Treating to Become Treatment Free - Page 3
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  1. #41
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    Default Re: Treating to Become Treatment Free

    >I am assuming those percentages are based off of average package/nuc purchases that come from treated (non-survivor) stock. But let's say I was willing to suffer the losses and work this plan for 10 years, keeping only "survivors." What can I expect my percentages to be in ten years? In 10 years, how many hives would I need to go into winter with to have a 99% chance of coming out with a single colony?

    A lot of places have losses in the range of 50% but mostly I picked it because it's easy to do the math.

    >You have been treatment free for 40 years. What are your loss percentages each year?

    It depends on the winter. In a "normal" winter about 80% survive (20% losses). In a very nice winter (cold enough to keep them from being too active but not a lot of sub zero weather) it probably runs 90% survival. But then I also try to overwinter smaller colonies than I used to since some of them do survive. I could cut that number by doing fall combines of the smaller colonies.

    >I believe you when you say that "treating is not a long term solution." But losing 1/2 or more of my hives every Fall/Winter is not a long term solution for me.

    If you split enough to make up the loses then you are staying even.

    >When should I start seeing the "survivor effect" in my apiaries and my tf losses start moving down?

    A lot of winter survival is good beekeeping and that takes both practice and study. For instance, you need to always insure you get that last batch of young bees going into winter. Some years there is not enough of a fall flow for this to happen. Some years it happens quite naturally. I'm not saying you are a bad beekeeper, but experience is a great asset to keeping bees alive.

    >I know there is no formula for this, but I am just trying to get an idea of what I could reasonably expect.

    Every year is different. Your other beekeeping practices have a lot to do with survival. A lot of people are treating and losing half or more of their bees. Sometimes all of them. Between viruses, mites, poor genetics, small gene pool, poor queens, getting bees through the winter has gotten hard. Check out the Bee Informed Partnership to compare treating with not treating and get average losses for your location under both circumstances. Then take into account that as you get more experience and as you make good decisions, like local treatment free stock, natural cell size, etc. you can improve on those numbers.
    Last edited by Michael Bush; 09-19-2019 at 10:22 AM. Reason: clarity
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

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  3. #42
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    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
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    Default Re: Treating to Become Treatment Free

    StevenG, a poster from years ago, is ..to the best of my knowledge....still treatment free. The source of his genetics was one of the Weavers. It always helps to stand on someone else's shoulders.

    Listen to Oldtimer also., it is obvious her has been around awhile (no offense intended).. Others are showing their inexperience (offense intended).

    Crazy Roland

  4. #43
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    Default Re: Treating to Become Treatment Free

    Quote Originally Posted by psm1212 View Post
    I will do that Greg. ....... It is going to be difficult for me to deal with 50% losses in perpetuity. I will need to see loss percentages trending downward at some point. I just don't know what point.

    Not sure I will have the patience or the stomach for this, but I want to do it.
    Well, like I have been ranting in my "blog" - one must work with the population (either existing or freshly created).
    Otherwise it is a looser.
    You can not sit on 2-3 hives and proclaim to be a TF - it is a looser.

    So - until you have such population, you are fighting a loosing battle.
    IF you have a big enough population already - you are in luck.
    ELSE - you must create the population and maintain it to your advantage (collaboration with others helps; bringing proven outside stock helps OR is mandatory, depending on the case).
    I have ranted enough already.
    This is exactly what I have been doing for the last couple of years, once I understood the subject well enough.
    Takes some patience and a cool head (some bees will die, then so be it).
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  5. #44
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    Default Re: Treating to Become Treatment Free

    Quote Originally Posted by Roland View Post
    StevenG, a poster from years ago, is ..to the best of my knowledge....still treatment free. The source of his genetics was one of the Weavers. It always helps to stand on someone else's shoulders.

    Listen to Oldtimer also., it is obvious her has been around awhile (no offense intended).. Others are showing their inexperience (offense intended).

    Crazy Roland
    I guess some of us, the inexperienced people here, are already running genetics from the Weavers..
    Meanwhile, OT's experience is not much applicable here anyway - we are in N. America of all places; NZ nuances are not much applicable.
    As OT himself stated - beekeeping is local.
    Moving along....
    Last edited by GregV; 09-20-2019 at 09:03 AM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  6. #45
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    Mar 2013
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    Default Re: Treating to Become Treatment Free

    I have to admit that I really hate the topic of treatment free vs. treating. It seems to bring out the worst in people and I have seen numerous poster leave, never to return because of the heated discussions that turned nasty. The reality in life is that under natural conditions, about 50% of all hive will perish in a given year. Here is why. If the land can support X number of hives, and every healthy hive swarms in the spring, you will now have 2X hives on land that can only support half that many. In a really good year, a bit more than 50% may survive, in a bad year less will survive. In the long run, it averages out to 50%. Even if you take the dreaded varroa mite out of the equation, on average, 50% of all hives would still die in a given year. The cause of the deaths may be mites, bears, lightning strikes, starvation, not returning from mating flights or other diseases. But you will still lose, on average, 50% of the hives. What treatment free beekeepers are doing is simply letting nature take its natural course under what are actually unnatural conditions. Yes, they may have losses you feel are cruel or not necessary but it is no worse than what nature hands out without human interference. FYI, I do realize the math above is flawed because in a given year, you will never get every hive to swarm. In some years most will swarm and there will be a bunch of after swarms too. In other years, few hives will swarm. But in order to keep the balance, for every hive that swarms, some hive will die because the land cannot support the additional load. If 10% of the hives swarm, you will have (again on average) 10% losses.

    I am not a treatment free beekeeper. I am a small time beekeeper (20 +/- hives) doing what I can to make a little extra money and mostly to have fun. 20% – 50% losses are not acceptable to me. In spring, under the best of conditions (actually totally unrealistic conditions), my twenty 20 frame hives could be split into 80 five frame nucs. I could sell 60 of them and keep 20 which will grow into full sized hives so I can do it all again next year. If I lose 50% every winter, I could split the 10 remaining hives into 40 nucs, sell 20 and still have my 20 to get ready for the next year. The problem is that losing 50% of the hives would give me a 66% loss in sales. That is not very economical.

    Please note that what is above is not what I actually do with beekeeping. I do sell a few hives and nucs every year, raise a few queens and sell a bit of honey too. The biggest struggle I now have is keeping the number of hives down, not keeping them alive. I have not had over 10% losses in several years now.

    I started out trying treatment free and lost every hive 3 years in a row. My personal experience shows me that treating properly will reduce your losses significantly. But it must be done correctly. There is a huge difference between treating at the right time and in the right manner when compared with treating at the wrong time in an incorrect manner. I have seen the statistics on losses posted by BIP and others. But I always have to ask how well versed were these beekeepers in how to properly use the products they treated with? I also ask how did they monitor their hives before treatment and after? How many times have we seen posters make comments like “I treated my bees in July with a one time OAD and now in December they are all dead. What happened?” Clearly the wrong product applied at the wrong time of year. New and fairly new beekeepers are practically famous for not using the available products in the correct manner.

    Enough of my rant for the day. SeaCucumber (David), If you want to treat to become treatment free, here is my advice. There is no time like the present to begin your journey. Treat the bees to reduce the number of mites to a manageable number and go treatment free from that point on. You will have given them the best start possible. Or, stop treatments today and become a treatment free beekeeper now. You will either succeed, or you won’t. But either way, you will have done your best. There is a lot of information on treatment free beekeeping in the treatment free forum. Use it. Get queens from reputable treatment free apiaries and use any and all ideas you can find. Finally, think positively. Believing it can be done is the first and most important step.

  7. #46
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    Default Re: Treating to Become Treatment Free

    > I have seen the statistics on losses posted by BIP and others. But I always have to ask how well versed were these beekeepers in how to properly use the products they treated with?

    Yes. I'm afraid the statistics on both sides, treatment and treatment free, are prone to that. What I would like to see is a comparison of experienced beekeepers who know what they are doing and if treating, following the recommendations, and if not, that are managing bees in a treatment free manner consistent with good beekeeping (other than the issue of treating or not). I suspect the numbers are skewed in both categories by people who don't know what they are doing or are not following directions...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  8. #47
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    Default Re: Treating to Become Treatment Free

    The applicability of Oldtimer's knowledge was questioned above due to it not being local. I disagree. It is the understanding of fundamental principles of chemistry, biology, physics, genetics, statistics, and of course, the inherent behaviors of our honeybees that is knowledge. This principles do not change with geographical differences. I bet, with a 5 minute briefing, I could jump into bee work in NZ. My father was sent by the State department over seas to a half a dozen countries to assist them, and found that all of his knowledge was applicable.

    Crazy Roland

  9. #48
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    Default Re: Treating to Become Treatment Free

    Quote Originally Posted by Roland View Post
    The applicability of Oldtimer's knowledge was questioned above due to it not being local.......Crazy Roland
    Per this logic, that "TF" person from North America who relocated to NZ was completely correct and should have succeeded at transferring his beekeeping methods from NA to NZ.
    A story told by OT.

    understanding of fundamental principles of chemistry, biology, physics, genetics, statistics, and of course, the inherent behaviors of our honeybees that is knowledge.
    Show me the person who excels in ALL of the above and at once.
    Be honest too.

    High school level maybe - that much I can buy.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  10. #49
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    Default Re: Treating to Become Treatment Free

    Quote Originally Posted by Roland View Post
    This principles do not change with geographical differences. I bet, with a 5 minute briefing, I could jump into bee work in NZ.
    I believe so too.

    Just, the briefing may be a bit longer than 5 minutes. But all that would basically have to be shared would be flow dates and patterns, wether or not bees should be treated and for what, and how. Bit of other stuff and I'm sure any decent USA beekeeper would be good to go.

    A number of Beesource forum members have holidayed in NZ, called in to see me, and been out and worked bees with me. They were right at home, and so was I with their obvious skills, and the knowledge and tips they could share with me.

    In my view, beekeeping IS local. But once the local peculiarities are understood, beekeeping of EHB is pretty much universal.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  11. #50
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    South Hamilton, MA
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    Default Re: Treating to Become Treatment Free

    The process of obtaining good bees to breed from can be difficult. I have to see if I can winter strong hives with treatments first. Having hives early helps. Not many people sell TF bees, and they don't sell all year. I want to get at least 1 proven queen (or nuc) from someone with a reputation. Ideally, the queens I breed from will look Russian and Carni. I will have time to fail. If my hives are strong in early winter, I will order queens. I will have good hives to put them in. I will have time to make another order if the first one fails, make my queens, and requeen them in time. Mite problems are worst during the large fall drop in brood production when winter bees get made. Before quitting treatments, I want all the bees to be from good queens before late summer. I will try to get any swarms through a winter TF before breeding from them. If a swarm has a queen that looks mostly Russian, I might try to breed a bit from it. Swarms are rare and difficult to get. Most swarm calls are for yellow jackets. I have caught 3 or 4 in traps over the years, and 1 from a call. Cutouts are difficult, unless people are reasonable and local.

    My first hive starved. Other years, the same thing happened. They would grow to 3-5 mediums with lots of food and bees. In the fall, over a period of less than 1 week, all the bees disappear. This year, I started out with all the queens failing (a first). I had to swap brood because at times I only had 1 queen. The 3 hives made large queen cells. They had lots of food at the time. At that time, when I open fed honey, they ignored it for 3 days. This honey came from last year from comb that I couldn't insert. I think 1/4 of the comb had pollen. The queen cells were larger than any I've seen on the internet (relative to worker cells). This year, there has been extreme rain. The hives are at 4 mediums. I evened them in July. The top mediums are mostly undrawn. They have a lot more bees this year than other years. Currently they each have 1 small top entrance, and maintain a beard of at least 2 inches. Over the past 3 days, I fed each 33 lbs sugar, with a little honey and tiny amounts of vitamin c (250 mg), vinegar, and lemon. They mostly ate this over 2 days. I mixed a 50 lb sack. They ate it in a day. I mixed another 50 lbs. There are definitely very few hives nearby.
    David Smolinski USDA hardiness zone 6b

  12. #51
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    Default Re: Treating to Become Treatment Free

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    I believe so too.
    ........
    In my view, beekeeping IS local. But once the local peculiarities are understood, beekeeping of EHB is pretty much universal.
    I am sure I can fly in right now and be your hand right away.
    I can even bring my own hive tool, smoker, and the jacket.
    The basic, utilitarian skills are mostly universal globally - for the most common setups.

    Even that is not entirely true - none of us on the BS are even closely qualified to be a bee tree runner (takes tree climbing for a start - a basic skill in that line of business).

    Not the point though.

    Understanding the local season dynamics, local geography and micro-climate affected by it, flow dynamics, swarming dynamics, pests (skunks, anyone?), regulations, etc, etc
    These ARE very much local and are much more important than running a smoker or looking for a queen.
    I ran smoker just fine when I was just 7.
    That did not make me an apiary manager; not even close.
    I am just now learning how to be a bee program manager so to try to accomplish my goals.
    Now - this is local and only local.
    Last edited by GregV; 09-22-2019 at 08:20 PM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  13. #52
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    Default Re: Treating to Become Treatment Free

    Back when I rode, I could ride a different horse.
    It is not true that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
    They can learn them, they just can't do them.

  14. #53
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    Default Re: Treating to Become Treatment Free

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    I am sure I can fly in right now and be your hand right away.
    Yes I'm sure we would both enjoy.

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    I can even bring my own hive tool, smoker, and the jacket.
    Only if you want to get arrested at the airport.

    I have even met some TF beekeepers and talked bees and had some great discussions about TF. The most famous would be Juhani from this forum, great privilege to meet with him. Unfortunately his schedule and family could not allow him time to spend with my bees, but we had a great discussion for an hour or so over lunch at Orewa Beach.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  15. #54

    Default Re: Treating to Become Treatment Free

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    I have even met some TF beekeepers and talked bees and had some great discussions about TF. The most famous would be Juhani from this forum, great privilege to meet with him.
    The pleasure was all mine, thank you!

  16. #55
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    Default Re: Treating to Become Treatment Free

    In case I didn't get it straightened out above, here are the stats on survival of one hive come spring based on different numbers of hives and assuming 50% survival rate:

    If you have a 50/50 chance and you have one hive than you have a 50% chance one will be alive in the spring. If you have two hives you have a 75% chance one will be alive in the spring. This is because there are four possible outcomes. Hive 1 is alive and Hive 2 is alive. Hive 1 is alive and Hive 2 is dead, Hive 1 is dead and hive 2 is alive. or both of them are dead. Since only one of those is both of them dead, that's a 1 in 4 chance of no survivors or a 3 in 4 chance (75%) of at least one surviving. At three hives there are 8 possible combinations of who survived of which only one is that all of them are dead or an 87% chance one will surivive. If you have four hives there are 16 possible combinations of which only one is all of them dead, so that's a 94.5% chance that one of them will survive. if you have five hives there are 32 possible combinations of which only one is all of them dead so that is a 99.9% chance that one will still be alive. So at five hives the odds, rounded to the nearest percent are 100% But of course it's still not really 100%...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  17. #56
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    Default Re: Treating to Become Treatment Free

    GregV wrote:

    Show me the person who excels in ALL of the above and at once.
    Be honest too.

    be carefull - what is right next to insanity????

    Crazy Roland

  18. #57
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    Jan 2017
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    Default Re: Treating to Become Treatment Free

    My goal is to have Treatment Free hives.
    I started with the softest treatments I could find, first with FGMO without and then with wintergreen oil. Spring arrived and they had a serious case of DWV.

    That year I moved up to Apilife. the Spring treatment dealt with this beautifully. The Fall one didnt and come Spring, I almost lost my hive.
    Apivar went in with a mite fall of 189 in a week then nothing for a month. After that had been in for the recommended time, it came out.
    Meanwhile, I had slowly been cycling out foundationless frames for Mann Lake 120's that I had to wax myself because I couldnt import wax products. That was slow going because I wasnt used to waxing frames.
    I managed to get the brood nest completely onto SC but not with the shoulder shaved down.

    Also over summer, fall and winter, I used OAV with minimal mite drops.
    I put this down to a number of factors.
    1. Very little brood at the start of last Spring.
    2. Only one hive with no near neighbours. While I can see bees fly off the property after foraging here in 6 different directions, they may not be all that close or not close enough or have treating beekeepers.
    3.Small cell may being playing a part.
    4. OAV knocking out what small amounts are there.

    This Spring I am continuing with the OAV again with minimal mite drops.
    The hive is in much better condition and I may be able to split it this year.
    If so, keeping them going will be the main goal. Hopefully, I will be able to cycle out the SC that are in the hive with ones that have the shoulders shaved down. We'll just see how it goes and let the bees lead the dance on this one.(Eikels quote)

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