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  1. #21
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by drummerboy View Post
    ... Now we have two yards ....
    Hehe..

    I got six yards at the moment for just 10 live units.
    Wanting to call farmer nearby (she is looking for a bee hive to host) - if lucky, that will make it seven yards.

    The biggest yard for now is my back yard - 4 units - too many.
    Someone already wrote an anonymous complaint about my backyard bees pestering them (during the heaviest yellow jacket season - of course - it figures).

    My maximum single yard target population - three units.
    If have more units at a single site, I will move some units do an alternate location.
    The target minimum single yard population - two units; not always possible but I try for it.
    I am trying to keep hives 5-10 meters away from each other at any single location (not always possible but trying; the little backyard is a problem).

    The key is selecting the locations strategically and efficiently.
    All my yards are located along my typical daily routes and I often just check the bees after taking kids to school, etc.
    The longest drive is no more than 5 miles one way directly.
    Also, the yards are located so that I can just make one circular drive and hit all of my yards at once (the entire round-trip drive is under 20 miles).
    All it is to it.

    The biggest reason I am doing this - apiary redundancy and avoiding feed-lot types of situations (again - not natural for the bees) .
    Last edited by GregV; 01-14-2019 at 10:20 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

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  3. #22
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Hehe..

    I got six yards at the moment for just 10 live units.
    Wanting to call farmer nearby (she is looking for a bee hive to host) - if lucky, that will make it seven yards.
    .
    Well, sounds like I got me the seventh location too (near a very good late summer pasture).
    That probably a reasonable max for me for the time being - need more bees.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  4. #23
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Has anyone else besides me actually read the BC article by Seeley? Its in the latest issue, but NOT the first time he's offered info/data on the subject/topic.

    It'd be great if we were all at least talking about the same thing instead of assuming, no?

    GregV, you gotta get out of Dane County Bro, there's still lots of forest in Northern Wisconsin, despite over 100 years of logging and development.

    In fact I can still see a few old (3-400 year old) white pines from our back door. They really do stand out this time of year.

    The burning that took place in the 20's and 30's after the theft of the White Pine, replenished and then prepared the region for what today is a pretty diverse stand of trees. Do I wish we logged less? Heck Ya! Lots of logging around here takes place during winter months (often in the middle of the night), so whatever may/might be living in or nearby a selected tree/log is very likely doomed, whether it be a colony of Honeybees, a family of squirrels or raccoons, woodpeckers...etc....the list is very long.

    But as we all know, profit usually trumps life in this world, no?

  5. #24
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by drummerboy View Post
    It'd be great if we were all at least talking about the same thing instead of assuming, no?
    fair point and i agree. for those of us that don't have access to the article you mention can you give us a cliff note synopsis of what's there, and more specifically how you are interpreting and implementing 'darwinian' beekeeping.

    from what you have written so far it sounds like that is taking the form of no treatments, limiting the number of hives per yard, and more spacing/staggering of the hives.

    and no, profit doesn't have to trump life, but in the universe of beekeepings profit can certainly occupy a higher rung on the ladder for some compared to others, and that isn't inherently a bad thing.

    i noticed in one of your other posts that you are a military veteran. many thanks for your prior service db!
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  6. #25
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by drummerboy View Post
    Has anyone else besides me actually read the BC article by Seeley? ...........

    GregV, you gotta get out of Dane County Bro, there's still lots of forest in Northern Wisconsin, despite over 100 years of logging and development.
    I think, DB, those Tom Seeley ideas have been posted and discussed 2-3 years ago, at least.
    I do not have the magazine to read, but the idea has been around.
    At least this is not new to me.
    For example:
    https://www.beesource.com/forums/sho...36#post1496136

    So yes, you may have noticed by now how I have 1)several small, redundant and separate bee yards and 2)working on how to run the smaller individual units.

    Regarding the North WI forest - we do get out! We do!
    Last two summers we did the Door County camping.
    But do point me to something of interest in your area - we could just drop by while summer camping and check out your bees.
    North WI is a camping paradise, no doubt.

    Regarding the old growth - you see, few old trees do not constitute habitat (especially, healthy old trees).
    Really good habitat is when you have totally unmanaged old growth with lots and lots of dead/half-dead trees where finding a cavity is really, really easy.
    Basically, this is a pile of trash, not a forest (from human point of view).
    Until the last 100-200 year, most forests looked just like it - trash.
    Then clear-cutting occurred in most places (West Euro cleared the forests even before that - 500-600-700 years ago).
    Then managed forests came along where the sick/dead/dying trees just taken down - bee trees taken off-line.

    Bees need not be flying miles and miles looking for that elusive hole in a tree - what we have today.
    One should be standing in the forest any place and just looking from a single spot seeing 10-20-30 holes around you right there - that is good habitat.
    While there are few older pines and oaks standing above the forest here and there - this is not a bee habitat.
    Dead/half-dead trees are promptly removed from most areas now days - they call it forest management.
    Last edited by GregV; 01-15-2019 at 10:14 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  7. #26
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    So Drummerboy’s admonition challenged me to look this up. I went to Bee Culture and found two recent articles which speak to Darwinian Beekeeping:

    https://www.beeculture.com/bee-audacious/

    Just a few of the management paradigms in this beekeeping philosophy include:

    1. Smaller colony sizes closer to that of average wild colonies;
    2. More space between apiaries, fewer colonies per apiary, and more distance between colonies within apiaries;
    3. Use of local queens, selected and reared for local conditions;
    4. Reduced or no swarm control, and capturing swarms to initiate new colonies and replace colonies that have died;
    5. No chemical disease or pest management, allowing natural selection to play a stronger role.

    Darwinian beekeeping may be best suited to hobbyists or sideline beekeepers, but many elements in this management philosophy would be adaptable for commercial beekeeping as well.


    https://www.beeculture.com/bees-in-trees/

    Some key managements to “natural” Langstroth hive beekeeping, based on what he finds common to bees living in trees, are:

    1. Average in the wild is 2.5 colonies per square mile; space colonies as widely as possible
    2. Use small nests; one deep and one shallow; make less honey but colony healthier
    3. Use rough cut lumber on inside of hive to increase propolis coating
    4. Maintain 10% to 20% drone comb, as found in feral tree nests
    5. Keep nest structure and orientation and frame location in hive intact; do not reverse boxes in Spring. Do not disturb colonies in Winter; don’t supplementally feed syrup or pollen
    6. Don’t use top entrances and limit bottom opening to two-inch opening.


    This article also referred to a recent presentation that Dr. Seeley gave at EAS:

    https://www.easternapiculture.org/im...ping-EAS17.pdf

    … bees are superb “beekeepers.”
    They have been “beekeeping” for a long time

    1. Colonies genetically adapted to their location
    2. Colonies live widely spaced in woods
    3. Colonies live in small nest cavities (ca. 1 deep hive body) and swarm freely
    4. Nest cavity walls are coated with propolis
    5. Nest entrance is high off ground (avg. ca. 25 feet)
    6. Colonies have diverse pollen sources
    7. Colonies are not treated for diseases.
    8. Colonies build drone comb freely; produce many drones

  8. #27
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    i noticed in one of your other posts that you are a military veteran. many thanks for your prior service db!
    I heartily second this sentiment- we appreciate you!

  9. #28
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    I have read Seeley's article recent BC issue. Agree pretty much with everything and would love to separate my colonies further apart. The biggest issue is the bear pressure where I am in Central Vermont means an extensive, powerful and strong fence. Can't do that and spread them out. So for now I have 15 colonies all different colors, different directions facing...do what I can.

  10. #29
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Last fall I decided to give Selley's ideas a try.

    I think I have the perfect set up to see what happens with Darwinian Beekeeping. I have 170 acres in an agriculture/timber area. I'm a hobbyist that doesn't worry about how much honey I'm getting from my hives. Last fall I had 13 hives and right now I'm down to 8.

    One of Seeley's points, that I think is hardest for beekeepers to do, is to euthanize failing hives that have heavy mite loads. I started doing that last fall and ended up drowning 3 colonies in soapy water. It was tough but I want to faithfully try this method. I've never treated my hives but I do monitor.

    Another point is the distance between hives. I planned on moving my langstroths at least 30yards apart this spring. Just the other day, Jennifer Berry told me that they did a study at the University of Georgia that showed that you can get the same results (minimum drifting) from putting the hives in a circle with the entrances facing out. I'm going to try that because it's a lot easier on the beekeeping.

    I have 8 frame mediums and I plan to keep them to no more than 3 boxes. I also have top bar hives that have 24 bars. I will be putting out a ton of bait hives.

    I'm also going to break my cycle of buying bees. I'll work with whatever I have coming out of winter (unless I'm down to zero).

    My plan is to keep good records and see how this goes.

  11. #30
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by jjapple View Post
    I have read Seeley's article recent BC issue. Agree pretty much with everything and would love to separate my colonies further apart. The biggest issue is the bear pressure where I am in Central Vermont means an extensive, powerful and strong fence. Can't do that and spread them out. So for now I have 15 colonies all different colors, different directions facing...do what I can.
    Cool, doing what we can is still doing, right? Certainly this method wouldn't be acceptable for anyone keeping more than ? number of colonies....its definitely a Not-for-Profit form of keeping bees, but isn't the data telling us that most folks keeping bees never or rarely see a monetary profit for their efforts. I'm happy to break even and don't do that very often. We've had a great Honey season perhaps every 3-4 years, and we tend to have a great Bee season that follows suit.

    IMHO; if you just want some bees, are resistant to treatments, want to imitate a more natural habitat/conditions, Seeley's methods appear the most promising.

  12. #31
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Litsinger View Post
    I heartily second this sentiment- we appreciate you!

    This is not meant to be offensive, the sentiment is always appreciated, but as a VVAW life member I've said the following words whenever thanks are offered for my military service (I've got a sticker on the truck saying the same thing).

    Many Vets are understandably uncomfortable when hearing this form of appreciation from fellow citizens, while some Vets will readily wrap the sentiment around themselves like a Flag. My response to Thanks usually throws folks off kilter, but it also offers an opportunity to discuss ones feelings. Some are open to such discussion, some are horrified, I have dealt with both and more. None of us veterans had the same experience yet society lumps us all together, how we humans love to categorize everything and everybody.

    Fact is; Vietnam Vets were treated horribly when we returned home, most of my friends, acquaintances didn't speak of our service unless it was to another veteran. Since the 1st Gulf War, this has changed, now we place vets on a pedestal, whether deserving or not. The Military has always represented the society at large, it is full of both good and bad folks and at least 'this' veteran wishes more would realize this reality.

    So, does anyone still want to know what my steadfast answer is to those who thank me for my service? The following is my pat answer and an opening for dialogue.

    "Thank you for your consideration, but if you want to thank me for my service, work for peace"

    Sorry for the rant, but this particular subject is admittedly a sore spot with me.

  13. #32
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    I haven't been active on Beesource, but I do get the "trending forums" emails occasionally, so I just read this thread. I am a hobby beek myself and have gone the more natural route in my beekeeping efforts. Sometimes successful, other times not so much.
    As a Vietnam vet myself ('68-'69), I appreciate DB's last response. Maybe slightly off topic, but still needed to be said, IMHO. When I returned home in '69, I did not experience the hostility that some did, but it was a pretty cold reception from some of my friends. It was a very unpopular war. I'm glad that vets are getting the recognition they deserve now. But as DB pointed out, the actions of some folks are honorable, and some less so. Just like right here stateside. So, thanks for the recognition, and just remember, there are true heroes in any vocation, there are just the regular guys doing their job, and there are a few scoundrels mixed in as well. We need to be careful about putting people on a pedestal just because they are part of any certain large group of individuals.

  14. #33
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Kathleen Bourn View Post
    One of Seeley's points, that I think is hardest for beekeepers to do, is to euthanize failing hives that have heavy mite loads. I started doing that last fall and ended up drowning 3 colonies in soapy water. It was tough but I want to faithfully try this method. I've never treated my hives but I do monitor.
    Kathleen:

    I enjoyed reading about your efforts. If you don't mind sharing, what are you using as your benchmarks to decide when you need to step-in regarding a failing colony?

    Thanks again for the outline-

    Russ

  15. #34
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by drummerboy View Post
    Sorry for the rant, but this particular subject is admittedly a sore spot with me.
    Drummerboy:

    I respect your position. My father is an combat veteran of Vietnam, and we have had many frank conversations about the past, present and future of military service and of culture in general. While I cannot speak from first-hand experience, I am well-aware of the indelible mark that serving our country during the Vietnam era (and in combat) has made on my dad.

    I do sincerely appreciate that you served, and I wholeheartedly share your desire for peace.

    Respectfully,

    Russ

  16. #35
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    I'm wondering about the comments about having a small entrance at the bottom and none at the top, with the brood nest at the bottom. The wild hives I saw had various entrances and brood nests were all at the top with honey below and to the sides. I wonder if queen excluders cause issues. Do those of you following the Darwinian ideas find that the queens move the brood nest to the top?

    The oldest hive I pulled filled about 8 feet top to bottom and the others were expanding to that size. Around here oak trees often get hollows as they age. Some of them can be hollow in the center, not just a small cavity created by a lost branch. This makes me wonder about the assertion that the hives should be kept small. If you use this method, what is your opinion on the need for a small hive that won't allow them to store large amounts of honey. FWIW, the second largest hive I pulled yielded over 40# of honey and had more in there that I didn't manage to harvest or that was fed back to them. Maybe the issue is standard boxes are wide and the square footage the goal.
    Last edited by Jadeguppy; 01-18-2019 at 03:40 PM.
    Beek since 2016: Hardiness Zone 9a: in NW Florida

  17. #36
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    i'll make a deal with you msl. if i should ever end up with a colony in the late season that is heavily mite infested and has dwindled so small that there is no chance for surviving winter, i'll sell it to you for $398, you can apply the $2 treatment, and resell for $600. an easy $200 for you, right?

    i've been lucky in that winter has done all the euthanizing for me so far. i did have a colony several years ago that got down to a couple handful of bees by late fall and alcohol wash revealed there were more mites than bees in the hive. i shook them out, but later regretted not placing them in the freezer.

    if one buys into the idea that there is a selection process taking place with the mites and the viruses as well as the bees, (and i do), then euthanizing makes good sense as it causes a genetic dead end to the colony collapsing mites and viruses as well as the bees.

    in the treatment free context, by the time a colony reaches the point of being a candidate for euthanizing it's way too late to consider a treatment. it is what i will do going forward if i ever find a colony like the one described above.

    kathleen, another option is plugging up the entrance and placing the hive in a deep freeze for a few nights. remove the top after the first night.
    We used to just 'dump' our dink colonies (dwindlers) on the ground in the Fall, allowing them to die or take up residence wherever they could. An old practice that is no longer advisable or practical for modern beekeeping due to obvious issues with disease, mites etc. We've since learned to just soap them dead so other colonies will have a better chance for survival. It gets easier after doing a few and you'll sleep better knowing that at least 'your' bees aren't spreading varroa around and back.
    Last edited by drummerboy; 01-19-2019 at 05:36 AM.

  18. #37
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Jadeguppy View Post
    I'm wondering about the comments about having a small entrance at the bottom and none at the top, with the brood nest at the bottom. The wild hives I saw had various entrances and brood nests were all at the top with honey below and to the sides. I wonder if queen excluders cause issues. Do those of you following the Darwinian ideas find that the queens move the brood nest to the top?

    The oldest hive I pulled filled about 8 feet top to bottom and the others were expanding to that size. Around here oak trees often get hollows as they age. Some of them can be hollow in the center, not just a small cavity created by a lost branch. This makes me wonder about the assertion that the hives should be kept small. If you use this method, what is your opinion on the need for a small hive that won't allow them to store large amounts of honey. FWIW, the second largest hive I pulled yielded over 40# of honey and had more in there that I didn't manage to harvest or that was fed back to them. Maybe the issue is standard boxes are wide and the square footage the goal.
    We still use both a top and a bottom entrance, thinking the bees like having more than one option. During Winter the top one (a small notch on inner cover bottom) is used more often by our bees, it allows moisture/condensation to escape and when its really cold (sub zero), frost at the top entrance ensures that we still have a live colony.

    As for queen excluders, we remain somewhat confused by Seeley's advise. He tells us to use excluders to confine queen in the bottom (a Deep or 2 mediums) which makes sense, but doesn't offer any advise (that I've seen, so far) on when (or if) to remove the excluder, so we do what we've always done whenever using excluders. Upon Winter wrap up time we just remove them, so the entire colony can move freely up into the honey stores. We'll keep doing that until we learn different.

  19. #38
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by SK47 View Post
    I haven't been active on Beesource, but I do get the "trending forums" emails occasionally, so I just read this thread. I am a hobby beek myself and have gone the more natural route in my beekeeping efforts. Sometimes successful, other times not so much.
    As a Vietnam vet myself ('68-'69), I appreciate DB's last response. Maybe slightly off topic, but still needed to be said, IMHO. When I returned home in '69, I did not experience the hostility that some did, but it was a pretty cold reception from some of my friends. It was a very unpopular war. I'm glad that vets are getting the recognition they deserve now. But as DB pointed out, the actions of some folks are honorable, and some less so. Just like right here stateside. So, thanks for the recognition, and just remember, there are true heroes in any vocation, there are just the regular guys doing their job, and there are a few scoundrels mixed in as well. We need to be careful about putting people on a pedestal just because they are part of any certain large group of individuals.

    Welcome Home, Brother.

  20. #39
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    db, just wanted to say thanks for helping me understand the veterans' side of it from a perspective that i was clueless about.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  21. #40
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    Default Re: Latest in Darwinian Beekeeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Kathleen Bourn View Post
    I think I have the perfect set up to see what happens with Darwinian Beekeeping. I have 170 acres in an agriculture/timber area. I'm a hobbyist that doesn't worry about how much honey I'm getting from my hives. Last fall I had 13 hives and right now I'm down to 8.
    kathleen, thanks for contributing to this thread. i see that hart county, ga is about the same latitude as jackson county, al. we should have the first rounds of brood underway and hopefully get to inspect in another month or so. please let us know how your remaining colonies do.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

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