Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ? - Page 2
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  1. #21
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    GregV:

    Thank you for the encouragement on the small nuc- I will be rooting for them 🙂.

    Juhani:

    I admire your perspective because I know you have successfully accomplished what you are describing.

    Your point about expanding my horizons is well-taken, knowing that having some of these advanced beekeeping skills would likely be helpful regardless of what emerges in the local genetic pool.

    There is an individual in Southeast Missouri who I understand is AI'ing survivor-stock queens and it might do me good to reach-out to him.

    I also appreciate your point about not wasting time- the older I get, the more I realize just how precious a commodity our time is.

    While I'll save my extended thoughts about exploring the genetic resources in our area for a later post, the abstract would be:

    Seek to hive and maintain as much diverse local swarm stock as practical, focusing trapping efforts in areas where known multi-year colonies currently reside.

    In short, my initial efforts would not focus on winnowing stock for specific traits, but to have the survivor genetics available even if the hives are hot, swarmy, bad honey producers, etc.

    In other words, if they can survive on their own despite my mis-management, they would get to hang-around.
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

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  3. #22
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    A SBB with a tray works just fine and stays drier than a solid bottom does. I'm not sure which lasts longer, but I'm leaning towards the SBB. They stay drier and that helps them last longer.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  4. #23
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    Jun 2018
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    Boaz, KY, USA
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    I discovered that the concept of the unlimited broodnest is a bit of a misnomer. My revelation will be obvious to anyone who has kept bees for any length of time, but the reality is that one queen can only lay so many eggs in a day, and this maximum egg laying rate slows or stops based on the season and available forage.

    While I still may not have a complete view on this, it seems that the working definition for an unlimited broodnest is that all the volume within the hive is available to her to lay eggs.

    One of the main objections I heard from experienced beekeepers in my area was that without a queen excluder I would have to deal with brood in the honey supers. While I learned that this can in-fact be true, I learned that two things make this a non-issue (in general):

    1. Depending on when (and how) you harvest honey, the broodnest may have receded back down into the lower reaches of the hive. If you have no objection to harvesting capped honey stored in cells previously occupied by brood, it is no problem.

    2. Depending on the overall hive volume, the fact that there are only so many eggs the queen can lay works to your advantage- she simply can't lay enough eggs to fill the whole hive with brood (even if the colony wanted to).

    As I alluded to, these are obvious things any experienced beekeeper knows, but I am hoping this thread might be of some help to other beginners in the future.

    My limited experience with the concept of an unlimited broodnest is a positive one, though I am not "anti queen excluder".

    In fact, reading some of the innovative things that our own squarepeg is doing with queen excluders in his large-volume hives is very interesting and seems to hold a lot of merit.
    Last edited by Litsinger; 12-11-2018 at 12:47 PM.
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  5. #24
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Dane County, WI, USA
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    3,068

    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Juhani Lunden View Post
    If we are talking about an area where there are other beekeepers around, I seriously doubt, based on my own experience, the ability to dominate DCA with anything less than 20 hives (all raising a lot of desired drones).
    Remains to be seen.
    It is not so bad, granted no massive commercial beekeepers are in the area (I have none of those in the vicinity thanks to a suburban location - a very good thing).
    Conventional backyard keepers are less of a concern.

    Keep in mind that most conventional backyard beekeepers minimize the drone as much as possible (because this is how the conventional, intensive honey production preaching goes).
    They control their own drone in a variety of ways - 1)using standard worker foundation; 2)active destroying of the drone larva (including a anti-varroa measures); 3)annual replacement of the queens are the most obvious ways.

    What they do is beneficial to us, in the air dominance competition.

    Just do the opposite....
    Let the desired colonies to 1)build natural comb and 2)produce as much drone as they desire and 3)maintain the desired queen for as long as possible (they can produce drone up to 5-6 years and should be let to do so).
    I like the idea of maintaining special drone-generating units by design using old desired queens - really, a no-brainer thing to do. Costs about nothing (some old hive in a corner will do).
    Last edited by GregV; 12-11-2018 at 09:49 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  6. #25
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    Apr 2016
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    Cincinnati, OH
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    321

    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Regarding QE and honey harvest: You can run unlimited brood until the end of the flow, then smoke or shake everybody down and add the QE. come back in a month and all the brood is out of the honey. Harvest what you wish, remove the QE and done. Its a bit more work, but with a small number of hives not too bad. Leave an upper entrance open if there are drone cells.
    Mistakes are the best taechers

  7. #26
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    Jul 2013
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    Morro Bay, California, USA
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    2,247

    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    ---
    Last edited by JWChesnut; 12-11-2018 at 12:17 PM.

  8. #27
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    May 2011
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    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Some people will place a +value on pollen in their honey but the majority of buyers are put off by the haze and eventual (as they see it) scum it produces when it rises to the top and streaks through the contents if you invert the jar; Eye appeal suffers.

    I have only limited experience with unlimited brood area and upper entrances but it appeared to result in much more pollen in the honey and quicker crystallization in storage.
    Frank

  9. #28
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    Jun 2018
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    Boaz, KY, USA
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    Michael Bush:

    Thank you for your feedback on my post- I am honored. I've spent many an hour reading your thoughts on beekeeping based on your experience and I am always impressed with the amount of consideration that goes into each of your recommendations. Ultimately, I find it hard to argue against your logic and rationale.

    Your comment about the SBB's and trays being a means to extend the life of your bottom boards makes perfect sense to me, and it is not something I had considered.

    Thank you for providing your perspective, and always feel welcome to share any words of wisdom you have!
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  10. #29
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    GregV:

    Good response. I will save it for another post, but I am convinced as of now that natural comb is the way to go. I realize there are more factors involved in overall colony health and disease/pest resistance than we can ever hope to pin-down, but I *think* that natural comb at a bare-minimum can do no harm (I am prepared to be proven completely wrong).

    That said, I am speaking from a very narrow vantage point, so all I am prepared to say at this point is that I plan to move from small-cell foundation to foundationless to see what happens.
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  11. #30
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    Beebeard (love the handle, BTW):

    Thank you for the detailed description on using the QE after the flow- that was really helpful. I think this is similar to what Squarepeg is doing now if I understand him correctly.

    Also, great idea on the upper entrance- I hadn't thought through all that.

    I do run upper entrances, and found that the bees use both the lower and upper entrances extensively.

    I also made an interesting observation (or at least I thought so) that I'll share in a subsequent post.

    Thank you again for your input- I do appreciate you sharing. Feel welcome to chime-in anytime.
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  12. #31
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    Jun 2018
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    Boaz, KY, USA
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    Crofter:

    Thank you for your insight on unlimited broodnest- you make several excellent points.

    In truth, I have not been overly focused on the marketability of the end product just yet, so your points give one a lot to think about as I assume most of us (present company included) would like to have the fruits of our labor to be a product that people will want. So:

    Step 1- Keep bees alive.

    Step 2- Figure out how to make money with live bees.

    I've heard that beekeeping is for people who love work and hate money... and so far, my bee-owning fits this to a tee.

    In all seriousness, your points are helpful and I appreciate you sharing them. Please feel welcome to share your insights anytime.
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  13. #32
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    Jun 2018
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    Today's high of 58 and moderate temperatures predicted for the next several days allowed the opportunity to make proverbial lemonade out of lemons by putting some additional stores from two dead-outs on the two hives that remain alive.

    Prior to today, the two May-captured swarms were three and four medium boxes tall respectively and I added two and one boxes respectively to get them both at five 8-frame medium boxes tall. While they might yet die from a 100 other reasons this Winter, at least they won't die for lack of stores.

    My rationale for having them five high is that the consensus for successfully Checkerboarding in my area with 8-frame mediums is to have them this tall.

    Hive #3 was loosely clustered in the 3rd box (i.e. the previous top box) offset one frame to the South. Looked to be 2-1/2 - 3 frames of bees.

    Hive #4 is still down in the bottom of the hive. I was unable to evaluate cluster size as I did not want to tear their stack down.

    Both hives were moved to the previous locations of Hives #1 and #2 (April package dead-outs) this past Saturday (12.8) at a temperature of approximately 30 degrees F.

    Today was the first flying weather since, and the hives were both orienting. I saw approximately two-dozen bees flying around the area where Hive #3 was previously and I figured they had failed to orient prior to leaving their new location. As it were, I returned near dark and found no bees alighted on the adjacent trees nor saw any fliers, so I figured they were just making certain their home was really not there anymore...

    Both hives were bringing in some orange-yellow pollen, and I figure it was dandilion as there is not much blooming here now.

    It looks as though the 18 degree F low on Monday night (12.10) froze-out the one remaining nuc. Reminded me afresh to never make nucs in July again. I'll conduct a postmortem as soon as I can and see if there is anything interesting to report.
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    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  14. #33
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    I thought I would address my narrow perspective on regressed bees and small-cell in one post as it seems that they tend to go together. Indeed- it seems you can't have and maintain one without the other.

    Let me say at the outset that I have exactly one season under my belt relative to these paradigms, so I definately do not qualify as an expert- but I did stay at a Holiday Inn before writing this post. 🙂

    In summation, my results this year would suggest that these features may possibly fall into the category of "do no harm", but are certainly not a panacea. While I've lived long enough to not expect anything to work perfectly, I was surprised at how mites were able to reproduce seemingly unabated in this system despite my judicious adherence to the framework.

    Specifically, I installed two regressed packages in April on 4.9 mm foundation and installed according to Housel positioning and by early December, both were felled as a result of varroa infestation.

    Both packages built-up amazingly and completed the year by drawing-out 4-1/2 and 5-1/2 8-frame medium boxes respectively and were impressively staffed through the Spring flow.

    By having SHB trays, I was able to conduct defacto mite drops over the season and watched the drops climb before reaching a crescendo in early October with dead mites beyond count in both trays.

    On a positive note, this debacle allowed me to have plenty of drawn comb for the two remaining hives and allowed me an up-close view of what mite frass looks like.

    One key point I should mention (and I think it is important) is that I fed both hives extensively early in the year as suggested by the package supplier. While I will save a detailed evaluation on this for a later post, I am of the opinion that supplemental feeding has a big impact on mite reproduction. I am certain that this point is obvious to many of you. I am not saying that I think supplemental feeding is bad, but that supplemental feeding may induce continued brooding and thus increased mite reproduction, making TF beekeeping that much more difficult when feeding.

    As mentioned in previous posts, I also hived two swarms in early May. Similar to the packages, I fed the swarms, but not as extensively. As compared to the packages, the relative mite drops (unscientific as it was) were much lower in the swarms throughout the season and never rose above a couple dozen in a 48 hour sampling period. While I am not ready to declare that captured swarms are the path forward for treatment-free in my area, I can say that the swarms mitigated mite build-up better than the packages under similar conditions.

    As such, one of my immediate goals for next year will involve attempting to hive more captured swarms for further evaluation.

    So after one year of beekeeping without any external mite treatments (SHB trays aside), the only conclusion I can draw thus far is that low mite loads are better than high mite loads all other factors equal- and that it seems to me that one of the main factors to successful TF beekeeping is having bees which can internally manage mite load throughout the year without external management. Obvious, I know- but important for figuring out how to make such an approach sustainable year-over-year.
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    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  15. #34

    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    As mentioned in previous posts, I also hived two swarms in early May. Similar to the packages, I fed the swarms, but not as extensively.
    Was there a difference in the autumn (before collapse) strength of the packages versus swarms?

  16. #35
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    May 2013
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    Vernon, AZ. USA
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    After trying every type of treatment free thing that is put out there, it seems like most of it is hooey.

    Odfrank's post sums it up more eloquently than I would.

  17. #36
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    Juhani:

    Good question. Both of the packages were stronger in terms of total hive numbers prior to collapse. I believe that part of the difference is that both hived swarms significantly slowed brood production during our dearth (early July - mid September this year) while the packages slowed a bit but not nearly as significantly. I expect that supplemental feeding could have contributed to this discrepancy, though Hive #4 (swarm) was fed approximately equally (intermittent) to the packages during this time as it was slow to build-up in general. Also, I expect contributing to the dynamic was that I observed two supercedures this year:

    Hive #1 (package) superceded in early June.

    Hive #4 (swarm) superceded in late August.

    I imagine that this late supercedure helped contribute to lower mite pressure in this particular hive.

    I welcome your input, as I know you have studied this dynamic in great detail.

    Thank you always for your help. Have a great day.
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  18. #37
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    jadebees:

    Thank you for your response. I sincerely appreciate you sharing.

    Part of my reason for starting this post was to give honest evaluations of the various TF techniques/management decisions that I've tried (and plan to try) from a rank amateur's perspective to hopefully help others who are just starting out in the future to consider some of the things you can't really appreciate (good or bad) until you've tried them on for size.

    I have no allusions of guaranteed success and hope that this forum can be of help to others in the future succeed or fail.

    Thanks again for sharing.

    Russ
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  19. #38
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    Dec 2015
    Location
    Sawyer County,WI USA
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    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Very cool, very friendly discussion here. I applaud everyone offering their perspective and opinions.

    A lot has changed since I first became acquainted w/ honeybees, as a laborer tending a migratory (1500-2000 colonies) operation in the mid 70's. After that experience I was an off and on Bee 'haver' for over 30 years, finally becoming a bee 'keeper' around 2007. There has been LOTS of changes since then, many of which have been adopted in our small beeyard (room for about a dozen colonies) located in the forests of northwest Wisconsin.

    Standardized equipment was/is an efficient and easy conversion to make (all mediums) and I have MB to thank for that (I printed his book off the internet, then bought a copy once it was officially published).

    All was going well with acceptable losses (sometimes no loses at all) for several years until 2016 when a commercial beekeeper began setting up yards all around us ( 3 of them w/in 2 miles of us) and we were inundated w/ mites, loosing all 8 of our colonies before Spring (at least 3 of which had been going strong for 3 years or more). All that's left of those other yards is the fencing, they didn't place any hives around us last summer (Hoo-Ray!), I think they went BUST, but don't know for sure since we never saw the Beek. Yesterday with just a little bit of sunshine, no wind and a temp of 28F, we had bees flying/pooping and dragging out the dead in all 3 of our winter hives the way they're supposed to. If they make it to the first dandelions they will be split depending on that first inspection.

    The primary thing we do differently now then in 2007 (thanks to the wisdom offered from Tom Seeley) is to keep our colonies small (2 mediums max broodnest), along with over-wintering a few Nucs, brought back the Q excluders after years of non use (glad I didn't pitch them out), in order to keep them small, allow swarming (we no longer fret about swarming) to take place OR simply/preferably split strong colonies at the appropriate time. We end up spending a little more time with each hive this way, but I aint gonna complain about that.

    So, after loosing all of our bees 2 summers ago (a disheartening first) we've re-invented our methods of keeping bees alive in Northern Wisconsin with that emphasis alone. We've always felt that a good honey harvest was secondary to keeping them alive so little has changed in that regard.

    Thanks again for this discussion.

    We remain;l TF, all mediums and foundationless since 2007.

    Good Luck to all in 2019!

  20. #39
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Richmond, VA, USA
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    324

    Default Re: Treatment-Free Bungling 2018 - ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    I am of the opinion that supplemental feeding has a big impact on mite reproduction. I am certain that this point is obvious to many of you. I am not saying that I think supplemental feeding is bad, but that supplemental feeding may induce continued brooding and thus increased mite reproduction, making TF beekeeping that much more difficult when feeding.

    As mentioned in previous posts, I also hived two swarms in early May. Similar to the packages, I fed the swarms, but not as extensively. As compared to the packages, the relative mite drops (unscientific as it was) were much lower in the swarms throughout the season and never rose above a couple dozen in a 48 hour sampling period. While I am not ready to declare that captured swarms are the path forward for treatment-free in my area, I can say that the swarms mitigated mite build-up better than the packages under similar conditions.
    Your experience mirrors mine. I started my first year with two Georgia packages and fed them like crazy. They were productive. I actually got to take 20 pounds of honey. They were dead by the beginning of November. I'm not sure about your feeding theory, but I am beginning to wonder...

    Since then, I've purchased two nucs and one other package. Most of the rest of my bees were acquired through swarms. The only bees that have made it through winter are from swarms. I seldom feed bees now, unless the hive seems light in the fall. Even then, I tend to underfeed, and then put sugar bricks on the frames of the top box.

  21. #40
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    Jun 2018
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    Boaz, KY, USA
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    Drummerboy:

    Thank you for your interesting and helpful post. I really enjoyed learning about your TF experience over the past 10 years. That means you have ten times more experience than I do!

    One common refrain among TF beekeepers seems to be that local dynamics have a huge impact on the success or failure of one's individual yard(s), and it sounds like your experience reflects that too?

    It is also neat to hear about how you are adapting to the changing dynamic- I assume you are keeping your colony volumes small to mimic typical feral conditions?

    If I might ask, what has been the genetic source(s) of your bees over the years? I'm not asking for names, just were they standard packages, regressed, VSH, caught swarms, etc.?

    Finally, I appreciate you outlining your goals, as it reminded me that success in beekeeping is something we get to define based on our overall reason for practicing and what we hope to get out of it.

    I am glad you shared, and please always feel welcome to offer your words of wisdom or observations you have made.

    Russ
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

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