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  1. #21
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    So the picture really is one of a different paradigm. Treatment free beekeeping is a whole different animal, and what looks "good" for a treatment free apiary would likely not warrant the same description to a treated apiary.

    Sol, I appreciate your taking the time to make your detailed response.

    Squarepeg, I'm actually living in zone 6a or 6b, so we don't spend a ton of our winters below 14F or so. "Far North" is still quite a ways North of here. As a whole, Nova Scotia is actually the warmest province in Canada. Maine and Vermont winters are much harder than ours, as we're out getting affected more by the Gulf Stream. We have real winter, but no harder than much of the middle US. So I may not be as ambitious as you think!

    Michael, I'm sorry I slid this thread into a discussion of feeding, as it really wasn't the thrust of what I wanted to talk about, but I appreciate your detailed response as well. Who knows what we're doing to our bees with all the feeding? Personally, I try to keep it to times when the bees will be in real danger of not surviving without it, such as when I've done a cut-out and have moved a colony late season and have caused damage and loss of stores in the process.

    At the end of the day, a minimalist approach will mean that the bees are more often left to rely on their own abilities. That may mean that they are not as strong in early spring, and it likely means a significantly smaller honey harvest for me in the Fall.

    But like top bar hives, or mason bees - the reasons you go treatment free, or "natural", or "minimalist" are different than the reasons that one chooses to treat and feed and supplement.

    And I think that's what it comes down to. I'm into the bees. Just the bees. Sure I like honey and all, but the thing I'm most interested in is how I can work to foster the development of a bee that can live on her own here in Nova Scotia without treatments and without being fed and supplemented so much. If I can reach a sustainable apiary that can live with mites, and "thrive" in "minimal" care. Then that seems like a worthwhile thing to do - for me.

    If I was interested in maximum honey production with minimum die-off due to mites, then I guess a treatment model might better serve me, and that would be the way to go.

    It really comes down to what fits with your goals. And figuring out what your goals are is a big part of the curve.

    Once you get past that, there's really not much point in arguing with people who just don't share your goals.

    And from what I can see, there is a huge difference between people who would like to be treatment free, and people who are treatment free.

    They're on two different planets.

    Adam

  2. #22
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    MY question is why do beekeepers decide to go treatment free?

    What is the reasoning behind it?

    Why would you rather let a hive die than treat? what does it accomplish in the scheme of things? obviously if you run a few hives treatment free you aren't going to be making any inroads to changing the local gene pool so on a district wide level you aren't going to be making any difference to anythiong or anyone just yourself.

    So why forgo lots of honey and live bees for the sake of a treatment? whats the end game?

    Obviously I'm asking the question to anyone rather than a specific person

    .

  3. #23
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Foster Collins View Post
    And from what I can see, there is a huge difference between people who would like to be treatment free, and people who are treatment free.

    They're on two different planets.

    Adam
    if you say so adam. i personally don't favor either/or distinctions, as more often times it can be both/and, as would be the case with an ipm approach.

    i do agree that what each of decides to do is based on our individual philosophy and goals.

    you are fortunate in that having worked through the options you have arrived on a path you are comfortable with.

    i have enjoyed following your quest, thanks for sharing.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  4. #24
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    i personally don't favor either/or distinctions, as more often times it can be both/and, as would be the case with an ipm approach.

    i do agree that what each of decides to do is based on our individual philosophy and goals.
    I think the partisanship is really unfortunate. On one side we have "treaters" some of which can't be content just to treat, but also feel the need to try to convince everyone else that this is the only way. On the other side we have the tf group. This can roughly divided into two groups:

    1)Experienced beekeepers that have through hard work and experience, come up with some combination of bees and beekeeping methods that no longer require treatment. This seems to be the relative minority

    2)Newbees that enter beekeeping thinking they are going to change the world, thumbing their noses at experienced beekeepers just because they treat.

    There are exceptions of course.

    I don't understand either point of view. "Treaters" can only benefit from the development of methods, bees, etc that help with disease and mite resistance. If nothing less it could help them to treat less and save money on treatments. Newbees need to learn to keep bees regardless of whether or not they treat. What better instructor than someone from your area with experience - even the do treat. Ignore their treatment advice if they treat, but learn as much as you can about local bee management.

    I also encourage every new beekeeper to read "50 years among the bees" by CC Miller (http://www.soilandhealth.org/03sov/0...0408miller.pdf). What I got from it is that other than mites, very little in beekeeping has changed in a 100 years. Your chances of doing nothing new and revolutionary are pretty slim.
    Adam - Zone 5A
    www.adamshoney.com

  5. #25
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    Thanks or all that info, Michael Bush; I am reading you website now, and re- reading Bro. Adams book...does this way of thinking and in your experience, when should we use pollen patties? Or no?

  6. #26
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    Quote Originally Posted by frazzledfozzle View Post
    MY question is why do beekeepers decide to go treatment free?
    For me, I got tired of the idea that I had to order stuff to keep my bees alive, so when I quickly discovered Dee Lusby in my initial research, I figured why would I want to do it any other way?



    Quote Originally Posted by frazzledfozzle View Post
    What is the reasoning behind it?
    The reasoning is that bees should be able to handle disease themselves through natural selection. Back in the day, we used to hear the saying trotted out "they don't make wolf resistant sheep." But the truth is, "they" (nature) do. "They" (humans) don't. Humans make tasty fat wooly sheep. Nature makes sheep that climb cliffs and have big nasty horns, wolf resistant sheep. But bees are not mammals and obviously don't do well when factory farmed in the face of a pest which by its nature requires adaptation. Adaptation requires selection, selection requires pressure, and for there to be proper pressure, treatments must be abandoned.



    Quote Originally Posted by frazzledfozzle View Post
    Why would you rather let a hive die than treat?
    Many reasons, chief of which, it takes money and time to treat. Dying is free. Secondly, treating retards adaptation. Third, treating requires further treating, it's not like the flu. Fourth, treating is barely more effective than not treating in my reckoning. Fifth, why would I treat when my losses are lower than the treaters?



    Quote Originally Posted by frazzledfozzle View Post
    what does it accomplish in the scheme of things?
    It accomplishes bees that can survive on their own and which don't require treatments. It's also much more fun as far as I'm concerned, knowing that I'm accomplishing something that others cannot or choose not to. It's more fun to me to build something rather than buy it whole.



    Quote Originally Posted by frazzledfozzle View Post
    obviously if you run a few hives treatment free you aren't going to be making any inroads to changing the local gene pool so on a district wide level you aren't going to be making any difference to anythiong or anyone just yourself.
    I haven't found that to be the case. My bees are in tune with and related to the feral population. They are adapted to this climate and do quite well, rarely being caught off guard by weather conditions and needing help.



    Quote Originally Posted by frazzledfozzle View Post
    So why forgo lots of honey and live bees for the sake of a treatment?
    I have also not found this to be the case. My per hive harvest is not largely different from the local average, and I certainly bring in more honey than any of my beekeeping friends.


    Quote Originally Posted by frazzledfozzle View Post
    whats the end game?
    The end game is an enjoyable lifelong beekeeping experience absent extra work and fear that my bees will die if I step away for a couple months.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  7. #27
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    Quote Originally Posted by frazzledfozzle View Post
    MY question is why do beekeepers decide to go treatment free?



    .
    In my case all my bees are caught bees from feral sources. Doesn't make sense to me to take bees that are existing on their own and subject them to treating and artificial feeding.

    I have no problem with how anybody else chooses to manage their bees and in fact greatly admire the commercial guys.

    Don

  8. #28
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    I think (JMO) most make up there mind based on who got them started........

  9. #29
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    From my perspective, there is an enormous portmanteau of poorly understood Darwinian adaptation being promulgated by strident advocates. Adaptation is a conservative process. Adaptation of a species doesn't occur in your backyard in two years.

    The core evolutionary strategy of honeybees is to *not* change. This forces flowers to evolve toward the bee, and parasites to evolve toward lower virulence. Bees have a promiscuous, obligate out-crossing mechanism. Within the super-organism of the hive, they have high variation (which makes them resilient and that raises "fitness"). The variation means the daughter queens are all unlike, and the workers raised by the daughters are all unlike (and these workers only have 1/4 of the queen mother's genes in a thoroughly resorted hodge-podge).

    High variation means the colony super-organism has a worker for every situation (think immune reactions), but it also means that every generation thoroughly reshuffles the deck. The bees have a mechanism to keep returning to the central tendency, rather than drifting to new and untried evolutionary dead ends. The core "intelligence" of the bee's evolutionary approach is to stay the same, and force the world of flowers and parasites to adapt to itself. This is not true of many insects that speciate at the drop of a hat. Bees abandoned reproductive potential of the "workers" to avoid each female starting its own lineage. It abandoned single mating in favor of a promiscuous system to ensure maximum variability. It evolved a self-incompatible mating to prevent homozygous crossses. It evolved a drone-congregation mating pattern to ensure crossing.

    Organisms with bee-like breeding systems speciate when isolated with a "founder effect". The local race on the island of Cyprus would be an example, and the intensively studied Iberian race generated from the few North African bees that crossed the straights of Gibralta at the end of the ice-age.

    Against the solid inertia of bees to *not change*, humans wanting shift their genotype need to employ human intelligence. This means they must employ directed selection to overcome the barrier the bees have erected. The bees are fundamentally conservative and are not going shift lineage in an unbounded out-crossing population.

    I think some of the treatment-free keepers are making solid selections. Perhaps their local situation are such that they have isolation that permits new races to "fix". M. Bush's local landscape seems almost devoid of bee-habitat save some isolated woodlots, so independent islets of adaptation are possible. The desert keepers benefit from an oasis effect that localizes habitat in widely spaced islands. I have gone looking for naturally isolated populations in my landscape. The Baton Rouge out-yard is on an isolated barrier island. Once a lineage is "founded", a key breeding requirement is to backcross sufficiently to prevent "inbreeding depression". Again, this requires direction, intelligence and selection-- as the natural tendency is to overshoot and return the species norm.

    In order to direct selection, one needs a measure of a traits expression. The finer the measure (and genotyping is now possible and practiced) the more efficient the breeding progress. The advocates of a "live-and-let-die" approach are using the most wasteful and inefficient approach conceivable. If I understand them, they believe their is a integration of traits expressed by a colony, and this integration is selected for. Return to what we know of bee genetics: the workers are half-sisters of 15-30 fathers. The colonies founded by a worker egg promoted to become a queen is some wild resortment of some the queens genes and any one of 30 fathers. The grand-daughters of a queen (the hygenic workers of a new colony) are half-half-granddaughters of each other.

    You could breed the perfect queen (and Randy Oliver has an instructive annecdote about a Glenn Hygenic-Russian hybrid) but without an objective measure of the trait you are seeking you cannot isolate and reproduce the lineage, the perfect genes will sink back into the general genotype.

    The "live-and-let-die" breeders (to the extent they have isolation and are able to generate a founder genotype) are selecting for a very coarse survival strategy-- rapid colony division. Evolution is lazy. If a genotype can promulgate itself with a fast-and-dirty approach, it will do so over a complex one (the principle of entropy applies to biological systems as well as physical). A genotype that constantly establishes new colonies to replace the ones lost to parasites will triumph. I have nothing against swarm catching per se, but one needs to recognize the "selection" one is making -- you are selecting for swarming.

  10. #30
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    Fifth, why would I treat when my losses are lower than the treaters?
    I hear this a lot on Beesource. I know that if you look at the bottom line on the Beeinformed statistics that you can make that argument. But I think that it's more complicated than that.

    I'm not sure that I have ever lost many hives that I have treated. The ones that I have were dropping a couple hundred mites per day when the treatments started. I treated too late to save them. I'm just a hobbiest that has kept between 3 and 40 hives. I have 37 now. Losing 10-15% is really comfortable for me because it gives me room to put bees to stop swarming nest spring. Losing 30% just means I can't sell bees(but honestly it's kind of a hassle for me). Beyond 30% would be more difficult.

    Why do some people treat and lost 30%? Well for me it's because I don't treat everything. Anything that has had any brood break doesn't get treated. Any first year nuc or hive doesn't get treated. Probably some should. But see above as to why I don't care.

    I suspect also that the Beeinformed 30% are many commercial hives that have different stresses than my hobbiest hives that I can make sure have good queens, have enough food and don't ride on semi's for hours or days. It's just a different management style.

    I know that Michael Bush has stated that he treated and still lost all of his hives. I honestly don't understand that except that it must be a location issue. Like I said in the beginning, I'm not sure I've lost a hive that was treated on time.

    I can say that I lost every hive every year back in the early 1990's when I didn't treat.

    But I think that treatment free beekeepers should be encouraged. I just think that saying that you will lose the same number of hives if you treat as you will when you don't treat is not true. And I think that this is one of the better thread ever on Beesource. Some years I don't treat at all. On years that I do it's probably less than half. I suspect that as the years go on it will be less and less as I can handle the losses and hopefully the bees get better or the surviving mites get less virulent.
    Bruce

  11. #31
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    Quote Originally Posted by JWChesnut View Post

    The variation means the daughter queens are all unlike, and the workers raised by the daughters are all unlike (and these workers only have 1/4 of the queen mother's genes in a thoroughly resorted hodge-podge).

    Return to what we know of bee genetics: the workers are half-sisters of 15-30 fathers. The colonies founded by a worker egg promoted to become a queen is some wild resortment of some the queens genes and any one of 30 fathers. The grand-daughters of a queen (the hygenic workers of a new colony) are half-half-granddaughters of each other. .
    Hence why I feel all the arguing, chest beating, my way is better than your way banter is all irrelevant. All the selection work being done by the most selective breeders won't last even 2 generations unsupported.


    Quote Originally Posted by JWChesnut View Post
    The "live-and-let-die" breeders (to the extent they have isolation and are able to generate a founder genotype) are selecting for a very coarse survival strategy-- rapid colony division. I have nothing against swarm catching per se, but one needs to recognize the "selection" one is making -- you are selecting for swarming.
    and bees that shut down brood rearing during dearths, have smaller winter clusters, are thriftier, winter hardier, respond quicker to local forage flows, etc, etc.

    Epigenetics explains it, all the survival genes are already present just a matter of do we like the bee nature provides?

    Great post JW

    Thanks. ....Don

  12. #32
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    >Michael, do you use the same thought process for pollen patties??

    In the spring there is pollen when there should be pollen. Before that IF I stimulate them to raise brood it's probably too early.

    In the fall, if there is no pollen, I have a problem because I need long lived bees for winter. Unfortunately pollen SUBSTITUTE makes short lived bees. So sometimes I feed pollen in the open in a pollen dearth in the fall. Otherwise I don't. The bees usually trigger me to by gathering sawdust, grain dust and coffee grounds.

    >MY question is why do beekeepers decide to go treatment free?
    What is the reasoning behind it?

    I have about 700 pages worth of info on that... but these two links (and I've included some of the relevant text) should be enlightning if you are honestly looking for enlightenment on the subject.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoursim...m#notreatments

    I don't know what all the rest of you have experienced, but with no treatments (on large cell size) I lost all my bees whenever I wouldn't treat for a couple of years. But finally I lost them even after treating with Apistan. It was obvious that the mites had built resistance. I've heard of big outfits losing their entire operation WHILE treating with Apistan or CheckMite. So we have reached the point where whether you treat or not, they all die anyway quite often. I think the problem here comes down to us not wanting to "do nothing". We want to attack the problem and so we do whatever the experts tell us because we are desperate. But what they are telling us is failing anyway. Once I lost them all AFTER I treated them, I could no longer see any reason to treat them. Treating only perpetuates the problem. It breeds bees that can't survive whatever you are treating for, contaminates the comb and upsets the whole balance of the hive.
    Ecology of the hive

    There is no way to maintain the complex ecology of a natural beehive while dumping in poisons and antibiotics. The beehive is a web of micro and macro life. There are more than 170 kinds of benign or beneficial mites, as many or more kinds of insects, 8,000 or more benign or beneficial microorganisms that have been identified so far, some of which we know the bees cannot live without and some of which we suspect keep other pathogens in balance. Every treatment we dump in a hive, from essential oils that interfere with the bees smell (which is how everything in the dark of the hive is communicated) and kill microorganisms (beneficial and otherwise); to organic acids which kill microorganisms as well as many insects and benign mites to acaracides (which are always just things that kill arthropods which include insects and mites but kill mites at a slightly higher rate); to antibiotics which kill the microflora most of which is either beneficial or benign but useful in maintaining the balance and crowding out pathogens; even to sugar syrup which has a pH that is detrimental to the success of many of the beneficial organisms and advantageous to many of the pathogens (EHB, AFB, Chalkbrood, Nosema etc.) unlike the pH of honey that is much lower and detrimental to the pathogens and hospitable to many known beneficial organisms. I think we've reached the point that it's silly to act like we've been doing any good when the bees are collapsing in spite of, if not because of all of this.
    Downside of not treating

    So what is the downside of not treating? Worst case is they die. They seem to be doing that regularly enough already aren't they? I don't see that I'm contributing to that by giving them the chance to reestablish a naturally sustainable system. I'm just not destroying that system arbitrarily to get rid of one thing with no regard to the balance of the system. Of the people I know who are not treating for anything even on large cell, their losses are less than those who are treating. On small cell or natural cell they are even less. But even if you don't buy the cell size debate, not treating is working as well as treating is. I go to bee meetings all over the country and hear people who, like me, lost their bees when they were treating religiously and then decided to just stop. Their new bees are now doing better than when they were treating them. I feel bad when I see a dead hive, but I also say "good riddance" to the genetics that couldn't make it.

    If you think you'll have too many losses (my guess is you already do have too many losses) and you can't take those losses, what would it take to make splits and overwinter nucs to make up those losses every spring with your own locally adapted stock? A bunch of walk away splits made in the middle of July (after cashing in on the main flow) will usually winter, at least around here, and not put a dent in your honey crop. You can also split the mediocre hives earlier since they weren't doing much anyway and not really affect your honey crop You can also do cut down splits on the strong hives right before the main flow and get good splits, well fed queens, more honey AND more hives.
    Upside of not treating

    What is the upside of not treating? You don't have to buy the treatments. You don't have to drive to the yard and put the treatments in and drive to the yard to take them out. You don't have to contaminate your wax. You don't upset the natural balance by killing off micro and macro organisms that you weren't targeting but who are killed by the treatments anyway. That would seem like upside enough, but you also give the ecosystem of the bee hive a chance to find some natural balance again.

    But the most obvious up side is that until you quit treating you can't breed for survival against whatever your issues are. As long as you treat you prop up weak genetics and you can't tell what weaknesses they have. As long as you treat you keep breeding weak bees and super mites. The sooner you stop, the sooner you start breeding mites adapted to their host and bees who can survive with them.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm

    What can we do to have a sustainable beekeeping system?

    Stop treating

    The only way to have a sustainable system of beekeeping is to stop treating. Treating is a death spiral that is now collapsing. To leverage this, though you really need to raise your own queens from local surviving bees. Only then can you get bees who genetically can survive and parasites that are in tune with their host. As long as we treat we get weaker bees who can only survive if we treat, and stronger parasites who can only survive if they breed fast enough to keep up with our treatments. No stable relationship can develop until we stop treating.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  13. #33

    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    Repeating stuff all over again doesn't make it more true. I followed your advice and my bees wrecked. Thank you.

  14. #34
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    Quote Originally Posted by BernhardHeuvel View Post
    Repeating stuff all over again doesn't make it more true. I followed your advice and my bees wrecked. Thank you.
    Sorry but I have no idea what you are talking about or if you comment is targeted to a particular individual.

    I was in a starved out first year colony yesterday (not one of mine). Being in tune with the weather and what is happening in the colony and what plants are blooming and do the bees get nectar or pollen from them is a skill developed over time and not something that can be bestowed.

    Bees are all over Golden Rod here today collecting pollen. The colony I was in yesterday had no stores of any sort. I will check my nucs and late swarms this afternoon for stores, and am prepared to feed if I think prudent.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  15. #35
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    >I followed your advice and my bees wrecked.

    I'm not sure exactly what you experienced. I assume "wrecked" means they died. No matter what you do some of them die. Some harsh winters a lot of them die. Did you try to figure out WHY they died?

    Look for dead Varroa mites. Look for how the cluster is positioned and where stores are? Bees often starve with food just out of reach. Sometimes they starve because the hive is empty of stores. Queens from warm climates don't usually lead to colonies that winter well in cold climates. When they die from Varroa there are tens of thousands of Varroa on the bottom along with white specks (Varroa feces) in the brood cells. Other things to look for are "K" wings and deformed wings. "K" wings are usually an indication of Tracheal mites. Deformed wings are usually a sign of DVW which is usually spread more by Varroa.

    They also need to go into winter with young bees. Typically they raise these in the fall. A fall dearth can interfere with this and leave you with short-lived bees that may not make it to spring. Feeding pollen in the fall is probably a waste in a good year, but may save a hive in a year with a fall dearth.

    They need to go into winter with an appropriate sized cluster. This will vary by race and climate, but it takes a certain number of bees to make it to spring. A late swarm, a late split, a fall dearth etc. can lead to having a small cluster and they don't usually winter well without some help.

    I think it's important to try to figure out what caused your losses in order to plan for the future.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  16. #36
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Foster Collins View Post
    Are we comparing apples to apples? Or is the minimalist/treatment free bee a different animal?
    Adam
    The best analogy I can come up with is archery. I see treatment free beekeeping as traditional archery with a long bow and treated beekeeping as modern archery with a compound bow. Both will work, but there are certainly advantage and disadvantages between them. They are both basically the same endeavor, but with different tools, skill sets and limitations. That being said I think a straight comparison is unreasonable.

    My experience with treatment free beekeeping has not been successful, with a 7/8 crash last winter. I am still plodding along and intend to keep at it.
    Dan Hayden 4 Years. 12 hives. Tx Free. USDA Zone 5b.

  17. #37
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    Quote Originally Posted by JWChesnut View Post
    From my perspective, there is an enormous portmanteau of poorly understood Darwinian adaptation being promulgated by strident advocates. Adaptation is a conservative process. Adaptation of a species doesn't occur in your backyard in two years.

    The core evolutionary strategy of honeybees is to *not* change. This forces flowers to evolve toward the bee, and parasites to evolve toward lower virulence. Bees have a promiscuous, obligate out-crossing mechanism. Within the super-organism of the hive, they have high variation (which makes them resilient and that raises "fitness"). The variation means the daughter queens are all unlike, and the workers raised by the daughters are all unlike (and these workers only have 1/4 of the queen mother's genes in a thoroughly resorted hodge-podge).

    High variation means the colony super-organism has a worker for every situation (think immune reactions), but it also means that every generation thoroughly reshuffles the deck. The bees have a mechanism to keep returning to the central tendency, rather than drifting to new and untried evolutionary dead ends. The core "intelligence" of the bee's evolutionary approach is to stay the same, and force the world of flowers and parasites to adapt to itself. This is not true of many insects that speciate at the drop of a hat. Bees abandoned reproductive potential of the "workers" to avoid each female starting its own lineage. It abandoned single mating in favor of a promiscuous system to ensure maximum variability. It evolved a self-incompatible mating to prevent homozygous crossses. It evolved a drone-congregation mating pattern to ensure crossing.

    Organisms with bee-like breeding systems speciate when isolated with a "founder effect". The local race on the island of Cyprus would be an example, and the intensively studied Iberian race generated from the few North African bees that crossed the straights of Gibralta at the end of the ice-age.

    Against the solid inertia of bees to *not change*, humans wanting shift their genotype need to employ human intelligence. This means they must employ directed selection to overcome the barrier the bees have erected. The bees are fundamentally conservative and are not going shift lineage in an unbounded out-crossing population.

    I think some of the treatment-free keepers are making solid selections. Perhaps their local situation are such that they have isolation that permits new races to "fix". M. Bush's local landscape seems almost devoid of bee-habitat save some isolated woodlots, so independent islets of adaptation are possible. The desert keepers benefit from an oasis effect that localizes habitat in widely spaced islands. I have gone looking for naturally isolated populations in my landscape. The Baton Rouge out-yard is on an isolated barrier island. Once a lineage is "founded", a key breeding requirement is to backcross sufficiently to prevent "inbreeding depression". Again, this requires direction, intelligence and selection-- as the natural tendency is to overshoot and return the species norm.

    In order to direct selection, one needs a measure of a traits expression. The finer the measure (and genotyping is now possible and practiced) the more efficient the breeding progress. The advocates of a "live-and-let-die" approach are using the most wasteful and inefficient approach conceivable. If I understand them, they believe their is a integration of traits expressed by a colony, and this integration is selected for. Return to what we know of bee genetics: the workers are half-sisters of 15-30 fathers. The colonies founded by a worker egg promoted to become a queen is some wild resortment of some the queens genes and any one of 30 fathers. The grand-daughters of a queen (the hygenic workers of a new colony) are half-half-granddaughters of each other.

    You could breed the perfect queen (and Randy Oliver has an instructive annecdote about a Glenn Hygenic-Russian hybrid) but without an objective measure of the trait you are seeking you cannot isolate and reproduce the lineage, the perfect genes will sink back into the general genotype.

    The "live-and-let-die" breeders (to the extent they have isolation and are able to generate a founder genotype) are selecting for a very coarse survival strategy-- rapid colony division. Evolution is lazy. If a genotype can promulgate itself with a fast-and-dirty approach, it will do so over a complex one (the principle of entropy applies to biological systems as well as physical). A genotype that constantly establishes new colonies to replace the ones lost to parasites will triumph. I have nothing against swarm catching per se, but one needs to recognize the "selection" one is making -- you are selecting for swarming.
    At the risk of setting off yet another war of words, I have to say that to me this is a really important post that has made me reevaluate my own position.

    Adaptation of a species doesn't occur in your backyard in two years.
    You seem to be saying that since the bees "reshuffle the deck" then all our requeening with VSH, etc will not have a lasting impact on all bees in general. If that is true, that's very freeing for the individual beekeeper. It means we can breed for what we want in our own bees without affecting the rest of the species and when we are gone, the ones we bred will basically revert. Yay. It also means, to me at least, that requeening is as much a treatment as using MAQS or fogging, and just as temporary. Maybe it's just me, but I don't see that as such a bad thing. It also suggests to me that we don't have to sit on our hands and watch our bees die if we don't want to. That treating them is no more harmful to the species than not treating them! In the end they will still revert to their old breeding model because that model doesn't get changed in a year or 3 of backyard breeding. Goody! Now I can breed the bees I want and keep them the way that gives me the most satisfaction, all the while knowing that I am not doing the species any permanent damage. When I'm gone, they'll just go back to their old model and keep right on doing what they've been doing for thousands of years.

    That really IS freeing. I was starting to feel guilty for wanting to help my bees stay healthy and productive, for actually wanting a quality of life for them, and for interfering instead of just coldly letting them die.

    Thanks for posting this.

    JMO

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

  18. #38
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    excellent post jwc, and it reinforces what dr. delaplane has to say here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=txZtQrMTeag
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  19. #39
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    if you say so adam. i personally don't favor either/or distinctions, as more often times it can be both/and, as would be the case with an ipm approach.
    Squarepeg, I'm glad you're a part of the conversation. A value as always.

    I can absolutely see how a person could feel "in the middle" with an IPM approach. I was doing some of that myself for a while, but have come to believe that IPM still falls on the "planet" of treating. Not to suggest that as a "bad word" - truly. I really think making "bad" or "good" is really detrimental to our conversations and progress as a group of people who all share a common love of bees.

    But IPM is still a consistent intervention which removes or disables the mites in ways the bees could never do on their own. And that's why I put it in the "Treating" paradigm. There's nothing wrong with that, and I completely understand the reasons for doing it. But in taking that approach, you can still expect to see results similar to other forms of artificial mite removal.

    A lot of what I'm suggesting, is that once you let go of all of the methods of fighting mites, the picture of "success" can look a lot different than what you'd expect when you're helping the bees deal with mites.

    Adam

  20. #40
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    Quote Originally Posted by BernhardHeuvel View Post
    Repeating stuff all over again doesn't make it more true. I followed your advice and my bees wrecked. Thank you.
    With all due respect, thank yourself.

    You looked out into the world, and found that the advice someone offered resonated with your values and beliefs to a point where you chose to follow it, and perhaps it didn't work out as well as you'd hoped. But there could be a great number of reasons why.

    I recently chose to follow the advice of a beekeeping friend about putting the queen in a hairclip queen cage during manipulations. I caged the queen and when I was ready to release her, found her stung through the "bars" by a worker.

    My first reaction was to blame that "stupid" advice. But my friend had only known success with his methods, which is why he chose to share them. He would never offer me "bad" advice. It just didn't work well for me. Could have been an error I made, or dumb luck - or six million other things. There aren't many people going through the trouble of sharing their experiences unless they have found it to be useful and successful in their own experience.

    Nobody's advice gets to your bees without you having the final say...

    Empower yourself, and remember that it all comes down to you, your bees, and the natural cycles of weather and earth around you.

    The most important two words in your post?

    "...I followed..."

    Adam
    Last edited by Adam Foster Collins; 08-15-2013 at 07:11 PM.

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