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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Lake County Ill
    Posts
    375

    Default Leaving Them Alone

    As a boy I remember a few feral be hives and they did quite well without any tampering by humans. I realize that the bee population is suffering from many diseases but generally I have decided to leave my hives alone as a much as possible.I did feed with syrup and today removed the top feeders. I checked a few frames in each of my 8 hives since the packages were installed about 2 weeks ago. From this point on I am leaving them alone with the exception of a check in another 10 days to determine if they need another deep. It is possible that a few hives may have a queen problem, drone laying, mites or some other issue, but so BEE it. I don't think there are any insects, or mammals that would enjoy having their homes disturbed especially with an application of smoke. So even though a few issues may develop, I have decided no chemicals and no disturbing of the hives except for limited periodic looks. I live in Illinois but last week was in Arizona and watched the feral bees work on a variety of plant material and no one smoked them, introduced chemicals,or continuously inspected their nests. I am sure this doesn't sit well with most bee keepers, but I am certain my bees will have any environment as a close to natural as possible these days. I am not any kind of scientist but I believe if the major bee keepers who ship thousands of hives all over the country into every type of contaminated agricultural crop area stopped their operations, we would have a smaller but healthier bee population. Unfortunately where do you think your package bees come from and what kind of contamination resides in those bee package boxes? I was told all bees have mites,however, any insect would have mites if it was one of 10,000 bees squeezed into a box with other infested bees, and once in our hives those mites have a great place to live and eat.Take a look at any of the catalogs of bee suppliers, there are pages of chemicals listed, almost beginning to look like a medical journal. But when farming and bee keeping became big business, along with financial success came some rather sick bees and livestock, and yes humans.I hope there are other who share my thoughts.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
    Posts
    735

    Default Re: Leaving Them Alone

    Good luck with your plan.

    Please report back in the spring to let us know how many hives survive the winter.
    --shinbone
    (3rd year, 14 hives, Zone 5b, 5400 ft, 15.8" annual rainfall)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Winthrop, WA
    Posts
    51

    Default Re: Leaving Them Alone

    Check out the treatment free forum...sounds like you are heading that way and onto something!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Colorado Springs, CO United States
    Posts
    357

    Default Re: Leaving Them Alone

    Sits well with me,,,

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Flower Mound, TX
    Posts
    17

    Default Re: Leaving Them Alone

    I'm with ya! I'm a new beek...first hive this year (Top Bar) and I plan to let the bees do what they do and hope for the best. I will feed if necessary but don't plan to treat for anything.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Fort Wayne, IN
    Posts
    909

    Default Re: Leaving Them Alone

    Do a lot of reading, Michael Bush, Ross Conrad, Michael Palmer, etc. It can be done, but is more challenging and don't get discouraged with your losses. I would keep a fair number of nucs as backups going into winter every year. Good luck.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,673

    Default Re: Leaving Them Alone

    Quote Originally Posted by hilreal View Post
    Do a lot of reading, Michael Bush, Ross Conrad, Michael Palmer, etc. It can be done, but is more challenging and don't get discouraged with your losses. I would keep a fair number of nucs as backups going into winter every year. Good luck.
    Why do you lump Michael Palmer in with Michael Bush & Ross Conrad? Ok, Bush and Palmer are both named Michael, and Conrad and Palmer are both from Vermont, but I'm not sure there are many parallels beyond those. The philosophies of these folks are way different... (Now if you're trying to say study the techniques of the best beekeepers you can find, I have no issue, except for wondering if you've listed "the best")

    To the original poster - be prepared for your bees to die and work and hope that they won't. There may be bees that can thrive under the conditions you describe, but I haven't found the bee that will do it in my area!

    I share your inclination for doing things naturally - but I have to warn you that unless you are starting out with bees that have shown they will survive without treatments, you are repeating an experiment that has ended badly (meaning with dead bees) for many new beekeepers.

    To finish the thought, ignoring a problem doesn't mean that it is going to go away. To find out if you have a mite problem you need to have very good eyes or you need to test. If you have a mite problem you need to take some action that is consistent with your beekeeping philosophy to resolve the problem. If your philosophy is non-involvement you ought to be prepared for a variety of outcomes, one of which is the likelihood that your bees will die.

    Please don't dismiss my post as a "thou must use a miticide" rant. After loosing a high percentage of my Russian bees (a bee touted to better coexist with mites) this past winter I no longer believe that the bees can make it on their own. I acquired them and put them in a box - and I hate cleaning dead outs. So with my future efforts I need to take some sort of action to keep (or at least minimize) the deadouts.
    Last edited by Andrew Dewey; 05-16-2013 at 12:05 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
    Posts
    1,249

    Default Re: Leaving Them Alone

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Dewey View Post

    I share your inclination for doing things naturally - but I have to warn you that unless you are starting out with bees that have shown they will survive without treatments, you are repeating an experiment that has ended badly (meaning with dead bees) for many new beekeepers.
    That's true, but to be fair, it is also true that even if you treat, there's a pretty good chance that new beekeepers will lose their bees.

    The data I've seen indicates that the difference in colony survival between treated and non-treated colonies is not as large as I at first assumed.

    There are also fluctuations from one year to the next. It might be that you just had a very bad year, and that even if you'd treated, you might have lost many of those Russian bees. Certainly, it is true that many who did treat last year lost a substantial number of their colonies, and some of them are very good beekeepers.

    I think what it comes down to is whether or not you believe that the short-term fix of killing some percentage of the mites, leaving the hardiest to breed the next generations, is really sustainable over the long term. If not, then you have to accept that you will lose bees, over the short term. The payoff for not treating is over the long term.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Alabaster, Alabama, USA
    Posts
    204

    Default Re: Leaving Them Alone

    Quote Originally Posted by woodedareas View Post
    ... I have decided no chemicals and no disturbing of the hives except for limited periodic looks....
    So, do you plan to pull honey from them, make splits, add supers, or anything like that?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    8,973

    Default Re: Leaving Them Alone

    Quote Originally Posted by woodedareas View Post
    As a boy I remember a few feral be hives and they did quite well without any tampering by humans.
    Go for it. I did. I use smoke though. It appears to calm the bees and make the intrusion less of a problem when you have to intrude.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Calvert, Md,USA
    Posts
    1,701

    Default Re: Leaving Them Alone

    Well, if I chose to not use smoke, I wouldn't be inclined to inspect my hives either. To each there own. I lean towards more natural bee keeping. Folks draw their lines in the sand in different places. I must admit, I have a hive at a friends house that we only get into in the spring, and the fall. They have done fine for the last three seasons. No treatments, we took one deep full of honey last fall, (5 gal) they had plenty come this spring. . My friend is 5'8" tall. He has to have me to help him get the top super off because it is taller than he is. We over winter them in four deeps. Crazy but it works. Now,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,he and I are pretty good at looking at the bees behavior at the entrance and their goings and comings, and being able to tell something is not right with the hive. We would go in and inspect. There is a book published called, "At the hive Entrance". One has to learn and find their own balance. IMHO, I wouldn't lock my heals in too deep. I 've had to dig mine out a few times

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,461

    Default Re: Leaving Them Alone

    Very brave and noble intention. I completely support you ! I feel, it is unfair to tell something like - wait, let see how many will die in the winter! It is just unfair because people who treat - actually create the problem (at least partially) - they treat bees, they sent them 1000 miles (to collect more diseases on its way), they crowded bees in the package and sell it to us. Of coarse, these bees already inherited the inability to fight diseases, they are stressed by packaging process etc. And you know what? Nothing personal, but "manufacturers" of these bees actually are not interested that bees overwinter It is cynical statement and I am sorry for this... but ... So, we start from weak bees and than, of coarse they may have a problems if they were treated-treated and suddenly stopped. In this sense, I do not feel I want to support this packaging business. I would rather find survival/feral local bees and start with them, which I did. I practice minimal invasion, meaning that I go into the hive only if there is obvious necessity. I observe my bees from outside as many others. But, I have to admit - I do treat them - with love and passion (they do not care ). We have a small "oasis" of nearly feral bees in the heart of Santa Monica, probably 10 hives total (2 per residence permitted). All our bees are doing their business. The population is doubled and we have to slow down because of city limitations. Bees are very instrumental. There are numerous discussions about to be or not to bee for top entrance... What is the problem? I gave my girls the top entrance thinking it is too hot outside - they blocked it with wax 2/3 already - clear message, apparently, they do not need the top entrance!
    Last edited by cerezha; 05-17-2013 at 12:58 AM. Reason: grammar :(
    Серёжа, Sergey

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Casey, Il, USA
    Posts
    937

    Default Re: Leaving Them Alone

    I'm working on a Hogan trap out on a ferrell colony that is going strong for the last 3 yrs I hope to do the same as you and these genetics will help

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    8,973

    Default Re: Leaving Them Alone

    Quote Originally Posted by cerezha View Post
    What is the problem? I gave my girls the top entrance thinking it is too hot outside - they blocked it with wax 2/3 already - clear message, apparently, they do not need the top entrance!
    The difference is they can open it up if and when they choose rather quickly. Without the upper entrance they cannot.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,461

    Default Re: Leaving Them Alone

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    The difference is they can open it up if and when they choose rather quickly. Without the upper entrance they cannot.
    True, this is why I offered to them this chance.
    Серёжа, Sergey

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    5,701

    Default Re: Leaving Them Alone

    Quote Originally Posted by woodedareas View Post
    I checked a few frames in each of my 8 hives since the packages were installed about 2 weeks ago.
    Quote Originally Posted by woodedareas View Post
    I believe if the major bee keepers who ship thousands of hives all over the country into every type of contaminated agricultural crop area stopped their operations, we would have a smaller but healthier bee population. Unfortunately where do you think your package bees come from and what kind of contamination resides in those bee package boxes?
    Isn't this a kind of oxymoron?

    You bought package bees. But the bee supply industry is bad? Would you buy again should you lose your bees? Should others not buy?

    If you are successful to the point of having spare bees so decide to sell some, would that be bad?
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Lititz, PA, USA
    Posts
    708

    Default Re: Leaving Them Alone

    If the major beekeepers who shipped their bees all over the country would stop operations, you'd have very little in the way of fruit or vegetables to buy, and they'd be very expensive. Not to mention the beekeepers not being able to pay their mortgage or feed their families.

    If you buy package bees and use the bond method, and then if the bees die you buy more packages and use the bond method again, you're simplying trying to "luck" your way into good genetics, hoping that this year's packages are the "good ones". I also question the genetic solution when buying treatment free survivor bees from anywhere but very close by. Sure there are genetics that allow bees to be able to better handle the problems they face, mites in particular, but I think location has a huge role in the survival of treatment free bees. I think an interesting (although essentially logistically impossible) experiment would be for successful treatment free beekeepers to bring two hives to where treatment free beekeepers have a low success rate and keep them there, testing those bees in that location vs their own successful location.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
    Posts
    1,249

    Default Re: Leaving Them Alone

    Quote Originally Posted by libhart View Post
    I think an interesting (although essentially logistically impossible) experiment would be for successful treatment free beekeepers to bring two hives to where treatment free beekeepers have a low success rate and keep them there, testing those bees in that location vs their own successful location.
    Are there actually any such areas? What characteristics would make an area unsuitable for treatment free beekeeping?

    Maybe I have the wrong impression, but don't many successful treatment free beekeepers end up saying something like "Everyone told me that I couldn't keep bees here without treating them. Then I did."

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

    Default Re: Leaving Them Alone

    Quote Originally Posted by libhart View Post
    I also question the genetic solution when buying treatment free survivor bees from anywhere but very close by. Sure there are genetics that allow bees to be able to better handle the problems they face, mites in particular, but I think location has a huge role in the survival of treatment free bees. I think an interesting (although essentially logistically impossible) experiment would be for successful treatment free beekeepers to bring two hives to where treatment free beekeepers have a low success rate and keep them there, testing those bees in that location vs their own successful location.
    so check this out.. If I ( a treatment free beekeeper ) raise a good stock of untreated healthy bees and sell them to other local treatment free beekeepers, who in turn sell them to other treatment free beekeepers and so on and so forth... eventually "local" becomes a very large area indeed!! and that my friend is the whole point that should be broadcast here!! Survivor bees from one region can in fact over time have relatives in other regions!! I call it spreading the love!!

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    5,701

    Default Re: Leaving Them Alone

    The idea has merit, let's hope it happens.

    At this point I can count the number of successful TF beekeepers on my fingers, and they don't represent a lot of hives.

    However I do believe progress is being made, and don't think it's impossible we may one day beat the mite. IMHO, we should not just shoot for bees that live in balance with mites, that would be an outcome of just letting nature taking it's course. With human intervention we can do better than that, and have done with other species we farm.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

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