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Thread: steps to TF ?

  1. #21
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    Jun 2014
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    Warren County, NJ, USA
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    Default Re: steps to TF ?

    Quote Originally Posted by deepster View Post
    coal reaper, do you also think small cell doesn't improve on TF / fighting ability of bees with Verroa?
    I cannot say. No experience with SC foundation. But there are TF beeks on large cell foundation. I started fiundationless frames three years ago and i can say that i notice bees of slightly different sizes. There is also 5.4 foundation still in my hives. I started messing with narrow foundationless frames this year. Will be another three years if not more before i am ready to comment on that.

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  3. #22
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    Jan 2014
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    Default Re: steps to TF ?

    If you are having luck with foundationless great. Some get nice comb that way. I have installed frames set up to run foundationless and the bees ignored the frame even when it violated bee space rules. Guess the bees did not read the same books I did. Sometimes starter strips are a nice compromise and the bees will draw comb alot sooner. Oldtimers post gave you the main points of starter strips. You can also use crimp wire foundation and just cut strips out of them. Just bend the wires and install them like you would foundation. You do not need to be small cell or natural cell to be treatment free. Some just consider it a more natural way to keep bees. I have seen bees draw comb in the wild and the natural cell comb looks alot more like small cell than standard cell size. Alot of the advocates for small cell say that it shortens the life cycle of the worker brood from 21 days to 18 days. If you overlay the life cycle of the varroa mite over that then you see the mite can only raise one daughter usually instead of two or three. At that rate of reproduction the mites will die off at about the same rate that they are born. Then again some say that people who believe that happen to have their apiaries in Africanized Honey Bee territory with an 18 day brood cycle to start with and that is why their bees are surviving varroa. I like natural cell because it seems more, well natural. You will have to decide for yourself in your beekeeping journey if you think its worth it. I have a friend treatment free for seven years using only sceened bottomed boards, Plastic drone frames(which are removed and frozen before the brood emerges) and running Russian bees to start with from the VERY beginning. She uses standard cell. I'm treatment free 5 years running V.P. Queens. (Allegro) and I am working with captured swarms to develop my own stock. I also do splits to break the brood cycle. Usually the bees swarm and do that for me. I am currently regressing to 5.1 cell. It takes a while. Perhaps the term treatment free beekeeping would be better off termed chemical free beekeeping. Oh and you will be raising your own queens. The bees will be doing that for you. Good luck.

  4. #23
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    Jan 2014
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    Roxboro, North Carolina
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    155

    Default Re: steps to TF ?

    If you are having luck with foundationless great. Some get nice comb that way. I have installed frames set up to run foundationless and the bees ignored the frame even when it violated bee space rules. Guess the bees did not read the same books I did. Sometimes starter strips are a nice compromise and the bees will draw comb alot sooner. Oldtimers post gave you the main points of starter strips. You can also use crimp wire foundation and just cut strips out of them. Just bend the wires and install them like you would foundation. You do not need to be small cell or natural cell to be treatment free. Some just consider it a more natural way to keep bees. I have seen bees draw comb in the wild and the natural cell comb looks alot more like small cell than standard cell size. Alot of the advocates for small cell say that it shortens the life cycle of the worker brood from 21 days to 18 days. If you overlay the life cycle of the varroa mite over that then you see the mite can only raise one daughter usually instead of two or three. At that rate of reproduction the mites will die off at about the same rate that they are born. Then again some say that people who believe that happen to have their apiaries in Africanized Honey Bee territory with an 18 day brood cycle to start with and that is why their bees are surviving varroa. I like natural cell because it seems more, well natural. You will have to decide for yourself in your beekeeping journey if you think its worth it. I have a friend treatment free for seven years using only sceened bottomed boards, Plastic drone frames(which are removed and frozen before the brood emerges) and running Russian bees to start with from the VERY beginning. She uses standard cell. I'm treatment free 5 years running V.P. Queens. (Allegro) and I am working with captured swarms to develop my own stock. I also do splits to break the brood cycle. Usually the bees swarm and do that for me. I am currently regressing to 5.1 cell. It takes a while. Perhaps the term treatment free beekeeping would be better off termed chemical free beekeeping. Oh and you will be raising your own queens. The bees will be doing that for you. Good luck.

  5. #24
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    Mtn. View, Arkansas, USA
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    Default Re: steps to TF ?

    My experience with 20 colonies on small cell for 3 years is there is no benefit in using it. The varroa mites grow to numbers equal to or exceeding the colonies that are on standard cell foundation.

    Try it for yourself, take 2 shook swarms, place one on small cell and the other on standard cell foundation. Treat the colonies the same, when you feed one, feed the other, when you put in a frame with foundation to be drawn, put one in the other. Do no varroa mite controls, but do drop counts and see how the varroa populations grow, and at the end of the second year treat both with MAQ2 and count the number of mites killed. Compare productivity, see how the queens do on the small cell and on the standard cells and decide if it works.
    42 + years - 24 colonies - IPM disciple - Naturally Skeptic

  6. #25
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    Apr 2016
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    Default Re: steps to TF ?

    @J.lee I think you could turn out very correct about rising my own queens.
    I went to see this one guy who is willing to sell me TF nucs but insists that I have to split and let them raise their own queen! It sounds like breaking the brood cycle is the key for them to stay ahead of Verroa! One issue concerns me, what if my own bees’ drone are the only bees around, wouldn’t that be inbreeding!? How do you guys deal with this issue?

  7. #26
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    Default Re: steps to TF ?

    In my humble opinion, learning to make your own splits and having bees raise their own queens is an essential beekeeping skill. Depending on somebody else to supply bees when there is failure is not TF. Doesn't mean you never bring in new genetic material, but most of your queens should be your own. If everyone did this, it would lead to regionally adapted, genetically diverse bees that can be leaned on in times of trouble. At the same time transfer of disease/pests from region to region would be slowed down.

    Steps to TF? Create backup, build on success not failure. If small scale find others with similar goals to connect and cooperate with.

  8. #27
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    Apr 2016
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    Default Re: steps to TF ?

    Way to go Iharder, Some one put down the second and possibly third steps to TF. so far we have:

    1- Get me local Treatment free bees as best as I can.
    2- As they get bigger make splits and let them raise their own queen.
    3- Raise Nuc for backup.

    Have I got his correct so far every one agrees?
    Ok, back to my previous question, how about limited genetics around me when they raise their own queen? Do I worry about this if the raised queen becomes a non performer, Which is too late? How you guys handle this?

  9. #28
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    Shreveport, Louisiana, USA
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    Default Re: steps to TF ?

    Quote Originally Posted by deepster View Post
    One issue concerns me, what if my own bees’ drone are the only bees around, wouldn’t that be inbreeding!?
    If you don't already have bees, put out some 1:1 sugar syrup with a couple of drops of anise oil and see if there are bees in the area. If you already have bees, go two or three miles away with the syrup and see if bees come. Also, ask your friends or a local pest control company if there are honey bees in your area. Or ask a local beekeeper from the list of CT beekeepers above, or ask your county agent. Or try and see what happens. I would be surprised if there is not a drone congregation area near you.
    David Matlock

  10. #29
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    Default Re: steps to TF ?

    Here is where it gets complicated and is context specific.

    Some advocate isolated mating situations. This is useful if you are surrounded by bees that are treated and not much in the way of feral bees.

    If you have a solid base of feral bees (difficult to determine but eventually some conclusions can be arrived at), then you want to tap into this and you will want to mate locally and there will be no problem with inbreeding. Generally inbreeding is not a problem as there are almost always be bees around.

    My own developing plan is to have a bit of both. I will have a local open mated situation. (This and last year out of necessity) The benefits of this is that there is an infusion of new genetics/traits that may be useful, not just in terms of survival, but production and overwintering. The downside is that it dilutes survivor genes if most bees around you are treated. You will have likely have higher mortality in this case. Another benefit is that your survivor drones get to mix with treated bees, and perhaps you can have a positive effect on the local pool which will help your own survival down the road. Another way is to start selling nucs from survivor stock locally so it becomes more widespread.

    Next year I will be going into the mountains to get some wild flower nectar in July and August. In this case, an isolated mating is possible and I will be having a few queens mated here and comparing the open and isolated mating groups in terms of survival.

  11. #30
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    Default Re: steps to TF ?

    Thank you everyone so far with your inputs. I need to pin down and make decision on one more step. I am supposed to get two nucs of bees that are claimed to be from TF background. Once I have them installed and they are doing well, do I check on their mite count or do I tell them they are TF bees and like it or not deal with it on your own, there is nothing I am supposed to do. How you TF guys did approached this situation?

  12. #31
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    Default Re: steps to TF ?

    Quote Originally Posted by deepster View Post
    Thank you everyone so far with your inputs. I need to pin down and make decision on one more step. I am supposed to get two nucs of bees that are claimed to be from TF background. Once I have them installed and they are doing well, do I check on their mite count or do I tell them they are TF bees and like it or not deal with it on your own, there is nothing I am supposed to do. How you TF guys did approached this situation?
    I don't do counts, To me it's an arbitrary number anyways, do you plan to treat if they reach some threshold? If so what is YOUR threshold? Or, would you plan to use someone elses threshold that is meaningless to your bees? I have done a few mite counts but I don't anymore because A I wasn't treating no matter what the count was, and B, some were dwindling at 3-4 mites per 100, and others were thriving at 7-9 mites per 100 bees. The fact of the matter is, I don't care what kills my bees so long as it isn't AFB I focus on the ones that survive.

  13. #32
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    Default Re: steps to TF ?

    and what if it is AFB?

  14. #33
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    Default Re: steps to TF ?

    American Foul Brood, in my state if it's found you have to kill the bees and burn the hive.

  15. #34
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    Default Re: steps to TF ?

    I have read a beekeeper on intention infected his grafts with the AFB.
    Some queen made it and became resistant to this disease. Thanks to this
    old timer that we have a strategy to deal with it rather than fearing it.
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  16. #35
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    Default Re: steps to TF ?

    Quote Originally Posted by beepro View Post
    I have read a beekeeper on intention infected his grafts with the AFB.
    Some queen made it and became resistant to this disease. Thanks to this
    old timer that we have a strategy to deal with it rather than fearing it.
    I think this is very bad advice in connection with American Foul Brood! Being callous instead of cautious about AFB is not to be admired. Some oldtimers also recommended using leeches for human ailments!
    Frank

  17. #36
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    Default Re: steps to TF ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Harley Craig View Post
    I don't do counts, To me it's an arbitrary number anyways, do you plan to treat if they reach some threshold? If so what is YOUR threshold? Or, would you plan to use someone elses threshold that is meaningless to your bees? I have done a few mite counts but I don't anymore because A I wasn't treating no matter what the count was, and B, some were dwindling at 3-4 mites per 100, and others were thriving at 7-9 mites per 100 bees. The fact of the matter is, I don't care what kills my bees so long as it isn't AFB I focus on the ones that survive.
    well put. i used to be worried when i saw shells of mites on bottom boards. my bees rip them up. these are the colonies that do best for me. once you are able to stop worrying about everything, beekeeping becomes a lot more enjoyable.

  18. #37
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    Default Re: steps to TF ?

    so There is no in between as far as mites or TF gos. One has to stand back and let the bees take care of it or else. It is not as if you initially give them a helping hand with some foreign substance, till they figure it out?
    Is it fare to say that those bees and colonies whom are able to coexist with the mite keep the count low. If mite count gets to as high as 7 to 8% or higher the end for the colony is near?

  19. #38
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    Default Re: steps to TF ?

    My experience is that management in TF just has to be different

    The bees I have that survive best shut down brood rearing during dearths.

    And any management I do that stimulates brood rearing is ultimately counter productive to long term survival.

    Dee/Michael's management philosophy works for me here


    Don



    6 yr, 25 H, SC/foundationless, have never bought bees or even a queen

  20. #39
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    Default Re: steps to TF ?

    Quote Originally Posted by deepster View Post
    If mite count gets to as high as 7 to 8% or higher the end for the colony is near?
    not necessarily.

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    i've haven't done anything for mites since starting in 2010. early on i thought about identifying colonies with high mite counts, killing the queen, killing the mites, and requeening from better stock. since winter losses were averaging less than 20% i didn't get motivated to do that, deciding instead to give the bees a chance while drawing the line at not allowing dwindling to the point of an inevitable rob out. losses became easy to make up by catching swarms and making splits.

    the first mite count i took was in 2013 and on a dwindled hive that was probably on the verge of getting robbed as it was down to a very small population of bees with just a little sick brood but still queenright. the infestation rate on that one was near 100%. i took it away from the yard and shook it out but determined afterward that it would have been better to have put in the freezer and done away with those colony collapsing mites.

    last year i took alcohol wash samples on three hives that ranged from about 9% to 14%. all three of those overwintered and the 14% hive ended up being one of my best producers this year.

    with my winter losses, i've only found a lot of mite frass and diseased brood a couple of times. most of the losses have looked more like the queen failed at some point, which could also be mite related as a high virus load is known to damage the queens' ovarioles.

    i wouldn't go so far as to say that one should just ignore mites or that they are a non-issue. i think i am fortunate to live in an area where feral bees are thriving and to have found a supplier who has been propagating bees off treatments since 1996. he started this line by cutting down 5 bee trees that he observed thriving when everyone else's bees were dying off after varroa hit here.

    i remember discussing the strategy of treating and requeening colonies with michael bush. he commented that he had observed colonies recover from mite infestations and sick brood. i think i have seen this for myself now. the colony last year with the 9% count had a very spotty brood pattern in the fall but it ended up making it through winter.

    that particular one is my longest lived colony having survived 6 winters so far while maintaining a continuous queenline. i have grafted from it a couple of times. it has consistently been a good honey producer up until this year, but i think that was because the queen got superceded during the spring build up reducing their numbers so they couldn't capitalize on our main flow.

    sorry for the long winded answer, i guess a simple 'no' would have sufficed.
    mite counts in 2015 were a little less but similar. for 2016, winter survival was better and production is likely to surpass 2015 as there are many more supers full of honey ready for harvest.

  21. #40
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    Default Re: steps to TF ?

    D Semple Give us more detail about the differences in management, I understand that bees which do well against Verroa have shout down on their brood rearing, higher tendency to swarm etc. but this is really the bees! Where have you seen Dee/Michael's management philosophy in this regards? I would like to read it. thanks

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