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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Walker, Alabama, USA
    Posts
    950

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

    ARBeekeeper, you have given some good, solid advice! Hope more folks pay attention to it. It works for TF or traditional beekeeping.



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

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    4,941

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

    Quote Originally Posted by LetMBee View Post
    . I don't know why so many keepers feel that they must follow the entire strategy practiced by any one person. Our practices can only go through revisions if we experiment keeping with successful practices and dropping unsuccessful ones.

    i agree, there are a lot of variables including geographical location, forage availability, genetics ect. i have enjoyed experimenting and letting the bees teach me.

    One thing is certain.... The way that the vast majority of keepers are managing their bees isn't working or the the forums wouldn't be a BUZZ with all of these issues.

    i disagree, my sense is that the beekeepers are doing better than that, and that the bees are doing better than what is being sensationalized by the media and those with the agenda of fighting modern agricultural practices. the buzz is because beekeepers tend to like to 'discuss' things.
    i also agree with the premise put forth by other posters that it all starts (and ends) with sound beekeeping practices.

    i would add that i believe nutrition is a bigger factor than it gets credit for. a honey only (or mostly) diet must surely give the bees better immunity against pathogens (vectored by the mites).

    and not to sound like a broken record, but taking measures to prevent the spread of mites via robbing (vs. the hard bond method) just makes sense.

    here is a recent post on bee-l that addresses the spread of mites by drift vs. robbing:

    http://community.lsoft.com/scripts/w...L&D=0&P=311347
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Walker, Alabama, USA
    Posts
    950

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

    i also agree with the premise put forth by other posters that it all starts (and ends) with sound beekeeping practices.

    i would add that i believe nutrition is a bigger factor than it gets credit for. a honey only (or mostly) diet must surely give the bees better immunity against pathogens (vectored by the mites).

    and not to sound like a broken record, but taking measures to prevent the spread of mites via robbing (vs. the hard bond method) just makes sense.
    I respectfully disagree. It STARTS with genetics. Only then do these other factors come into play. But without the right bees to start with, y'ain't gonna git nowheres nohow. Too many people are out there 'reinventing the wheel' instead of taking advantage of the work that has already been done. START with VSH, MN Hygienic, Carniolan, Russian stock and breed up from there. Around here the so-called 'feral' population is nothing more than escaped swarms from established hives and not some "special" or "resistant" stock that somehow managed to survive mites. No, the mites killed the true ferals a long time ago. These 'ferals' are just carrying the VSH, MN Hygienic, Carniolan, Russian genes from their original hives and THAT is the source of their 'miraculous' resistance. Sure, use them, but ADD the genetics we've already developed to increase overall resistance to disease and mites.

    So start with solid genetics, follow sound beekeeping practices, let them keep their own honey instead of stealing it all, and prevent the spread of mites from failing hives infecting your hives, and you will finally be on a solid path that leads forward.

    As always, JMO

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

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    4,941

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

    point well taken rusty, some strains are more resistant than others.

    and after thinking about it, i would say that location may trump all of those other considerations.

    the best bees kept by the best beekeeper would likely do poorly without adequate forage and clean water nearby, and not all locations will have the diversity of plant life that's necessary.

    technically speaking the 'true ferals' of yesteryear were also swarms from the european bees that the settlers brought with them as honeybees are not native to this continent.

    the bees i have trace back to feral survivors cut out of trees about 16 years ago, i believe before the resistant stocks you mentioned were widely available and during the peak of the varroa epidemic. i have no proof, but i don't think that all of the ferals were wiped out around here. these bees have been surviving without mite treatments year after year, so it is possible to get mite resistant bees by finding and using feral survivors.

    i was lucky to happen into these bees, and to get them adapted for my locality was icing on the cake. not everyone may have access to bees like this, and it would be challenging to know the history of any bees found out it the wild. your advice regarding purchasing stock with resistant traits is sound.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,963

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

    I for one am delighted to read that someone else believes the feral survivor phenomenon to be regional - too much is made IMO of people who catch swarms and believe they have been gifted with precious stock. I read of beginning beekeepers who start by catching a "feral swarm" and think "good luck" but in my heart I am counting those bees as dead before the year is out. Do I think there are isolated places in the US where there are real feral bees that survive without treatments or interference from humankind? Yes. Do I think there are good and conscientious beekeepers who build up their yards with swarm catches? Yes. But I also think both those beekeepers and "feral swarms" are quite rare.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    West Bath, Maine, United States
    Posts
    1,143

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

    Wether it was feral for 15 minutes or 15 years it did come from stock that was strong enough, either with or without treatment to swarm. That puts it in the top end of stock at least. It may not have genetics on it side but it at least has prior good health on it's side.
    Precious, maybe not, high average for local conditions; probably.
    4 yrs, Peak 14, back to zip, T lite; godfather to brother's 3.

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,963

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

    Sorry to disagree but disagree I must - many of the swarms we get in this area are from bees brought in to the area for commercial pollination. Swarming, especialy in a hive with a young queen, (and I am told more than a few commercial beekeepers are replacing their queens multiple times a year) is not a trait to be regarded as desirable.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    West Bath, Maine, United States
    Posts
    1,143

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

    Not a disagreement at all, just an explanation. I do not think in terms of the invasion of pollinators you see. By the time they reach you they have been working for months. It may be more a mass escape than a swarm!
    4 yrs, Peak 14, back to zip, T lite; godfather to brother's 3.

  9. #29
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Tineo, Asturias, SPAIN
    Posts
    184

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

    I am in western Asturias, Spain, in the mountains. There are many abandoned hives that are occupied around here - as well as abandoned homes galore with hives in dead spaces - and almost no managed hives any more. This area is rife with feral stock. Lucky for me.

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,996

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

    I know there are "feral survivors" out there, I just think that a majority of what people call that are actually just recent swarms from managed hives. Sometimes, you can get a cut-out or swarm from a colony that you can reasonably verify has been in existence for several seasons without treatments or management, but it is difficult to do, as unless you are very much in touch with that colony over years, it's difficult to know if it is just a location that has been repeatedly re-inhabited by swarms.

    It takes some consistent and educated awareness to be reasonably sure a colony is truly a "feral survivor", and not just this spring's swarm from a treated hive, that took up residence in a dead-out in a barn wall...

    Again, I'm not saying it doesn't happen, just that it's a lot harder to know a feral survivor, than it is to say, "feral survivor".



    Adam

  11. #31
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    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
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    5,113

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Foster Collins View Post
    So from what I can see, it really boils down to not fighting mites, and then managing day-to-day, month-to-month around the results. It's about deciding that you don't want to artificially combat mites and then replacing the work of doing so with other work. Isn't it?
    Adam, I think you are doing great and are exceptionally well prepared and well situated to be successful in the long term. I hope you'll find as I have that after the first few years, the work done to make up the losses will diminish rapidly. Then you can focus on refining what you have, working for every beekeeper's goal of gentle productive hives. Keep working at it, and keep doing what you're doing.


    Quote Originally Posted by Robbin View Post
    I guess I don't understand, I fight the mites, SHB, and anything else with anything and everything except pesticides. Sounds like your definition is doing NOTHING.
    I won’t stand by and allows bees to die without a fight. I couldn’t be a bee keeper if my only goal was to raise enough bees to replace the ones that died.
    This is one of the problems. Everything you do to help the bees positions them to continue to require your help. What you put in is what you'll need to continue putting in. If you want to put in nothing, you must put in nothing. That's treatment-free beekeeping. It is the bees' responsibility to deal with disease, full stop.


    Quote Originally Posted by zhiv9 View Post
    As much as there is no magic bullet to treatment free bk, there are some commonalities amongst those that are successful. They all seem to do 2 or more of the following:

    Small cell
    Foundationless comb or own foundation (chemical free comb)
    Large 3 deep colonies
    Overwintering on honey
    Overwintered nuc's to replace losses
    Feral stock or locally adapted resistant stock
    Live fairly isolated from other beeks
    If this were a poll, I'd say I do small cell, some foundationless, large colonies, usually overwintering on honey, no overwintered nucs, feral and/or locally adapted stock, and I'm not isolated. These are simply good practices. That's beekeeping.


    Quote Originally Posted by ForrestB View Post
    To me, treatment means sustaining inferior stock through artificial means.
    Completely agree.


    Quote Originally Posted by LetMBee View Post
    Adam: part of being treatment free has to be accepting some losses... The way that the vast majority of keepers are managing their bees isn't working or the the forums wouldn't be a BUZZ with all of these issues.
    Not accepting losses is what treating comes from. It's fighting tooth and nail to keep a box full of insects from becoming a box without insects. It's really silly in the proper context. Treat your bees and some will die too. There is no silver bullet. You're right, a lot of bees are dying. The Bee Informed Survey shows upwards of 30% losses this last winter. That's really not good, and that represents a whole lot of treated hives.


    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Dewey View Post
    Sorry to disagree but disagree I must - many of the swarms we get in this area are from bees brought in to the area for commercial pollination. Swarming, especialy in a hive with a young queen, (and I am told more than a few commercial beekeepers are replacing their queens multiple times a year) is not a trait to be regarded as desirable.
    Keep enough hives and it won't matter much. Use them for what they're worth, make them build a couple good frames of comb, then when they die out, you got a couple good frames of comb. No need to fret over dead hives. You didn't want them anyway. A dead hive managed effectively is just as good as a live hive, just ask those guys who buy packages in the spring and kill off the bees at the honey harvest. It's all a matter of perspective. Now if you're concerned about winter loss percentage, you might want to stay away from those swarms, but that would be like a lawyer who won't take your case because he doesn't think he can win. Again, the perspective has to be correct. Also, don't bring up that replacing queens all the time thing, commercials don't like to hear that and will claim it isn't true. No need to go down that rabbit trail again.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  12. #32
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA
    Posts
    3,758

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post

    A dead hive managed effectively is just as good as a live hive

    Snip
    I'm looking forward to hearing more about the advantages of "Dead Hive Management". More specifically, I'd be interested in knowing if you believe there's a bright future for DHM among the practicants of "natural /TF beekeeping".

    BeeCurious
    5 hives and 8 nucs................... Trying to think inside the box...

  13. #33
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Baytown, TX., USA.
    Posts
    651

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

    DHM (Dead Hive Management) and HITS (Head In The Sand) methods are new beekeeping acronyms that I need to add to my list.

    "It is the bees' responsibility to deal with disease, full stop." S. Parker
    I disagree.
    Last edited by julysun; 07-29-2013 at 12:35 AM.
    Julysun elevation 23 feet. 4 Hives, 2 years.

  14. #34
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    6,145

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

    Ha Ha is that what is meant by the HITS method LOL, head in the sand.

    I've heard the HITS method referred to before but never knew what people were talking about.

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

  15. #35
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Tineo, Asturias, SPAIN
    Posts
    184

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Foster Collins View Post
    it's a lot harder to know a feral survivor, than it is to say, "feral survivor".
    In my particular area, since there are almost zero mangaged hives left (none within 5km), unless every hive is throwing dozens of swarms, then the chances of any particular colony being feral far outweighs the chances that it recently originated from a managed hive.

    The probability of a colonly being feral corresponds directly to the density of managed hives in any particular area. Here in the mountains of the western Cordillera Cantábrica - a dying coal mining area - the population density is very low and declining continually. It wouldn't be hard to find areas where there aren't any managed hives within 20km.

  16. #36
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,113

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

    Quote Originally Posted by BeeCurious View Post
    I'm looking forward to hearing more about the advantages of "Dead Hive Management".
    Have the courage to quote a full sentence.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  17. #37
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    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,113

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

    Quote Originally Posted by julysun View Post
    I disagree.
    Well, that settles it then.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  18. #38
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Liberty, Indiana, USA
    Posts
    167

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

    Solomon...

    People have the right to disagree, but what is it with beekeeping where "I disagree" means other person is wrong. Someone can disagree with my belief that the worldis round all they want, it doesn't mean they are right. Clearly there are know problems with current "management" practices, yet people cling to them though they are failing. A dead hive of bees is not always a beekeepers fault. When a feral colony dies is it a beekeepers fault? Nope.

    Beekeepers think that bees cannot overcome, but that is just an indication of human hubris. We have been TRYING to kill cockroaches, weeds, and bacterial infections with poisons for a long time, yet they adapt and survive despite our efforts to the contrary. This is done throu selective pressures. Allowing hives that cannot make it to expire leaves you with breeding stock that CAN survive. Dead hive management is working here in Indiana. since I have gone to IT I have had much better overwintering of bees. If a hive cant make it on their own they aren't going to make honey for me. Why would I want to keep them alive on chemical life support. THE treating crowd can just keep right on telling me I'm wrong. I will keep expanding.....

    I would contest that continuing the failed management practices of the last 20 years is the ultimate example of putting ones HEAD IN THE SAND.
    Last edited by LetMBee; 07-29-2013 at 09:53 AM. Reason: Addition
    Jason Bruns
    LetMBee.com YouTube

  19. #39
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    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
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    5,113

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

    Quote Originally Posted by LetMBee View Post
    I will keep expanding.....
    I wish I could. I've already had to quit building some things, no time. A population of 25 is about what I can handle at this point. I'm going to have to let a few more die this winter so I can get back to my goal number. Hmm, think of all the comb that could free up. I could finally get all my hives to the 4-5 deep equivalent goal size. I'd probably be doing better on that front if I weren't selling dozens of frames of drawn comb in nucs every year. It all depends what your goals are.

    Quote Originally Posted by LetMBee View Post
    I would contest that continuing the failed management practices of the last 20 years is the ultimate example of putting ones HEAD IN THE SAND.
    I wouldn't call them failed. Break an ankle and not be able to keep your bees for a year, and then you'll see the fail. Michael Bush was out of town for like three years and he still had a whole bunch of hives that were doing just fine. I had to leave mine in Oregon for 2.5 years and didn't lose all that many. I like Michael Bush's Lazy Beekeeping. This is much easier than all those treatments and inspections they require, put the stuff in, take it out, for crying out loud don't touch it or breathe it. How much stress is derived from being worried about getting that stuff done or your bees will die? No fun.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  20. #40
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Worcester County, Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,752

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Saltybee View Post
    Wether it was feral for 15 minutes or 15 years it did come from stock that was strong enough, either with or without treatment to swarm. That puts it in the top end of stock at least. It may not have genetics on it side but it at least has prior good health on it's side.
    Precious, maybe not, high average for local conditions; probably.
    ...or copiously fed.

    deknow
    The perils of benefactors; The blessings of parasites; Blindness blindness and sight -Joni Mitchell 'Shadows and Light'

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