According To This, I've Done Everything Wrong, & My Plans Are Not Good
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  1. #1
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    Default According To This, I've Done Everything Wrong, & My Plans Are Not Good

    https://youtu.be/o3qniBf7_U0

    First year beekeeper here. I live in garden zone 6b. I live smack dab in the middle of a city with a population of over 400,000, but am within our local ordinances with my hives. There are other beekeepers within a 5 mile radius that I know of. All of the years I have lived here, my organic landscape has always been abuzz with foraging honeybees and various other pollinators.

    I have (2) 10 frame Langstroth hives - one has a nucleus colony of Caucasians with VSH bred into their line which I installed 5/3/19, the other was a package of Saskatraz that I installed on 4/27. I caused the Saskatraz to reject their queen only 9 days after she was freed from her cage. On discovering their queenlessness, I made a split into a 5 frame nuc with a few of the queen cells they had constructed, and left the rest of the queen cells in the 10 frame hive with about half the nurse bees. All of my frames have the Acorn plastic foundation. I re-queened the 10 frame hive with a mated Bee Weaver Queen last Thursday (I haven't even checked to make sure she's released yet, because the queen introduction sticky on this forum has set me firmly straight on my micro-managing of these poor bees), and I re-queened the 5 frame nuc with another mated Saskatraz queen last Friday...I just didn't have enough faith that my virgins would return successfully mated - I wanted to ensure going into my first winter with at least 2 hives.

    I have fed with 1:1 sugar syrup, artificial pollen powder, and pollen patties in each hive top feeder since installing these colonies. I also have an open feeding station about 150' away from my hives with (2) wild bird waterers containing 1 tsp himilayan pink sea salt:1 qt water, a 3rd waterer containing plain water, and a 4th with 1:1 sugar syrup with a tsp of Honey B Healthy:1 qt water.

    In the Caucasian colony, I've spotted deformed wings, and received the Oxalic Acid Vaporizer I ordered this week. I planned to treat at least 3x @ 5-7 days apart...These bees have displayed VSH behavior in uncapping pupae & rejecting it from the hive, and in my last inspection, I found a legless mite on one of my fingers.

    In the 10 Frame Newly re-queened to ultra hygienic Bee Weaver hive, my Mentor showed me how to spot mites on the pull out tray under the screened bottom board, and we found 3 live mites on it a week and a half ago. So my plans were to treat this hive and the 5 frame nuc I split it into the same as the Caucasians.

    Am I just setting my hives up for failure at battling diseases with all my "helping"? How does one decide to take the leap of faith from conventional to TF beekeeping? I need guidance on both sides of the issue. I have guidance on the treatment side; and I'm hoping some of you in this part of this forum may be willing to invest some time into educating me as to what you would do in my situation?

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  3. #2

    Default Re: According To This, I've Done Everything Wrong, & My Plans Are Not Good

    Michael Bush is a great resource for natural beekeeping. The argument goes that current crisis is a result of treatment and a shrinking gene pool. Will you lose bees/hives if you don't treat? Possible. But the hives that survive will be strong.

    I've only bought bees once. Rather then buying bees, I bought a bee vacuum and have my wife prowl local facebook mom groups for people who need bee removals done. The bees I capture have always been extremely hardy and generally also very productive, those are untreated bees, and I don't treat. I have never lost a hive to disease.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: According To This, I've Done Everything Wrong, & My Plans Are Not Good

    "How does one decide to take the leap of faith from conventional to TF beekeeping? "

    As a 1st year beek, you don't. Learn how to keep them alive the same way everyone else does 1st, then learn TF and any other thing you want to learn or try. The learning curve is steep enough and the hobby is expensive enough just starting out that it is best to just follow "the standard" until you have a good handle on things.

    A quick search on here will find lots of 1st year beeks that want to try TF. Those that stick around are usually buying bees the next spring and the one after that. TF is an art, not just letting them go. I don't pretend to know what they do or how they do it...but I respect what they are doing.

  5. #4

    Default Re: According To This, I've Done Everything Wrong, & My Plans Are Not Good

    Some remarks:

    How high is your infestation level? If you donīt know there is little ground doing treatments. My TF hives have hundreds of mites all the time. TF beekeeping is getting along with mites.

    Some colony "displayed VSH behavior". You probably mean uncapped or spotted brood. If so, they are no evidence on VSH behavior, which has to measured in microscopic investigations (opening hundreds of capped brood cells and counting mites with offpring). All bees, mite resistant or not, take out brood if the conditions are right.

    Why are you feeding? I feed sugar in the autumn to give them proper food for our 6 months winter, but otherwise bees should be all right with what they get from 3 miles radius around them.

    Who has been doing the VSH breeding with Caucasian bees? Just for interest, Iīm not aware of.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: According To This, I've Done Everything Wrong, & My Plans Are Not Good

    >How does one decide to take the leap of faith from conventional to TF beekeeping?

    How does one decide to quit smoking? You decide.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  7. #6
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    Default Re: According To This, I've Done Everything Wrong, & My Plans Are Not Good

    Quote Originally Posted by BumblingBeek View Post
    ..... How does one decide to take the leap of faith from conventional to TF beekeeping? ........
    I feel many things in TF sources are left unsaid (by design or by ignorance or by whatever).

    A typical case:
    - a beekeeper plugs into an existing population of resistant feral bees
    - this beekeeper then brags how he/she is very successful in TF and "teaches" others about the TF methods, and yet never mentions of the existing feral population around him/her that really IS the key to success.

    Just one example.

    More advanced/hard approach - establish a resistant population yourself.

    Based on what I know now - take the time and read the TF forum end to end.
    Then come back if still have questions/comments.
    No one has time & energy to repeat to you what have been retold x1000 times.

    If looking for a quick fix - might as well drop it now and move on to other things.
    Simply following some PowerPoint presentation with "few simple steps" (a typical cliche, really) will not do it for you.
    Last edited by GregV; 06-13-2019 at 08:44 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  8. #7

    Default Re: According To This, I've Done Everything Wrong, & My Plans Are Not Good

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    I feel many things in TF sources are left unsaid (by design or by ignorance or by whatever).

    A typical case:
    - a beekeeper plugs into an existing population of resistant feral bees
    - this beekeeper then brags how he/she is very successful in TF and "teaches" others about the TF methods, and yet never mentions of the existing feral population around him/her that really IS the key to success.

    Just one example.

    More advanced/hard approach - establish a resistant population yourself.

    Based on what I know now - take the time and read the TF forum end to end.
    Then come back if still have questions/comments.
    No one has time & energy to repeat to you what have been retold x1000 times.

    If looking for a quick fix - might as well drop it now and move on to other things.
    Simply following some PowerPoint presentation with "few simple steps" (a typical cliche, really) will not do it for you.
    this is a very good point, TF depends highly on the stock of bees you've got. If they were bought bees and non local, then you're asking for failure with TF.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: According To This, I've Done Everything Wrong, & My Plans Are Not Good

    Quote Originally Posted by Juhani Lunden View Post
    Some remarks:

    How high is your infestation level? If you donīt know there is little ground doing treatments. My TF hives have hundreds of mites all the time. TF beekeeping is getting along with mites.

    Some colony "displayed VSH behavior". You probably mean uncapped or spotted brood. If so, they are no evidence on VSH behavior, which has to measured in microscopic investigations (opening hundreds of capped brood cells and counting mites with offpring). All bees, mite resistant or not, take out brood if the conditions are right.

    Why are you feeding? I feed sugar in the autumn to give them proper food for our 6 months winter, but otherwise bees should be all right with what they get from 3 miles radius around them.

    Who has been doing the VSH breeding with Caucasian bees? Just for interest, Iīm not aware of.
    Fair enough on the mite count. I have not done an alcohol wash, but I do have the screened jars to do one now. I have just been told that seeing deformed wings means treatment needs to be done yesterday, and finding the 3 mites on the screened bottom board pull out tray prompted my local mentor to advise me treatment would be wise soon, but it's not an urgent situation at this point.

    The VSH behavior I was talking about the Caucasians displaying is both ejecting the pupae prior to full development, and that mite that had its legs chewed off. I read that that is VSH behavior when they chew their legs off. If these two things are not evidence of VSH behavior, then I appreciate the correction ).

    I am feeding because I have been advised that it will assist the Saskatraz package in drawing out their comb much faster (I had no drawn comb available to provide). It's hot weather now, but when I first got these 2 colonies, it was in the 40's at night and we had many rainy, windy, cold days. I was told they won't be drawing any comb until the weather heats up unless I provided sugar water. Also, the comb that came with the Caucasians is truly nasty looking, black, and my favorite beekeeping store owner has told me he has stopped purchasing nucs because of the chemical build up in all that old comb that comes with them. I wish I had met this guy prior to pre-paying for this nucleus colony. He said it would be best if I helped them draw new comb asap by keeping feed constantly fresh until I can cycle out the old stuff. This nuc was exceedingly weak with not even close to enough bee coverage (that's a whole other story) but my mentor did bring me 2 frames of his own capped brood w/adhering nurse bees to bolster their numbers in an attempt to save the colony. I was told when I posted pictures that what I was sold wouldn't have even filled a 2 frame nuc. We used a reducer board to take the hive down to 3 frames of brood w/entirely drawn comb, 1 frame of resources, and a 5th frame of partially drawn comb for them to expand into once the population booms. My mentor says they should stop taking the feed any time now due to the nectar flow our warm weather will be bringing, but for now they are still actively consuming the sugar water.

    The Caucasians with VSH bred into their lines that I purchased is from Old Sol Apiaries in Oregon. I didn't buy directly from that Apiary. My seller said all of his breeder stock was purchased from there and his daughter queens have been selected for the VSH behavior.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: According To This, I've Done Everything Wrong, & My Plans Are Not Good

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    >How does one decide to take the leap of faith from conventional to TF beekeeping?

    How does one decide to quit smoking? You decide.
    Education is the key, I believe. I have been listening to your YouTube videos as I do my data entry at work, and I am ordering your Practical Beekeeping books when I get paid this Friday. Even though what I'm gleaning from your videos goes against most of the accepted local beekeeping practices, I am a naturalist at heart and enjoy my garden so much more since learning and employing organic methods so many years ago. My naturalist inclinations led me to seek out types of bees with their own disease resistance...Bee Weaver Survivor Queen & Old Sol Caucasian for Varroa Sensitive Hygeine, & Saskatraz for the Trachael Mite & Brood Disease resistance, and they're also supposed to be 'Varroa Resistant'. The vast majority of beekeepers in my area have always kept Italians and Carniolans. Most local beeks here also have horrible winter survival rates, and treat like crazy...Despite treating like crazy...So, like a moth to a flame, here I am making a rather awkward introduction of myself to the TF forum ). I sure hope you guys can be patient with me, as I like to consider all sides of each issue I come across and ask far too many questions.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: According To This, I've Done Everything Wrong, & My Plans Are Not Good

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    I feel many things in TF sources are left unsaid (by design or by ignorance or by whatever).



    More advanced/hard approach - establish a resistant population yourself.

    Based on what I know now - take the time and read the TF forum end to end.
    Then come back if still have questions/comments.
    No one has time & energy to repeat to you what have been retold x1000 times.

    If looking for a quick fix - might as well drop it now and move on to other things.
    Simply following some PowerPoint presentation with "few simple steps" (a typical cliche, really) will not do it for you.
    Reading it is...Thanks for taking the time to reply.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: According To This, I've Done Everything Wrong, & My Plans Are Not Good

    I recommend you buy and read Tom Seeley's new book "The Lives of Bees". There are some chapters of heavy reading in there, but it is rewarding. (Some of the book is written on about a Freshman College level, and might be challenging for some students, but he has a great narrative voice and an engaging style. If you are going to learn bee biology, he's a pretty good teacher to have). The book analyzes the success of bees in the wild, gradually building towards a final chapter on Darwinian beekeeping, which tells how we can adopt those lessons to the apiary.

    He talks about 3 examples of managed and semi-managed populations of bees developing a stable host-parasite relationship with the mites and eventually thriving in a treatment-free environment. In all 3 cases there were extremely heavy losses during the first 5 years (80% or so ballpark figure). (Also, his book talks about queen mating and will likely convince you you should have kept your locally raised queens. They will fly as far as necessary to mate and were probably fine.)

    I'm beginning to doubt that a backyard beekeeper can actually be successfully treatment free with only 2 or 3 hives. (The people on this forum who are able to maintain population from year to year seem to run 20 - 50 hives). I'm trying my best to do it with 6 hives, but when my count approaches 10/100 bees and I see DWV, something has to be done. That can be "kill all the bees and mites so the weak bees and the strong mites are all dead". Or "treat and requeen" (soft bond). Or treat, and then don't allow that line to breed. Definitely "don't treat and allow the dead hive to mite bomb" is *not* an option and is what gives TF a bad name with other beekeepers. And I see dozens of beekeepers with that attitude in the local clubs. They are the epitome of "leave them alone beekeeping" and wonder why their bees "leave" every fall and they can't tell robbing from swarming. If you are lucky enough to have some feral survivors in the trees nearby, a mite bomb will kill them for sure.

    I'm not trying to judge, or preach, or spout words of doom. I think TF can work in the right circumstances. But, I am beginning to be convinced those circumstances are "an educated, hard-working and motivated beekeeper, with at least 15 or 20 hives, in a fairly remote location". I'm not sure it can work with 2 hives in a city no matter how hard you try. And I think "next door to a treating beekeeper with 10 hives all a foot apart from each other" is impossible.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: According To This, I've Done Everything Wrong, & My Plans Are Not Good

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    I feel many things in TF sources are left unsaid (by design or by ignorance or by whatever).

    A typical case:
    - a beekeeper plugs into an existing population of resistant feral bees
    - this beekeeper then brags how he/she is very successful in TF and "teaches" others about the TF methods, and yet never mentions of the existing feral population around him/her that really IS the key to success.

    Just one example.

    More advanced/hard approach - establish a resistant population yourself.

    Based on what I know now - take the time and read the TF forum end to end.
    Then come back if still have questions/comments.
    No one has time & energy to repeat to you what have been retold x1000 times.

    If looking for a quick fix - might as well drop it now and move on to other things.
    Simply following some PowerPoint presentation with "few simple steps" (a typical cliche, really) will not do it for you.
    well said. First time BK is having hard time trying to keep it alive for first year or two (yes some of you are able to jump in TF w/o issue). I am on the side of keeping it alive for couple years to get enough experience and connection then venture into TF. That way you might be able to diagnose the problem better whenever something came up.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: According To This, I've Done Everything Wrong, & My Plans Are Not Good

    One thing I would like to add, is you have an obvious mite infestation, and not a lot of bees to spare. I would not sacrifice any bees for a mite wash at this point. Nor would I attempt TF right now, because your population is too close to the edge. I would treat as soon as you reasonably can.

    Trying in the future from a healthy colony is another question.

    Disclaimer - I am not TF and have no expertise in that world.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: According To This, I've Done Everything Wrong, & My Plans Are Not Good

    Quote Originally Posted by bushpilot View Post
    One thing I would like to add, is you have an obvious mite infestation, and not a lot of bees to spare. I would not sacrifice any bees for a mite wash at this point. Nor would I attempt TF right now, because your population is too close to the edge. I would treat as soon as you reasonably can.

    Trying in the future from a healthy colony is another question.

    Disclaimer - I am not TF and have no expertise in that world.
    I'm getting from this thread that it's a much wiser course of action for me to first get successful winter survival under my belt utilizing conventional beekeeping practices, and that my hive count may be far too few to even try TF once I have achieved overwintering.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: According To This, I've Done Everything Wrong, & My Plans Are Not Good

    Quote Originally Posted by BumblingBeek View Post
    I'm getting from this thread that it's a much wiser course of action for me to first get successful winter survival under my belt utilizing conventional beekeeping practices, and that my hive count may be far too few to even try TF once I have achieved overwintering.
    no one here has your bees, your location, your temperament, your goals.

    when it comes right down to it most of the factors that will determine what happens with your colonies are things you don't have any control over. at least that has been my experience with it bb.

    so long as one acts responsibly with the colonies under their care and doesn't allow them to become a source for the spreading of diseases and pests to other nearby colonies, one should do whatever cranks their tractor with them.

    those predicting how one's experience will go are overestimating their ability to predict. although they can be the first to say 'i told you so'.

    by the same token should those having success managing colonies off treatments shouldn't be so quick to toot their own horns, again because they've really no more control over those factors than anyone else.

    the wisest course of action in my humble opinion bb is to get darn good at inspecting your bees and understanding what is going on with them. this and this alone should guide your management decisions. at any point if you are seeing spotty capped brood you really need to determine if that is do to a failing queen or the presence of diseases and pests.

    you'll have to make judgement calls along the way. some will pan out to be good calls and some won't. don't beat yourself up about the bad calls, but develop the strength to embrace the mistakes as moving you up a rung on learning curve.

    consider making a conscious decision to not become complacent with your level of beekeeping, because the factors that have more influence on what happens with your bees that what you do with them are anything but static.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  17. #16
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    Default Re: According To This, I've Done Everything Wrong, & My Plans Are Not Good

    BB:

    While I defer widely to the more experienced beekeepers on this forum, I have found that my efforts in TF beekeeping have become more rewarding the more I have learned to 'read' what the colonies are doing/dealing with. So I would echo Squarepeg's admonition to seek to continually increase your beekeeping skills through reading, interacting with the helpful folks on this forum and getting into your hives. Then regardless of where you ultimately land on the treatment continuum, you will be able to make rational and confident decisions about how to manage your colonies. Even as I offer this, please understand that I still have a long way to climb up the mountain of beekeeping knowledge, and still learn new things almost every day! Best of success to you in your efforts.

    Russ

  18. #17
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    Default Re: According To This, I've Done Everything Wrong, & My Plans Are Not Good

    Quote Originally Posted by BumblingBeek View Post
    ........ much wiser course of action for me to first get successful winter survival....utilizing conventional beekeeping practices......
    May be yes, may be no.
    You need to be really clear about the definitions and your program's philosophy.

    In case you did not notice - I am a brutal bee owner.
    The conventional beekeeping practices largely winter-worthy equipment and winter-worthy management.
    These - I try to improve on.

    Mites? I don't care. I let mite-susceptible bees to die off.
    Not winter-worthy bees? I let them die too. This winter was terrible in the "winter-worthy" department.
    That's brutal.

    Some of the dead bee are squarely my mistakes or mis-management (1-2 cases this past winter) - subject to improve.

    But overall, I mimic the nature's way because all the answers are in front of us and just need to be taken in:
    - lots of small colonies spread over the wide landscape - no high concentration in one single spot (technically - several out yards)
    - required seasonal swarming (technically - splitting) of the lines I want to preserve forward on
    - 100% natural comb oriented vertically (technically - in the brood-nest specifically)
    - maximum possible #s of drones from the desired colonies (so to influence the surrounding region)

    These are some of the ideas I am trying to implement so to create and maintain my own desirable population.
    Totally agree - if you keep only 3-4 colonies in a highly concentrated areas (a single yard surrounded by others) - might as well forget it.
    You either have strong existing TF population OR you create strong TF population OR forget it.
    If no TF bees on hand - get few TF queens (these are available) and propagate those like crazy so to maintain them afloat for 2 year (mandatory 2 years) so to release as much TF drone into the vicinity as possible.
    You must work with the surrounding population and leverage it (if desirable already) or influence it (if not desirable) or forget it.
    Last edited by GregV; 06-14-2019 at 07:48 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: According To This, I've Done Everything Wrong, & My Plans Are Not Good

    “Begin as you mean to go on, and go on as you began..”—C.H. Surgeon
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  20. #19
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    Default Re: According To This, I've Done Everything Wrong, & My Plans Are Not Good

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    “Begin as you mean to go on, and go on as you began..”—C.H. Surgeon
    C.H. Spurgeon, typo of course.

  21. #20
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    Default

    Oh yeah, baby! (I have the same feeling every time I open a new beekeeping book that I had on awakening Christmas morning as a child)
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