OTS - Treatment Free - Page 2
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  1. #21
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    Jun 2012
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    Suffolk Co, NY, USA
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    Default Re: OTS - Treatment Free

    The OTS program may work in MI and not be of advantage anywhere else.

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  3. #22
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    Hudson, WI USA
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    Default Re: OTS - Treatment Free

    It has worked well for me. From the winter of 2010/11 to 2015/16 my overwintering success rate for 5/5 frame nucs has been 86% - that has been a total of 146/169 colonies making it from fall until April 1st. I have been using Mel's method of OTS, but splitting them into 5 frame nucs of drawn comb and then allowing them to draw another 5 frames before fall, using Michael Palmers' skinny box principles. The only other method of mite control I use is drone comb removal on colonies in production and the overwintered colony as it is grown into a double deep before it is split.


    This past winter of 2016/17 has not been good. I am at about 30% survival - why you ask? Because of beekeeper error. I started my splits too early, and thus allowed too many cycles of mites. Additionally, Mel says if you start before the summer equinox the queens shut down earlier than the ones that are mated after the equinox. Colonies that are started too early like this also can swarm and leave you with a colony that might or might not requeen appropriately before fall. :-(

    Whilst this past winter has been costly, the lessons I have learned from it are invaluable.

    Here is a link to a video I posted in 2014, when I was more Klutzy than I am now ;-)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MatoOA9TapA&t=1s

  4. #23
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    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: OTS - Treatment Free

    nice report adrian. do many of your overwintered nucs end up as someone's production hives and if so how do those perform with respect to honey yields and mites?
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  5. #24
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    Sep 2007
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    Hudson, WI USA
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    Default Re: OTS - Treatment Free

    I don't get reports as to other's honey production, but my own do pretty well, usually at least the state average. My goal is to make 1000 pounds a year to sell at work. Last year I ran 15 hives for production and made 1300 pounds - 86# average.

    In order not to buy bees I make more colonies than I intend to use. The model that has worked for me has been to overwinter enough colonies so that 1/3 is for production, 1/3 is for making increase, and 1/3 is for making up losses or to sell if I am successful. This year I will only be selling a few colonies and those are spoken for.

  6. #25
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: OTS - Treatment Free

    nice. i would expect that the honey production for the ones you sell would be comparable to what you are getting. do you or the others have to treat the production hives at year's end?
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  7. #26
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    Default Re: OTS - Treatment Free

    I don't. I don't know what the others do. The colonies that have gone through a production run often succumb to mites. This usually happens before Christmas, but after the bees have stopped flying in the fall. I am a stickler for managing colony entrances so that they don't get robbed out. I am experimenting with busting the hives back to nucs after production is over, but I have not settled on the best way to do that yet.

  8. #27
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: OTS - Treatment Free

    even nicer. can you share the percentage winter loss of your production hives, and do you consider that percentage more than is comfortably sustainable by the overwintered nucs?

    if you are finding winter losses trending in the good direction then i wouldn't change a thing, and suggest that you consider letting the selection/deselection process continue to play out.

    way to go adrian!
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  9. #28
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    Sep 2007
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    Hudson, WI USA
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    Default Re: OTS - Treatment Free

    For production colonies up to the winter of 2015/16 it was 56% for a total of 35/62. Yes, I believe that I have the ratio about right for most years. This coming year I expect there will be less honey, but that is OK. I am looking forward to spring.

  10. #29
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    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: OTS - Treatment Free

    sorry for all the questions adrian, yours is an interesting story.

    do you have a feel for how the winter losses (production hives) are going to look for 2016/2017?
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  11. #30
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    Default Re: OTS - Treatment Free

    No problem. It looks sorry too. I am at 2/10.

  12. #31
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    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: OTS - Treatment Free

    dang. sorry to hear that adrian. can you tell us about the background/genetics of the bees you are propagating?
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  13. #32
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    Sep 2007
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    Default Re: OTS - Treatment Free

    By now they are mutts, but there is a mix of VSH and Carniolans and whatever drones are in the area.

  14. #33
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: OTS - Treatment Free

    understood adrian, and thanks for the replies.

    so your dealing with local hybrids and it sounds like they could use some help in the natural resistance department.

    will the 2 survivors serve as queen mothers for this year's splits? have you thought about trying a breeder queen from a reputable breeder?
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  15. #34
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    May 2013
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    Shreveport, Louisiana, USA
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    Default Re: OTS - Treatment Free

    Quote Originally Posted by msl View Post
    there are mostly 2 types of TF fokes in this fourm...those who are good beekeepers and have a location that has made it fairly easy for them... and those who see TF as do nothing bee keeping, sit back and see if your bees will make it
    to one set OTS is not needed, to the other its too much work/woodware or is against doctrine
    Nice insight.
    David. Cheerful beekeeping

  16. #35
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    Default Re: OTS - Treatment Free

    Squarepeg, I plan to add back some VSH to the mix this year. Providing the 2 survivors stay calm they will likely be split. I don't propagate those that are aggressive.

  17. #36
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
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    York County, VA, USA
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    Default Re: OTS - Treatment Free

    I have a suspicion that I'm in the gray area. I would prefer TF, natural comb, etc, and consider that OTS and Disselkoen's management recommendations may help me with mite control and locally bred queens. But I'll be incorporating genes from successful folks of various stripes, too. AstroBee is not far from me and I just got some QCs from him. And I am learning from my bees, too, even those that leave.

    Adrian (O.P.) is in WI, which is were a recent flurry of disease notices originated. Is it possible that your attrition was related to that?
    "I thought I made a mistake once, but I was wrong." (heard often from the late David Sebree) Still making them, myself

  18. #37
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    Default Re: OTS - Treatment Free

    very cool adrian. i'll wager i'm not the only one interested in following your story. consider starting a thread about your operation sometime if you are so inclined.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  19. #38
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    May 2013
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    Shreveport, Louisiana, USA
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    Default Re: OTS - Treatment Free

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    very cool adrian. i'll wager i'm not the only one interested in following your story. consider starting a thread about your operation sometime if you are so inclined.
    +1
    David. Cheerful beekeeping

  20. #39
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    May 2009
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    Canterbry, UK
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    Default Re: OTS - Treatment Free

    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian Quiney WI View Post

    This past winter of 2016/17 has not been good. I am at about 30% survival - why you ask? Because of beekeeper error. I started my splits too early, and thus allowed too many cycles of mites. Additionally, Mel says if you start before the summer equinox the queens shut down earlier than the ones that are mated after the equinox.

    Whilst this past winter has been costly, the lessons I have learned from it are invaluable.
    Read through to here, and I'm not sure if anyone has asked: how disruptive is this method to the development of resistance? How can it be made to contribute to resistance? Or is it just, forget resistance, lets keep bees in ways that suit us, and not worry about it? It which case why not use treatments?

    Mike UK
    The race isn't always to the swift, nor the fight to the strong, but that's the way to bet

  21. #40
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    Sep 2007
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    Hudson, WI USA
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    Default Re: OTS - Treatment Free

    Der, it is possible. However, I am more inclined to believe it is operator error. Last year we had a very early spring and my bees were way ahead of where they should have been and I didn't adjust my practices enough to accommodate for this. An early spring allows for more cycles of mites.

    Squarepeg, thanks for the compliment. What I am doing is not that complicated. It is a combination of Mel Disselkoen's brood break system and Michael Palmer's Nuc principles as an alternative to chemical treatments to make increase colonies. Interestingly, in April's ABJ Keith Delaplane discusses (in an article on epidemiology) that mite virulence is relaxed in apiaries left free to swarm.

    "This raises an important question about whether the time-honored practice of swarm prevention for purposes of maximizing honey production is in fact sustainable period. We need the input of agricultural economists here, but the biology makes me wonder if it is worth letting colonies swarm if the gains in honey bee health exceed the losses in per-colony honey hoarding efficiency. I do not know the answer to that question, but it is a real question that needs to be answered."

    I appreciate the fact that Keith is thinking along these lines. I really enjoyed the article and would point him in the direction of Mel D. and beekeeper directed cleansing invigorating brood breaks.

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