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  1. #21
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    Default Re: Beekeeping with microbes - treatment-free

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    If you can get some local feral bees you may be able to do a cutout and in the process innoculate your apiary and then by giving some brood and pollen frames to your other hives, innoculate them...
    That's what I'm asking about, but let's take the ideas at work in that scenario and generalize them to other methods.

    So, for example, those of us who've been keeping bees treatment-free for more than 2-3 years, maybe could sell queenless "nucs" with a couple of frames of brood, nurse bees, and beebread. How is that different, in its essentials?

    Feral bees could be just 1-2 years removed from the same package bees. Who knows?

    And if we develop ways of telling what bees have got a better microbial "balance," that would help. How many years are we removed from being able to run tests on the bacteria in bees, locally, with the technology now used for bee research in just a handful of labs?

  2. #22
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    Default Re: Beekeeping with microbes - treatment-free

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    > My package of allegedly small-cell, treatment-free bees...

    Oddly enough most of the so-called treatment-free bees being marketed seem to be treated with essential oils, which of course disrupt the microbes...
    I believe this is the case with the Wolf Creek bees I bought last spring (John Seaforth.) They did not do very well, superceding several times and eventually going laying worker. I managed to get them queenright eventually, but it was a long and costly process.

    The local nuc in the hive right next to them did very well, and is already building up pretty well this spring.
    Ray--1 year, 7 hives, TF

  3. #23
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    Default Re: Beekeeping with microbes - treatment-free

    Quote Originally Posted by Kofu View Post
    So, for example, those of us who've been keeping bees treatment-free for more than 2-3 years, maybe could sell queenless "nucs" with a couple of frames of brood, nurse bees, and beebread.
    I'm not at the stage to do that myself, yet, but I claim copyright on the idea. "Inoc-u-nucs"
    Beekeeping - a form of magic that weaves together two elements: wood and bees.

  4. #24
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    Default Re: Beekeeping with microbes - treatment-free

    >And if we develop ways of telling what bees have got a better microbial "balance," that would help.

    Obviously the ones that are healthy and productive while not being treated.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  5. #25
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    Default Re: Beekeeping with microbes - treatment-free

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    >And if we develop ways of telling what bees have got a better microbial "balance," that would help.

    Obviously the ones that are healthy and productive while not being treated.
    That test has the hazard of running into the "True Scotsman" fallacy.

    It would be better to have ways of measuring resilience against specific diseases, queen & brood rearing, longevity without treatment, supply of successful 'Inoc-u-nucs', etc.
    Beekeeping - a form of magic that weaves together two elements: wood and bees.

  6. #26
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    Default Re: Beekeeping with microbes - treatment-free

    Quote Originally Posted by Kofu View Post
    That test has the hazard of running into the "True Scotsman" fallacy.

    It would be better to have ways of measuring resilience against specific diseases, queen & brood rearing, longevity without treatment, supply of successful 'Inoc-u-nucs', etc.
    I think the trouble with testing for specific traits is that it runs the risk of not being a true test of colony survivability. For example, testing for VSH behavior may not predict colony viability.

    One of the truisms about microbial ecosystems is that they are usually complex beyond the abilities of studies to successfully quantify all the intrinsic relationships.
    Ray--1 year, 7 hives, TF

  7. #27
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    Default Re: Beekeeping with microbes - treatment-free

    >>That test has the hazard of running into the "True Scotsman" fallacy.
    >One of the truisms about microbial ecosystems is that they are usually complex beyond the abilities of studies to successfully quantify all the intrinsic relationships.

    That is exactly the problem. They are complex and it's really only the outcome you can accurately measure. But it's not hard to measure a successful healthy hive. They are obvious.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  8. #28
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    Default Re: Beekeeping with microbes - treatment-free

    Quote Originally Posted by rhaldridge View Post
    I think the trouble with testing for specific traits is that it runs the risk of not being a true test of colony survivability. For example, testing for VSH behavior may not predict colony viability.

    One of the truisms about microbial ecosystems is that they are usually complex beyond the abilities of studies to successfully quantify all the intrinsic relationships.
    Yes, true, but some tests measure against a larger yardstick. You don't have to quantify all the intrinsic relationships to be able to say, this hive showed signs of EFB, and recovered, while that one didn't. (Or DWV? Nosema? another disease? Maybe certain diseases would be a better test? I'm just thinking aloud.) By itself it's not very much, but it's part of a measure. Just as people pick certain attributes they want to selectively breed their bees for, it can't be 100% accurate, but it has better than 0% validity.

    If someone says that feral bees have been living in a certain location for the past five years, that's generally taken as a significant measure of something. Why couldn't you say the same about colonies that have been maintained for five years, say, without treatments and with a reasonable record of queen-succession etc.?

    The basic issue is that until recently, we thought we were measuring the colony's genetics. Ramona and Dean (and others too, for all I know) are now suggesting that bee-genetics is only one of several clumps of factors that affect a colony's viability, survivability, and general health. The integrity of the microbial community is now another clump to be considered. How do you assess that — that's the question. Is it enough to say it can't be done? Or are we looking for a general sense of "healthy and productive while not being treated," and leave it at that?

  9. #29
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    Default Re: Beekeeping with microbes - treatment-free

    >The basic issue is that until recently, we thought we were measuring the colony's genetics. Ramona and Dean (and others too, for all I know) are now suggesting that bee-genetics is only one of several clumps of factors that affect a colony's viability, survivability, and general health. The integrity of the microbial community is now another clump to be considered. How do you assess that —

    Exactly. But I can easily assess the big picture and I think the big picture is what matters. When the right combination has come together I breed from that. Maybe I'm breeding good genetics or maybe it's just good microbes. In the best cases it's likely to be both.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  10. #30
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    Default Re: Beekeeping with microbes - treatment-free

    The point is, we can "breed" (bee-genetics) for the one set of factors, and there are specific attributes to aim for (and to avoid). With the other set of factors (microbial cultures and overall integrity) it's not really bee-breeding that'll get us where we want to be. That's where we can begin to pay better attention, to develop the specific attributes, etc.

  11. #31
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    Default Re: Beekeeping with microbes - treatment-free

    Sorry to interject, but it's not hard to assess the effects of Honeybee genetics vs microbial communities.

    You can use some very common management techniques to get the genetics from a weaker colony, while providing for microflora from a healthier colony.

    You can use a matrix approach (contingency table) if you have frames of eggs from weak vs strong colonies X frames of stores from weak vs strong colonies. Chi squared statistics would be applicable if you can decide on a variable to measure.

    Picking the right variable is the trick since it should be a whole number (It has to bee countable, like mites drops or # of certain types of cells).
    Last edited by WLC; 02-24-2014 at 06:58 PM.

  12. #32
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    Default Re: Beekeeping with microbes - treatment-free

    Quote Originally Posted by Kofu View Post
    And in their talks, Ramona and Dean both told us about how commercial suppliers "treat the snot out of 'em" with antibiotics.
    Actually, "they're feeding the snot out of them with fumagillin" was a quote from Dave Tarpy in answer to the question we had as to why the commercial queens he looked at in 2010 showed 0% nosema when samples from 1947 to 1998 showed nosema from 7% to 38% infected queens.

    Dave was speaking to our local bee club and when he showed the slide (a duplicate is on page 34 of the "Honey Bee Colony Health, Challenges and Sustainable Solutions edited by Diana Sammataro and Jay Yoder) we couldn't understand the 2010 0%.

    I was speaking of the Dave Tarpy quote alone, not making a general statement on practices of commercial breeders. I don't know enough commercial breeders personally (and do not have adequate information/data) to comment on the industry at large.

    Fumagillin is classified as an antibiotic but is used on nosema, a microsporidian. It can't really be put in the same category as terramycin, tylosin, or other antibiotics.

    Ramona

  13. #33
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    Default Re: Beekeeping with microbes - treatment-free

    Sorry for the misquote, Ramona. I blended the fumagillin quote with your comments on research that finds markers for resistance to tetracycline, due to long-time (and routine?) treatment for foulbrood diseases. And I know that somewhere, probably on Beesource, I've read that packages are almost always treated, as it's the easiest way to pass inspection and be able to ship bees across state lines.

    So, supposing that many newbie beekeepers start with packages of treated bees, we have to ask for ways to get the microbial community on a better footing.

    "Start by not treating them" — is that the only answer? (In this forum, "treatment free" is a given. Okay, but what else besides that?)

  14. #34
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    Default Re: Beekeeping with microbes - treatment-free

    Quote Originally Posted by Kofu View Post
    So, supposing that many newbie beekeepers start with packages of treated bees, we have to ask for ways to get the microbial community on a better footing.

    "Start by not treating them" — is that the only answer? (In this forum, "treatment free" is a given. Okay, but what else besides that?)
    One thing I've noticed is that a lot of TF success stories involve the capturing of feral swarms. Probably swarm traps should be in the arsenal of any prospective TF beekeeper.
    Ray--1 year, 7 hives, TF

  15. #35
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    Default Re: Beekeeping with microbes - treatment-free

    An article via American Bee Journal's 'Extra' emails presents the treatment-free slow-collapse scenario, as modeled in a new computer simulation program, BEEHAVE.

    "The first results of the model show that colonies infested with a common parasitic mite (varroa) can be much more vulnerable to food shortages. Effects within the first year can be subtle and might be missed by beekeepers during routine management. But the model shows that these effects build up over subsequent years leading to eventual failure of the colony, if it was not given an effective varroa treatment.

    "BEEHAVE can also be used to investigate potential consequences of pesticide applications. For example, the BEEHAVE model can simulate the impact of increased loss of foragers. The results show that colonies may be more resilient to this forager loss than previously thought in the short-term, but effects may accumulate over years, especially when colonies are also limited by food supply.

    "BEEHAVE simulations show that good food sources close to the hive will make a real difference to the colony and that lack of forage over extended periods leaves them vulnerable to other environmental factors. Addressing forage availability is critical to maintaining healthy hives and colonies over the long term."

    I doubt that their model includes data from long-term treatment-free hives, where the microbial ecology is already well established, so there's reason to doubt their projections. But as I've been trying to ask here, what practical measures can beekeepers use to build up that ecology during the 2-3 year span of time that, according to simulations, treated packages and hives might be collapsing without further treatment? Having good forage available nearby seems to be one important factor.

    (The link to ABJ's page for articles emailed in March doesn't yet list the one about Beehave, but it will soon. A webpage for the project is at http://www.beehave-model.net .)
    Beekeeping - a form of magic that weaves together two elements: wood and bees.

  16. #36
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    Default Re: Beekeeping with microbes - treatment-free

    Quote Originally Posted by Kofu View Post
    But as I've been trying to ask here, what practical measures can beekeepers use to build up that ecology during the 2-3 year span of time that, according to simulations, treated packages and hives might be collapsing without further treatment? Having good forage available nearby seems to be one important factor.
    I've given a lot of thought to this question, because it seems to be a central aspect of success in TF beekeeping. As I said upthread, I think catching swarms is an important step to take. I caught one up in NY last year, and because it was an August swarm, I knew it wouldn't survive the harsh winter of the North Country, so brought it down to FL. It seems clearly different to me than my other bees, especially in the way it gathered (and kept) a lot of stores, and remained a very small cluster over the winter. It's starting to expand now, and I plan to distribute comb from it around to my other colonies.

    I also wonder about whether when you buy in a resistant queen, if you don't also get microbiota from the resistant colonies from which that queen was bred. I queened a split late last summer with a Beeweaver queen, and it's done extremely well. It now consists of three 5 frame boxes, and I need to split it soon.

    Another aspect of having adequate forage is that bees exchange microbiota when visiting flowers. I wonder if a wide range of flowering plants is one of the factors that contribute to TF success. In addition to the healthful aspects of having nutrition from many different sources, perhaps feral bees and other pollinators can more easily exchange microbes if floral life is profuse and constant. This might go some way toward explaining why migratory beekeepers have more problems. Floral monocultures in areas with reduced native pollinators may mean reduced microbial distribution. I have noticed that many successful TF beekeepers seem to operate in areas with a lot of plant diversity... though not all.

    Anyway, it's an interesting discussion that doesn't get the attention it deserves.

    That's probably partly because of its intrinsic complexity. It's very hard to be sure about anything connected with such a complex system.
    Ray--1 year, 7 hives, TF

  17. #37
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    Default Re: Beekeeping with microbes - treatment-free

    >One thing I've noticed is that a lot of TF success stories involve the capturing of feral swarms. Probably swarm traps should be in the arsenal of any prospective TF beekeeper.

    Yes. And the more we look at microbes the more it looks like microbe genetics may be as important if not more important than bee genetics.

    >"Start by not treating them" — is that the only answer?

    Once you have some healthy colonies from feral swarms, you can share frames of open brood and bees and frames of bee bread to inoculate the struggling hives. I think this is much more likely to succeed than trying to culture these in an environment outside of the colony. Trying to culture them is much more likely to lead to imbalances than balances. There are 8,000 microbes and they need to be in an equilibrium. How will you establish an equilibrium in milk? Or even honey? The gut of a bee is a very specialized environment. Even the bee bread in the colony is 93 F, a particular humidity, and a particular pH created by a combination of things. How do you recreate that outside of the colony?
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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