning or trying to understand what he meant. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Spicewood, Texas, USA
    Posts
    232

    Default Re: Received conflicting advice on going treatment free

    I was brand-new to beekeeping a year ago. I had read everything I could possibly get my hands on, and developed a mindset from that. Much will depend on your goals, I guess, and your attitude toward "the girls" in general. Don't let anyone else tell you the right way to go.

    There is no "Standard proven method." My god, has someone not been watching the newscasts or reading the paper lately about the plight of bees?

    So if encouragement is what you want re: treatment free, I guess I could give you some. It works GREAT for me.

    Check out Michael Bush. Check out Solomon Parker.

    You will find many opinions on this site. Follow what your gut tells you. Experience is going to be a great teacher, though! Best of luck to you!

    Sondra

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Worcester County, Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,541

    Default Re: Received conflicting advice on going treatment free

    ...maybe someone will guarantee a specific winter survival rate if you follow their "proven" advice?

    deknow
    The irony is free. It's the sarcasm you are paying for....ironically.
    -Felicity Jones in "Chalet Girl"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Baker Oregon
    Posts
    2,366

    Default Re: Received conflicting advice on going treatment free

    I am sure my hives would have had a much higher winter survival rate if I had treated for mites. I consider it growing pains. It will take time to find genetics (through queens, local breeding or swarms) that can survive with pests. Perhaps others will get lucky and find it right off the line, but I doubt it. If you are going to start TX free, plan on having a crash in your hives, if it never comes so much the better.
    Dan Hayden 4 Years. 9 hives. Tx Free. USDA Zone 5b.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    El Cerrito, CA, USA
    Posts
    49

    Default Re: Received conflicting advice on going treatment free

    i'm a year old beekeeper, so take this with the requisite cup of salt, but I don't think there's virtually ANY area where you'll more conflicting advice than on the issue of treatment. as far as I can tell, there isn't even a consensus about what a treatment IS -- is a screened bottom board a treatment? how about brood breaks or drone traps? how about sugar dusting? formic acid? and so on. So you really are going to have go with your gut, and experiment as best you can. If you haven't found it, Randy Oliver's scientific beekeeping website has been really useful for my thoughts on this issue, since he's someone who clearly wants to go treatment free, but who actually wants to test claims made for various soft treatment options. Michael Bush too. At the end of the day, though, they are your bees, and you'll have to figure out things by trial and error (lots of errors, if I'm any judge!).

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    733

    Default Re: Received conflicting advice on going treatment free

    Quote Originally Posted by SRBrooks View Post
    There is no "Standard proven method."
    Look to those with live colonies of bees Spring after Spring, those with losses in the single digits most years and ask them what they do.
    Seems as proven as any of these prophets out there preaching but never telling you about their survival or loss rate.
    karla

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    West Bath, Maine, United States
    Posts
    1,065

    Default Re: Received conflicting advice on going treatment free

    They may be your bees, but only in ownership. In the treatment free sense they are the last guys bees. If the nucs you are buying are treated you have a long road ahead. That does not mean stay off that road. You do need to watch for potholes, treated or not. You need to know what is happening to your bees either way.
    If you can get treatment free queens you may move several evolutions ahead on treatment free.
    4 yrs, Peak 14, back to zip, T lite; godfather to brother's 3.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,646

    Default Re: Received conflicting advice on going treatment free

    If you get bees that were treated before, fret not.. the only one that lives very long is the queen... the rest are just transients.... and do not pass on any of the treatment issues.......

    But treatment free is a great goal.. and from what I see and hear possible, just be prepared for high losses, and realize its part of the leaning curve...... I myself love the idea, but the praticality of it is not always economicly right for me. I try to stay away from treatments. but last year I had to change that plan, or loose 80% of my hives...... (EFB)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    5,719

    Default Re: Received conflicting advice on going treatment free

    Quote Originally Posted by deknow View Post
    ...maybe someone will guarantee a specific winter survival rate if you follow their "proven" advice?

    deknow
    I would, provided I could personally supervise to see it is done PROPERLY.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    eolia, lincoln county, mo.
    Posts
    42

    Default Re: Received conflicting advice on going treatment free

    I'm new this year also and at first was scared to death of treatment free but after much reading and listening to many beeks I'm not any longer. I'll hope for and do my best and prepare for the worst. And if the worst happens I'll dust myself off take the knowledge Ive assembled and try again. I won't poison my girls. Just try and find the right combinations so they can do what they do naturally. Jeff

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: Received conflicting advice on going treatment free

    I worried about this too and received similar advice - I'm only a year in, so it may well still prove to be sound advice! I don't know that I do entirely qualify as "treatment-free" as I did experiment a few things (like sugar dusting for example). My personal rule was to not put anything into the hives that I wouldn't be willing to be put in my children's mouths (I have lower standards for my safety I guess!) and I think that's how it's going to stay. It's a hobby for me and I am willing to absorb the losses if they happen.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Simpsonville, SC, USA
    Posts
    213

    Default Re: Received conflicting advice on going treatment free

    After reading every book in my public library system cover to cover, buying some others and spending a lot of time here I concluded the most agreeable approach to me was treatment-free and foundationless. The first year I caught 3 local feral swarms. 1 absconded. The second got robbed out due to my stupid feeding idea. The last made it half way through the winter then starved. All had some degree of cross-comb.

    I learned a wealth from all this. Last year I caught 7 swarms. Combined 2 weak ones in the Fall. And all 6 hives made it through a cold winter (for my locale). All are very strong now. I split the 3 strongest this past weekend and caught 2 local swarms so far. My bee yard now has 6 established, strong treatment-free, cross-comb-free foundation less hives, 3 splits and 2 new swarms.

    If you're the type who needs to lean heavily on a support group you will want your practices to be compatible with theirs. If you're willing to rough it on your own private learning curve to pursue your own goals then choose your path and stay the course. Treatment free will work. The folks here are very helpful.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Campbell, Wyoming USA
    Posts
    422

    Default Re: Received conflicting advice on going treatment free

    Quote Originally Posted by HiveMind View Post
    After reading every book in my public library system cover to cover, buying some others and spending a lot of time here I concluded the most agreeable approach to me was treatment-free
    A lot of good advice in this first sentence that I think would help a lot of people out on these decisions. HiveMind boasts that he read every book he could get his hands on as well as doing a lot of reading on beesource. Non stop research on the subject of beekeeping. AFTER a pile of time spent reading and researching he concluded the most agreeable approach TO HIM was treatment-free. I get the impression that a lot of people come to the TF forums looking to pick sides and get people on the band wagon of saying one form of beekeeping is better then another when in reality HiveMind succinctly summarized in his first sentence how beekeeping should be approached. Lots of studying and learning followed by an individual choice on how you personally intend to manage your colonies. Please don't buy into the labels and titles of natural beekeeper, treatment free beekeeper, chemical free beekeeper and just keep bees the way you feel most comfortable.
    Last edited by Moon; 04-10-2013 at 12:30 PM. Reason: typo
    We the willing have done so much with so little for so long we can now do anything with nothing

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Pueblo, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    654

    Default Re: Received conflicting advice on going treatment free

    Learn to keep bees effectively first then go treatment free. Best advice I ever received. Save some bees.
    Zone 5a @ 4700 ft. High Desert
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  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Pensacola, FL
    Posts
    140

    Default Re: Received conflicting advice on going treatment free

    Quote Originally Posted by HiveMind View Post
    After reading every book in my public library system cover to cover, buying some others and spending a lot of time here I concluded the most agreeable approach to me was treatment-free and foundationless.
    <snip>
    This is pretty much exactly what I did. I read everything I could find for about 9 months, and then started two hives from nucs in May of last year. Because of my chosen path, I had foundationless frames ready to go, and I got bees from The Fat Beeman. I have screened bottom boards, and I put FBM hive beetle traps in each hive. I fed them in order to get them started. That's it. I've used no medications, essential oils or sugar dusting.

    Both hives made it thought the winter and are doing well today. There are SHB in my hives, but the bees seem to be keeping them in check. So far I've lost no comb to SHB damage. The only evidence of varroa I've seen is when one hive threw half a dozen pupae out on the ground. I inspected them and found varroa. But when I inspect the hive I see no varroa on the bees. I've even taken photos of frames filled with brood and nurse bees so I could blow them up and study them, and I still don't see any mites.

    So that's been my experience. I realize that I'm a sample of one, and one winter isn't a lengthy track record. I seem to recall being told that if I can make it through my second winter that will be the REAL accomplishment. I suspect that getting bees from someone who does not treat was a key factor, but that's just supposition on my part.

    Brian
    Hobby Beekeeper - Second Year - Two Hives

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Campbell, Wyoming USA
    Posts
    422

    Default Re: Received conflicting advice on going treatment free

    Quote Originally Posted by Benthic View Post
    I realize that I'm a sample of one, and one winter isn't a lengthy track record.
    Don't sell yourself short Brian, every journey begins with the first step and it sounds like yours is heading in the direction you would like it to be.
    We the willing have done so much with so little for so long we can now do anything with nothing

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Spokane, Washington USA
    Posts
    21

    Default Re: Received conflicting advice on going treatment free

    Quote Originally Posted by RiodeLobo View Post
    I am sure my hives would have had a much higher winter survival rate if I had treated for mites. I consider it growing pains. It will take time to find genetics (through queens, local breeding or swarms) that can survive with pests. Perhaps others will get lucky and find it right off the line, but I doubt it. If you are going to start TX free, plan on having a crash in your hives, if it never comes so much the better.
    I'm not so sure anymore, I treat all my colonies for mites. The ones closer into me wintered far better than the ones further east. Which tells me this winters loses had more to do with location than treatment.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Hogansville, Georgia, USA
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Received conflicting advice on going treatment free

    Another newbie here. After all my reading, I decided to go treatment free. I still managed to make a mistake in going with just one hive to start. I figured I'd start slow and work up, but two would have allowed for better comparison. See, I'm learning already.

    I'm getting package bees because I don't feel comfortable going out on swarm calls right out of the gate. I was basically told to suck it up when I mentioned this elsewhere, but I don't think anyone should start out too far over their head. That'd be like taking your first horseback ride at Santa Anita, in full jockey colors. I'm also not so sure people calling for removal services would appreciate my neophyte status.

    I'll install my one package on foundationless. I don't expect a honey harvest and will in fact be happy to have a viable hive at season's end.

    So far, has anything I've said struck anyone reading as too delusional?

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Simpsonville, SC, USA
    Posts
    213

    Default Re: Received conflicting advice on going treatment free

    Quote Originally Posted by Futhark Farm View Post
    I'll install my one package on foundationless. I don't expect a honey harvest and will in fact be happy to have a viable hive at season's end.

    So far, has anything I've said struck anyone reading as too delusional?
    You're expectations are spot on. Make sure your hive is perfectly level and cut your frame's end bars down to 1 1/4" and you will have a good year. Also, be sure to keep enough sugar on your newly installed package until they stop taking it to increase your odds of having success with your package this year.

    How many pounds of bees in the package you're getting?

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Hogansville, Georgia, USA
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Received conflicting advice on going treatment free

    Three pounds. Is that too small to get a good start?

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