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  1. #1
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    Default Its about good basic beekeeping practices, not about treating or not.

    With all the dissention between the various camps, it seems that we are neglecting to advise new keepers on the most important and basic things in beekeeping.

    If we would quit arguing (debating) the merits of the treating verses not treating, the newbies might not have to sift through so much chaff to make informed decisions for themselves.

    Maybe we could even cover the basics and not go down the to treat or not to treat road at all. How can anyone decide unless they can get to the point of knowing what is in their hives to begin with?

    How many times of late have we seen the axioms?

    “Take your losses early”?
    “Combine your weak hives going into winter”
    “Build up/feed in the fall to insure a strong hive in the spring”
    “Re-queen in the fall”
    “Restrict hive area to what the bees can defend”
    “Insure adequate ventilation in the winter”
    “Learn to identify the various pests and diseases so you can adjust appropriately”
    “Correct queen issues immediately”

    And many, many others. We are so caught up in proving our stance and standing our ground, that WE are the reason that so many new beekeepers fail.

    I like Ralph, have read, studied, listened, considered huge amounts of beekeeping information and knowledge. I have listened to all sides, read studies, tried methods and succeeded and failed. I would venture to say that I have more “book learning” on bees than most that frequent this forum. Does that make me right, or wise, not at all. Book learning for beekeeping is about as good as any project plan, and that is good right up until you actually begin to execute it, then all bets are off.

    The only real way to learn to keep bees is to do it. No amount of academics will prepare you for that first inspection. It will help, a lot, but it will not do the inspection for you. It will not slow your heart rate down when a dozen bees scramble over your ungloved hand. You will not know how you are going to react when you get that first sting, or stand in the middle of your first swarm. Nothing can prepare you for these things.

    If you dismiss the advice of sage beekeepers, then you are foolish and insulting. You don’t have to take it or act upon it, but to dismiss or belittle it, simply shows your lack of maturity and wisdom. So many times in todays connected world, where we are really not connected at all, many feel that their newly acquired opinions and summations are as valid as a veteran's, and they are certainly not.

    So many will fail without ever understanding why, just because they failed to listen, understand and apply good basic beekeeping practices.

    Read all of Michal Bush’s website. You don’t need to apply even a third of it to become a somewhat successful hobby beekeeper. He covers the basics and that is what most new and many long time beekeepers need to learn. Best advice I ever took in beekeeping: “Run all mediums”. Best advice I never took: Run all 8 frame equipment. Worst advice I ever took: sugar dusting works well to control varroa. Worst advice I never took: Well, stating that here would start an argument, so I will refrain.

    In closing this rant I will give this advice:
    Leave the rest of the contentious debate to those that feel they need to derive some prestige by proving their position. I’ll bee keeping my bees and enjoying watching them come and go while having a cool drink with my beekeeping friends or chatting with them in the attached chat area.

    Learn the basics and then worry about the subtleties.

    For the veterans out there, lets get back to giving good sound basic beekeeping advice, it will eventually trump the bad. If it is made available then the newbie will only have themselves to blame for not taking it.

    Cheers and good luck to all with your bees.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Its about good basic beekeeping practices, not about treating or not.

    Of course, as in any other field, there are standard/best practices.

    If you're keeping bees as a business, you're pretty much constrained to following those practices because of 'due diligence'.

    However, there are beekeepers who are using a different model of beekeeping. Organic beekeeping. And, it's every bit as valid as the standard model.

    The term 'good beekeeping' has become so subjective, not because of the beekeepers themselves, but because of everything that has had such a profound impact on the standard model of beekeeping.

    So, here's my demand: I want to be able to practice a form of apiculture that is both permanent, and sustainable.

    If you can't provide it for me, then I'll do it myself.

    Or, I'll just get my bees from someone who understands.

  3. #3
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    Cookeville, TN, USA
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    Default Re: Its about good basic beekeeping practices, not about treating or not.

    I agree. Here's mine: Hives that have plenty of capped honey do better no matter how much you feed. Watch that and keep them queen right and you have most of it covered.
    since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Its about good basic beekeeping practices, not about treating or not.

    My thrust when attempting to advise a novice is to do whatever it takes to keep them alive past the second winter
    The easiest way for a novice to do this is to treat for mites and trap for beetles
    After they "learn to walk" and can do basic manipulations,make a calculated judgment on the statis of their queen from her brood pattern etc etc THEN they can feel comfortable and have a much greater chance of success going treatment free-if they decide to
    Mite resistance may be out there but it's not common enough to bet on for a novice
    "Wine is a constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy" Ben Franklin

  5. #5
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    Evansville, IN
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    Default Re: Its about good basic beekeeping practices, not about treating or not.

    You have to learn the basics before you try experiments if you expect to be successful at anything, beekeeping included.

    My current hives are all feral stock (caught swarms or naturally superceded hives) and my brother and I have only lost one hive to varroa mites in the last eight years. Not a good sample because we currently only have two hives (I lost a pair to hive beetles this year, and now have traps installed for that).

    It's better to treat and not need to than to not treat and lose your hives, especially starting out. If you check for mites and don't have many, all the better, but starting out by dis-regarding conventional wisdom probably won't work well.

    Quite aside from the treatment issue, it's imperative to learn good beekeeping habits and skills, else you will be killing of hives on a regular basis when you should not be!

    Walk first, then run....

    Peter

  6. #6
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    Feb 2010
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    Default Re: Its about good basic beekeeping practices, not about treating or not.

    Uh, fellas.

    You can buy 75% VSH as easily as any other stock. You just need to re-queen yearly.

    You can even try Bee-Weavers. But, I think that they're a bit advanced.

    You can even get local trap-outs/cutouts.

    I won't tell someone how to spend their money, but if you're going to have to spend a lot of time chasing down problems, you know what?, it might be worth it.

    I'm not convinced that chasing down pests. pathogens. and parasites is conducive to 'good beekeeping'.

    It's a chore.

  7. #7
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    Jul 2013
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    Surrey, BC, Canada
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    30

    Default Re: Its about good basic beekeeping practices, not about treating or not.

    Here we go again !

    Same old stuff.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
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    Default Re: Its about good basic beekeeping practices, not about treating or not.

    Quote Originally Posted by mike haney View Post
    My thrust when attempting to advise a novice is to do whatever it takes to keep them alive past the second winter
    The easiest way for a novice to do this is to treat for mites and trap for beetles
    In my opinion, there is a big difference between treating for mites and trapping for beetles. I have beetle traps in all my hives. Beetles are a huge problem here in Florida. Beetle traps do not damage hive biota or bees. Treatments do, if they are to be effective against mites. In my view, some of the treatments are a little like chemotherapy. The drugs used in chemotherapy are in essence poisons. If you have cancer, you take the gamble that the chemotherapy will kill the cancer before the chemotherapy kills you... but it doesn't always work out. Bees, lest we forget, are boxes of stinging insects, not family members or pets. With bees, we have the option of letting weak stock die, and making increase from our stronger stock.

    There seems to be a perception that all beginners are completely clueless. While I'm sure that's true for some beginners, a few of us have learned to do some basic stuff.

    Here's some of what I've learned to do in my first season:

    In my Florida backyard, I started with a local nuc, and a package of Wolf Creek small cell, semi-untreated bees. Now I have 6 colonies in the backyard. I made a couple early splits-- one queened itself successfully, one didn't. I recombined the latter with its donor hive.

    I've made a couple more later splits, one which made its own queen, one which I queened with a Bee Weaver queen.

    I trapped a swarm and hived it successfully. In fact, I caught the swarm in NY, and brought it down to FL where I could care for it. The queen is laying well, and the swarm, which was trapped in a 5 frame nuc is very populous and is already filling a second 5 frame deep body.

    I've harvested a substantial amount of honey from my best hive, despite the amount of brood and other resources I've taken from it, for splits and to shore up a laying worker hive. This is a great hive, from a local nuc, and the queen is still laying wall to wall brood in a beautiful tight pattern.

    I successfully requeened a laying worker hive while preserving its resources. I did this by giving it a frame of eggs every week for six weeks. This suppressed the laying workers and allowed hive numbers to stay high enough that beetles were unable to get a foothold in the comb (aided by those beetle traps, of course.) My inspection yesterday showed a bunch of frames with fresh and capped worker brood. This was the Wolf Creek package, which superceded a couple of times on its way to going laying worker, so I was anxious to preserve the small cell comb in that hive.

    I built all the nuc boxes. I designed and built three horizontal Langstroth hives, which each hold 32 deep frames. I put 2 colonies in conventional 8 frame Langstroth equipment for comparison purpose. (I like the long hives a lot better.)

    All my frames are foundationless, and for the most part they've worked out beautifully. I did this to avoid acaricide residue in foundation, because I'm a one percenter when it comes to managing any enterprise. That is, I think success or failure is not due to one big thing, but to a lot of small things, either done well or done poorly.

    For my yard in NY, I'm waiting for a colony of local bees, which I'll pick up in October and bring to FL to winter. These bees are from a treatment free Mennonite beekeeper who has had decent survival rates in the very harsh North Country winters..

    When I'm in town, I'm in my hives at least once a week. I know this is not optimal for the bees, but they have the misfortune to be the bees I'm using to learn to be a beekeeper. I'll probably end up killing them, but not before I wring a lot of practical experience out of them.

    I've read literally dozens of books, hundreds of magazine pieces, and a vast number of the posts on BeeSource, as well as scores of web sites.

    Back in the winter, when I first started posting here, before I owned a single bee, I said that I understood that taking the treatment free path was chancy, and that this chanciness, combined with my inexperience would likely end up killing my bees. I still feel this way, but I feel even more strongly that this is the sensible path to take, even if the immediate consequences are discouraging.

    Not the easiest way, but the best for me.

    What I really sincerely wish is that if folks actually want to help this beginner, they would offer me advice that would be useful to me in traveling the path I've chosen, and not call me an idiot for choosing it.

    I don't think I have ever told anyone who treats that they are stupid for doing it. Apparently, trying to explain my point of view is offensive to some who don't share that point of view. Sorry about that, but I don't plan to shut up. BeeSource has been a wonderful resource for me, helping me over a number of rough spots, and also helping me to refine my model of beekeeping, and my thinking about bees. If you would prefer not to listen to me natter on, which I can certainly understand, I recommend you put me on ignore, and then you'll never have to read another word from me.

  9. #9
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    Feb 2007
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    owensboro,ky
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    Default Re: Its about good basic beekeeping practices, not about treating or not.

    Do you think you resemble the average novice beekeeper that just wants to keep bees?
    I don't
    I also don't give identical advice to everyone - some get bees in nucs and don't know the difference between a queen and a drone or even what the function of each is in the hive
    It's also pretty tough to judge someone's knowledge level from 50 words in a Internet Forum
    So my replies are necessarily basic
    Some "bristle" some are grateful . Remember more than the OP reads the thread .
    Good Luck, Mike
    "Wine is a constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy" Ben Franklin

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Its about good basic beekeeping practices, not about treating or not.

    rhaldridge:

    I think that obtaining and propagating resistant stocks of bees is critical to 'Good Beekeeping'.

    I'd much rather deal with overly productive bees, than chase down problems.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Its about good basic beekeeping practices, not about treating or not.

    My advice to new beekeepers…

    Find a good book or two. Read them. The nice thing about learning from a book is that the information….if reasonably well written…should have some order. Message boards are all over the place. Use a message board as a supplement….with great caution.

    If at all possible…find a mentor. Preferably someone who has successfully kept bees for at least a few years and therefore has a track record.

    If there is a good beekeepers club or association…visit and see if you fit in.

    Accept that you will experience some losses…all beekeepers do….so you must harden your heart a little.

    If there is a ‘bee school’ available…again, one with a track record…consider attending.

    Use the internet only as a supplement and, once again, do so with caution.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    helenwood,tn.usa
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    86

    Default Re: Its about good basic beekeeping practices, not about treating or not.

    well there is a lot of good info on here and there is a lot of pee pee contests going on here. this aint the only place you can educate yourself. there are people on here who get into every pee pee contest and you will learn who they are and there are good educators on here who don't get envolved in the pee pee contests pay attention to them. take what you need and have fun and then do it your way.
    Last edited by j.kuder; 09-06-2013 at 05:46 AM.
    I'm from Jersey. South Jersey that is.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Its about good basic beekeeping practices, not about treating or not.

    Frequently what will happen in threads like this that a couple somebodies who treat will advocate newbees treat first and do TF later, then I who don't treat and some other somebodies will say no, don't treat because switching rarely works and then it will go back and forth and WLC will post a bunch of single sentence paragraphs and then somebody will start in the with the snarky comments about how all these threads go downhill and mention ignoble body part contests. It's already happened if that's your sort of thing.

    I don't like it as much as the next person so I'm going to skip it and address the OP. What a concept.

    Quote Originally Posted by jbeshearse View Post
    With all the dissention between the various camps, it seems that we are neglecting to advise new keepers on the most important and basic things in beekeeping.
    I'm going to start by disagreeing with this statement and it has nothing to do with TF but still in its context. WE are not neglecting anything. You mention Michael Bush. There are also others such as myself who work tirelessly to help newbees because they are the most difficult ones to get going. My whole website is designed toward that end. One of my main focuses is to get them into the hives, familiar with bees, and through the first winter.



    Quote Originally Posted by jbeshearse View Post
    If we would quit arguing (debating) the merits of the treating verses not treating, the newbies might not have to sift through so much chaff to make informed decisions for themselves.
    The informed decisions are so often colored by people who are not informed. How can a beekeeper who treats be informed on how to keep bees treatment-free? You say it's about doing. So if you want to know about how something works, you ask somebody who does it.


    Quote Originally Posted by jbeshearse View Post
    How can anyone decide unless they can get to the point of knowing what is in their hives to begin with?
    If there were no side-effects of treating, this might be a valid point. You could start beekeeping, get used to the bees, treat, then quit treating and everything would be hunky dory. But that's not the way it works. There are side effects. Treatments throw off the chemistry and biological balance in the hive.


    Quote Originally Posted by jbeshearse View Post
    How many times of late have we seen the axioms?
    Not intimately familiar with most of these axioms.


    Quote Originally Posted by jbeshearse View Post
    So many will fail without ever understanding why, just because they failed to listen, understand and apply good basic beekeeping practices.
    Exactly and that has nothing to do with treating or not treating.


    Quote Originally Posted by jbeshearse View Post
    Learn the basics and then worry about the subtleties.
    The question then is whether the foundation of treating or not is part of the foundation of these basics. I say it is.


    Quote Originally Posted by jbeshearse View Post
    For the veterans out there, lets get back to giving good sound basic beekeeping advice, it will eventually trump the bad.
    I used to post Treatment-Free Q&A's. They were great, a lot of questions got asked and answered. But as you say, they got run off course, but not by newbees. Newbees on the whole are not contentious. It is the veterans who can't just let people do things the way they want.

    I am absolutely in favor of the basic advice. But then we'd be fighting over definitions of basic. In today's beekeeping world, treating or not may not be the most basic aspect, but it is in the same folder.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Its about good basic beekeeping practices, not about treating or not.

    Learn to make increase. That's a good one.
    since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Its about good basic beekeeping practices, not about treating or not.

    That's the best on in my view. It includes many attendant skills.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  16. #16
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    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: Its about good basic beekeeping practices, not about treating or not.

    > ... and WLC will post a bunch of single sentence paragraphs and then ...

    Not all of the WLC posts are single sentence paragraphs. Some of them are much better than that! Here's a great one:

    Arguments*against*neonic*seed*treatments* Actual*facts*
    The*neonicotinoids*have*been*“linked”*to*increased * colony*mortality.*
    In*actuality,*such*a*“link”*is*merely*an*urban*leg end,* and*has*never*been*demonstrated*or*confirmed*in* any*study.*
    On*the*other*hand,*the*residues*of*other*classes*o f* pesticides*are*more*suspect*for*causing*increased* brood*or*adult*bee*mortality*."

    See post #59 here: http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...-Article/page3
    -- Victor Hugo -- "Common sense is in spite of, not the result of, education.”

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Its about good basic beekeeping practices, not about treating or not.

    In all I don't think the success of the few such as Michael Bus or Solomon has anything to do with treating or not treating. I believe it has far more to do with not only improved beekeeping skill. but a more highly refined ability to observe and interpret what those observations indicate. a long winded way to say better beekeeping. I don't think the period it takes for treatment free to develop in the bees has a thing to do with the bees. I Think it has to do with the person keeping them.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Its about good basic beekeeping practices, not about treating or not.

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Y View Post
    ... success ... has far more to do with ... improved beekeeping skill ... and ... better beekeeping
    I'd love to agree, I really would, because this is a fantastic complement. But I know a guy who has been keeping bees for years without treatments (apparently didn't know he was supposed to) and I don't consider him a particularly expert beekeeper. He does have at least one of my queens, so maybe that helps, but I don't know.

    There is also the case of my great uncle who had around a hundred hives in the late 80's and early 90's and lost all but five to what he called a "drouth." He didn't seem to know anything about mites. Anyway, the five hives made it through. When I started, I modeled my program after Dee Lusby and my uncle, expecting 95% losses within two years. It didn't happen, happy day.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Its about good basic beekeeping practices, not about treating or not.

    If you want to see a real world example of what I consider to be 'Better Beekeeping', you need only look to what the folks in the NMBKA are doing.

    Many of them are not only TF, but they've obtained their resistant stocks of Honeybees from the local ferals.

    It's sustainable apiculture. It's permaculture. And, it's ORGANIC.

    I've seen far more concrete information coming from that one organization than I have from Mike, Sol, or any other 'gurus'.

    I think that the South Western U.S. is leading the way in this type of 'good basic beekeping' practice.

    You can feel the 'Hybrid Vigor' from here in NE.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Its about good basic beekeeping practices, not about treating or not.

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post

    There is also the case of my great uncle who had around a hundred hives in the late 80's and early 90's and lost all but five to what he called a "drouth."
    Just wondering, did you start out by using any stock from his 5 surviving hives?
    Or did you already have hives of your own at that time?

    Glen
    You Tube bee Channel Zone 5A
    http://www.youtube.com/user/GlenGH

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