squarepeg 2015-2019 treatment free experience - Page 3
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  1. #41
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    Default Re: squarepeg 2015

    mike, i'm still giving thought to juhani's point and i remain flexible on it. as i said my approach is and hopefully will continue to be a work in progress. given the low losses that my supplier has had over many years and i am likewise experiencing so far, and to bp's question about selecting for mite resistance, i think these hybrids are to the point of looking to other metrics for selection. i'll have to admit that i've only sampled for mites a few times and haven't measured for vsh or anything else.

    and to be fair i've only processed a few rounds of grafts. as i mentioned my breeding program is modest by most standards. very simply i have selected from the colonies that are the most long lived, have responded to swarm prevention measures (checkerboarding), and have made the most honey. i've deselected colonies that despite two or three years of survival off treatments were tending to stay small and swarmy and weren't earning their keep. these were dequeened and turned into nucs with grafted queens from the champion colonies.

    mbc, thank you for describing more eloquently than i have been able what i feel i am observing here. i agree that with bees there are many important factors that come into play. for me this is what makes our efforts to understand what is happening both challenging and rewarding. no worries anyone about straying off topic on this thread, i've a bad habit of that myself.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

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  3. #42
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    Default Re: squarepeg 2015

    Squarepeg, I like your forth coming nature in sharing your understanding of this beekeeping craft.

    And because of that id like to pick on a few details to help better understand what your doing. Alabama is a different beekeeping than Manitoba!

    Treatment free aside, one of your objectives is to glean a Nuc and 100 lbs per hive as revenue. But supplemental feeding is zero. Do I have that right? Does Alabama have a staggered enough drawn out continuous flow to sustain hives which are managed to achieve those production targets?
    When harvesting honey in this northern country, we never know what is in store three weeks in advance. The only way we are able to pull off the production we do is by having sugar at hand if flows don't materialize. But then, you would not get punished with 6 months of winter as we do.

  4. #43
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    Default Re: squarepeg 2015

    many thanks ian, i very much appreciate you and the other professionals sharing your words of wisdom as well.

    you are correct, i hope to average a nuc and 100 lbs. sold per successfully overwintered hive in 2015 without supplemental feeding. i am considering bending that rule this year and use some of latshaw's bee food to accelerate the build up coming out of winter. i have used syrup on rare occasions, usually to help a swarm that was caught late in the season get established.

    our flow here is not continuous but rather bimodal. pollen and nectar become increasingly available starting about late february, peaking at our main flow in late april, and winding down to dearth by the end of june. july and most of august are pretty lean until the fall blooms kick in, and then we usually have a decent flow until late october and the first frost.

    my three main reasons for not using syrup are:

    1. i have supers on the hives year round and don't want to take a chance of having any syrup stored in them.
    2. i believe that the honey diet may help with natural resistance to viruses and other pathogens.
    3. i don't want to interfere with the colony operations that are tied to the natural ebbs and flows of pollen and nectar here.

    #3 manifests itself in the ramping down of brooding that i see starting in late may that leads to a virtually complete brood break in july. it may also play a role in winter preps as the long-lived bees are made and the colony adjusts its population for overwintering. these considerations may have implications in the tf context.

    i've found that there is plenty of spring honey for harvesting if i take only what gets capped and leave the uncapped frames for the summer dearth. since very little brooding is going on they usually don't use much over the summer. a lot of those frames get capped on the fall flow and are harvested then.

    2014 was a worse case scenario here because spring came about a month late whereas summer came right on time. the colonies were smaller and didn't have as much time to make honey. then our fall was dry and we didn't get much of a nectar flow. a lot of the honey that was left after the spring harvest got used for the fall brooding. i also promised more nucs than i would have liked to have sold and missed out on some honey production because of it. but despite the uncooperative weather i managed to sell 13 nucs and close to 400 lbs. of honey, and i ended with three more colonies than the 15 that i started the season with.

    if you look at the hive weights you will see that a fair amount of honey was left that could have been harvested on a few of the hives. i decided to leave it and i'll likely transfer some frames from the heavier hives to the lighter ones to promote a strong spring build up. some of that honey may end up getting harvested this spring if the bees don't use it prior to storing this year's nectar.

    i'm hoping that 2014 was atypical and that most years will be like the years prior. the opportunity for better harvests is increasing as i get more supers drawn. i have had no problem harvesting 4 to 5 mediums off of strong colonies that were prevented from swarming while leaving them 1 or 2 supers for overwintering. i have been able to harvest 2 to 3 supers off of colonies that were artificially swarmed or 'cut down split' prior to the main flow. swarmed colonies have yielded little to no harvest which brings the average way down. here is where more 'tweaking' is needed.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  5. #44
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    Default Re: squarepeg 2015

    Again along Ian’s line of thought:
    So you also have no blooms after June and no rain in the summer? (my intellicast for zip 98709 shows my monthly average to be 0.65” and 0.72” July August respectively (http://www.intellicast.com/Local/His...ation=USOR0400) From your description (around Huntsville) http://www.intellicast.com/Local/His...ation=USAL0287 puts your summer at about 4” of rain. I guess I am trying to figure out honey and colony health based on the blooms and how it relates to colony health and honey as a side of the business.
    Sorry Squarepeg, I noted that you posted the Answer the same time I posted the questions!
    “Why do we fall, sir? So that we might learn to pick ourselves up” Alfred Pennyworth Batman Begins (2005)

  6. #45
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    Default Re: squarepeg 2015

    our summer rains come from isolated thunderstorms and we usually get enough to keep the grass from turning brown but it can vary. after a good rain i'll see a day or two of strong foraging after which it drops back off until the next rain.

    there are sporadic blooms throughout the summer which are generally enough to maintain the day to day nutritional needs of the colony but not enough for the storing and/or finishing of harvestable honey.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  7. #46
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    Default Re: squarepeg 2015

    I think what you are doing is great and I hope you are successful. My production goals are similar to yours even though I do treat and feed - so if your goals turn out to be realistic it will be a pretty convincing business model.

    If it works out I would like to see you establish an outyard sufficiently remote to demonstrate that it is feasible for at least others in your region.

    Good luck.
    Since '09-75H-T-Z6b

  8. #47
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    Default Re: squarepeg 2015

    many thanks david. there are two new beekeepers that have my nucs from last year but they are located near here. i am going to try and find out if there are others who have bought bees from the supplier who are using this approach. i do know that someone came down from tennessee last year and bought several nucs from him. i am going to make an effort to see how they are doing in other locations.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  9. #48
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    Default Re: squarepeg 2015

    It would be nice to find out who from BS here had bought nucs from him. Then
    you can talk about their experiences with his bees. Is it only unique to your area or in general
    that they can survive elsewhere.
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  10. #49
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    Default Re: squarepeg 2015

    I'll expand on the honeyflow characteristics a bit by stating that our spring flows in February are primarily for pollen, but an occasional surplus from maple can be stored. Early fruit bloom from pears and apples starts about the 25th of March and lasts to about the 10th of April with a week or two of variance depending on weather conditions. Beginning about April 15th we get our main flow which typically lasts 3 to 4 weeks tapering to a stop by May 20th. We have some smaller flows that fill gaps until Sourwood starts in early June. One year in ten, I get a super of sourwood per colony, however, there is enough to harvest and jar premium sourwood honey about 1 in 3 years, just not enough to fill a shallow super. Fall flows start around August 10th from goldenrod and meld into aster which can yield until November 20th. Most years we get about 30 pounds per colony from goldenrod and aster. I have never pulled fall honey because the goldenrod has an odd smell and the aster tends to crystalize. Overall average for the state is about 60 pounds. An active beekeeper who tends to business can produce 120 pounds per colony average.
    NW Alabama, 50 years, 20 colonies and growing, sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 14 frame square Dadant broodnest

  11. #50
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    Default Re: squarepeg 2015

    Not Fusion power but I would agree with his sentiment about doubling State average by "tending to business", the same applies where I am.

    There's a lot of reasons why State averages are low, one being hives owned by non commercial beekeepers who have lost the love, and do little more than pull some honey from time to time. The hives are allowed to swarm and generally not run at optimum, doubling the average is a simple thing with some effort, and reasonable care for the bees.
    Also if hives are in a fixed location and it's a good one, it can be possible to get more honey than a lot of the commercial beekeepers who may be primarily concerned with pollination, and may be forced by numbers to have some hives in less than optimal locations for honey production. But if there is a commercial beekeeper who makes most of his living from honey production, so is focussed on that, he will be hard to beat.

    Where I am, average honey production is ludicrously low, something like 60 or 70 lb's per hive. You would wonder how anyone could survive on that, but it's partly because of high prices for Manuka honey, beekeepers are prepared to sacrifice somewhat to get pure, high quality honey. But if a guy with just a few hives set out to beat the average, with a little skill the average can be doubled, tripled, or more.

    But interested to hear Fusion Powers answer he will probably have region specific information you are wanting.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  12. #51
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    Default Re: squarepeg 2015

    next to having cooperative weather in a good location swarm prevention is the key to bountiful harvests.

    walt wright's checkerboarding resulted in a measurable improvement in swarm control with my bees. the colonies that swarmed anyway appeared to halt their expansion at a break between boxes and then proceeded to backfill and swarm. it seemed odd that they would flat out ignore the alternated frames of honey and drawn comb in the next super up, but they did.

    after mulling it over with walt, we are going to try a modification to his checkerboarding this spring. rather than staggering the combs of honey in the two supers whereby there is an empty comb over a honey frame and vice versa, we are going to try putting honey frames over honey frames and empty comb over empty comb in the two supers. the hope is that this will promote broodnest expansion through the gap and keep the bees from getting 'stuck' at the break between boxes.

    the inspiration for this modification comes from observations made on my over wintered five frame nucs last year. by april these nucs had built up to double deeps. when the upper deeps were placed, they had alternating frames of honey and empty comb. the bees expanded the broodnest all the way to the top of the upper deep, putting no honey reserve overhead, and no swarm preps were noticed even though other colonies were already swarming. these colonies were slated for splitting and i had already committed to selling some nucs so that's what happened to them at that point. i've wondered since what they would have done had i just started adding supers instead of splitting them.

    i'm hoping that i will get a similar result with the modified checkerboarding of my medium supers this year as i did with the upper deeps as described above. in other words i'm hoping that the bees will brood to the top of the second super and not begin swarm preps. if that happens, and if i find that the deep at the bottom has lots of room for the queen to lay, i may try to exclude the queen to the deep, and as the brood hatches in the supers there will be room for nectar storage up there. additional supers would than be added as needed.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  13. #52
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    Default Re: squarepeg 2015

    Subscribed.

    Squarepeg, in which growing zone are you located? I've also noted very small loss of hive weight up to mid February, largely due to small flows over winter here in growing zone 7b. On 23 December this year, I noted newly deposited, still uncapped nectar that was not there when the cold weather came in early December (easy to see in the mating NUCs I'm overwintering).

    Look forward to reading your accounts.
    ...We don't see things as they are, we see things as WE are...

  14. #53
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    Default Re: squarepeg 2015

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    the colonies that swarmed anyway appeared to halt their expansion at a break between boxes and then proceeded to backfill and swarm. it seemed odd that they would flat out ignore the alternated frames of honey and drawn comb in the next super up, but they did.
    If I clearly understand the description you make, my reflection brought me here: will be the age of the queens are not playing a decisive role in this equation?

    Does the drive to swarm should not be considered a continuum with two poles: from very low to very high? And the techniques of prevention and control of swarming be designed and implemented in accordance with the probable magnitude of the drive to swarm? If the beekeeper apply techniques more or less radical in accordance with that (eg . splits colonies with older queens and checkerboarding swarms with younger queens) likely drive see more tangible fruits of their management at the end of the season ?

    The bottom line, based on this case you present is: to what extent our interventions in the nest structure and surrounding space are sufficient to offset a drive, often described in the literature and often observed by me in my apiaries, that older queens are more likely to swarm that younger queens? What is your opinion?

  15. #54
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    Default Re: squarepeg 2015

    lee, thanks for joining the discussion. i am also in zone 7b, and i have seen similar with regard to pollen and nectar coming in over the winter months here in past years, but none so far this year because we have not had much flying weather yet. next week looks to be promising for that, and hopefully i'll see the first foraging of this season. heres a link to a map of 'terrestrial ecoregions':

    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Fi...SA_CAN_MEX.svg

    my location falls in #17, 'appalachian mixed mesophytic forests'. i see some differences in bloom types and bloom times between the ridge top here and the valley below, along the bluff line compared to along the river banks, ect. i am lucky in that there is a lot floral diversity within flying distance of my yards.

    eduardo,

    i have read with interest your comments regarding the age of the queen and tendency to swarm. i haven't been marking or clipping my queens so i can't be sure, but it appears that my colonies that do not swarm are requeening themselves every season by supercedure. i believe this because i found capped queen cells in colonies that did not swarm. i did witness this past year one of the colonies issue a very small swarm, much smaller than a reproductive swarm, and i assumed it was the old queen getting superceded and leaving with a handful of loyal workers.

    it seems that the stock i am working with, (derived from feral cut outs and open mating with local ferals), are very good at swarming. perhaps this is part of how they are surviving varroa off treatments. occasionally a colony will issue multiple swarms, with a new record set last spring of five swarms issued from one hive! i am obviously deselecting those from the apiary, and as mentioned i am grafting from colonies that respond to swarm prevention management.

    i believe i read that you have not been marking your queens. if this is the case how do you know how old your queens are and that they have not been superceded?
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  16. #55
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    Default Re: squarepeg 2015

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    i believe i read that you have not been marking your queens. if this is the case how do you know how old your queens are and that they have not been superceded?
    Yes squarepeg you read that right. I do not mark my queens. At this point I must have only 20 marked queens who were the only ones I bought from portuguese breeders. On the issue that you put my answer is I do not know.

    I know however what are the hives that have new queens (with one year or less): all hives that I divide in early spring 2014 and have raised a new queen, all the hives that swarmed, all nucs made by me ​​with a technique that I does not know the english designation .
    I have about 250 hives with new queens. Of the remaining 150, about 120 have a queen who follows the procedures described above, but in the year 2013. And about 30 from the processes described above in the years before 2013.

    These last 30 to me are my top queen, because apparently not swarm since before 2013. They most likely have superseded the queen without production breaks. At the time of production and swarming I see all colonies on a weekly basis. If they superseded the queen and I do not see falls in production and in the power of the cluster, is a sign that the old queen knew accept their daughter and knew live with it for a while. For me little more can we ask. Great genetics.

    Colonies with queens referenced the year 2013 may have replaced the queen, being younger. I do not know. But because I want to increase my flock, with these 120 I will have a defensive approach: I will divide them. I will not waste any more time with them to control queen cells week after week. I will focus my attention on the 250 hives with the young queens, because even these also gives them the "fever", but usually with less aggressive and at the right timing manipulations, swarming can be controlled in most cases, and are hives with high yield potential. It is an approach with little technicality and that allows me to standardize interventions based on the age of queens.

    Squarepeg you do very well to go bringing this topic to debate, because the the swarming prevention is one of the pillars in the art of beekeeping, in my opinion.

  17. #56
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    Default Re: squarepeg 2015

    understood eduardo. i agree that it is wise to produce new queens from your colonies that have survived the most years and have given consistent production. i understand that you are looking for ways to assess mite resistance and use that information for breeding decisions as well. it sounds like you have a very workable plan in place for managing swarming with your large number of colonies. my beekeeping is on a much smaller scale and i do not depend on the bees for income. this makes it easier for me to experiment with different approaches and it is this experimenting that gives me the most reward. thank you for these and the many informative contributions that you have been making to the forum.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  18. #57
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    Default Re: squarepeg 2015

    Thank you for your kind words squareped.

    >my beekeeping is on a much smaller scale and i do not depend on the bees for income. this makes it easier for me to experiment with different approaches and it is this experimenting that gives me the most reward.>

    I quite understand this feeling of you. It is a very rewarding scenario for the beekeeper that does not have to focus mostly on the production, to experience various management techniques and go discovering firsthand how they react their bees. And these experiences of small-scale beekeepers may even be a good school for the larger-scale beekeepers, that given the amount of hives that have and objectives targeted for production are not as liberated to do this good action - research.

  19. #58
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    Default Re: squarepeg 2015

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    ..... i see some differences in bloom types and bloom times between the ridge top here and the valley below, along the bluff line compared to along the river banks, etc. i am lucky in that there is a lot floral diversity within flying distance of my yards...
    A lucky location that allows the bees to do the migration instead of the keeper.
    ...We don't see things as they are, we see things as WE are...

  20. #59
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    Default Re: squarepeg 2015

    Quote Originally Posted by Lburou View Post
    A lucky location that allows the bees to do the migration instead of the keeper.
    indeed lee, i am thankful for and humbled by the opportunity.

    i made an interesting observation on hive #11 today. this is the one that has used the most stores since late october. i found by stethoscope today that the cluster has moved up from the bottom deep into the two medium supers. i suspected that i might be seeing this happen after the poor fall flow prevented most of the colonies from getting much stored in their deeps. so far though it sounds like the rest of the colonies are still clustered in the deeps. looking forward to popping the tops soon, and plan on doing so on the first fair weather day.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  21. #60

    Default Re: squarepeg 2015

    Nearly 2000 views....squarepeg....you're on your way to stardom!
    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. - Emerson

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