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  1. #81
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    Default Re: Treatment Free: It's a path, not a solution

    "And, I contend that in practically every failure varroa are part of the equation.
    If you haven’t taken an objective measurement….you don’t know."

    This ranks right up there with thinking that one can't know if he has a mite problem if he is not doing mite counts.

    There are other objective measures than mite counts t to determine if one has a mite problem.

    Productive hive counts are an example of such objective measures.

    I've been keeping hives treatment free for years now. Not many years, but years.

    The hives are consistently productive and have a higher than normal survival rate.

    That, friend, is what I call Not A Mite Problem

  2. #82
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    Default Re: Treatment Free: It's a path, not a solution

    I don't "count" mites, but I am keenly aware of them.

    By that I mean that I am admittedly monitoring mites, just without counting specifically. When mites are high, you know it. You can see the dropped mites, you can see the damaged bees, and you can see phoretic mites. You can see the strain when their numbers are getting up.

    But I'd argue that you have to learn to become sensitive to the signs.

    People who say that they don't count mites, are "counting" them in other ways. The most basic might be through the simple counting of dead hives. The actual tests for mite levels in numerical values really only matter if you're treating, and looking for particular thresholds. If you're not, then you are more concerned with "measuring" mites in how you see them affecting your colonies, and you're reacting and adjusting to the changing situation, just like anyone.

    Even if your hives are thriving and you're not counting numerically, you're still measuring; taking stock of the mite situation, and happily recognizing that you don't have a measurable mite problem.

    No matter how you approach it, you're still measuring. We all are.


    Adam

  3. #83
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    Default Re: Treatment Free: It's a path, not a solution

    I agree with you completely, Adam.

    Whether we simply count dead hives or live ones, we're measuring the same thing.

    I was actually responding to
    Quote Originally Posted by beemandan View Post
    Actually head in the sand (HITS) refers to those who state ‘I don’t test for ‘em, and I don’t treat’ and then have the audacity to claim that ‘mites aren’t a problem’.
    I don't count or "test" but I am aware.

    I'm also aware that there has been / is no mite problem to date.

    I don't think it's because I use small cell foundation and foundationless frames.
    I don't think it's diet/feeding practices.
    I don't think it' because of the significant influence of feral bees in their gene pool.
    I don't think it's location.
    I don't even think it's because I avoid treatments.

    I think it's probably a combination all of those things, as well some we haven't thought to consider yet.

  4. #84
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    Default Re: Treatment Free: It's a path, not a solution

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Foster Collins View Post
    My biggest concern in a partial-treatment approach is that the strongest colonies produce the most drones. If I'm artificially creating strength through treatments, then I would be working toward minimizing the genetic contributions of those treated colonies.
    Adam
    I think this is important. It is also important to understand that evolution happens most rapidly under selective pressure. Bees won't adapt to mites that aren't there forcing them to adapt. This is why beekeepers trying to prepare for the arrival of mites their area experience high losses even with resistant stock (Erik Osterlund for example). The bees can't learn to adapt to the mites if they aren' t their applying pressure. The Bond method/test applies the most selective pressure and should in theory be the fastest way to resistant stock. It also the hardest on the pocketbook.
    Adam - Zone 5A
    www.adamshoney.com

  5. #85
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    Default Re: Treatment Free: It's a path, not a solution

    I have seen a lot of anecdotal evidence of good mating results in yards with lots of drone strength and (most importantly) poorer results in yards with less drone strength to satisfy myself that most matings happen from local drones. I am convinced that natures way of preventing inbreeding is from multiple matings more than drones from afar. A few years ago we had some nucs weak on drones and placed them in their own yard with 2 strong yards just a mile away in opposite directions. I assumed that "sandwiching" them in such a way would result in good matings. The strong yards "caught" very well while the nucs weak in drone population did poorly.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  6. #86
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    Default Re: Treatment Free: It's a path, not a solution

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Foster Collins View Post

    No, I don't think you do either. Weaver did a scaled approach and phased it in. I've been thinking about it, but I'm not ready to try it. I think if I did, I would move to a lot of drone culling and re-queening of colonies I didn't see as strong enough. My biggest concern in a partial-treatment approach is that the strongest colonies produce the most drones. If I'm artificially creating strength through treatments, then I would be working toward minimizing the genetic contributions of those treated colonies.

    Adam
    Very true and very much a concern. Somewhat mitigating that effect; even within a treated yard those strongest hives are doing much of the mite battle themselves.

    The title of this thread uses the singular term path. I think it is pathways. For my location, my skills and my bees that path is not a straight line to passing the Bond test. Stating that in no way implies any detraction about anothers methods or results, it may imply little jealousy. I am not advocating for the crooked path, just admitting I am on it. Not ashamed of that either.
    Wish it was a straightline for me as well.
    4 yrs, Peak 14, back to zip, T lite; godfather to brother's 3.

  7. #87
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    Default Re: Treatment Free: It's a path, not a solution

    Saltybee, I hear you, and that is in line with what Oldtimer and others are saying as well. I completely respect that approach, and every other approach - treated or not. If I had real answers, I might get pushy, but as far as I can tell, no one's got it figured out. I think the best approach is to follow what you believe and to remain open to listening to the beliefs of others at the same time.

    Zhiv9, Jim,

    Ever since I heard Keith Delaplane's talk on Polyandry, I've really been convinced that the mating of a queen to as many drones from as many different strong colonies - from as many different genetic backgrounds - as possible may be the biggest key to the adaptable strength of the bee. It's as if each "family" or genetic line has slightly different strengths, and the broadest mating equates to the biggest "tool belt" for surviving all the world throws at them.

    So I have to admit, even the idea of what I said about minimizing the drones in some of the colonies that are treated, or suffering from mite damage makes me wonder:

    What "tools" might be lost with those drones?

  8. #88
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    Default Re: Treatment Free: It's a path, not a solution

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Foster Collins View Post
    What "tools" might be lost with those drones?
    Even above the genetic level, there are things drones can do for us. The first one I can think of is a bait for mites. I posted results of a survey I did earlier this year where I actually pulled brood out and counted mites. I was very disappointed that I got no engagement on it whatsoever. I still wonder why. Check it out: http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...nt-Free-Colony

    What I found confirmed the theories treatment-free beekeepers have had for a long time, that mites infest drones more, and that one method my bees use is to suppress mite reproduction. Mites infesting in drone brood preferentially leaves the hive still capable of functioning effectively with a high mite load.

    Drones can also be in large numbers from other hives which can throw in some further perplexing dynamics.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  9. #89
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    Default Re: Treatment Free: It's a path, not a solution

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Foster Collins View Post
    Isn't it?
    Let me push on the idea that TF is a path and not a solution. It is a solution, but not a solution in the way that most treatments are solutions. They are a finite solution. There are these mite, kill them mites, mites are gone, bees go on. TF is not that sort of solution. TF is a continuing solution, like fuel injection is a solution for how to get gasoline into an engine in the correct ratio with air. It's a piece put in place but requires a little input and the rest is automatic operation, feedback and adjustment provided by the machine itself.

    I see so often people claim they tried it and then resorted to treating. I don't know why if you kill mites with treatments would you expect that ceasing treatments would somehow result (in a similar timetable) that the mites would still get killed. This applies to all those newbees who buy their package in March and the hive is dead by Christmas. It's not the same sort of solution. However, when you get to the sustainable stage, the solution is there. The solution is already in place and the problem is solved. Now I worry about other things. As far as handling mites and disease, I'm at the end of the path and off down another path doing something else. Maybe TF is a destination, but if it is, it is one from which the journey may continue. Pushing the map analogy further, it's picking which state in which you want to live. Now I'm in the state, but there are a whole lot more places to go.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  10. #90
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    Default Re: Treatment Free: It's a path, not a solution

    Solomon, I did read that, did not comment as a really had not and have not settled the implications to mine in my head. Not new info but a clear demonstration. Drone laying stops for the season and the mites go?
    The need to locally adapt purchased survivor stock indicates that it is not only the local bees that need improving it is the local mites. Parasites shouild not kill the host. TF keepers should sell their mite stock, not just their queens.
    I know I have read it before but the worst part of treating may be that it promotes the success of the fastest breeding mites.
    4 yrs, Peak 14, back to zip, T lite; godfather to brother's 3.

  11. #91
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    Default Re: Treatment Free: It's a path, not a solution

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    I posted results of a survey I did earlier this year where I actually pulled brood out and counted mites. I was very disappointed that I got no engagement on it whatsoever. I still wonder why. Check it out: http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...nt-Free-Colony

    What I found confirmed the theories treatment-free beekeepers have had for a long time, that mites infest drones more, and that one method my bees use is to suppress mite reproduction.
    Sorry Solomon was it me you wanted to respond? I did read your post at the time but didn't think to respond as your post at the time was good information, your findings what would be expected, and the mechanisms already well understood. But I can offer some comments now if you like.

    That mites prefer drone brood is not one of " the theories treatment-free beekeepers have had for a long time". It's a fact. There is no need to wonder why nobody responded, I don't think there was a conspiracy, just it's normal in any hive large or small cell, to find mites preferentially breeding on drones.

    Couple of other bits of info on it you have not already mentioned, mites can reproduce from twice to four times as quickly on drone brood than worker, thanks to the better new mite survival rate, and also, infested drone larvae are more likely to have multiple foundress mites in the cell with them, allowing outcrossing of the mites through sexual reproduction with a different family, so this is probably a good thing for the mites and a bad thing for us.

    As you don't treat you may not be aware, but one way beekeepers who treat decide when treatment is needed, is "maximum mite thresholds". A common maximum mite threshold is 25% of drone larvae infested, or 6% of worker larvae. I noted at the time that your hive was over this on both counts, at 7% for worker larvae, and 27% for drone larvae. Now here is where it gets interesting. When varroa were first introduced to your country and mine, the critical thresholds were higher. Then over the next few years as mite related pathogens such as DWV became more widespread, the critical threshold had to be lowered to the levels I mentioned.
    So, your hive has more mites than the critical levels for both worker, and drone larvae. But ( i'm assuming), the hive appeared healthy. Is it still healthy? If so, it may be less mite resistance you have in your bees, but more of resistance to mite related pathogens. Allowing the bees to appear healthy even with a high mite load.

    Just a few thoughts. Make sense?
    Last edited by Oldtimer; 07-30-2013 at 02:07 PM.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  12. #92
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    Default Re: Treatment Free: It's a path, not a solution

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post

    Mites infesting in drone brood preferentially leaves the hive still capable of functioning effectively with a high mite load.
    i suppose that explains why colonies that are strong and productive during spring and summer mysteriously crash in the fall and winter. at the end of summer when drones are no longer being raised the mites turn to worker brood for reproduction, and when brooding is over and the number of bees decreases to winter cluster size the infestation rate goes way up.

    i've only got a few more supers to harvest and then we'll see what the alcohol wash counts are in my yard and how those compare to colony strength, production, and winter survival.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  13. #93
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    Default Re: Treatment Free: It's a path, not a solution

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    i suppose that explains why colonies that are strong and productive during spring and summer mysteriously crash in the fall and winter.
    That seems like a reasonable hypothesis. Therefore one would need bees adapted to deal with mites at that point, or prevent that point from happening. I had a hive that was totally visibly infested with mites at that point, yet survived the winter unfed and unprepared because I had expected it to die. So that makes winter losses that much more important an indicator in the ability to deal with mites.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  14. #94
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    Default Re: Treatment Free: It's a path, not a solution

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    As you don't treat you may not be aware, but one way beekeepers who treat decide when treatment is needed, is "maximum mite thresholds". A common maximum mite threshold is 25% of drone larvae infested, or 6% of worker larvae. I noted at the time that your hive was over this on both counts, at 7% for worker larvae, and 27% for drone larvae. Now here is where it gets interesting. When varroa were first introduced to your country and mine, the critical thresholds were higher. Then over the next few years as mite related pathogens such as DWV became more widespread, the critical threshold had to be lowered to the levels I mentioned.
    So, your hive has more mites than the critical levels for both worker, and drone larvae. But ( i'm assuming), the hive appeared healthy. Is it still healthy? If so, it may be less mite resistance you have in your bees, but more of resistance to mite related pathogens. Allowing the bees to appear healthy even with a high mite load.

    Just a few thoughts. Make sense?
    Sorry to quote myself folks but had a few more thoughts from it.

    Years ago, around the turn of the century, the VSH breeding program was seen as one of the greatest hopes to produce a resistant bee. But now, years later, it has not eventuated as hoped.

    This might be because VSH focusses on just one mechanism, to target mites. The bond method, in theory anyway, does not target one thing, it selects purely on the basis of weather a hive can survive in mite infested areas. That ability to survive might possibly include ability to resist mite related pathogens. The evidence presented by Sol, ie, mite loads regarded as critically high in a typical treated hive but no apparent harm, would support that theory.

    Make sense?
    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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    Default Re: Treatment Free: It's a path, not a solution

    Old timer: that is why the true live and let die method is what I am using. I don't care what mechanism(s) they ultimately come up with. Nature rarely comes up with a method in a methodical planned way. Nature comes up with solutions that we can't even predict. I wrote a blog piece last year about how Japanese honey bees overcome Asian hornets..... Who would have thought bees would have come up with a temperature dependent way to actively kill hornet scouts..... But ut did. It would be interesting to know how long ago Japanese honey bees came up with this defense and how long it took.

    If you read langstroth you can see how much more severe the wax moth used to be as a pest. He called it the bee wolf. Today they are a pain in weak/dying hives, but back in his time they must have been more virulent or the genetic lines of bees who existed here in America had become so weak in the absence of moths for 80-100 years.
    Jason Bruns
    LetMBee.com YouTube

  16. #96
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    Default Re: Treatment Free: It's a path, not a solution

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    ... I see so often people claim they tried it and then resorted to treating. I don't know why if you kill mites with treatments would you expect that ceasing treatments would somehow result (in a similar timetable) that the mites would still get killed...
    That's the central reason behind my original post and the tread title. As one approaches the idea of being treatment free, they shouldn't approach it in the same way they might approach the use of oxalic acid or MAQS, or wintering nucs for that matter.

    Running bees without treatments is not a solution or an answer the way specific treatments or management strategies are. Being treatment free only means not treating, and then choosing a combination of a number of methods and management techniques to find a balance where you can reach your goals with the bees.

    I think for too many people, their decision-making process around mites reads something like this:

    Essential Oils.
    (and/or)
    Drone brood removal
    (and/or)
    Sugar shake
    (and/or)
    Organic Acids
    (and/or)
    Small cell
    (and/or)
    Thymol
    (and/or)
    Treatment Free

    Treatment free is not a method of dealing with mites. It a choice to not treat for mites. In that sense it a direction, or the beginning of a path. Once you are to the point where you are operating successfully without treating (reaching your own goals with your bees), then I guess you could say have reached a "destination" in that you've achieved something. But you could also say that you just remain on that treatment free path toward a variety of other goals; season after season. From there it's likely just things like getting them through winter, building up in spring, selling nucs, rearing queens and making honey - just like it is for most other beekeepers. You're just doing it without treating.

    So in that sense I feel that the decision should begin with

    Beekeeping with Treatments for mites
    (and/or)
    Treatment Free Beekeeping

    Only after that decision is made does that first list of solutions come into play.

    Adam

  17. #97
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    Default Re: Treatment Free: It's a path, not a solution

    American foul brood used to be much more common and virulent as well. Ed Levi told us (at the Big Bee Buzz last year) about how it got imported from France into Egypt through the importation of queens. There, it destroyed entire apiaries, dozens of hives at once. Here in the US, where AFB hives have been burned for many years, it doesn't appear very often except in hives previously treated with antibiotics, giving it a foothold. Burning an AFB hive would be akin to the "Accelerated Bond Test" for AFB where the varroa version uses heavily infested frames to infect a hive.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  18. #98
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    Default Re: Treatment Free: It's a path, not a solution

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Foster Collins View Post
    Running bees without treatments is not a solution or an answer the way specific treatments or management strategies are.
    Yes, but why is it so often categorized that way?

    I was thinking today, relating modern beekeeping with historical beekeeping. From what I understand, the sort of increase I practice was common 80 or more years ago. However, there seems to be this pervasive undercurrent today that a hive should in the right conditions be immortal. Requeening, treating, and other practices are structured such that it is the unspoken opinion of many beekeepers that a hive should never die. I say this is all wrong, and there are so many problems that creep up. The first problem is the aging of comb as it collects environmental chemicals, viruses, bacteria, and the older it gets, the more attractive it becomes to wax moths. Hives are supposed to eventually die out just like everything else gets old and dies. I say we use this to our benefit and stop trying to manage contrary to nature. It is good to cycle out comb. It is good for weak hives to die. I agree with Kirk Webster in the idea that mites are beneficial in that they weed out the weak. Hives are not immortal and there's no reason to get worried about one dying.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  19. #99
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    Default Re: Treatment Free: It's a path, not a solution

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    Yes, but why is it so often categorized that way?

    I was thinking today, relating modern beekeeping with historical beekeeping. From what I understand, the sort of increase I practice was common 80 or more years ago. However, there seems to be this pervasive undercurrent today that a hive should in the right conditions be immortal. Requeening, treating, and other practices are structured such that it is the unspoken opinion of many beekeepers that a hive should never die. I say this is all wrong, and there are so many problems that creep up. The first problem is the aging of comb as it collects environmental chemicals, viruses, bacteria, and the older it gets, the more attractive it becomes to wax moths. Hives are supposed to eventually die out just like everything else gets old and dies. I say we use this to our benefit and stop trying to manage contrary to nature. It is good to cycle out comb. It is good for weak hives to die. I agree with Kirk Webster in the idea that mites are beneficial in that they weed out the weak. Hives are not immortal and there's no reason to get worried about one dying.


    Isn't this the way it usually works with Ferrell colonies, Mite loads get high enough bees obscond or die , wax moth, etc move in, clean out and destroy the old comb and then at some point a new colony moves in and starts the process over?

  20. #100
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    Default Re: Treatment Free: It's a path, not a solution

    Quote Originally Posted by Harley Craig View Post
    Mite loads get high enough bees obscond or die , wax moth, etc move in, clean out and destroy the old comb and then at some point a new colony moves in and starts the process over?
    That's one way it can work. It doesn't have to be mites. In a hive able to deal well with mites, it would more likely be the loss of a virgin on her mating flight, or starvation, or a skunk or who knows what.
    Last edited by Solomon Parker; 07-30-2013 at 07:27 PM.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

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