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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
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    Washington County, Maine
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    2,960

    Default My TF Trial is over - for the time being

    Conditions allowed me to check my TF yard yesterday and what I found was disappointing.

    Of 4 full colonies and 3 double nucs, 1 colony made it through. The colony that survived was in three deeps.

    The wind had blown 1 nuc (strapped) into another causing the boxes to separate creating a gap for the cold and wind.

    These were BeeWeaver Bees started from Packages in 2012 and their descendants.

    The remaining hive will be moved to another yard and treated as IPM indicates. I intend to make some queens from the surviving colony.

    A treated yard half a mile away fared similarly with one survivor out of eight.

    I've been using purchased stock for my TF yard (first Russian and then BeeWeaver) and my pockets aren't deep enough to have another go.

    Mite counts were low last September (tested by alcohol wash.)

    I am in hopes that one day robust TF bees will be commonly available.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    6,064

    Default Re: My TF Trial is over - for the time being

    Wow I've been reading your posts re sometimes TF stuff for several years.

    Question though, since the treated yard did no better how do you judge that not treating was the problem?

    Have the hives at both the TF & the T yard been analysed to find actual cause of death?
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
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    2,960

    Default Re: My TF Trial is over - for the time being

    Thanks OT for your quick reply.

    I hope to do post mortems this weekend - I wasn't prepared to do them yesterday.

    I have not seen evidence that convinces me that the TF vs non TF debate is concluded. I don't have the inclination to continue operating separate yards in bear country - and as the TF hives were the minority part of my operation - they lose. (And I can use the solar energizer on my soon to be built pig pen!)
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
    Posts
    1,256

    Default Re: My TF Trial is over - for the time being

    Andrew, very sorry to hear that. It gives me an uneasy feeling whenever an experienced beekeeper decides against continuing TF.

    Have your treated hives in general done better than the untreated ones? I've read your blog, in which you mention that coastal Maine is not the best place to keep bees, forage-wise. And also that commercial beekeepers drop hives near you. I wonder if these factors make it more difficult for you.
    Ray--1 year, 7 hives, TF

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Posts
    1,383

    Default Re: My TF Trial is over - for the time being

    Quote Originally Posted by rhaldridge View Post
    Andrew, very sorry to hear that. It gives me an uneasy feeling whenever an experienced beekeeper decides against continuing TF.

    Have your treated hives in general done better than the untreated ones? I've read your blog, in which you mention that coastal Maine is not the best place to keep bees, forage-wise. And also that commercial beekeepers drop hives near you. I wonder if these factors make it more difficult for you.
    Correct me if I am wrong but I don't think discontinuing the tf yard was due to tf failure.
    It seemed there were losses in both hive groups and fallen hives can hardly be considered a tf issue

    My take is that regardless of cause of loss there is both effort and $$ in building and maintaining bee yards. So if time, effort and $$ are a consideration it was simply a choice of which yard to go forward with.
    Last edited by WBVC; 04-04-2014 at 07:23 PM.
    Janne....first hives April 2013, 19 hives, treat, plant zone 8b, at sea level, latitude 49.13, longitude 123.06

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Laurel Hill, Fl
    Posts
    471

    Default Re: My TF Trial is over - for the time being

    Hi Andrew, sorry for your losses. I'm going in the other direction, adding 5 TF hives to my 7 Treated hives. Also going with beeweaver queens to start with. They are suppose to ship this week. But I'm not going to put them in a seperate yard, mine will be side by side. The fact your treated yard did as poorly makes me think it had a lot more to do with a bad winter then being treatment free. I will monitor mine and will not wait till they die, I am prepared to intervine if the mite counts get way out of hand. We have some bears, but I've got a really big dog and I don't think they come anywhere near my property because of that.

    good luck!
    Robbin NW Florida(8A) / 14 hives / 2 nd Year / 4 TF - 10T {OAV}

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
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    Default Re: My TF Trial is over - for the time being

    Let's just say I'm working with the cards I've been dealt and this TF trial has run its course. I will never relish the thought of using anything to control mites - I'd much rather bees and mites were able to coexist. My mom passed away several years ago and three years later her house still isn't cleaned out enough to sell. I'm determined not to do that to my kids, even though I hope my passing date is decades off. Consolidating two yards into one makes sense.

    I found someone to get some packages from so I'll have some bees at home. That is good because I'm going to much effort to increase their forage. I've got common and rose milk weed seeds in the fridge stratifying now, 25 Heather plants on order for the end of April, 50lbs of Buckwheat seed in the kitchen... the list goes on... and the list got started almost ten years ago now. I should have some blossoms on the Lindens I've planted and last year I got fruit on some of my apples. The apples don't get treated for anything and if they wind up in the cider press I'm not going to complain.

    And my giving up on this yard doesn't mean I'm going to start broadcasting Terramycin or dosing the bees with Fumadil. Some things won't change.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  8. #8

    Default Re: My TF Trial is over - for the time being

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Dewey View Post
    These were BeeWeaver Bees started from Packages in 2012 and their descendants.

    A treated yard half a mile away fared similarly with one survivor out of eight.
    I dont want to turn your head, but as others have already commented, Im not either convinced that treatment free was the problem. It is unbeliavable how winterlosses are affecting beehives like large waves according to the "big" weather. There is a study how winterlosses in Finland and Sweden are going up and down in similar pattern, when the lowpressures from Atlantic are hitting the Fennoscandia, all beehives in that region get little pollen, and so on.

    My biggest losses, as a tf beekeeper, have almost always been in the same years as other beekeepers in my region. Lately they have been some 10-20% more to the average of treating beekeepers.

    A local beekeeping advisor has many, many years stated, very much surprised, that my losses are similar to many treating beekeepers that he has visited or heard from. And, as a advisor he gets to know the real losses, not the ones told in public. Just this one fact has given me strengh to go on. (Of cource there are many treating beekeepers with very low losses, not denying that.)

    Do you have any data of the miteloads from the fall?
    Treatment free, honey production, isolation mated queens, www.saunalahti.fi/lunden/varroakertomus.html

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,113

    Default Re: My TF Trial is over - for the time being

    I'm not sure I see the point in giving up on TF because one has a bad year. I had a bad year. I'm not giving up. I had two great years before it and some mediocre years before that.

    I see no evidence leading to the conclusion that this year is a problem pertaining to the treatment-free realm. What I see is hives dying with plenty of honey and absent obvious varroa or other disease problems. The difference I see between this year and last year is record low temperatures and several times as much snow. The ample evidence from my own experience and the experience of others leads me to believe that this is a wintering problem not a disease problem. I see no other conclusion justified by the evidence.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Hillsborough County, FL, USA
    Posts
    47

    Default Re: My TF Trial is over - for the time being

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Dewey View Post

    A treated yard half a mile away fared similarly with one survivor out of eight.
    It sucks to loose your bees but I see no point in moving backwards. I'm not tying to be a smart Alec but your logic kind of follows along the lines of the statement: I was driving while wearing blue jeans and got into an accident - therefore I'm not going to wear blue jeans from now on.

    Just a suggestion, if I may, B-weaver bees are bread in the southern climate, and from what I hear, seem to do good in southern regions. If I had to try beekeeping in the northern climate that wouldn't be my first choice though. I would try to find some local TF bees or may be some feral bees.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
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    2,960

    Default Re: My TF Trial is over - for the time being

    Folks - my decision to not maintain my TF yard is largely economic. Due to the large amount of colonies (something like 50,000) that are brought into my area I believe most swarms are recent escapees and not feral survivors. Importing TF stock is not cheap (try paying shipping for packages from Texas to Maine) nor is local TF stock available. I've tried Russians, I've tried BeeWeaver - at this point I don't have the dollars or more importantly the inclination to keep trying. I hope a robust TF bee will someday be available commercially. But I'm tired of searching the Internet for TF Queen sources only to not have my e-mail inquiries returned. It isn't good business, and it leads to the painting of the TF community as zealots who run around with their noses in the air, but are above common decency, somehow better than everyone else because of their world vision.

    I have had the pleasure of reading many posts by knowledgeable and experienced beekeepers in this forum. I don't expect that to change, nor do I expect to abandon my goal of keeping bees as sustainably as possible. For me that means testing before treating, and not treating without the imminent threat of economic damage. Also - I have never had a customer ask me about treatments I may or may not use.

    My sense is that while the TF bee industry is growing, it is not ready for prime time. In the meantime there are other battles (like healthy forage and habitat for both honey bees and native pollinators) that need fighting. And those that know me know that I don't like much of what is allowed under current USDA Organic standards.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  12. #12

    Default Re: My TF Trial is over - for the time being

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Dewey View Post
    Due to the large amount of colonies (something like 50,000) that are brought into my area I believe most swarms are recent escapees and not feral survivors..
    Ups, in my thoughts Maine was a remote wilderness...

    I would not even dream of keeping bees treatment free without the possibiliy to controlled matings. If you dont have that, I think your decission is right. If you can controll matings, Id be happy to sell you treatment free bees from cold climates, but legistlation makes it impossible, I think. You should come for a visit... in July, preferably...
    Treatment free, honey production, isolation mated queens, www.saunalahti.fi/lunden/varroakertomus.html

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Wellston, OK USA
    Posts
    54

    Default Re: My TF Trial is over - for the time being

    A lot reasons bees die in the winter.

    Did they have feed?

    What was your winter like?

    One question I had was TEXAS BEES IN MAINE?

    Anyway just a couple a thoughts!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
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    2,960

    Default Re: My TF Trial is over - for the time being

    Quote Originally Posted by oklabizznessman View Post
    Did they have feed?
    yes - previously over wintered colonies were up to a weight of 135lbs in November.

    Quote Originally Posted by oklabizznessman View Post
    What was your winter like?
    nasty and seemingly without end. There is still snow here on the ground. We experienced a Zone 4 winter in Zone 5A.

    Quote Originally Posted by oklabizznessman View Post
    One question I had was TEXAS BEES IN MAINE?
    The one source of commercially available stock I was able to locate. Like you I had concerns about regional compatibility.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,113

    Default Re: My TF Trial is over - for the time being

    Andrew, please correct me in case I'm not understanding this correctly.

    1. You tested these bees and found mite counts low.

    2. You treated a yard down the road and got almost identical results.

    3. Particularly harsh winter as evidenced by beekeepers across the country.

    4. This is all the fault of keeping bees treatment-free and therefore it's time to give it up.

    Now I don't want to be a zealot running around with my nose in the air, but I don't see the connection. Furthermore, despite every TF guru there is suggesting you use local stock, you buy bees from Texas. I mean, I don't want to be indelicate but maybe you could step back and exercise a bit more critical thinking.

    If you want to successfully raise Texas bees, I'd suggest moving to Texas. I don't want to be insensitive, but you've just experienced exactly what I've been telling this forum for a whole bunch of years because I've done it myself. I'm almost as puzzled as I'd be if you were complaining about gravity causing a vase to break after you've knocked it off the table. I don't know how else to say this, but I told you. I told you and everybody else here, but for some reason, the idea of non-acclimatized bees is anathema despite years of experience backing up my statements.

    I don't see the connection between your dead bees and any sort of treatment-free philosophy, this is a non sequitur.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
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    2,960

    Default Re: My TF Trial is over - for the time being

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    Furthermore, despite every TF guru there is suggesting you use local stock, you buy bees from Texas..
    'taint no such thing - at least in these parts.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,738

    Default Re: My TF Trial is over - for the time being

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Dewey View Post
    'taint no such thing - at least in these parts.
    makes it tough alright andrew. don't blame ya for reverting to conventional methods.

    i'm sure you thought about it already, but have you scouted wooded areas for wild bees? i have thought about setting some quail feeders out with syrup in or around some of our state and national parks to see if they would attract bees and try my hand at locating some. the next step would be to place swarm traps nearby and see if i could get lucky.

    it could be that locally adapted might trump bred resistance. another path might be to get the heartiest bees around even if they are treated and see if you get any survivors to propagate from.

    anyway, not trying to tell you what to do, just thinking about what i might try if it were me.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
    Posts
    1,256

    Default Re: My TF Trial is over - for the time being

    Andrew, Tim Mcfarline sells TF queens in Vermont.
    Ray--1 year, 7 hives, TF

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    3,135

    Default Re: My TF Trial is over - for the time being

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    Andrew, please correct me in case I'm not understanding this correctly.

    1. You tested these bees and found mite counts low.

    2. You treated a yard down the road and got almost identical results.

    3. Particularly harsh winter as evidenced by beekeepers across the country.

    4. This is all the fault of keeping bees treatment-free and therefore it's time to give it up.

    Now I don't want to be a zealot running around with my nose in the air, but I don't see the connection. Furthermore, despite every TF guru there is suggesting you use local stock, you buy bees from Texas. I mean, I don't want to be indelicate but maybe you could step back and exercise a bit more critical thinking.

    If you want to successfully raise Texas bees, I'd suggest moving to Texas. I don't want to be insensitive, but you've just experienced exactly what I've been telling this forum for a whole bunch of years because I've done it myself. I'm almost as puzzled as I'd be if you were complaining about gravity causing a vase to break after you've knocked it off the table. I don't know how else to say this, but I told you. I told you and everybody else here, but for some reason, the idea of non-acclimatized bees is anathema despite years of experience backing up my statements.

    I don't see the connection between your dead bees and any sort of treatment-free philosophy, this is a non sequitur.
    Solomon, This post does a good job of showing the problems I have with your conclusions.

    1. I consider September a bit to early to get reliable mite tests. Maybe not for Maine though.

    2. 1 out of 4 survivors and one out of 8 survivors is hardly anything resembling identical results.

    3. I see nowhere that Andrew stated he gave up on TF, other than for now. He said the bees are dead and he does not have the means to replace them.

    4. The hives died. that is evidence that TF failed. That treating also failed does not diminish the facts as far as TF are concerned. Every word of your position that TF should continue to be pursued could be applied to pursuing treatment methods. Yet I am certain you see some additional merit in only pursuing TF. The only exception I see is that loses to treated hives where much greater than those of treatment free ones.

    In total the losses where 83.4%. of that total 25% was to TF colonies 58.4% was treated colonies. As individual yards the TF yard sustained 75% losses while the treated yard sustained 87.5% losses.

    That you or anyone else wants to make this about TF specifically just shows the bias toward ignoring the negative and claiming unfounded positives to the methods.

    Sort of like it is all about TF. It is pretty clear to me it is about losses and the cost of replacing them. It is the twisting of that information that repels me from taking TF discussions seriously.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    West Bath, Maine, United States
    Posts
    1,143

    Default Re: My TF Trial is over - for the time being

    Running two different systems restricts flexibility and requires extra effort and focus.

    Andrew Dewey has freely shared his multiple year efforts and been clear and upfront about his progress and his barriers to TF. Were there a new path in front of him that seemed viable for immediate progress, (shy of relocating) his decision might be different. That path would also have been previously offered and discussed on these forums.

    For some that path to TF has been short. Congratulations and thank you. For others it is a much longer journey, refueling on a long trip is not heresy.
    4 yrs, Peak 14, back to zip, T lite; godfather to brother's 3.

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