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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
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    Denver, Colorado
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    Default Losses and Successes

    Here's your continuing chance to have any and all serious questions answered by a genuine treatment-free beekeeper of high caliber. I start these threads from time to time as old ones die out or go off topic. I want to be available especially for new beekeepers or backyard and hobbyist beekeepers. This thread is for you. Do you want to start treatment-free? Do you want to go treatment-free? Find out what you're in for.

    If you are a commercial beekeeper or have no intention of being treatment-free under the guidelines of this forum, this thread is not for you.

    My background: I have been keeping bees more than ten years and currently have ~32 hives, all 100% treatment-free and always have been. I call myself an avid hobbyist, I am a small time queen breeder and nuc producer. I try to do it all on a slightly bigger than backyard scale. You can also check out my website for frequently asked questions.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Warrior, Alabama
    Posts
    1,067

    Default Re: Have Your Questions Answered by a Treatment-Free Beekeeper

    I want to lurk, read and gain knowledge. My current sit prohibits participation.
    Old Guy in Alabama

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Hot Springs, Arkansas
    Posts
    301

    Default Re: Have Your Questions Answered by a Treatment-Free Beekeeper

    first, maybe define what treatment free means to Solomon Parker. I've been following your posts closely since I am from Arkansas also. Beetle traps are ok.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Santa Rosa County, Florida
    Posts
    390

    Default Re: Have Your Questions Answered by a Treatment-Free Beekeeper

    I realize there are losses but I have never seen the actual amount posted.How many colonies do you lose each year?

  5. #5
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    Dec 2002
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    Default Re: Have Your Questions Answered by a Treatment-Free Beekeeper

    Well, I generally abide by the forum rules in the forum as far as the definition.

    My personal practice is that I do nothing for any disease other than burning hives infected with AFB.

    Things that are not treatments are things done in the normal course of beekeeping. I don't do anything because "this will help them deal with mites better." I will do things that will diminish swarming or make more honey or get rid of this mean hive. That's beekeeping and it has nothing to do with treating. I don't do anything that wasn't done before mites came along. Not only are these things ultimately not necessary, they shouldn't be. In my view, the bees should do these things on their own or die trying.

    I am a Bond Test beekeeper for these reasons. It works very well for me and I have very low winter losses.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
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    Default Re: Have Your Questions Answered by a Treatment-Free Beekeeper

    Quote Originally Posted by gone2seed View Post
    I realize there are losses but I have never seen the actual amount posted.How many colonies do you lose each year?
    I regularly post my losses on various threads here in the forum. I've lost a single colony over winter the last two winters. Overwinter losses are easy to keep track of because there's no increase or selling going on. This year, I've lost one in the spring and one in the summer. I've had as many as 45 total hives this year, but again, that fluctuates almost by the day in spring and early summer.

    Compare my losses to the national average which is in the range of 30% winter losses and I make the case that my system is far superior to the common methods. However, one must remember that this is a long term system and these results cannot be duplicated immediately, or so is my contention.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, North Carolina
    Posts
    2,714

    Default Re: Have Your Questions Answered by a Treatment-Free Beekeeper

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    This year, I've lost one in the spring and one in the summer. I've had as many as 45 total hives this year, but again, that fluctuates almost by the day in spring and early summer.
    So the difference between your 45 hive peak and your 32 hive current count is because you have sold hives, not lost them (for whatever reason)? How many have you sold this year, and on average do the hives you sell bear similar overwintering success to your own hives (say, 95%)? Or do you not keep track of that type of information?

    Just to be clear, we are talking about a 95% overwintering success rate overall, not just those that failed from mites, right? That type of rate is head and shoulders above the pre-varroa average success rates, let alone today's averages. Which would indicate that you are doing something other than being treatment free to contribute to your success rate. Would you agree?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
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    Denver, Colorado
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    Default Re: Have Your Questions Answered by a Treatment-Free Beekeeper

    Quote Originally Posted by Specialkayme View Post
    So the difference between your 45 hive peak and your 32 hive current count is because you have sold hives, not lost them (for whatever reason)?
    Or done something else with, like combine or requeen.


    Quote Originally Posted by Specialkayme View Post
    How many have you sold this year, and on average do the hives you sell bear similar overwintering success to your own hives (say, 95%)?
    Eight or something, plus queens, just as many cancellations. I have not had reported the loss of a hive or queen I have sold.


    Quote Originally Posted by Specialkayme View Post
    Or do you not keep track of that type of information?
    I was always taught if you ask negative questions you'll get negative answers.


    Quote Originally Posted by Specialkayme View Post
    Just to be clear, we are talking about a 95% overwintering success rate overall, not just those that failed from mites, right?
    Correct.


    Quote Originally Posted by Specialkayme View Post
    Would you agree?
    Only if you believe in the power of prayer.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Greene, (Upstate) NY. The Great USA
    Posts
    94

    Default Re: Have Your Questions Answered by a Treatment-Free Beekeeper

    First year...16 hives...cut-outs and splits. Treatment free so far...Tub of apiguard in the basement as stand-by. Watching this thread, as I am on the fence w/ the treatment free, and take care of what you got mentalities. Finacially, I can afford to lose them all. Emotionally, I'm not so sure, kinda like my girls! I do believe treatment free is the only way we will ensure a strong mite resistant honeybee. That being said, not sure I am confident letting them go into winter w/o treatment.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Loup City, NE
    Posts
    149

    Default Re: Have Your Questions Answered by a Treatment-Free Beekeeper

    Huntingboy..........Please don't treat! I'm in my 3rd year and I've lost 1 hive out of 52 total, some swarms but mostly nucs I
    purchased. I don't treat and above all else do not feed them SUGAR wet or dry.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Greene, (Upstate) NY. The Great USA
    Posts
    94

    Default Re: Have Your Questions Answered by a Treatment-Free Beekeeper

    Unfortunately, I have been poking the sugar and HBH right to them. Have been feeding them right along based on the advice of my mentor, trying to get them built up to 2 deeps each for winter. I didn't realize there were any negative effects associated with sugar syrup until I read a few threads on here. At that point I was already in the "feeding game". Out of my 16 hives I have only 2 that I believe are being affected by mites. This is from simple observation, I have done no mite testing, as I knew I would get them, and figured once I did there were only 2 options...Treat or don't. Like I said still on the fence...If I don't I don't, If I do it will be all 11 hives that have not had a brood break.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    5,679

    Default Re: Have Your Questions Answered by a Treatment-Free Beekeeper

    Note that simply feeding sugar does not violate "treatment free" per the rules of this forum.
    The definition of the term treatment also does not include feeding items such as:
    Sugar syrup
    Dry granulated sugar
    High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
    Pollen substitutes

    Complete "treatment free" definition here:
    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...ue-Forum-Rules
    -- Victor Hugo -- "Common sense is in spite of, not the result of, education.”

  13. #13

    Default Re: Have Your Questions Answered by a Treatment-Free Beekeeper

    I thought the purpose of the Treatment Free forum was to allow people who were interested to ask questions.
    So….exactly….why do they need a special thread?
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  14. #14
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    Dec 2002
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    Default Re: Have Your Questions Answered by a Treatment-Free Beekeeper

    Quote Originally Posted by beemandan View Post
    I thought the purpose of the Treatment Free forum was to allow people who were interested to ask questions.
    So….exactly….why do they need a special thread?
    It's helpful for people to know their questions can be answered and not shot to pieces. People such as yourself who don't recognize the importance of the topic come in and make a mess of most threads, including most of these Q&A threads I start, can really push newbees away. It helps to have a thread where the topic is well defined and as has been the case, more questions are asked and answered in these threads about treatment-free beekeeping than elsewhere. It's really useful for people to have that kind of access to the information they're looking for. Now, if you don't mind, please move along. You're obviously not interested in the topic at hand, but rather in nitpicking.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  15. #15

    Default Re: Have Your Questions Answered by a Treatment-Free Beekeeper

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    It's helpful for people to know their questions can be answered and not shot to pieces.
    And….in a thread initiated by Solomon Parker….no such thing could occur?

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    People such as yourself who don't recognize the importance of the topic come in and make a mess of most threads
    Your usual uncivil response to a reasonable question.
    Solomon…you are so transparent.
    I understand why you feel the need to start these threads….I simply wonder if you do.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
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    Denver, Colorado
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    Default Re: Have Your Questions Answered by a Treatment-Free Beekeeper

    And that's why I start these threads. Please move on, you are off topic.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Greene, (Upstate) NY. The Great USA
    Posts
    94

    Default Re: Have Your Questions Answered by a Treatment-Free Beekeeper

    Solomon...Do you attribute your success to aggressively splitting, or do you believe that some bees can "coexist" with varroa? Also do you ever feed sugar?

  18. #18

    Default Re: Have Your Questions Answered by a Treatment-Free Beekeeper

    There is an order to the forums on Beesource. In my mind that order serves a purpose.
    Take the Treatment Free forum. The rules are clear and as a result I don’t see a lot of newcomers questions being ‘shot down’….by anyone.

    The idea is that anyone with a question concerning a particular area of tf will ask it….and will give it a subject in the initial post. That subject will draw other tf beekeepers who have knowledge specific to it, to read the question and offer their opinions. It also allows other tf hopefuls to follow each topic.

    Now…in a general ‘Ask questions here’ thread all of those subjects get lost within a long winded thread…often filled with contentious topics debated by people who are glued to their opinions. Many novices…and frankly experienced beekeepers, I’m sure, lose interest….and then someone asks an appropriate question….but those newcomers and experienced tf beekeepers have already stopped following the thread.

    So, again, I ask, and I think reasonably….what purpose does this sort of thread serve that isn't already better served by the fundamental Beesource format?
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
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    Denver, Colorado
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    Default Re: Have Your Questions Answered by a Treatment-Free Beekeeper

    Please move on Dan.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  20. #20
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    Dec 2002
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    Default Re: Have Your Questions Answered by a Treatment-Free Beekeeper

    Quote Originally Posted by Huntingstoneboy View Post
    Solomon...Do you attribute your success to aggressively splitting, or do you believe that some bees can "coexist" with varroa?
    I attribute my success with allowing bees to die that can't deal with disease on their own, and deal with it well. Winter is that main test. I do help the process along in the spring by replacing queens in hives that aren't at least making some minimum progress. I don't do traditional splitting, I raise new hives up from mating nucs supplied with queens raised in the more or less traditional way. I don't know of anybody else doing this sort of method, though I'm not saying somebody isn't doing it. I'm not the only one who uses queen castles for mating nucs. Essentially, new hives are made, not split off other hives. That way I can make maximum increase from favorable genetics with minimum resources. It probably helps with my loss rate that I requeen or merge weak hives, I don't deny that, but that's really just beekeeping and doesn't have a lot to do with treatment-free. Ultimately, the success of larger hives lies entirely on their own capabilities to deal with mites because I employ no outside method to deal with mites including brood breaks.


    Quote Originally Posted by Huntingstoneboy View Post
    Also do you ever feed sugar?
    I do occasionally feed sugar. I have gotten away from syrup completely. Sugar allows me to safely feed only the hives that need it, and they only take what they need during winter. So there isn't a slug of syrup somewhere in the hive from when the hive was fed. That means essentially no sugar ends up in the honey, especially considering the fact that a hive that is fed rarely if ever produces any surplus honey, and is usually requeened or replaced for a related reason.

    "I like" feeding sugar, because of its usefulness, but if you ever feed sugar, you'll find out it's like no other feed. It is not robbed, you can't 'build up' on it, and it is not eaten if it isn't needed. Unless the hive really needs it, you'll be removing the leftovers in the spring. It's the perfect feed for something that shouldn't be needed except rare cases.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

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