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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Redmond Oregon
    Posts
    170

    Default Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    OK, so I've been treatment free for a while and its becoming apparent that something needs to change. Most of my hives get through the first year, but in the second year they die out. Example - I had six hives this year. Two of them were survivors from last year and four of them are new this year. This fall the two year old hives collapsed. One week they are full of bees and looking healthy a week or two later they are gone, with very few dead in the hive. (This happened in late October in Oregon where the temps have been freezing at night)

    Both of the two year old hives were from "survivor" stock. One was a nuk purchased at Old Sol and the other was a split from a local hive that has been around for a number of years. I simply cannot get a hive into year three, no matter how what I do. The hives had excellent stores and I even fed pollen patties (from Mann Lake) just to help out. (first time I have done that)

    I have no doubt the bees are leaving because of high mite loads but since I don't treat with chemicals I'm not sure what I can do. My hives are made up of a mixture of small cell boards and foundationless frames.

    Open to suggestions as I'm very near going back to treating my bees with a miticide.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    24,495

    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    NO!! Don't do that. Who's gonna buy nucs or packages.
    Mark Berninghausen "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." Zora Neale Hurston

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    24,495

    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    What would you charge to apply it for me?
    Mark Berninghausen "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." Zora Neale Hurston

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Redmond Oregon
    Posts
    170

    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    I tried to delete my post and it wont allow me. I know your being constructive but I thought I would find a little more help from serious beekeepers. My mistake.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Morro Bay, California, USA
    Posts
    490

    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    Treatment Free suffers from the "survivor testament" effect.

    In human cancer there have been a succession of miraculous quackery promoted through the breathless "testaments" of [temporarily] surviving patients. Unfortunately, those patients that succumb cannot promote their experience, leaving only those experiencing spontaneous remission (for whatever reason) to report success.

    TF Beekeeping is parallel -- hundreds of wishful beekeepers attempt this cure, and most experience the very same symptom you report - dead-out in the second year. Discouraged, they under-report their failure. Novices move on to another hobby and are never heard from again. This constant winnowing means only the "successes" are reported, and completely skews the perception of efficacy.

    To my knowledge, there are no "treatment free" advocates that have set up side-by-side controlled experiments of whatever design to test their various (contradictory) theories. I am no TF advocate, but I have endeavored to develop as controlled a side-by-side test apiary as possible. My results, over a decade, show that TF in coastal California is not viable. I use the wild swarm>isolated small apiary model.

    The various academic studies which have attempted to include a TF protocol have the same result -- virtual complete extinction of the TF cohort. The advocates complain of design flaws in these studies, but have attempted none of their own.

    Anecdote is not Evidence. Serious researchers of cancer have had to cope with this source of false information for decades, and beekeepers should exercise the same skepticism.

    It appears from their self-testments that successful TF keepers exist using various methods in various regions of the country. I read their various accounts with an eye to detecting commonalities (which are often at odds with their own self-description).

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Manning, SC
    Posts
    1,779

    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by whalers View Post
    I tried to delete my post and it wont allow me. I know your being constructive but I thought I would find a little more help from serious beekeepers. My mistake.
    I'm sorry you feel that way, if you re-read my post on OA treatment, it was a constructive post..........

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Redmond Oregon
    Posts
    170

    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    snl, my comment was not directed at you. The part that states "I know your being constructive" was directed specifically at you. I would enjoy knowing more about Oxalic acid as I'm weighing my options about how to treat my bees.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    24,495

    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by snl View Post
    Don't need your money now........... collecting SS! Besides, are you not using OA in a dribble as CK?
    No. Am not up to speed.
    Mark Berninghausen "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." Zora Neale Hurston

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,042

    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    whalers,

    sorry to hear about your bees. i haven't been at this very long but i'm starting to see that being able to keep bees successfully off treatments varies by location. i believe that quality of forage and presence of mite tolerant feral colonies may be the most important factors.

    it could be that if you keep at it you might end up with mite tolerant bees. you'll have to make the call whether or not your commitment to not using chemicals is more important that suffering losses along the way.

    i have been lucky so far in that my colonies are surviving and producing well off treatments. this is not by design as i didn't know anything about mites when i first started, and i did not deliberately set out to be treatment free. that i ended up not using treatments is from a combination of ignorance and/or laziness.

    during my first winter with bees, i read everything i could get my hands on about beekeeping. in my opinion the best information out there on the subject is put out by randy oliver. what he has to say about using an integrated pest management approach makes a lot of sense, and may be a way for you to get to where you are trying to go without spending too much time and resources.

    http://scientificbeekeeping.com/

    good luck.
    beekeeping since june 2010, +/- 20 hives, tf

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    24,495

    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by whalers View Post
    I tried to delete my post and it wont allow me. I know your being constructive but I thought I would find a little more help from serious beekeepers. My mistake.
    Okay, since you probably don't want to treat, you can raise queens from the ones that survive and split the strong colony(ies) using those queens. When they all die, which they might, do what you did to get the ones you have and start over again.

    Maybe someone who doesn't treat will have a better idea for you. Best wishes.
    Mark Berninghausen "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." Zora Neale Hurston

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    3,595

    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    Are you making yearly increase to try to compensate for losses and to improve your genetics? Six hives may (probably) not be enough to be easily sustainable. Are you trying to bring in new improved or complementary genetics?

    Furthermore what do you hope to achieve?
    5Y-25H-T-Z6b-0 winter losses in '14

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    West Bath, Maine, United States
    Posts
    784

    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    You sound like you are at the crossroad that Oldtimer and many others (including me) find themselve at. No loss in the desire to be TF but realising the direct aproach is not going to get it done. The purist may believe that 1 or 2 treatments a year makes no progress towards a bee that can survive TF in a specific location. Maybe true, but a dead bee makes no progress either.
    4 yrs, Peak 14, back to zip, T lite; godfather to brother's 3.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Manning, SC
    Posts
    1,779

    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by whalers View Post
    I would enjoy knowing more about Oxalic acid as I'm weighing my options about how to treat my bees.
    As reported in this thread, look at Randy Oliver's site scientificbeeking.com. You'll find lots of good information on OA there.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    West Bath, Maine, United States
    Posts
    784

    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    NUc, Nuc, nuc. As suggested, a split single gives you twice as many chances to find that queen you are looking for as a single. Michael Palmer style supers over nucs should give you some honey as well as better odds. Splitting early in that 2nd year gives you a new clock.
    4 yrs, Peak 14, back to zip, T lite; godfather to brother's 3.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Morro Bay, California, USA
    Posts
    490

    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by Saltybee View Post
    NUc, Nuc, nuc.
    I would agree constant requeening or splitting gives you a mite holiday. Those small nucs or singles are much less affected than the "boomer" hives with a stack of supers dripping with honey.

    Most hobbyists are anticipating a honey crop and not a pollination check.

    In my west-coast Mediterranean climate our last significant rain occurred before Christmas in 2012. You read that right -- no rain all spring, summer, and fall.

    In this climate, except for exceptional years, virtually all flow occurs before June. Hives are running on vapors at steady state or in serious dearth all summer and fall.

    A nuc strategy (with some honey off the top) is a difficult hobby model -- you overwinter young hives, let them make honey March-April-May, and them break them down completely in a 1>>4 nuc split. There is no honey harvest for the rest of the year. I do use a very similar calendar to make and sell young hives for the January gold rush as the pollination contracts ramp up, so I have healthy, youthful and vigourous started singles that are worth a premium.

    The original poster is from Redmond Oregon. This is on the interior (east) side of the Cascades. It should have a mint and alfalfa seed crop with high fall nectar, and high-desert rabbit brush to make some winter stores. Don't know about spring-summer sources (Orchards ?). It will have a large migratory component (commercials working the mint-alfalfa). Commercials imply that the local genotype is going to be Italian commercial strains from escaped swarms. I very much doubt "survivor" stock really means much as a unique genotype in that landscape due to constant introgression from migratory commercials.

    If you look at an satellite image of (say) central Nebraska, the only potential wild bee habitat is some very narrow woodlots along streams surrounded by uninterrupted landscape of hundreds (thousands) of acres of corn. This is a classic land-island which provides isolation that might permit a mega-scale genotypic culling and fixing of a new trait.



    My region does not have this favorable isolation from background genotype at all, and I doubt that Redmond, Oregon does either.

    We don't know from the original post what the forage is for his collapsing hives. One process that does occur is Italians breed themselves into collapse. They build and build, and when the dearth hits the bees are hunger stressed very quickly. Even with stored honey, the pollen dearth seems to affect colony health. The hive over-corrects and drops below a sustainable size. Mites that were bred up on a 60,000 bee "booming" colony, are suddenly in a 10,000 bee colony. This implies a 6x mite load per new larvae-- and the loading is way beyond what can be sustained. A 60,000 bee colony can lose 10,000 bees to DWV virus and still grow. A 10,000 bee colony losing 10,000 bees to DWV (because the source mite number is the same) goes dead-out. This fall collapse syndrome is classic. It is really important to make a mite assessment in late August, when planning for the last fall forage, and decide a strategy.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Canada BC Delta
    Posts
    393

    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    Most of my hives get through the first year, but in the second year they die out.
    It seems you could have the answer already. Why not rejuvenate your colonies after the 1st of July so that you're not fighting the second year syndrome.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Mtn. View, Arkansas, USA
    Posts
    1,150

    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    Whalers; Saltybee is correct, you must split and re-queen each year. You must buy queens that have VSH characteristics and flood your area with their drones. Don't expect to develop resistant bees yourself, you must start with resistance and then select for it in the queens you raise each year. You must do mite counts and be ready to act to help colonies that are ready to crash. IPM is not something I read about very much on Beesource, but my opinion is that it is more practical than going treatment-free.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    New York City, NY
    Posts
    4,031

    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    whalers:

    You're better off starting out with actual resistant stock. Otherwise, you're odds of success are greatly decreased.

    There are a number of commercial stocks that are mite resistant. VSH is one. Tried them, but they starved.

    I switched to BeeWeavers.

    Others are using caught local ferals with success.

    I'll agree with those suggesting that you make splits/nucs as a backup.

    MDA splitter is one method that uses splits in a treatment free setting.

    Good luck, and feel free to blow kisses anytime you want. xxx

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Morro Bay, California, USA
    Posts
    490

    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by Delta Bay View Post
    Why not rejuvenate your colonies after the 1st of July
    Whaler will have to evaluate if a mid-summer nuc is viable in his (relatively sparse) forage and his (severe) climate. He will get a spring crop (if the small hives overwinter on the high-desert side of the Cascades). Otherwise, he is running in place -- young hives with none of the surplus he desires. He may be trading fall dead-out for winter nuc losses.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Redmond Oregon
    Posts
    170

    Default Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions

    Quote Originally Posted by David LaFerney View Post
    Are you making yearly increase to try to compensate for losses and to improve your genetics? Six hives may (probably) not be enough to be easily sustainable. Are you trying to bring in new improved or complementary genetics?

    Furthermore what do you hope to achieve?
    Yes I have been bringing in improved/complementary genetics. Its what led to my frustration this year. One hive that made it through last year was from "survivor" bee stock. After making it through a heavy mite year last year I thought I had something. Now they are gone. Also a split from a local beeks hive that has been around for years did not make it. Just some examples. Bottom line, I'm NOT making yearly increases. I do not know how to raise queens and am just getting to the point of being comfortable (kind of) of trying to take a split. Whats the best way to take a split? What ever hives make it through the winter I am going to want to split this spring. Just not sure of how to do it. Thanks for your help.

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