My wake-up call!
I grew up around beehives. My grandfather and father were beekeepers. I had 20 to 30 hives for many years then moved to Arizona and got out of beekeeping for 23 years. A couple years ago I moved to the country in South Carolina and started back up again. When I left beekeeping in the 80's we didn't have mites. I started up again as "all natural". I paid a lot of money to get started back up with 3 hives of very nice Italians. They all died over the winter and I blamed hive beetles, wax moths, etc. I'm in South Carolina so our winters are not severe. I didn't realize that the mites had weakened them enough that the hive beetles and wax moths were able to move in and finish them off. All I saw was the evidence of wax moths at the end and hive beetles everywhere.
I would say that many of the new beekeepers that think the hive beetles or wax moths got their hives were actually victims of mites first and didn't know it. I learned from my mistakes. I have MH bees now and I still treat them with Oxalic Acid. I don't think the hive beetles like it either. My hives are staying strong now. Things have changed since the 80's and I guess beekeeping is a continuous learning experience. I am very grateful for our local bee club (Y.C.B.A) and all their help.
I hope others can learn from my mistakes. I did!
Cyberman--What are MH Bees?
David. The way you want to keep bees is most likely at least as good as any way that I could suggest. Probably better.
I say survival of the fittest - if they make it - they get split in the spring. Been working for me now for 9 years. Threw out all the chemicals. But it cost me the first year - went from 100 to 20 overnight. And that's what I built back from.
Sak, that is the rebuilt after the crash situation.
Congrats on your success. I had many crashes but not that many
compare to yours. Sure I will let them crash again once the hive number is
high enough. Give it another year to decide the total tf route.
Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?
Beepro - are you asking me what was the rebuild after the crash? if so I'm running 300 hives right now - and as far as give them another year? Its been 9 so far. I'm not saying I would not treat if necessary - it just haven't been.
All it took was for me to do some mite counts the first year in the late summer after seeing a lot of crawling bees in the yard. Once you see them and can measure them (mites) you start thinking "do it" on the mite treatments especially when you see a few poor DWV bees struggling to waddle around. It's just easier to treat them than to get more bees. (for me)
It's nice seeing healthy strong looking bees in September.
Internet credibility is an oxymoron
Most people who want to be 'natural' will only last a short time without treatment because they have standard European queens and bees. Standard European hives are great for their honey production and temperament but when it comes to anything else they are quite useless compared to other varieties. Standard European hives offer no defense against hive beetles, wax moths, varroa mites and other pests. Using the standard European bee, keepers usually need to use chemicals just to keep the hives alive.
The chemicals come with their own set of problems. If they release too much you can lose the hive, too little and there is no effect on the mites.
One thing I always think is comical is that after using the chemicals, everyone can't figure out why their queens are not outputting like they should be and need to be replaced every year... The queen is not exempt from the treatment. It damages all the bees but the queen is the only one that lives long enough for that to be noticed. Thus, the queen gets replaced more often when you treat. Sometimes the chemicals simply do not work because of their overuse.
If you really want to be a natural beekeeper, you must fight pests with the variety of bee you raise.
As a test I put a hive of my Russian Black bees next to a standard European hive and mite checked them last year during the fall. The untreated standard European hive had a mite count of 100 in a 24 hour span while the Russian Black bees had 1 mite during the first 24 hour period. I continued doing counts for a week and a half and discovered the European hive ranged between 85 - 120 mites per 24 hour period while the Russian Black bees ranged between 0 - 3 during that same time.
Here in Arizona, my favorite variety of bee to keep are AHB (obviously not anywhere near people of course) and here is why they are my favorite.
I personally believe the standard European bee many people keep would not survive very long if unattended by a beekeeper. If you keep European bees, think of all the problems you have had with them in this past year. Most likely you dealt with mites and wax moths last fall and perhaps a mouse in the spring. If you have small hive beetles in your area you may have been affected by them as well. If you've got a bunch of hives you most likely have had queens stop laying for no reason. You've probably had American Foulbrood in your European hives.
The Africanized bees are aggressive and tend to bee swarmy, but they are highly productive and build massive colonies very fast. Their honey collection is on par with any European hive you have got and I have never had a pest problem in any of my Africanized hives.
The Russian Black bee is not as productive as the European bee but they are consistent and clean. They are not swarmy like the AHB but they do not produce as much honey per year.
I'm not saying that the Russian Black bee, AHB or feral bees are 100% perfect but what I am saying is, I experience none of the common problems with my AHB or Black bee varieties. All the problems I experience come from my European hives in those same yards.
Just my experience and thoughts.
The key to fighting mites in my opinion?
1) Capture a native hive in your area and raise queens from them to use in your other hives.
2) Purchase queens that are mite resistant (such as the Black Bee).
Mclain - Unless you purchase queens on a regular basis, how do you feel the quality of the hybrid queens in your yard are?
The Russian queens tend to be slower building up hive population in general but they are a consistent variety that needs little attention. I have never had such a hive swarm on me.
I do not purchase queens regularly and I believe that is because I do not use chemicals in my hives. My queens live anywhere from 3 - 5 years and perform wonderfully.
I hope this answers your question.
What actually works to convince Newbees to treat mites ?
I've found a 45 or 38 pointed at their favorite dog works best......
Last edited by snl; 09-24-2016 at 11:10 AM.
http://OxaVap.com Your source for the ProVap 110
OA Vaporizer. The fastest vaporizer on the market!
(deleted in the spirit of self moderation.)
Last edited by squarepeg; 09-24-2016 at 11:30 AM.
journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives
Treat or TF is not a battle.
Watching a wild turkey flock walk by. 3/4 will be dead next spring, but a flock will be here next fall.
I would not raise a flock of of wild turkeys with a plan of selling them for Thanksgiving.
Would not buy farm turkey chicks and release them with the plan of overwintering. It is a lot more probable I will have farm turkeys to work with then wild.
The choice is what do you have for stock and what do you want for a product.
Hat's off to those who balance the two. Riding the middle ground sucks.