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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Milwaukee, WI, USA
    Posts
    91

    Default Realism and Treatment free beekeeping

    Hello

    I am a first year beekeeper. I am foundationless and my bees are from Ray Olivarez 2 lb that I picked up from a beekeeping club. I believe I have excellent forage in my area. I installed two hives in late april. I felt absolutely horrible installing them in the cold weather and watched a significant portion die...many stung me. Hive number one has kicked butt and hit 6 medium boxes at early july...not much progress has been made since then. Hive number 2 swarmed...I think it was my own negligence as I never knew it was going to happen. The plus side is that I now have three hives. Hive 3 is iffy, and I might have to feed them for the third time with my hive top feeder tomorrow.

    I expect death. My survival plan is to make spits next year and boost to 6 hives. Expansion hopefully beating the loss.

    The first book I read was Beekeeping for dummies. A great book, except the fact that it horrified me. I honestly don't know how beekeepers can go on thinking things are fine as they are. Treating my bees year after year sometimes twice a year? Are you crazy? This is awful!

    Then I read Michael Bush's book on beekeeping, a great hopeful feeling read until I realize he really doesn't remark upon the plight of new beekeepers. Sure his philosophy is great but the fact of the matter is that any new beekeeper who follows his ideas could meet absolute bitter defeat. Add on the fact that there are beekeepers who make claims like "yeah I was worried about bee disease, and then I switched to 4.9mm."
    Solomon parker, one of the patrons of treatment free has made disparaging remarks of some sensible beekeepers like Randy Oliver! Randy Oliver, Someone who appears as a rock of commonsense among a sea of overreaction.

    What am I supposed to do as a new beekeeper. I absolutely don't want to treat, but I feel as if I'm being sold something that isn't true. Is there anyone else who maneuvered out from what I'm feeling like?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Montgomery county PA
    Posts
    19

    Default Re: Realism and Treatment free beekeeping

    number one has kicked butt and hit 6 medium boxes at early july...not much progress has been made since then. Hive number 2 swarmed...I think it was my own negligence as I never knew it was going to happen. The plus side is that I now have three hives. Hive 3 is iffy, and I might have to feed them for the third time with my hive top feeder tomorrow.

    I expect death. My survival plan is to make spits next year and boost to 6 hives. Expansion hopefully beating the loss.

    The first book I read was Beekeeping for dummies. A great book, except the fact that it horrified me. I honestly don't know how beekeepers can go on thinking things are fine as they are. Treating my bees year after year sometimes twice a year? Are you crazy? This is awful!

    Then I read Michael Bush's book on beekeeping, a great hopeful feeling read until I realize he really doesn't remark upon the plight of new beekeepers. Sure his philosophy is great but the fact of the matter is that any new beekeeper who follows his ideas could meet absolute bitter defeat. Add on the fact that there are beekeepers who make claims like "yeah I was worried about bee disease, and then I switched to 4.9mm."
    Solomon parker, one of the patrons of treatment free has made disparaging remarks of some sensible beekeepers like Randy Oliver! Randy Oliver, Someone who appears as a rock of commonsense among a sea of overreaction.

    What am I supposed to do as a new beekeeper. I absolutely don't want to treat, but I feel as if I'm being sold something that isn't true. Is there anyone else who maneuvered out from what I'm feeling like?[/QUOTE]
    Hi Gus.
    I started out treating because that's what i was taught. But I haven't treated with chemicals for 2 years and my hives are booming. I
    feel that management is key.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Louisville, KY
    Posts
    1,567

    Default Re: Realism and Treatment free beekeeping

    Weather climate and available forage has alot to do with success. We are a product of our environment.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Lower Lake, California, USA
    Posts
    173

    Default Re: Realism and Treatment free beekeeping

    IMHO, there are some noninvasive "treatments"that you can use that make sense. For me it makes sense to dust my bees with powdered sugar about every other month because it seems to be a fact that mites have trouble holding on when the bees are dusted with any fine powder.

    Small hive beetle oil traps seem to be a sensible treatment and monitoring device without adding a bunch of weird stuff to the hive. The same could be said for using grease patties for tracheal mites.

    I to am a new beekeeper but I've raised other livestock my whole life. I personally seen the effects of using hormone treatments on cattle and those hormones entering our food. If you go to a feed store today you will find most feeds still have antibiotics, even though it is been proven that low-level antibiotics increase antibiotic resistance!

    Natural selection and quality genetics, including feral survivor stock is my best bet to be as close to treatment free has I can get!
    Last edited by nobull56; 08-31-2013 at 10:09 PM. Reason: Spelling as always

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    4,111

    Default Re: Realism and Treatment free beekeeping

    Regardless of if you treat or not you will lose hives sooner or later. If you treat at the right time,and with the right product, and if you practice good beekeeping besides just treating - with a bit of luck it might be later instead of sooner.

    The question is, what about after you lose hives? With only one or two hives it will be just like starting over. You need enough stocks to withstand the losses when they come. So what do you think is the best way to get to the point where your apiary is sustainable? Answer that question to your own satisfaction, and you will then know what to do.
    Since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Halfway, Oregon, USA
    Posts
    160

    Default Re: Realism and Treatment free beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Gus979 View Post
    I expect death. My survival plan is to make spits next year and boost to 6 hives. Expansion hopefully beating the loss...Treating my bees year after year sometimes twice a year? Are you crazy? This is awful!

    Then I read Michael Bush's book on beekeeping, a great hopeful feeling read until I realize he really doesn't remark upon the plight of new beekeepers. Sure his philosophy is great but the fact of the matter is that any new beekeeper who follows his ideas could meet absolute bitter defeat...Solomon parker, one of the patrons of treatment free has made disparaging remarks of some sensible beekeepers like Randy Oliver! Randy Oliver, Someone who appears as a rock of commonsense among a sea of overreaction.

    What am I supposed to do as a new beekeeper. I absolutely don't want to treat, but I feel as if I'm being sold something that isn't true. Is there anyone else who maneuvered out from what I'm feeling like?
    Ahh yes, a new TF vs nonTF thread... Don't expect death, just be aware that it's part of the natural life process.

    Yes, treating bees year after year is silly and not ecologically sound.

    Whether or not you meet bitter defeat depends on your definition of 'defeat'. Are you going to lose ALL your hives? Probably not, depending on your genetics and how well prepared your hives are for winter. If you continue to utilize the management plans of M. Bush, Tim Ives, Kirk Webster etc... you should be able to stay on top and get a sense of what you're up against. It takes patience, observation and a skilled sense of timing.

    Take Solomon with a grain of salt, he has a lot to offer but not always in a palatable format.

    I've been keeping TF bees for 5 years, in 3 different yards on opposite coasts. My original bees, from 5 years ago, are STILL ALIVE. They haven't been managed at all in 2 years (they have swarmed and who knows what, but every year they have been observed before swarm season). A lot depends on your goals as a beekeeper.

    Also, you could consider adding one of those surplus supers from your big hive to your weaker split. Instead of feeding something artificial.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Baytown, TX., USA.
    Posts
    651

    Default Re: Realism and Treatment free beekeeping

    Gus, I am with you 100%. Finding you feet in beekeeping is tough. The community cannot even agree on Beekeeping or Bee Keeping, go figure. Beekeeping For Dummies or the one for idiots I would not read with a gun to my head, such insulting titles. Old books still in print are more sound than the new ones, time tested so to speak. Number of posts is helpful but not absolute by any means.

    Like all things Internet you need a good BS detector in your head. I have read this thing for 18 months am beginning, BEGINNING, to recognize the leaders here and the nutcases, the confusion generators, the idealist and the common sense BKs. The VIDS and photos are above average and very helpful.

    Randy Oliver, odtimer, Oldtimer, M. Bush (skip his no paint and TF stuff), Dadant, Doolittle, Mann-Lake, Barry, (for me S. Taber),Beeweaver, many researchers not on this forum, many others whose nutty screen names I cannot pronounce much less remember, you will get the hang of it eventually, bee of good cheer.

    I started 18 months ago with three hives, two Langstroth and a TB (top bar). It will take me another 18 to chunk the junk and return to 10 frame Langs with frames and wired foundation.

    My bees are from BWeaver, HoneyBeeGenetics, one local mutt and a swarm. So therefore my mites are from CA, Central TX and local.

    My troubles are from God, BeeSource, the net, reading and Central Arkansas. Those are also my help although God has avoided me in this hobby to date.
    Julysun elevation 23 feet. 4 Hives, 2 years.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Brooklyn, NY
    Posts
    197

    Default Re: Realism and Treatment free beekeeping

    I'm second year. Started with one hive that I treated in the fall. This year I did drone harvesting on my two hives. I'm coming back with three mites after a four day drop. So I'm not going to treat. But I still feel a little uneasy about it. I'm going to do a powdered sugar roll this week. I wonder why I don't hear more about drone harvesting on this forum.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Nelson, South Island, New Zealand
    Posts
    532

    Default Re: Realism and Treatment free beekeeping

    It seems to me the best way to be successful with treatment free beekeeping is to split, split and split again.
    This keeps the mite numbers down in each colony and if you do lose any you have your splits to make up the losses.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,945

    Default Re: Realism and Treatment free beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by frazzledfozzle View Post
    It seems to me the best way to be successful with treatment free beekeeping is to split, split and split again.
    This keeps the mite numbers down in each colony and if you do lose any you have your splits to make up the losses.
    This sounds great but if a goal is to produce honey, do you find that hives which have been split multiple times produce significant honey? Or has the goal changed to just keeping the bees alive? I'm not trying to start an argument; I want to understand your priorities.

    The ultimate solution to me seems a bee that can "deal" with mites on their own without human intervention. As I have commented before, this seems a work in progress among advertised commercially available tf stocks. My criteria for TF bees is that they are able to thrive w/o mite treatments in my area and produce a honey crop.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Palermo, Maine, USA
    Posts
    731

    Default Re: Realism and Treatment free beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Dewey View Post
    Or has the goal changed to just keeping the bees alive?
    Good point. It is hard to focus on draining the swamp when you are up to your butt in alligators!
    Like us on facebook This is the place to bee!
    Ralph

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    St. Petersburg, fl, USA
    Posts
    186

    Default Re: Realism and Treatment free beekeeping

    I definitely want to avoid manmade chemicals if at all possible. Some of the tf people don't monitor their hives so they don't know what is happening. You have to keep data to know what is successful and what is not. I use Drone frames and check for mites in them before I freeze them. I do the sugar roll to check mite levels. If I feel a hive is losing it to mites I requeen out of a hive that shows resistance and low mite counts. If things really go south I have Formic acid strips to treat. I feel that ultimately genetics will be what overcomes the mite issue and constant treatment is the wrong way to go. But that said I am not such a purist that I will let a hive die that I could save. I feel like I am between the tf and non tf guys. I see both sides Rather than sniping at each other how about publishing some records that we can evaluate. 1. number of hives beginning year one, 2. number of hives increased (splits, collected, bought, etc. 3. mite counts as done. 4 treatments if any (chemical, natural, drone frames etc). 5 number of hives lost. If the treatment free guys are on the right track we should see a upside down bell curve with the number of hives going down from losses then bottoming out as the resistant bees become the majority and then rising as the resistant bees are split and make new hives. Show us data not just talk. I want to be treatment free but I want to see the data.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,642

    Default Re: Realism and Treatment free beekeeping

    the angst in the op is understandable given the divisiveness and tension that exists between the two camps.

    what's a beginner to do?

    as a nonconformist (squarepeg) i say don't allow yourself to be defined by any either/or label.

    approach your beekeeping with an open mind and enjoy it for the experimental pursuit that it is.

    none of this is cast in stone, you can't learn it all in one season, and the learning process never ends.

    don't be afraid to try things, and appreciate mistakes for they are learning opportunities.

    they are your bees, and the choices are yours to make, no need to wring your hands over any of this.

    if you stick with it, you will eventually figure out what it takes for you to achieve your goals, with your bees, in your location.

    have fun!
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  14. #14

    Default Re: Realism and Treatment free beekeeping

    To the op….my advice is always the same. Regardless of your treatment philosophy, test ‘em. You’ve read Randy Oliver? OK…see what he recommends for testing…choose one method…and do it.
    Then…make your decisions. And if you choose not to treat and your hives survive, then you have some idea of what mite load they can tolerate. And if they collapse, you may have some idea of why. Or if they survive but fail to thrive…you get the picture.
    Don’t go into it blind. Know and understand the enemy.
    Good luck.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Millbury, MA, USA
    Posts
    1,847

    Default Re: Realism and Treatment free beekeeping

    When you have a winter like I did and all your hives die, you'll start treating I bet.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Halfway, Oregon, USA
    Posts
    160

    Default Re: Realism and Treatment free beekeeping

    Jeez camero7... a little doom and gloom? Sorry for your losses.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Auburntown, TN USA
    Posts
    239

    Default Re: Realism and Treatment free beekeeping

    This is my 4th season with bees. I don't treat or do mite counts. I have made an average honey crop each year but the 1st(received bees in the middle of our main flow). My hive count has gone up each year. I bought only 1 hive, and split from it.

    I recognize the possibility of absolute failure following this path, but based on my reading, failure appears possible even if you treat. Follow Squarepeg's advice, and have fun while you learn!

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Worcester County, Massachusetts
    Posts
    3,675

    Default Re: Realism and Treatment free beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by camero7 View Post
    When you have a winter like I did and all your hives die, you'll start treating I bet.
    Cam, my recollection is that you bring nucs in in the spring. Were these nucs part of your losses? Were there any obvious problems with the nucs that may have affected your apiary?

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

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Millbury, MA, USA
    Posts
    1,847

    Default Re: Realism and Treatment free beekeeping

    No, this was 5 years ago with all hives [6] started with packages, when I returned to beekeeping and was sucked in by the no-treat philosophy. All hives had VSH queens and grew and looked great going into the winter.

    Last year I didn't treat my nucs [they were splits from my production hives] with Carni queens. I lost 50%. My production hives were treated and I had 80+% survival. This year I'm treating my nucs as well as my production hives.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Halfway, Oregon, USA
    Posts
    160

    Default Re: Realism and Treatment free beekeeping

    You lost the nucs over winter? These were made in July or August?

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