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01-02-2009, 02:03 PM
Different "treatment" paths to consider, pro/con. IPM strategies.
What should a first year beekeeper concern themselves with?
How to decided whether to treat or stay treatment free.

01-08-2009, 05:27 AM
That is the way I do it;
Get some bees in the oil as the top of the oil tray is not very tight against the bottom of the screened bottom board. (also get ants, yellow jackets and anything the bees drop thru the screen)

The oil gets pretty nasty if I leave it too long between changes. It definitely controls the SHB;

Big John
02-07-2009, 01:08 PM

A good site to identify some of the pest and disease that your bees have

Robert Brenchley
02-25-2009, 12:23 PM
We don't have SHB here, but if varroa drop a couple of inches or more below the screen, they can't get back and die miserably.

08-29-2009, 03:50 PM

I have used a screen bottom board with a pan of mineral oil under a SHB infested (queenless hive) and it cleaned up so I later added a queenright nuc on top and the hive is looking verry good now, after I pull honey I intend to have all my hives on the new SBBs

03-05-2014, 07:57 AM
From Andrew Dewey in another thread:

How does one impart to new beekeepers – specifically those taking a Beekeeping 101 type class – that thinking Beekeepers take time to consider Pest/Parasite loads before deciding on a method of dealing with the pest/parasite?

Please don't have this thread become a treatment/treatment free argument.

What I'm after instead is a methodology that very inexperienced beekeepers can successfully adopt to follow an IPM strategy.

For those not familiar with IPM (Integrated Pest Management,) the concept is in very rough terms 1) identify the pest/parasite/disease that is present, 2) determine a threshold of injury that you can live with, 3) develop an understanding of the life cycle of the pest/parasite/disease so that steps can be taken (cultural or chemical) to reduce their impact, once the economic threshold is passed.

Beekeepers have a bit of an advantage in that Varroa and Nosema are predictable problems and tend to be annual in occurrence.

I'm trying to avoid saying “you'd best treat for Varroa in August to help ensure that you have lots of healthy parasite free winter bees.”

Many of the new beekeepers I work with are not interested in testing or making detailed observations, nor are they necessarily starting with bees that have any genetic ability to coexist with the pests/parasites/diseases in question.

Please keep in mind that we are talking about people new to beekeeping and that simple often oversimplified answers are what are remembered.

I'm tempted, and I caught myself a bit in class last night, to talk about beekeeping requiring a thorough understanding of both colony and individual bee life cycles, so that when confronted with a pest/parasite/disease there is an understanding of the impact to the colony.

A thorough understanding of colony/bee life cycles is beyond what can be taught in the limited time of a Beekeeping 101 class, especially when students are worried about 1) sourcing bees, and 2) are they going to get stung when they install their bees?

Do you say “Welcome to the adventure and by the way there are intermediate and advanced classes on all these topics offered by our state Association and EAS.”

As an instructor I want my students to succeed in beekeeping, to keep their bees alive through the winter, making some surplus honey along the way.

I don't want to say “3/4 of you will find yourselves with dead hives next spring.”


mike bispham
03-05-2014, 08:29 AM
Different "treatment" paths to consider, pro/con. IPM strategies.
What should a first year beekeeper concern themselves with?
How to decided whether to treat or stay treatment free.

I think this should provide a starting point to that question:


Randy Oliver

American Bee Journal, March 2014, 273-277

Page 273 only

I've been encouraged in recent years by the number of beekeepers who appear to be successfully keeping locally-adapted stocks of bees without treatment for varroa. I am a strong supporter of their efforts, and see them as the wave of the future.

Unfortunately there is also great deal of confusion as to what 'treatment free' beekeeping really means.

Allow me to use an analogy to explain:

Dairymen prefer to keep Holstein cattle. Holsteins are thin-skinned. thoroughly domesticated cattle selected solely for milk production. Their normal care requires shelter, supplemental feeding, routine vaccinations, and treatment with antibiotics. If a dairyman turned his Holsteins out on the range to fend for themselves without care, and half of them died each year he would be accused of having committed animal neglect -- the failure to provide the basic care required for an animal to thrive.

Yet this is exactly what thousands of recreational beekeepers do every year. Under the misconception that they are practicing [sic] 'treatment free' beekeeping, they are in actuality simply neglecting their domesticated animals. The reason for this is that they are starting with commercial package bees -- bees akin to Holstein cattle, in that they are bred for high brood and honey production under standard management practices (notably mite management, but also supplemental feeding or antibiotic treatment if indicated). Most commercial bee stocks should be considered as domesticated animals. There is absolutely no reason to expect that your wishful thinking will miraculously transform your newly-purchased 'domesticated' bees into hardy survivor stock able to survive as wild animals without standard care and treatment."

Mike (UK)

03-05-2014, 01:59 PM
From Michael Bush in another thread:

"Those who insist beekeepers have to treat have driven off more people than you know. I have gotten, not just hundreds, but thousands of emails from people who wanted to keep bees, went to classes where all they talked about where all the antiboitics and chemicals and they were ready to give up the entire idea until they found there were people keeping bees without treaments. I wonder how many thousands did not find out there was an alternative and just gave up before they started."

03-05-2014, 02:35 PM
I'm in my second year, had lots of SHB, went to IPM boards with oil trays. I rarely see a SHB now. I read a study that it reduces mites by 14%, but it won't save your hive from mites. Not enough fall off, even with dusting. but they sure work on SHB. Ditto the nasty oil if you leave it on too long. I love that it also kills roaches and ants. A new beek can easily do this. It's probably too expensive for a lot of hives.

03-06-2014, 07:56 AM
Andrew Dewey wrote:

"success for me is new beekeepers overwintering bees and making a honey crop in their second year. I would prefer they not treat by the calendar as I don't think treatments are sustainable long term and I have grave concerns regarding ag chemicals in general. I do not have great confidence that the current crop of hard chemicals will be effective 5 years from now, and I want nothing to do with the year they are found not to be effective. Not so much this year but in the past I have had students announce to me that they were going to be TF - perhaps I am trying to honor their intentions too much.

You raise a very valid point - what is success and how do we get new beekeepers to be successful. Maybe my crunchiness is showing in my old age. I am not inclined to prophylactic treatments but I've been around long enough to know potential consequences and to have decided on options. AFB=fire as an example."

Delta 21
04-06-2017, 07:42 AM
I have learned that there is unique patience required to do this. Just as with all things worthwhile.

Its so easy to just say "I am going to be treatment free". Because thats the lazyiest way we can do it. And I am the best at being lazy!

Initial shock of 3000 crawling, stinging bugs and just trying to figure out how they do what they do. They are Amazing! I have swiped bits and pieces of honeycomb from my bees and harvested just enough so my wife can have fresh honey for her morning coffee for almost a year now. Total out of my 2 hives my first year is 3 quarts on the shelf now and a wife that has no expectation of me stopping.:D

I didnt start treating OAV until November from package starts in April. DWV and zombie bees were crawling all over the bee yard. My heaviest hit hive dwindled to near death over the coldest part of winter but made it. I use thru the bottom board feed jars and when the bees are done with the syrup they just use the empty jar for hive trash. Last inspection I am a bit concerned there are a lot of drone brood. Yesterday I have 20 or 30 under developed drones tossed in the jar along with a handfull that are injured and still drunk from overeating. I count out 50 bees and inspect them. 4 live mites still attached to the not quite dead drones. I was hoping that I got a good broodless treatment over winter but flying weather in early Feb may have started the social spreading of the mites. I have just cleaned up the hives for spring and am thinking now would be a good time to treat. My confidence in bee handling and alcohol washes is whats driving me to treat prophylactically. Did I mention that I was lazy?

All the old timers here being as gruff as they are is what has kept my bees alive. THANK YOU !

04-06-2017, 08:49 AM
I have never saw a bee hive even along the side of the road untill two years ago.

Me being new, how could somebody set a class up for me?

In my case I read for a good year before I even got bees and probly read and watched enough vidios to be considered as having a 101 class for beginner beekeeping.

The first thing is how to get bees and put them in the hive. In my case it was a swarm and even though I had been planning on my moves, when it happens along with the excitement is panic. So my avenue is to go to a forum and ask and of course then you get ten differrent avenues with most of them probly being something that will work in some fassion. So you still have to pick through and decide which sound best to you cause you are the one that has to put the advice into action.

Now they are in the hive, You think they need feeding but there is advice that feeding too much can cause trouble and so you got to the forum and ask. In between that time it is raining and you are scared and so you in your newness think that bees won't fly very far in the rain and so you set a chicken waterer out with some sugar water close to the hive. It has quit raining and you go look and the chicken waterer is empty but you have hundreds of bees fighting at the hive entrance. So then you know you have messed up. You go to the forum for that also. You read both your questions that you have ask and see ten differrent ways it might be handled that you have to decide which has merit and that you have the skill to do. During this some comb is drawn and you are worrying on wether you need to add space and how much space is too much.

Then it is winter and you have to worry if you should combine or feed or how much does the hive weigh ect.
The year is done.

So, I think the 101 class or my reading for a year gets somebody with no ideal the start they need to have a prayer to make it to the next problim and having some sort of support during (in my case the forum). Everybody might be a little quicker then me but I could be considered the least experiance type of beginner.

The only real thing that I learned was a couple of ways to feed and then it was winter time.

How do you get all the opitions out to some one that has no clue in a fassion that he might understand and make a resonable choice. I don't think it is really possible and that those with a mentor might have some success but will then have the options that are out there not really where he can understand them because of the mentors method taking forfront. Maby that is not bad because after he has got comfortable with those methods and if he is curious, he can branch out and try to learn more to try and would have what worked so far to fall back on.

As a newby, I find bee keeping is runing from problim to problim one at a time till you get that resolved and are comfortable and then you try and learn one more thing.

Ten bee keepers can get ten answers on one question with ten other bee keepers answering and all ten of them may be saying things that sorta work.

I would say having a follow up resorce as it happens for after the just overview class to get them started and then throwing more options after they have the basics is what is sorta happining now and might still be what works best.

Over loading them, might not change that they are going to run to the newest problim that they are having at the time and might be too much to process.

Some of the new bee keepers might not really decide to go treatment free out of lazyness or being anti chemical but more because they have just not got to that problim yet and when they do, it might be to late.

This can be countered with a treat with this product in august because the odds probly go up if that is done. The risk is that the first time it works there is no reason for the new bee keeper to think of why it worked or why it might not be good to do every time. So I guess it is hard to figure the goal of this thread intent of what to tell a new bee keeper to make him successful.

The best advice might be to come up with a list of all the bee keepers that are keeping bees for a lot of years in every location and hand those names out and tell the new bee keeper to go look at them and ask what they do and for that bee keeper to do that also but after he is having some success and comfotable keeping bee that way to come back so we can tell you what others are also doing.
I am not saying all new bee keepers are as slow as processing lot of info at once as I am but some are.

Ps When you have fed a hive a couple of differrent ways it seems really easy but remember back to the very first time you were faced with it and all the choices you had to chose from and it is not so simple the very first time you do it. I thinks all these bee keeping things are sorta the same and some one telling helps but it is still intimidating on your first time.

04-06-2017, 03:00 PM
I got my long hive on the 1st of Jan, (summer for me in NZ).
My supplier said to treat around feb/mar as he had already treated them in dec.
He recommended that I use FGMO every two weeks and some other stuff that I promptly forgot about.

I dont like poisoning things, even bugs, so the idea of the FGMO sounded like the best option. When I have a rat problem, I trap and drown, so to"drown" mites is my first option.
I have been fogging through the mesh floor, then sliding the tray closed.
The nozzle of the fogger points downwards and I am not too sure if I am getting enough coverage.
The first time, I probably didnt, There was one live mite on the tray after half an hour. This week it was 24 dead with one live, that was after a couple of hours cos I had to go out. This time there were alot of bees that came out of the entranced and milled around behind the robber screen.
Our area has a large wasp population so this screen has been on from day one.

I have spent ages studying up on bees etc and put off getting my hive til I had things figured out.
I do have wintergreen oil to put in the sugar syrup over winter and did make up a 500g lot but on smelling it realised that I had put too many drops in. I put in 4 and think it should only have been one. This is still sitting on the kitchen bench waiting for me to make up more and combine.

My intention is to get a frame feeder to put the syrup with wintergreen oil in over winter to make sure they do make it through. I have been told that they wont take it if they dont need it, but think oppurtunist creatures always do.
Also told to stuff the feeder with sticks and/orstraw to stop bees drowning.

I'd like advise on the ratios of WG oil to syrup and any tips on making sure all the frames are covered when fogging without over doing it.
What would the best time to fog- obviously when there is most of the bees in the hive, but how late in the day is too late?
Am I correct in thinking the frame feeder should go at the end away from the entrance? In my long hive that would be towards the middle.
Anything else?

08-21-2017, 09:14 AM
To get back to the original question, first year beekeepers should be trying to learn everything they can. They need to be spending time getting comfortable opening a hive and doing inspections. As far as deciding to be treatment free or not, I believe the beginner needs to stay away from treatment free at first. I learned this lesson the hard way... by starting out as a treatment free beekeeper. A beginning beekeeper will not recognize a hive crashing from mite overload. I sure didn't. They will not recognize AFB, EFB or nosema. They will probably notice the hive beetles or the wax moths. It is a very rare beginner who will do an alcohol wash. Personally, I still do no believe in preventive treatments for AFB, EFB or nosema. Once a beekeeper has a year or two of experience, then they should have the knowledge to decide if they wish to go totally treatment free. I have been beekeeping for 5 or 6 years now and have never seen any diseases/parasites in my bees (that I am aware of) other than mites. I am not sure I would be able to diagnose a case of EFB or AFB because I have never seen an actual case or either. If I can't with the experience I have, how would a beginner be able to?

08-21-2017, 10:28 AM

A beginning beekeeper will not recognize a hive crashing from mite overload.

As far as deciding to be treatment free or not, I believe the beginner needs to stay away from treatment free at first. I learned this lesson the hard way
First you say this.

And then you say this.

I have been beekeeping for 5 or 6 years now and have never seen any diseases/parasites in my bees (that I am aware of) other than mites. I am not sure I would be able to diagnose a case of EFB or AFB because I have never seen an actual case or either. If I can't with the experience I have, how would a beginner be able to?

It makes me wonder that even with the pain you experianced by starting treatment free it it might have been about as good a way to start as any.

You point out that even with experiance you would not reconize things you have not seen yet.

If a person treats, then he will not see what would have happened had he not.

If a person does not treat, he will not know if treating may have helped. If his hives live, he may never know. If his hives die like yours did, he will have at least learned what the collapse looks like and may know the differrance the next time of any actions that he does differrent.

I don't see it as such a bad thing for a person who would rather not treat of trying it as long as he knows the risk and it would seem that the learning potential may be even greater. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to learn what ABF looks like with actual experiance but it is differrent with mites, you don't have to burn equiptment and get a second chance with it. Yes you might lose your first hive but you also might not and on your second hive you may have to adjust to something more successful for your area.

Me being a newby, I expect to learn things pretty well before it is all over and believe some of that learning is going to be the hard way but maby I will see better because of it.

Ps As long as there are people out their being successful in keeping bees in several way, Helping the new guy know about those ways and were to look at how those ways are being done may help most. Then he can way his options and assess his risk.

08-21-2017, 10:52 AM
As a side note. I do find the right and wrong of things to be pretty gray in real life. Almost every single famous old writer had a couple of big apary wipe outs and also differrent levels of honey collection based on differrent years. I can not see how being a newby can remove that risk of bees dieing if experiance guys have the same risk. I do think you can learn and be better or reconize changes with your bees better but only think you can midigate the risk but not get rid of it.

I am talking doolittle, miller, langstroth.

Another thing about the old famous guys. They all know what the other famous guy was doing but most just stole the parts they liked but still raised their bees differrent from each other even using shared facts.

So if you try something and it doesn't work then I guess it was the wrong thing (that time anyway)

If it does work for you, it was not wrong even if it does not seem to work for somebody else.

08-22-2017, 03:09 PM
GWW, Had I been smart, I would have treated and would be hundreds of dollars richer. Yes, pain and death are valuable teachers but I would have preferred to learn the lessons without having every hive die for 2 years in a row. Most beginner beekeepers I know of who lost all of their bees their first 2 years in a row. quit beekeeping. I have perseverance and took it as a sign of my failure and changed my ways. But most beginners would not. The best way to have beginners continue with beekeeping is by having them successfully keep their bees alive, not by having then all die. Yes, there are still many things I do not know about beekeeping, such as how to recognize diseases. But when the time comes and I need help with a diagnosis, I do know how to take a photograph and post in here to get the answer.

08-22-2017, 05:03 PM
I am starting like you did in the beginning. First winter was fine and this will be the second and we will see.

I have perseverance and took it as a sign of my failure and changed my ways.

I don't sit here and say that I won't also have to adjust.

I also find the forum a valuable resource even though I have not yet been taking pictures yet, even with out them I have had advice that was very helpful in getting my head right. I have looked at a lot of pictures others have taken trying to study up on the disiese and just over all looks. I find it always looks differrent in real life but am sure the picts. I looked at helps.

I will not say that I won't be saying that, if I had been smart I would have been ahead if I had just treated. I do say though that even reconizing the risk, the fact that I do see others doing it and won't know with out trying weighs on me also. I could not reconize a hive collapsing from mites right now. I am watching very closely with mixed feelings. I want to see with my own eyes what it looks like but on the other hand don't want to lose the hives. Right now the wanting to see is winning. If I get lucky and they do survive, it might take a couple of years to see it. Just my opinion, learning is usually not free for a good education and my guess is that you are probly a better bee keeper for your area and bees even though it was not free.

I don't want to lose everything and start over but can not get past the fact that the only persons bees I have ever seen does not treat and so just have to see for myself and have to justifie that what I might learn will be worth the knowing.

I do look at the keeping of bees in a what can I get from them more then how can I save the bees. I am not in a big hurry to figure it out but do want to not buy bees and get some honey once in a while and not in a way that I spend more on sugar then I get of honey.

I really appretiate responces like yours cause you seem to more be saying this is what I did and what happened and take what you can from it. It does not come across as bossy but just as experiance.

Your responce does not change what I hope will work for me but does give me the chance to add you view, which I believe was hard won, into the risk of what I am doing.