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  1. #81
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    Stoke on trent,UK
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    Default Re: Leaving Them Alone

    Anyone suggesting sugar dust treatment sf bees is "natural" and not treatment is of course kidding themselves.

    I tried non treatment - never again. The losses are too large...

  2. #82
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    Mar 2011
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    Utica, NY
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    Default Re: Leaving Them Alone

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    Those with resistant bees, are reaping the benefits of work that has already been done by professionals, much as they often like to claim the credit themselves.
    The amount of artificially inseminated bees in the world compared to natural breeding is a spit in the ocean. So if you think the gene pool is affected in any significant way by mankind's selection you are dreaming. The millions of farmed hives are a result of natural breeding. Beekeepers guess at selection traits. Nature decides what happens.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  3. #83
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    Mar 2010
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    Walker, Alabama, USA
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    872

    Default Re: Leaving Them Alone

    Of course it is a treatment--just not an invasive chemical one. We NEED some treatments. They need to be safe and not harmful to the hive. Just as I don't let the bugs eat my tomatoes, I won't let the varroa "eat" my bees. I just don't poison my tomatoes to kill the bugs and I don't poison my bees either. I either pick off the hornworms or I use soapy water to wash off the ants, etc. and that is what I am suggesting doing with the bees--using safe treatments.

    JMO

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

  4. #84
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    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Leaving Them Alone

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    The amount of artificially inseminated bees in the world compared to natural breeding is a spit in the ocean. So if you think the gene pool is affected in any significant way by mankind's selection you are dreaming. The millions of farmed hives are a result of natural breeding. Beekeepers guess at selection traits. Nature decides what happens.
    Agree with the last part of your post but not the first. A lot of breeders have and do come from II stock. Their descendants are numerous.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  5. #85
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    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    4,281

    Default Re: Leaving Them Alone

    Quote Originally Posted by madasafish View Post
    Anyone suggesting sugar dust treatment sf bees is "natural" and not treatment is of course kidding themselves.

    I tried non treatment - never again. The losses are too large...
    i'm not sure if that is in response to my mention of dusting in the previous post. but to clarify, i am not proposing dusting as a treatment for established colonies, but rather as a way to rid a mating nuc of phoretic mites before introducing a queen cell in order to give that nuc a 'fresh' start.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  6. #86
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    Mar 2010
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    Walker, Alabama, USA
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    872

    Default Re: Leaving Them Alone

    The amount of artificially inseminated bees in the world compared to natural breeding is a spit in the ocean. So if you think the gene pool is affected in any significant way by mankind's selection you are dreaming. The millions of farmed hives are a result of natural breeding. Beekeepers guess at selection traits. Nature decides what happens.
    So we should just do nothing? Hey, WE made this mess. Shouldn't we at least TRY to solve it?!? Of course, it is always easier to kick back and do nothing because the problem is so big. That's the easy way. The "safe" way. The cheap way. It's a whole lot harder to roll up the sleeves and go at it tooth and nail. So maybe I won't accomplish a thing. But at least I'll know I tried.

    JMO

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

  7. #87
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    Mar 2011
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    Utica, NY
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    Default Re: Leaving Them Alone

    Quote Originally Posted by Rusty Hills Farm View Post
    So we should just do nothing? Hey, WE made this mess. Shouldn't we at least TRY to solve it?!?
    Every attempt to solve a mess that man has created creates a bigger mess. Leave it alone and nature will solve the mess that man has created. It just takes time.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  8. #88
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    Mar 2010
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    Walker, Alabama, USA
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    872

    Default Re: Leaving Them Alone

    My problem is that I don't think we have the time to wait. We are passing the tipping point on so many issues that even Earth cannot fix our messes anymore. It's time we stopped acting like spoiled children and started cleaning up after ourselves. Or--better yet--stop making the messes in the first place.


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

  9. #89
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    Jun 2010
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    Calvert, Md,USA
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    Default Re: Leaving Them Alone

    I can have some influence in the gene pool in the little area where I keep bees. Two circular miles,,,,,80 plus thousand acres. In listening to the discussions, some have success, some do not. Lots of variables in there, a huge one is bee stock, but it would seem there are places the bees can be treatment free and places they can not. That's another million dollar question I wonder if my bees would do as well way down south??
    We've walked on the Moon(rumor has it LOL ) landed a space vehicle on Mars,,,,,,,
    Rick

  10. #90
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    Dec 2012
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    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
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    1,251

    Default Re: Leaving Them Alone

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    Agree with the last part of your post but not the first. A lot of breeders have and do come from II stock. Their descendants are numerous.
    And the only ones whose genetics are controlled are those descendants that are also II.

    Unless you believe that all the feral bees are gone, the gene pool is still pretty deep.

    I think it takes an astounding lack of imagination to believe that this is the first time this species has faced a devastating challenge. In the millions of years before they were kept by human beings, they must have had many such encounters with pests and diseases for which they had no immediate answer. The fact that they have survived for such a long time in basically the same form as today should be a hopeful sign of the species' resilience.

    Of course, as Rusty points out, there are uniquely difficult challenges now, chief among them is probably habitat loss. But I believe that beekeepers are part of the problem too, and that many of the wounds are self-inflicted. I can't think of any other plausible explanation for the fact that some highly skilled beekeepers who treat and feed in accordance with widely-accepted best practices still are losing large percentages of their colonies every year. Couple that with the fact that some who don't treat are experiencing lower losses, and it's a conundrum.

    As for the idea that smalltimers can have no effect on bee breeding... well, the "I can't do much so why do anything?" rationale has always been a popular excuse for folks who prefer to believe in their own powerlessness. Besides that, you'd have to think that a lot of people are lying to you to accept that excuse. There are a number of people right here on this forum who claim to have developed resistant bees without access to thousands of colonies or II. There are even those barely beyond the smalltimer category that are selling no treatment (or low treatment) bees. I bought some this spring from Wolf Creek, which does only so-called soft treatments, such as essential oils. I may believe that such treatments do more harm than good, but the existence of this business seems to indicate that small apiaries can have an effect on breeding. Then there's the Fat Beeman, who makes a living selling similar bees. There are sideliners who don't treat, like Tim Ives, who gets a lot of honey from his hives, and has an average 8 percent winter loss in a fairly harsh climate. There's Solomon Parker here on this forum. There's Michael Bush, who may know a little about bees. Unless you can make yourself believe that all these people are conspiring to give you bad information, you have to take their existence into account when formulating your opinions.

    You may now point out that I'm a beginner... and use this clever observation to avoid responding to my arguments. I'm used to it.

  11. #91
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    Apr 2012
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    Ka'u Hawaii
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    169

    Default Re: Leaving Them Alone

    From Oldtimer: Personally I don't count mites, but I've been around long enough to recognise when there is a problem needs sorting. But I would not recommend this to a beginner you are GUARANTEED to get it wrong. Testing can do more than just tell you when your hive is approaching death, but also can explain why some hives do better than others, and over time you may learn something of mite population dynamics, which will help your management choices.


    Oldtimer, will you share with us what you look for? I seldom count mites myself, and have been criticized for it.
    I'm guessing:
    1: fewer bees than other hives results in closer inspection, as which time you look at:
    2: health of brood, and health of workers (any chalkbrood, sacbrood, dwv?)
    3: do you look for mite feces in open cells?

    I'm still learning about this as we only have had mites for a few years and I don't enjoy the process of counting mites. Care to enlighten us as to your methods?

  12. #92
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Leaving Them Alone

    the fact that bees have been around for millions of years and have obviously survived untold challenges was offset when langstroth revolutionized beekeeping and we now inflict artificial pressures on them are relatively new. i think that has more to do with why bees struggle than anything, along with increasing demand for decreasing habitat.

    i agree that we owe it to the bees to help them out since we have taken them out of their natural element. i don't criticize anyone for treating and i would do so also if my livelyhood depended on it. but even the experts acknowlege that treating carries the risk of impeding the development of natural resistance as well as the problem that treatments become ineffective over time.

    the back and forth on this is revealing, and suggests to me that we find ourselves conflicted during what could be described as a transition period. for mites in particular, progress is being made by the bees and their keepers, and i am optomistic by this trend.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  13. #93
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    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    45,464

    Default Re: Leaving Them Alone

    >So which would you rather be--the romanticized "wild" horse dead at 10 or the comfortable, cared-for domestic who lives well into his 30s?

    I know what I'd like to be, and it agrees with what the horse would choose, and what the people of New Hampshire would choose if they actually believed their own motto... but apparently doesn't agree with what you would choose... but that has nothing to do with bees...

    >I look at this from the perspective of an organic gardener. Folks who are skeptical and not well-informed about that philosophy tend to think it's all about just not spraying for bugs, or using slightly less destructive pesticides. Or using cow manure instead of ammonium nitrate. But that's not the essence of the method. That essence is the idea that you feed the soil instead of the plant, make that soil healthy and alive, avoid damaging its microbial life, and the plants you grow in that soil will be able to withstand pests and diseases.

    That is exactly the perspective of treatment free beekeeping. A bee colony is not just bees, it's an ecosystem and that whole system is disrupted every time you treat. A healthy system is what keeps the bees healthy.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoursim...ps.htm#ecology
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesmorethan.htm
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  14. #94
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    Default Re: Leaving Them Alone

    Quote Originally Posted by Gino45 View Post
    Oldtimer, will you share with us what you look for? I seldom count mites myself, and have been criticized for it.
    I'm guessing:
    1: fewer bees than other hives results in closer inspection, as which time you look at:
    2: health of brood, and health of workers (any chalkbrood, sacbrood, dwv?)
    3: do you look for mite feces in open cells?
    This is an interesting subject and I know my own views are a minority, and I'm fine with being disagreed with, each to their own method, no worries. So I'll just say what I do and why but I'm not trying to convert anyone, mite counting is fine, good even.

    The perspective I'm coming from is of an ex commercial beekeeper. I had to look after a lot of hives, one outfit I worked for had more than a thousand hives per man. Under those circumstances you are forced to become a " lazy beekeeper", ie, you have to use the quickest and fastest method for everything. Longer and more intricate procedures might be great in theory, the reality though is that they won't happen if you want to get all the hives done.

    Even for a small beekeeper, the faster and easier you can make a task, the more likely you will actually do it.

    When I got back into bees as a hobby I did count mites, and found it great for my education. It is not 100% accurate though. I noticed on my drop boards, one day there might be say, 20 mites. I'd put the board back without cleaning it, but next day there would be no mites. Where did they go? One day I found ants removing them. Maybe it was that, don't know. If you sugar dust 2 jars of bees from the same hive, it's likely you will get 2 different results. Alcohol wash is likely the most reliable. But it doesn't take into account seasonal factors, for example in late fall you test your bees and get a certain number. A few weeks later you test again and get a massively increased number. Did the mites increase that much? No. The bees stopped raising brood, so the 80% of mites that used to be in the brood are now phoretic, and show in the alcohol wash. These things make interpretation of counting results open to subjectivity.

    Mite counts do not reveal virus levels in hives, and it is viruses do the real damage.

    Having said all that I fully recommend anyone starting out does mite counts. You need to do this to learn about mite population dynamics.

    But what I do now, is go by what's actually happening in the hive, and this will be the combined effect of mite levels, virus levels, and ability of the particular bee in that hive to deal with these things.
    The big giveaway a hive is in trouble is PMS (parasitic mite syndrome) in the brood. You will see some abnormal looking cappings, and when you poke a stick in the larva is dead. There will also be dead larvae that didn't get to the capping stage. Some of them look like sac brood, and some of them are still white. If you poke a stick in & do a ropiness test, they don't rope, so you know it is not AFB.
    Visible PMS in the brood indicates the hive is at a critical level, regardless of what the mite count says, as PMS is an indicator of the combined effect of mites plus viruses. Most bee larvae can tolerate one foundress mite in the cell with it. When mite population builds to the point that many worker larvae have two, or more, foundress mites in the cell with them, they cannot cope. the mites, plus their viruses, kill the larvae. This starts a downward spiral that can be pretty quick. Less larvae hatch, the hive gets smaller and has less brood. Mites are forced to go even more to a cell with the larvae, soon little / no brood survives to hatching, the hive dies.

    The other main thing I look for is DWV, an easily seen mite associated virus.

    Just the bee behaviour, ie excessive cleaning and looking " uncomfortable", can indicate mites. The hive can have a general kind of demoralised look to it.

    If a hive with PMS and DWV is treated so mites are removed, provided the hive is not too far gone, ie, there are enough bees to survive till some healthy brood emerges, the PMS and DWV will disappear, evidencing that these viruses are symbiotic with mites.

    Mite faeces in cells are also a giveaway, me, I don't look for them too much purely because my eyesight is not as crisp as it used to be.

    As a backyard queen breeder my goals with mites are different to those of a honey producer. A honey producer wants no mites, so his hives are performing at maximum. Me, I'm wanting to breed from the best bees, and only way to know which ones are best, in terms of mites, is to allow mites relatively free reign so I can find out which hives suffer badly (don't breed from those), and which hives do well. So going by actual damage to the hives, rather than a pure mite count, is the most useful tool to me, and is faster than doing mite counts as I can check during the normal course of working the hive.

    Really what we want is bees that are not damaged by mites. So my method, is the best method for me. But for people starting out, counting mites is likely best, as these other signs can easily be missed. After a few years of counting mites and noting the effects on the hives of various mite levels, a person can switch to not counting mites, but only if that works for them. I'm convinced that different people see hives in different ways.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  15. #95
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    Apr 2013
    Location
    Red bluff, CA USA
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    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!!

  16. #96
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    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    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).

  17. #97
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    Mar 2011
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    Utica, NY
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    Default Re: Leaving Them Alone

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    At this point I can count the number of successful TF beekeepers on my fingers, and they don't represent a lot of hives.
    That you know. I would hazard a guess that there are many more that you don't know.

    If a gardener grows some food to eat is he successful or is he a failure because he cannot grow enough food to be self sufficient.

    Many of your methods and what you say is logical but as you have said your background is commercial beekeeping so when you use the word successful you are thinking from where you came. I think everyone that is practicing treatment free is trying to help the bees in their own way.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  18. #98
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Leaving Them Alone

    Agree.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  19. #99
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    Jun 2010
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    Calvert, Md,USA
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    Default Re: Leaving Them Alone

    One has to define what "success" is when it comes to bee keeping. That can be/is a wide range of answers. I suspect it is, at least in part, why there are some many views on TF as well as other bee keeping subjects. A person with two hives in their back yard vs part timer vs commercial. Certainly healthy to talk about. Lots of good ideas come from that
    Rick

  20. #100
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    Apr 2012
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    Ka'u Hawaii
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    169

    Default Re: Leaving Them Alone

    Excellent answer! Thank you! Or, as we say here, Mahalo! What do the Maoris say?

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