Treating to Become Treatment Free
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
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    South Hamilton, MA
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    Default Treating to Become Treatment Free

    Share your experiences and advice on using treatments to become treatment free (TF).
    David Smolinski USDA hardiness zone 6b

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    South Hamilton, MA
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    187

    Default Re: Treating to Become Treatment Free

    I have not overwintered yet. Swarms and packages have died in previous years. Typically the population goes from high to 0 in < 1 week in the fall.

    I am using strong treatments (oxalic acid vaporization) for the first time this year. I have 3 packages. I treated them in spring

    Treatments so far (done on all hives):
    1. 1 in spring
    2. a round on days 0, 2, 7, 12, 17 and ending on 7/19 (Without counting, each hive appeared to drop thousands of mites.)

    My bees:
    1. went from 0 hives to 3 packages this spring
    2. I'm not doing mite counts right now, and assuming they are not hygienic.
    3. After 1 month, they replaced all their queens.
    4. look Italian: I plan to steal honey boxes and give them back at the right times to control winter eating.
    5. all foundationless mediums
    6. small top and smaller bottom entrance
    7. insulated top cover
    8. screened bottom boards
    9. no excluders

    plans:
    1. Be TF in 3 years.
    2. If hives do well, order TF queens for the spring.
    3. Breed those queens and use excluders to include my bad drones.
    4. Treat next year's hives if they fail tests, and use the untreated hives for breeding and requeening treated hives.
    5. not treating swarms unless they fail a test
    David Smolinski USDA hardiness zone 6b

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
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    3,745

    Default Re: Treating to Become Treatment Free

    David, start your next treatment round of OAV this weekend. You should be able to count the drops this time around.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Fultonville,New York,USA
    Posts
    697

    Default Re: Treating to Become Treatment Free

    Small time bee keeper only 10 hives. I run all screened bottom boards. This time of year after i pull my last honey for the season i go into brood chamber and cover bee's with powdered sugar. They clean each other and mites fall off. So i guess i am chemical not treatment free lol. All my hives made it through winter last year knock on wood.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2018
    Location
    Northern Lower Michigan, USA
    Posts
    563

    Default Re: Treating to Become Treatment Free

    I plan to steal honey boxes and give them back at the right times to control winter eating.

    So this sounds hokey. how do you know when they are Hungary? if they want food and do not have it , it will end bad. opening them several times in winter is not advised. I have never heard of this kind of winter food management. My best suggestion is to find some one wintering bees in your area and talk to them about what they do to be successful. maybe start at a local Bee Club. the temperature is what controls winter eating, bees use the carbs to shiver with the wing muscles to produce heat. the word "Control" in this statement has me "concerned for your bees"
    GG

  7. #6
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    Apr 2017
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    Aylett, Virginia
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    3,745

    Default Re: Treating to Become Treatment Free

    I suspect that in MA you will need two 10 frame mediums of capped stores per hive going into winter. If your bees store more than that, maybe save it for spring but do not try to "manage" their carb intake. I missed a feeding on an overwintered nuc that had run out of stores and and they starved to death in four days.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Fultonville,New York,USA
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    697

    Default Re: Treating to Become Treatment Free

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    I suspect that in MA you will need two 10 frame mediums of capped stores per hive going into winter. If your bees store more than that, maybe save it for spring but do not try to "manage" their carb intake. I missed a feeding on an overwintered nuc that had run out of stores and and they starved to death in four days.
    I have similar climate. Mine survived last year on 1 deep and 1 med super full

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    South Hamilton, MA
    Posts
    187

    Default Re: Treating to Become Treatment Free

    Thanks for advice. I won't steel the honey. I thought Italians ate more. The colonies are about equal strength. They filled 27 frames 2 weeks ago, so I added boxes, and moved 1 brood frame up in each 4th box. After 1.5 weeks I checked the strong colony. It made 2 frames of new comb in the top box. I think they are in a dearth. We had record rain this whole season, and it rained heavy during the typical drought. I should probably feed now.

    the spring supersedures:
    They were foraging heavy in the spring, I open fed some honey and they ignored it for >3 days. The queens died in May or June. I swapped brood and queen cells 2 or 3 times at weekly intervals. I cut the walls of a small number of eggs/larvae cells on the bottom of comb, so they could make queens there. The queen cells were huge. The new queens made lots of brood.

    Treatments:
    The last round ended 7/19. I am definitely treating at the winter broodless time. Until then, I might do one more round.

    Some desirable features of the possible fall treatment round:
    1. low brood production (after the period of max deceleration)
    2. low rate of immigrant mites coming in
    3. low mites when winter bees are made

    Advice on when to treat and feed helps.
    David Smolinski USDA hardiness zone 6b

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    South Hamilton, MA
    Posts
    187

    Default Re: Treating to Become Treatment Free

    I finished my second 5 treatment OAV round <1 week ago. I don't have a scale on me. I evened out hives in late summer. They all have about 33 drawn medium frames. For honey, they have 1 frame on top, 6 frames in the next box down (with brood in other frames). I lifted the lightest hive, and estimate its 80 lbs without the outer cover. They now have top entrances only that are about 2-4 inches. I'm going to reduce some with wet toilet paper to make them even. I plan to open feed 33 lbs sugar per hive now. Once they take it, I will move the drawn frames in the top to one side and remove empties. This will give me a space to put in dry sugar in November and spring. I think I will feed some test sugar. This Friday to next Tues. will be 73-84 F. I hope they take this. In late spring, they ignored open fed honey for 3 days. I will probably treat after feeding. The brood production might accelerate during feeding, and I should treat when it decelerates.
    Last edited by SeaCucumber; 09-17-2019 at 01:09 PM.
    David Smolinski USDA hardiness zone 6b

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    10,038

    Default Re: Treating to Become Treatment Free

    When i went TF, it was cold turkey, no treatment at all, no matter what. Followed the advice being given at the time, that supposedly 10% of hives will survive, and they are the basis of your breeding stock.

    Turned out to be bad advice in my case anyway, cos I lost 100% of the hives. Total waste.

    So yes SeaCucumber, your approach of treating to achieve TF can be the more sensible path, sometimes. You have package bees, and report drops of thousands of mites, so without treatment, you would likely lose them all over winter. Replacing with TF queens in spring is also the correct next step.

    Just, people report that there are TF queens, and TF queens. Just be sure to get them from a reliable source.

    Re your current treatment regime, You have laid out a plan and an end date. But be ready to extend the end date, the end date should be when you are getting no more or at least minimal mite drop when the treatment is done. And other than that, pack plenty of food into those hives.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Location
    Boston, MA, USA
    Posts
    253

    Default Re: Treating to Become Treatment Free

    Model for becoming treatment-free:

    Darwinian Beekeeping by Tom Seeley
    https://www.naturalbeekeepingtrust.o...ian-beekeeping


    Darwinian black box selection for resistance to settled invasive Varroa destructor parasites in honey bees by Tjeerd Blacquie`re . Willem Boot . Johan Calis . Arrigo Moro . Peter Neumann . Delphine Panziera
    https://www.apiservices.biz/document...nce_varroa.pdf

    Selective Breeding For Mite-Resistance: Walking The Walk by Randy Olive
    http://scientificbeekeeping.com/sele...king-the-walk/

  13. #12
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    May 2013
    Location
    Shreveport, Louisiana, USA
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    2,506

    Default Re: Treating to Become Treatment Free

    Quote Originally Posted by SeaCucumber View Post
    Share your experiences and advice on using treatments to become treatment free (TF).
    Find a location to keep bees that has a robust and sustained population of feral bees nearby. Cutout some old established colonies, trap some feral swarms, or purchase some untreated and long established bees. Don’t treat them. Keep fairly small, natural sized colonies. Make nucs or trap swarms to replace colonies that are lost. Keep a few more colonies than you want to use for producing honey. Relax, take deep breaths, and let the bees sweat the hard stuff.
    David Matlock

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    West Bath, Maine, United States
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    2,365

    Default Re: Treating to Become Treatment Free

    Quote Originally Posted by Riverderwent View Post
    Find a location to keep bees that has a robust and sustained population of feral bees nearby. Cutout some old established colonies, trap some feral swarms, or purchase some untreated and long established bees. .
    I'm not moving!
    It is not true that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
    They can learn them, they just can't do them.

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    53,768

    Default Re: Treating to Become Treatment Free

    Everytime I see the suject of this thread I think of a saying of a friend of mine, which I can't repeat here, at least not the way he said it... but it went something like this "its like copulating for virginity"
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  16. #15
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    Dec 2008
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    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
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    Default Re: Treating to Become Treatment Free

    Or use non chemical methods.

    Crazy Roland

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Byron, Il, USA
    Posts
    354

    Default Re: Treating to Become Treatment Free

    Can't go treatment free with dead bees. Do whatever to keep them alive and, as you said, introduce more resistant bees if such are available. Rinse and repeat. I'm a little guy and it's blind luck if my current few hives are resistant at all. I got OA and I'll use it if they look mitey.

    Speaking of which, it's time for another deep dive into the hives. Won't be too much longer until numbers start to fall and that's when the mites get concentrated on fewer bees.

  18. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Dane County, WI, USA
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    2,900

    Default Re: Treating to Become Treatment Free

    I am going to say some heresy now...

    IMO no chem treatment is necessary at all for bees with near-zero resistance.
    In place of it - a forced late swarming will do (a late shook swarm done on the existing bees, for example - sometimes in mid/late August for my location).
    It is a mechanical manipulation and will be considered a "treatment" by some.
    Fine by me - this is not a chem intrusion and works in my book.
    Late bees swarms do occur naturally and every year I always caught late swarms (until this year).

    Since I have wintered successfully very late captured swarms (late August swarms, to be exact), I am pretty sure - that is a satisfactory way.
    If any of these died in my hands - it was due to poor equipment issues (e.g. I had a moisture case), not due to mite-related issues.

    Basically, you shake all bees into a resource-less hive (including the queen somewhere there) and have them start anew from near nothing (thus receiving a brood brake).
    You must support this hive - feed and provide empty combs if available.

    The remaining bees will keep all the resources and will support themselves (and even do some extra) and will have to raise a new queen (and thus receive a late brood brake).

    This move is contingent upon availability of the drones for mating.
    Pretty obvious.

    I am becoming of an opinion that a good doze of shocking the bees also shocks the mites.
    Mites LOVE it when the bees are successful and growing (which in turn allows the mites to be successful and keep growing as well).

    PS: as it turned out, this season I am running the late shook swarm case myself using a pretty worthless line of bees I happen to have (as reported in my "blog" thread);
    until this year I simply always had late swarms captured of any unknown origin and mites were the least of my concern with them - the later swarm, the less of a mite concern.
    Last edited by GregV; 09-18-2019 at 10:28 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  19. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    West Bath, Maine, United States
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    Default Re: Treating to Become Treatment Free

    Another heretic;

    What's the difference in "stress" on the bees (or soft Bond) between hard treating and soft treating? Either way you are making them survive in the hope you can spot the cure. If it were not for the 100 % problem, no treatment and breed from the survivors is the obvious long term path.

    Lecture all you want for "stressing" the bees, just don't be a 100% denier.
    It is not true that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
    They can learn them, they just can't do them.

  20. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Dane County, WI, USA
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    2,900

    Default Re: Treating to Become Treatment Free

    Quote Originally Posted by Saltybee View Post
    Another heretic;

    What's the difference in "stress" on the bees (or soft Bond) between hard treating and soft treating? Either way you are making them survive in the hope you can spot the cure. If it were not for the 100 % problem, no treatment and breed from the survivors is the obvious long term path.

    Lecture all you want for "stressing" the bees, just don't be a 100% denier.
    Who is 100% denier?

    Some of my bees died due to mites - beyond a reasonable doubt.
    But from that I learned few things to NOT repeat again AND I don't AND it helps.

    One such thing to avoid at all cost - transfer of brood frames between unrelated colonies.
    Killed few good bees by that.

    I'd rather reduce the survival chance but don't transfer brood again (with mites in it).
    That rule alone is a big consideration as for me.
    One routine advice I see a lot - "give 'em some brood".
    I say - ONLY from a related colony (mother or sister) if absolutely must.

    But more importantly, I don't care if few units tank.
    Good riddance.
    All I need to do - to have enough units on hand, so I can afford loosing few.
    Good units will usually stick around and it works out well.

    Stressing bees is good for them (at a reasonable level).
    Just as stressing myself is good for me (at a reasonable level).
    No stress is bad and is unhealthy.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  21. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    West Bath, Maine, United States
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    2,365

    Default Re: Treating to Become Treatment Free

    Manipulation is a form of treatment. A good logical treatment on the way to TF. A true feral is the only untreated bee, still waiting for one to land near me.

    There is still a tone of; " I'm purer than you, I only use natural, etc., you use chemicals."
    I will give most of those posters they are paying a lot more attention to improving the stock than I am. Whether they are looking at the right details I am not sure.

    I would not say you are a denier, more of a minimizer of the obstacles for others, but that is just my take.

    As for your path; keep up the good work and send those drones out into the field.
    It is not true that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
    They can learn them, they just can't do them.

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