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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,113

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

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    don't blame ya for reverting to conventional methods.
    Reverting? Isn't buying southern bees mal-adapted to your area, the conventional method?

    At the risk of repeating myself, let me instead explain to the uninitiated how one may be successful at treatment-free beekeeping.

    The solution is using local bees and breeding like a mad person, ferals, swarms, any bees that survived your last winter, (Andrew has at least two hives that did that, these are now your local stock) and you multiply them. You take those two hives and turn them into five or 20 or 50 if you have the ability and then you try again next year. And when you get bees that survive consistently, then you work on other traits. You know as well as I how many have tried what you tried, either with BeeWeaver's bees (outside of BeeWeaver's climate) or any other, dropped hundreds of dollars, and blew it. All the time, I hear the argument "learn the basics and then try treatment-free" but in treatment-free, what I've outlined above is the basics. That's how it has to be done because that's just about the only way it really truly works.

    If you want to know how to take two hives and make 50, I suggest grafting into a queenright cell builder (http://parkerfarms.biz/queenrearing.html). The limiting factor is equipment and brood donors. My equipment limits me to 27 nucs at a time. Two hives will probably put a hard limit at about 10 nucs. But if there are other hives to donate brood, the sky is the limit. At this stage, you want unnatural increase, to get as many new bees into your area as possible and let them figure out how to survive. Many of them won't at first, but the more years of adaptation you have, the greater the strength of the result.

    I say this year was great. I lost all the bees that aren't going to survive a tough winter. And since I'm moving to Colorado, that's an important trait to have. It happened to Andrew too. This mindset that all hives should survive every year is conventional thinking and treatment-free is never going to stand up to that metric. That's not how it works in nature and it doesn't work that way in treatment-free. There is and must be an ongoing winnowing process that does and must kill some hives every winter and every summer. And some years, both summers and winters, are particularly harsh, but as Andrew has shown, there are always some that survive somewhere. It may be very few that take years to repopulate the area (naturally) but you as the treatment-free beekeeper use these things to your advantage and use your methods of rapid increase (I call it "Expansion Model Beekeeping") to give the process a kick in the hind end.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    6,145

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

    The wandering sheep returns to the fold.

    Facebook must be going slow.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Peace River, AB Canada
    Posts
    456

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

    I don't accept the non-acclimated argument. Canadians source their queens from NZ, Australia, Hawaii and California and are able to winter these bees with as much success as locally produced queens. I believe breeding from survivors can fine tune the genetics but it isn't necessary to have good wintering results.

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,113

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

    Quote Originally Posted by JD's Bees View Post
    Canadians source their queens from NZ, Australia, Hawaii and California and are able to winter these bees with as much success as locally produced queens.
    Right, treated bees from everywhere, which is what I said. But they don't seem to be able to do it without treating. That's why the acclimation argument is relevant for TF and not really for conventional. But it's only conventional beekeepers that argue against it. And why wouldn't they? It's all they have ever experienced.

    All successful TF beekeepers advocate for local bees. And if you want to keep bees TF, why not ask someone who already does it?
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hamilton, Alabama
    Posts
    1,232

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

    Solomon, there is a contradiction of terms in the above two posts. It is not logical to argue that unacclimated treated bees winter successfully while unacclimated untreated bees do not. This has to be read in light of your argument that cold susceptible bees were killed in your untreated apiary.
    DarJones - 45 years, 10 colonies (max 40), sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 11 frame broodnest, small cell

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,113

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

    Why not? They are killed in everybody else's apiary too, while the treaters and commercials argue that source doesn't matter. My experience is but one data point. Andrew's is another.

    All the data points that I see lead to the conclusion that localized bees are far more important in TF than in conventional. People who argue that source doesn't matter are treaters, almost to a man. TFs argue for local bees. Those are the data points. What am I missing?
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    New York City, NY
    Posts
    4,317

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

    I don't believe the local/acclimated stock 'requirement' is necessary for successful TF beekeeping.

    My bees were from Texas.

    First of all, I can't get that kind of genetics around here, and secondly, they made it through a particularly cold and difficult winter.

  8. #28
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,939

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

    since you are artificially requeening your experimental hives wlc, i don't consider them comparable to the colonies that survived multiple generations for a number of years like the ones we are discussing. they are just not in the same category of 'successful tf beekeeping'.

    for more typical operations like most of the contributors here are running it seems to be the common denominator.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    New York City, NY
    Posts
    4,317

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

    Sorry, but the Weavers (BeeWeavers) are THE successful TF beekeepers in the U.S. IMHO.

    So, I think you got it backwards. Just saying.

  10. #30
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,939

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

    nope, i really think you have it backwards.

    i'll bet you the beverage of your choice that my supermutts have more diversity than weaver's.

    (i'm not claiming that they could perform as well in new york as they do here, but they don't have to)
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  11. #31
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    New York City, NY
    Posts
    4,317

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

    squarepg:

    I would love to have ordered the kind of genetics you have down there from you. With a ready supply of mated queens when required.

    What can I say. They're successful because they can do it all.

    It's just my definition of successful TF beekeeping.

    Today, they're it. Tomorrow, it could be you.

  12. #32
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,939

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

    i'm not sure it would be all that easy to produce what i have on a large scale. i'm putting a fair amount of effort in trying not to get to many colonies around here from the same lines. i am currently working with four lines that are the best of the best. plus all queens are mated in three deep frame mating nucs and not seperated after they begin laying. i won't be selling queens, but rather three frame nucs with the queens that others can combine with a queenless colony if needed.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  13. #33

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    . This mindset that all hives should survive every year is conventional thinking and treatment-free is never going to stand up to that metric. That's not how it works in nature and it doesn't work that way in treatment-free. There is and must be an ongoing winnowing process that does and must kill some hives every winter and every summer. And some years, both summers and winters, are particularly harsh, but as Andrew has shown, there are always some that survive somewhere. It may be very few that take years to repopulate the area (naturally) but you as the treatment-free beekeeper use these things to your advantage and use your methods of rapid increase (I call it "Expansion Model Beekeeping") to give the process a kick in the hind end.
    Salomon Parker writes exactly how it is.

    Losing (hundreds of) hives, making nucs, raising queens from survivors, mating queens with survivor drones, this is really the only way to go to make a locally adapted tf stock and survive as a tf beekeeper. If you can buy tf stock to start with, it becomes easier, but the steps remain the same.
    Treatment free, honey production, isolation mated queens, www.saunalahti.fi/lunden/varroakertomus.html

  14. #34
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,939

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

    juhani,

    i see from your march blog entry that you are estimating 20% overwintering loss this year. not bad.

    that's about what i had this time, but anticipate being able to recover easily this spring with surplus bees and another measurable increase in honey harvest.

    i am dedicating 6 hives to honey production, although i will be splitting from three of these just before main flow.

    another colony is designated as cell starter/finisher, and my remaining 7 lackluster colonies will be split up to make nucs for accepting queens grafted from the better ones.

    i expect to harvest about 1000 lbs and possibly more depending on the weather. i also hope to produce about thirty to forty nucs, and sell all but about 10 of them which i will overwinter for myself.

    it's taken a few years to get enough comb drawn to make this possible, but in those years the poorer genetics have dwindled away and with a little help the better genetics have been propogated.

    i don't think i could have done it without drone support from nearby feral colonies.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  15. #35
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Canterbry, UK
    Posts
    1,797

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

    Quote Originally Posted by WLC View Post
    What can I say. They're successful because they can do it all.

    It's just my definition of successful TF beekeeping.
    Are they 'doing it all' WLC? To my mind tf involves a successful reproductive cycle. You have to be able to make replacement bees - successfully, and on an ongoing basis - to call yourself a beekeeper.

    Otherwise they're just pets. And there's a good chance you're undermining local development of standalone bees.

    Mike (UK)
    Anti-husbandry: Medication + Reproduction = Continuing Sickness
    http://www.suttonjoinery.co.uk/CCD/

  16. #36
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Canterbry, UK
    Posts
    1,797

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Juhani Lunden View Post
    Solomon Parker writes exactly how it is.

    [...] If you can buy tf stock to start with, it becomes easier, but the steps remain the same.
    I agree wholeheartedly. It couldn't be any other way. Getting local-ish mite-managing ferals to begin with is even better.

    My only grumble with Solomon's recipe for Andrew's situation is the lowering of drone numbers that heavy draining will have on the hives. The right drones matter too!

    But yes, get numbers up fast, grafted from the survivors, and keep bringing in new likely resistant genes.

    Mike (UK)
    Anti-husbandry: Medication + Reproduction = Continuing Sickness
    http://www.suttonjoinery.co.uk/CCD/

  17. #37
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,963

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

    @Solomon - my "nose in the air" comment was not aimed at you - instead it was directed towards Outfits that advertise TF bees on the web, have web sites that accept orders, and then never communicate with their customers nor deliver product. I am sorry that my communications skills are such that you thought I was referring to you.

    My other treated yards fared much better than my TF yard - and so what I'm doing is adopting a single practice for beekeeping.

    My hope is to: keep bees and have honey for sale; really follow an IPM strategy - in other words no treatments if conditions don't in my opinion warrant them; work to ensure/establish healthy habitat and forage opportunities for both bees and native pollinators (the NP being the for real TF creatures); and to have bees available for teaching and demonstrating. In May I have two groups scheduled to visit my bees - one is a local garden club and the other is the bee school field day where new beekeepers get to see for real bees.

    And it should almost go without saying that altering or "improving" my bee stock so that they can thrive without treatments in my area continues to be a priority for me.

    My interests evolve. I am taking my local Cooperative Extension's Master Gardener Class and I hope to pass the one exam I missed last year for the EAS Master Beekeeper designation. I like learning. I like bees. Beekeeping was for me the easy way to get a lifelong interest in agriculture kick started. Heck, I may even go for a pesticide applicator's license, not to use pesticides, but to understand them and the regulatory process better.

    For those whose central drive is to keep bees without using treatments I wish you nothing but success. It never was my central drive but I was curious to see if it could be done in my area.

    I don't write this to make myself look as some sort of a beekeeping super hero. I like to think that I'm plain spoken though my wife says that I need to be aware that condescension often invades my words. I've tried my best to describe my efforts at keeping bees TF, and how I'm going to be keeping bees in the future.

    Pax Vobiscum.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  18. #38
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,113

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

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    since you are artificially requeening your experimental hives wlc, i don't consider them comparable to the colonies that survived multiple generations for a number of years like the ones we are discussing. they are just not in the same category of 'successful tf beekeeping'.
    Multi-generational management is absolutely necessary. I see no reason to requeen arbitrarily (and I include age in the definition of arbitrary). In case the news hasn't gotten around, I did lose my longest lived hive this year, nearly 11 years treatment-free, never artificially requeened.

    Quote Originally Posted by mike bispham View Post
    My only grumble with Solomon's recipe for Andrew's situation is the lowering of drone numbers that heavy draining will have on the hives. The right drones matter too!
    Not sure where to go with that, maybe 'draining' means something different in the UK. Drone numbers are going to be raised and lowered by many effects throughout the year. You gotta build the building with the bricks you have. I have not paid a lot of attention to drone production but my hives do produce quite a lot of drones (via foundationless frames and natural production). And I must reject the idea that my drone or someone else's drone has THE traits that make survival possible. It's a whole lot more fuzzy than that. There are a lot of traits that affect survival (and I mean survival in current beekeeping conditions), no single one does it. Therefore, specific drones (and their control necessity by me) is not a factor I'm concerned about.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  19. #39
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    New York City, NY
    Posts
    4,317

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

    Quote Originally Posted by mike bispham View Post
    Are they 'doing it all' WLC? To my mind tf involves a successful reproductive cycle. You have to be able to make replacement bees - successfully, and on an ongoing basis - to call yourself a beekeeper.
    Otherwise they're just pets. And there's a good chance you're undermining local development of standalone bees.
    Mike (UK)
    I don't think there's any question that BeeWeaver is using a successful model of TF beekeeping.

    Plenty of U.S. beekeepers replace their queens regularly with queens obtained from producers. So, individual beekeepers don't have to do it all.

    The issues being addressed are the productivity and profit margins of TF beekeeping.

    Not everyone can justify TF beekeeping especially if the colonies are an important source of income.

    Mike, I'm in midtown Manhattan. There are no local stocks. We import everything. So, right now, I'm the local source of TF genetics.

  20. #40
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    6,714

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

    Quote Originally Posted by WLC View Post
    So, right now, I'm the local source of TF genetics.
    So now you are selling bees?
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

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