Randy Oliver from Scientific Beekeeping [Archive] - Beesource Beekeeping Forums

View Full Version : Randy Oliver from Scientific Beekeeping



KiwiMana
12-17-2014, 11:37 PM
14880

This week we are talking to Randy Oliver from California in North America.

Randy runs the popular website Scientific Beekeeping (http://scientificbeekeeping.com/)

Randy started as a hobbyist beekeeping in 1967. Then went to study biological sciences, specializing in entomology at University.

He uses his scientific background to investigate current issues facing bees and beekeepers. Randy also writes for the American Bee Journal.

This is a great chat and Randy shares some great tips on how he keeps bees without using synthetic treatments.

Merry Christmas and we hope you enjoy this show.

Randy Oliver from Scientific Beekeeping (http://kiwimana.co.nz/randy-oliver-from-scientific-beekeeping-km061/)

Here's What You'll Learn

How Randy got started in Beekeeping with a Diving Mask.
What does Randy enjoy about beekeeping
The Internet doesn't have any editor
Don't give up on a new treatment that you have only use once. Check that you are using it correctly for your conditions.
What are Randy's Top three ways to control varroa mites
Does America have a true Varroa resistant bee yet?
Randy's thoughts on what causes 'CCD'
Randy's thoughts about neonicotinoid class of pesticides
The Anti-GMO movement is misguided according to Randy
Randy's beekeeping plans for the next season


What did you think of this chat? Have you had success with using any of some of Randy's methods in your Beekeeping?

Gary Fawcett

Ways to subscribe to our podcast The kiwimana Buzz...
Click here to subscribe via iTunes (http://itunes.apple.com/nz/podcast/the-kiwimana-buzz%C3%96/id528732255)
Click here to subscribe via RSS (http://kiwimanabuzz.co.nz/rss)
You can also subscribe via Stitcher (http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/kiwimana-buzz/the-kiwimana-buzz)

Honey-4-All
12-18-2014, 09:06 AM
Great listening to Randy. Thanks for posting the podcast. Randy is great doing research on what we need.

One concern I have noticed that might be of concern.... From what I have seen many of the trials he runs are conducted with samples that are so small the data is marginal at best. Nothing against Randy or his work. Funding needs to be bumped up to do it right!!! What he's doing is terribly expensive....

camero7
12-18-2014, 09:57 AM
Great listening to Randy. Thanks for posting the podcast. Randy is great doing research on what we need.

One concern I have noticed that might be of concern.... From what I have seen many of the trials he runs are conducted with samples that are so small the data is marginal at best. Nothing against Randy or his work. Funding needs to be bumped up to do it right!!! What he's doing is terribly expensive....

I agree. I contribute to his trials - everyone who reads his stuff should too... might make a difference in your beekeeping.

KiwiMana
12-18-2014, 10:09 AM
Thanks guys for the feedback and for listening to the show.

He was great guest and I do enjoy reading his articles in the American Bee Journal, well worth buying a subscription even if you are not in a America.

Merry Christmas...Gary

Eduardo Gomes
12-18-2014, 10:27 AM
Excellent interview. Relevant questions and clear answers.
Merry Christmas Gary from here on the other side of the planet. :)

minz
12-18-2014, 10:04 PM
He does a split on every hive in spring and on day 19 hit with OA, keeps swarming to a minimum, and really knocks down the mites. I may need to put this on the list (about minute 20).

squarepeg
12-19-2014, 09:06 AM
enjoyed that very much, many thanks gary.

i really cracked up after randy's comment about if you have a beekeeping question just ask a second year beek because they know everything. (made me think about myself :) )

i also like the balance randy strikes between the need for treatments under certain circumstances and the merit in pursuing a treatment free approach in areas with feral populations showing resistance.

Honey-4-All
12-19-2014, 10:02 AM
i really cracked up after randy's comment about if you have a beekeeping question just ask a second year beek because they know everything. (made me think about myself :) )



True so true...

May I add another observation... These big mouth dults which Randy was mocking tend to almost always lean towards the 100%treatment free way of thinking. A very high % get out after a few years of failure when they come to acknowledge their stupidity was bigger than their ego...

Seen it many a time!!!!!!!!

squarepeg
12-19-2014, 10:24 AM
These big mouth dults which Randy was mocking tend to almost always lean towards the 100%treatment free way of thinking.

at least here on beesource my observation is that both camps are fairly evenly represented.


A very high % get out after a few years of failure when they come to acknowledge their stupidity was bigger than their ego...

have no way of knowing, but i suspect that the great influx of 'fad' beekeepers is likely to generate a high number of dropouts, tf or not, as those beginners come to realize just how time, sweat, and money are involved to pull it off.


Seen it many a time!!!!!!!!

my sample size is small and the number of seasons few, but so far between myself and the other three beginners that have bought bees from me (all of us 100% tf) there has been no attrition. i do understand it happens a lot in your neck of the woods.

Honey-4-All
12-19-2014, 10:53 AM
my sample size is small and the number of seasons few, but so far between myself and the other three beginners that have bought bees from me (all of us 100% tf) there has been no attrition. i do understand it happens a lot in your neck of the woods.

Are these 6 months old? A year? two years?

squarepeg
12-19-2014, 11:05 AM
my sample size is small and the number of seasons few...

i've already conceded that, but 4.5 yrs, 2.5 yrs, and two with live bees half way through their first winter.

luckily for us is that we a supplier that hasn't treated in 18 yrs, and that we live in an area conducive for it.

i'll go out on a limb and predict that attrition won't be an issue with us, but hey, that could the second year expertise coming out in me! :)

Honey-4-All
12-19-2014, 11:15 AM
i've already conceded that, but 4.5 yrs, 2.5 yrs, and two with live bees half way through their first winter.

luckily for us is that we a supplier that hasn't treated in 18 yrs, and that we live in an area conducive for it.

i'll go out on a limb and predict that attrition won't be an issue with us, but hey, that could the second year expertise coming out in me! :)

Lucky you for sure... Must be nice to be the exception as opposed to being the rule on Dead outs. Time for someone to raise a large quantity of 100 dollar queens and ship them fast. We need 'em...

squarepeg
12-19-2014, 11:26 AM
Lucky you for sure... Must be nice to be the exception as opposed to being the rule on Dead outs. Time for someone to raise a large quantity of 100 dollar queens and ship them fast. We need 'em...

i do feel fortunate to among the lucky ones, and there are several others here on the forum. not many around where you and randy keep bees, but that's another thread....

getting back to randy's interview.....

and as he points out, it's not likely that shipping our queens to you would do much good as the desirable traits would be lost in a generation or two....

however, if you want a large quantity of them for 100 bucks each i can oblige. :)

KiwiMana
12-19-2014, 05:43 PM
Excellent interview. Relevant questions and clear answers.
Merry Christmas Gary from here on the other side of the planet. :)

Thanks Eduardo, and Merry Christmas to you and your family as well...Gary

minz
12-19-2014, 06:41 PM
Excellent interview. Relevant questions and clear answers.
Merry Christmas Gary from here on the other side of the planet. :)

I had actually unsubscribed to the podcast after listening to the Portland Oregon one. I was a 2 year keep without much experience. This one was well worth putting you back on the list.
Thanks

KiwiMana
12-20-2014, 03:39 PM
I had actually unsubscribed to the podcast after listening to the Portland Oregon one. I was a 2 year keep without much experience. This one was well worth putting you back on the list.
Thanks

Well hopefully you will subscribe again Minz, hope you enjoy the show. We have some great interviews coming along next year....Gary

Redbug
12-21-2014, 09:20 AM
I look at Randy's "Scientific Beekeeping", occasionally. In his podcast, he presents some good balanced views. A very good speaker.

Even though Randy says that the GMO issue is not really a problem for bees, I do question and am very suspicious of the GMO issue. Namely the BT GMO plants, (with the insecticide gene built in). Sorry, I just can't help being a bit paranoid about the long range effects of these things.

Bee-52
12-22-2014, 06:27 AM
I would say that he represents a good balanced view of the commercial beekeeping community. Somewhere in the middle of his interview he made a statement that both hobby beekeeper and commercial beekeepers have a lot to learn from each other. I don't know about that. It is like trying to adapt experience of a mass producing furniture factory to a hand made one of a kind furniture shop. Like Randy mentioned in his podcast, for a commercial bee farmer profit is paramount, thus everything is geared toward maximizing it. Bees themselves are incidental, could be cows, or sheep, or beets. Hardly anything in that approach can be beneficial for a hobby beekeeper. All the money and time spent on the research still geared toward big machine called commercial beekeeping. Example - why would a beekeeper who cares about his/her bees would go intentionally stress a bee colony to the point of failing and then after that "experiment" go ahead and split it five ways and see what happens. However if the profit is what driving you, it makes total sense. You send you hives to almond pollination (which I think everybody can agree not necessarily beneficial to bee health in general) and then do splits from each hive, because it is not going to be good for anything else after that.

I'm all about scientific methodology in bee experimentation and agree that it would do good for anybody trying to experiment with bees to follow those guidelines before jumping to any conclusions. Unfortunately Randy seems to favor the faith based science regardless of his criticism of it, only he comes from the other side of the spectrum. For example, he made a statement the Neonicotinoids had no effect on CCD and later that CCD is largely over. Now what happened to scientific methodology here? Last time I checked, there was no definite peer reviewed results linking CCD to anything in particular. The same goes for the affect of Neonicotinoids on bees. Yet it is very scientific to assume that this group of pesticides is safe for bees (however at the same time he wasn't sure about effects on people). His statement about GMO falls in the same category. There is really not enough scientific evidence to lead to any definite conclusion - one way or another. Unfortunately, this is how FDA operates - kind of like our justice system - not guilty until proven otherwise. So all kind of chemicals and practices become approved for use on our food without extensive research of their effects and if, down the line, they prove to be harmful then they would take a second look at them. Meanwhile all the science is being done by the educated guys monetary motivated in maintaining the status quo.

camero7
12-22-2014, 06:53 AM
For example, he made a statement the Neonicotinoids had no effect on CCD and later on that CCD is over. Now what happened to scientific methodology here? Last time I checked, there was no definite peer reviewed results linking CCD to anything in particular. The same goes for the affect of Neonicotinoids on bees. Yet it is very scientific to assume that it is safe for bees (however at the same time he wasn't sure about effects on people).

Exactly, so how do neonics have an effect on CCD, particularly since there has been no recognized case of CCD in the last few years and neonics are still in use. I don't believe he's ever said that neonics are safe for bees. They are insecticides and bees are insects. What he's said is that there are no studies that indicate that neonics are causing major hive losses. You are probably too young to remember the serious losses of hives to the organophosphates. Personally I am much more worried about the fungicides than the neonics. I know I've lost hives to fungicides and don't think I've lost any hives to neonics.


You send you hives to almond pollination (which I think everybody can agree not necessarily beneficial to bee health in general) and then do splits from each hive, because it is not going to be good for anything else after that.

I don't know where you got this idea. Hives often come out of almonds bursting with bees and need to be split to prevent swarming, not an indication that they're not good for anything else.

Bee-52
12-22-2014, 07:20 AM
Exactly, so how do neonics have an effect on CCD

I don't know. Neither does he.


What he's said is that there are no studies that indicate that neonics are causing major hive losses. And that's exactly why I compared his approach to that of the FDA. He could've as well said there are no studies that indicate that neonics are NOT causing major hive losses


Hives often come out of almonds bursting with bees Didn't realize that it was such a rejuvenation experience for the bees. I was going by what I've heard from other people on this forum. However, if we stick to the subject of the podcast, I believe that Randy himself states that it is hard to get a booming colony second year in a row from the one that came out of almonds. That's why he capitalizes on the natural stimulating effect that swarming (in this case splitting) provides and at the same time helps him to unload the problems associate with accumulated chemicals in the beehive to other people.

camero7
12-22-2014, 01:01 PM
And that's exactly why I compared his approach to that of the FDA. He could've as well said there are no studies that indicate that neonics are NOT causing major hive losses

But there are studies that show no correlation between neonics and major hive losses, talc problem being the only one that is definitely from neonics.


at the same time helps him to unload the problems associate with accumulated chemicals in the beehive to other people

he's pretty clear that he uses no miticides and you are completely mis-characterizing what he says.


I believe that Randy himself states that it is hard to get a booming colony second year in a row from the one that came out of almonds.

not what he said, go back an listen.

Redbug
12-22-2014, 03:13 PM
I would say that he represents a good balanced view of the commercial beekeeping community. Somewhere in the middle of his interview he made a statement that both hobby beekeeper and commercial beekeepers have a lot to learn from each other. I don't know about that. It is like trying to adapt experience of a mass producing furniture factory to a hand made one of a kind furniture shop. Like Randy mentioned in his podcast, for a commercial bee farmer profit is paramount, thus everything is geared toward maximizing it. Bees themselves are incidental, could be cows, or sheep, or beets. Hardly anything in that approach can be beneficial for a hobby beekeeper. All the money and time spent on the research still geared toward big machine called commercial beekeeping. Example - why would a beekeeper who cares about his/her bees would go intentionally stress a bee colony to the point of failing and then after that "experiment" go ahead and split it five ways and see what happens. However if the profit is what driving you, it makes total sense. You send you hives to almond pollination (which I think everybody can agree not necessarily beneficial to bee health in general) and then do splits from each hive, because it is not going to be good for anything else after that.

I'm all about scientific methodology in bee experimentation and agree that it would do good for anybody trying to experiment with bees to follow those guidelines before jumping to any conclusions. Unfortunately Randy seems to favor the faith based science regardless of his criticism of it, only he comes from the other side of the spectrum. For example, he made a statement the Neonicotinoids had no effect on CCD and later that CCD is largely over. Now what happened to scientific methodology here? Last time I checked, there was no definite peer reviewed results linking CCD to anything in particular. The same goes for the affect of Neonicotinoids on bees. Yet it is very scientific to assume that this group of pesticides is safe for bees (however at the same time he wasn't sure about effects on people). His statement about GMO falls in the same category. There is really not enough scientific evidence to lead to any definite conclusion - one way or another. Unfortunately, this is how FDA operates - kind of like our justice system - not guilty until proven otherwise. So all kind of chemicals and practices become approved for use on our food without extensive research of their effects and if, down the line, they prove to be harmful then they would take a second look at them. Meanwhile all the science is being done by the educated guys monetary motivated in maintaining the status quo.

==================================
Very well written Bee-52. I heartily agree with your summary.

Also...I wonder if Randy considers oxalic acid and it's various methods a type of chemical treatment like Apistan or considers it to be a natural treatment?

FollowtheHoney
12-23-2014, 05:07 AM
But there are studies that show no correlation between neonics and major hive losses, talc problem being the only one that is definitely from neonics.



he's pretty clear that he uses no miticides and you are completely mis-characterizing what he says.



not what he said, go back an listen.

I think it was pretty clear he does use miticides. He stated he did 4 treatments per year and liked to rotate which products he used.

Bee-52
12-23-2014, 07:10 AM
But there are studies that show no correlation between neonics and major hive losses, talc problem being the only one that is definitely from neonics. As I stated before I completely agree with Randy on his point about scientific approach. However that approach includes things like peer review, controlled groups and other practices which, among other things, should prevent bias of the researcher. Most of the studies done didn't really follow those criteria. I would venture a guess that compared to other areas of agriculture, there is really not that much money in the research of bee diseases. And most of them come from the sources interested in protecting existing sales of chemicals.



he's pretty clear that he uses no miticides and you are completely mis-characterizing what he says I'm afraid you misunderstood. He says that he stopped using sythetic miticiedes. He said that they switched to "natural" treatments, they treat at 50% recommended dose but do it more often (4 times a year) and they try to rotate the things they use. They use thymol apiguard strips, formic acid and oxalic acid dribble. They state that their comb and honey doesn't have synthetic miticide in them. Later on Randy was asked about comb management for pesticide residues. His answer was: "We bring our hives back from almonds and we split every single colony five ways...We get five four frame nucs out of a box...So we sell from a half to a third of all our brood combs every season. So that takes care of our comb rotation. So to answer your question we sell all of our combs to other people."

Just to be clear - I'm not being critical of Randy. I think he makes a lot of very interesting points to make hobby beekeepers to start thinking about. However I think goals and methods of commercial and hobby beekeepers are way too different to just freely adopt methodology from one to another. Randy himself makes this point when he mentioned a mite treatment he tested in a strip format and said that it worked great but it would be too much work for a commercial beekeeper to use. I'm just trying to show the distinction between bee farming and bee keeping.



not what he said, go back an listen


I did. That's what Randy said: " We split every single colony each spring. When we experimented with trying to take our overwintered colonies out of almonds and running them for a second year they are just so much harder to keep. Amount of problems is so much greater between varoa and swarming and other things. So starting fresh works very well." I don't want to argue here, but I believe I had summarized what Randy said correctly.

Honey-4-All
12-23-2014, 09:38 AM
But there are studies that show no correlation between neonics and major hive losses, talc problem being the only one that is definitely from neonics.



he's pretty clear that he uses no miticides and you are completely mis-characterizing what he says.



not what he said, go back an listen.

Unless I have jumped so far into the land of the deaf and dumb that there is no hope of recovery I think its time for me to join the chorus of the open eared and pitch in for that much needed earwax candle..


Camero: I think either your listening or comprehension is running on 7 cylinders.... Please do yourself a favor and recheck and repost....

TF!!!!!!! Not even close.

That's not what I heard on the tape and certainly not what he has said to me at the queen breeders meetings the last 10 years.

My advice....... Listen again!!!!!!!!!

camero7
12-23-2014, 10:37 AM
Never said he was TF. I only said he wasn't using chemicals - he only uses them in trails as far as I know.

KQ6AR
12-23-2014, 02:33 PM
He told me that he uses thymol, oxalic acid dribble method only, & quickstrips if I'm not mistaken.
Not just for experimental reasons. He does almond pollination in Feb & needs strong hives to do it.

Honey-4-All
12-23-2014, 04:57 PM
He told me that he uses thymol, oxalic acid dribble method only, & quickstrips if I'm not mistaken.
Not just for experimental reasons. He does almond pollination in Feb & needs strong hives to do it.


Like all of us Randy would prefer to refrain from using any chems. Since he is wise enough to acknowledge that doing so is not a viable option in commercial beekeeping at this point he has decided to use the natural softer ones.

He's not TF.... He's Synthetic chem free if I understand correctly.

Sound about right?

squarepeg
12-23-2014, 05:35 PM
He's not TF.... He's Synthetic chem free if I understand correctly.

Sound about right?

that's my understanding, plus all of his colonies are split after almonds, given a brood break, and requeened.

KiwiMana
01-28-2015, 11:24 PM
Hi,

Thanks to everyone that has listened to our chat with Randy.

Here is the transcription of the recent interview with Randy Oliver. Randy started as a hobbyist beekeeper in 1967. Then went to study biological sciences, specializing in entomology at University.

We had some hearing impaired beekeepers contact us about providing this transcription. If this is useful to you please comment below. We may make it part of our regular show notes.

Randy Oliver Transcription (http://kiwimana.co.nz/randy-oliver-scientific-beekeeping-transcription/)