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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have 2 hives. I just finished Checkmite + treatment on them a couple weeks ago. That is the only hard chemicals I have ever treated these hives with, nothing for AFB or Nosema. After reading the many posts here, and doing some additional study, I am on the verge of going hard chemical free. I have ordered nucs, put out letters and ads for swarm calls and made swarm traps and intend to make splits if able, to increase my hives. It is my intention to produce honey and perhaps in the future (2 to 3 years from now) nucs and queens as a sideline in my farm business. I have come to think that a small sideliner like I intend to be would do best serving the higher end of the market. That seems to me to be what is touted as "organic" or treatment free honey and on the bee side survivior stock, mite resistant and untreated bees. All that may be a misconception on my part, but it is how I think I want to position myself in the market. My question is can I use my current hives to grow with since they have been treated? If after a season or two of non treatment and frame rotation, could I then label any honey from those hives as treatment free? I know this year is out since I just pulled the strips, but what about next year? How long after you stop treatment, is your opperation considered chemical free? Or do I just set those 2 hives aside and focus on the new hives? I am guessing I'll need to scrap the little bit of wax I have and rotate the current frames out of opperation? What advice can you give and am I all wet in thinking this is the high end of the market, the place where a sideliner could be the most profitable? Don't get me wrong, I don't mean to sound crass or purely commercialy motivated. I understand and support the higher goals of going treatment free (breeding a bee that will survive the mites and not having crap chemical residue in the honey), but this is a business venture too. All input is greatly appreciated!
 

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the next time you go through the hives take a marker and put a skull and crossbones on each frame:doh:
then start rotating new frames in, trash the old ones
don't use the old frames for any purpose (like splits or honey)
you could clean em up in a year if you push hard, two if you go slower
this is my opinion, I'm sure others will have their own thoughts

Dave
 

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If you're hives needed a mite treatment, You need a new more resistant queen in the hive.

My opinions is a little different, in my opinion if you're not selling the wax out of the brood boxes, I don't know why you couldn't claim you're honey to be treatment free right away. I would think if you re-queened, you could claim the bees to be treatment free within 6 weeks.
I'd rotate out those frames for the bee's sake anyway.

You might get a lot of different opinions on this one.
 

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Buffalolick, two observations:
You can requeen this year with resistant stock, and go treatment free this year. As already advised, rotate out your contaminated comb. As you expand with nucs or packages, use resistant/survivor bees. You'll get there sooner.

Second, there's absolutely no way you can go organic, and get the "high end" market in honey. The bees cover too much forage area for you to guarantee "organic", even if you could jump thru the hoops and meet some certification process.

The purpose of treatment free is for the bees... to eliminate contamination in the brood comb. If a beek follows the instructions, you won't end up with chemicals in your extracted honey anyway. The gain is in healthier bees. No contaminated brood comb, better fertility of queens and drones you raise, and no cost of chemicals. Folks who treat still lose bees. We hope by developing resistant/survivor bees, they'll last longer, even without treatment.

Chemical-free will, of course, help in your marketing. And yes, you'll have a better product.
Regards,
Steven
 

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The purpose of treatment free is for the bees...
The purpose of treatment free is for My family, my neighbors, and for me.

If a beek follows the instructions, you won't end up with chemicals in your extracted honey anyway.
So they say. And they also said that the hormones they injected in cattle woudn't get into the food chain. Now we have a bunch of children that look like the fatted calf.

The gain is in healthier bees.
Side benefit of producing a safe product, to me the bees are way down the list of consideration.

Folks who treat still lose bees. We hope by developing resistant/survivor bees, they'll last longer, even without treatment.
That the selection of the fittest, the fittest will learn to survive without treatments, thereby having a bee that does not need to be constantly on the dole. They'll last longer because they don't need handout to survive. The good Lord put the bees here and we are to exercise 'dominion' over them. The Creator made the bees frugal and hard working little creatures. Store more than they can ever use, so leave them with an ample portion of their labor, and they share the rest with us. Good lesson here. Accumulation of wealth for the sake of wealth? Better to put ample portion back to provide for you when your production wains [but we are to work all the days of our lives by the sweat of our brow], then put that excess to the best use.

Chemical-free will, of course, help in your marketing. And yes, you'll have a better product.
Yes, but share why you don't treat. Honey has always been known as a chemical free healthy product. Certainly, we should not contaminate that product with chemicals, thereby contaminating mankind.

StevenG, thanks for the post. Lot of stimulating and thoughful information.

Kindest Regards
Danny
 

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Wouldn't the 'organic/treatment free' label apply if a farmer (in Georgia) produced bees/honey/wax/propolis/pollen from local untreated trees or from certified organic crops?

To obtain that "organic" label, you have to be totally organic for more than 5 years and the list is HUGE of the demands that you must meet. I like the "chemical free" saying better. We are trying to get my dads farm certified as Organic in TN. It's amazing what they want. 99% of tehe "organic" farms are not totally organic. They have a percentage of Organic to them rather....I could go on and on. I am with ya buff. I do not want to treat either....so far so good.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Personally I don't like the term "organic"..as dev says..it is awful what you have to do to be certified. I don't think honey could ever be "organic" because, as eariler posted, you can't control the forage. My entire farm philosophy is getting the consumer together with the farmer (me) and developing a relationship that is mutualy benificial. IMO "organic" certification is simply inserting a government middle man in the process that complicates the system and adds unneccesary costs. I will not willing invite a 3rd party man with a gun to negotiate a business transaction....his only purpose in being there would be to take a skim off the deal. I'll let my customers judge for themselves just how "organic" my practices are by being open and honest. If they believe me, God willing I will prosper, if they find me to be dishonest or using practices they disapprove of, then I will fail. Having said all that, I think that alot of the "organic" movement is based on emotion rather than science. If Checkmite residue is active in the wax even after treatment, then it is possible that some of that active agent will make it's way to the honey super, even though the supers are placed after the strips are removed. The scientific crux of the issue is whether that tiny amount makes a real measureable difference in anyones health. However, for my purposes..that really doesn't matter. Most people buy on emotion, more so if they are passing up honey from wallyworld at $3.50 a pound to buy mine direct from the beek at $8 per pound. If they don't want to take the chance that an extremely small trace amount of that chemical is in their honey, then I will produce honey that is free of it. As a seller with integerity, if I label my honey as being produced from hives untreated with coumaphos then that's by God what it shall be. I'm not going to label any honey from my current hives as .....whatever (what to call it becomes another issue)...untill I've rotated the current frames out. In the end, I do think that it will help with the honey marketing to be hard treatment free. Scientificaly valid health reasons or not, consumers are willing to pay a premium for honey that fits their "organic" mind set. I think the real issue comes on down the road in producing nucs from surviviors. Other beeks understand what it really means to be treatment free much more so than the honey consuming public. There is a scientific benifit to producing mite resistant bees, and it seems to me the only way to produce such bees is to stop treating for mites with hard chemicals. There is also the issue of inadvertantly producing stronger mites by hard chemical treatments. On a side note, perhaps it is the bees who have developed an evolutionary strategy that "keeps" humans instead of the other way around. By producing a surpluss of honey the bees have trained us to feed and fuss over them, carry them around the world, and overall aide them in there survivial and conquest of the globe...gotta look at it from their prespective.
 

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Excellent observations, Buffalolick. :thumbsup: I would add one caveat - sometimes "soft" treatments are as damaging as "hard". If one is going treatment free, why not go treatment free?

Hi Danny! I always enjoy reading your posts, even when I :scratch:. I suspect we come to the same conclusion, but via different routes. My reason for treatment free is simple stewardship. If I take care of my bees, they'll take care of me. I do admit that I love to collect the "rent" - that's what I call stealing their excess honey. :lpf: I love honey, I love sharing honey with family and friends, and I thoroughly enjoy the extra income I derive from honey sales.

As has been shown, the chemical treatments leave residues in the brood comb, which has a strong negative effect on the bees - especially drones and queens. If we manage the bees for their benefit, we get more fertile drones and queens, less supercedure, a stronger work force, a stronger hive, and more honey. Thus my comment - we take care of the bees, they take care of us.

Your analogy of the "fatted calf" is right on - look how we mismanage our cattle, and who pays the price? The end consumer. I quit buying beef at a local big box store after reading the ingredients label on a package of steaks, of all things! There are those who have demonstrated that the current obesity problem is related more to the use and consumption of HFCS than anything else. That stuff is now pretty much everywhere, and more deleterious to us than plain cane sugar.

Like you, I don't want my bees on the dole, chemical or otherwise. There are those who believe if you feed bees too much, they get lazy. I do my best to leave enough honey on them that I don't need to feed. But as I've posted elsewhere, I feed like mad when I hive a package, swarm, or nuc. I work hard to help them build up into two deep boxes, 20 frames. They generally do this before the flow ends. Then I stop feeding, and usually, not always but more often than not, get a surplus honey crop from that hive the first season.

Let me toss this out for thought. In our sense of "dominion" we have moved bees all over the world. We import them for pollenation, thus bringing in new, exotic pests. We treat them with chemicals to keep them alive and working for us. We've contaminated brood nests and honey. But we're in control, and they crash. We try new treatments and procedures until they too fail. In our sense of "stewardship" we read the bees and try to provide them what they naturally need and want to thrive. We don't force a square peg into a round hole, we simply seek to appreciate the round hole for what it is, and perhaps beautify it a bit. Thus natural comb, foundationless frames, treatment free. The bees then thrive with less management, and less cost to the beek. Now I realize this is an oversimplification, but I think that's what people like Michael Bush, the Lusby's, George Imirie, W. Wright, C.P.Dadant, Root, and the others whom we might call "the Greats" in beekeeping practiced. They didn't try to "mold" the bees or have dominion, they tried to "understand" and be good stewards of this fantastic little creature God put here. And the wonderful thing of it is, there are so many other beeks out there, beyond my knowledge, doing the same thing - seeking to understand, and work in harmony with the honey bee.
Regards,
Steven
 

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Honey bees forage over a wide area. Say, conservatively, that bees from a single colony will forage everything within a three-mile radius. That would mean that all the land in that three-mile radius would need to be certified organic, right? And what about when conditions get tough, and bees might forage in a much greater radius, maybe five or six miles or more?

Go "pesticide free" in your hives if you choose. Even advertise that you manage your bees without using synthetic pesticides. That could save you a lot of headaches trying to get certified as "organic."
 

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Honey bees forage over a wide area. Say, conservatively, that bees from a single colony will forage everything within a three-mile radius. That would mean that all the land in that three-mile radius would need to be certified organic, right? And what about when conditions get tough, and bees might forage in a much greater radius, maybe five or six miles or more?"
Right. So you ask the local organic association if there are any farms or ranches that fit the above criteria.

Don't forget, some organic farms/ranches may also be close to national, state ,or private parks/forests/lands/watersheds that are never, ever treated.

You could also become a migratory/organic beekeeper.

Just let the association know that you are a treatment free beekeeper looking for an 'organic' host.

What's the worst that can happen? They send you an email that says 'No'?
 

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From what I understand, there is no set standard for honey to be classified as certified organic.

I recall hearing about a proposal that the bees would have to be 4 miles from any road (they spray along roads), and 4 miles from any GMO crop or pesticide application. (I can't remember if all the land in the 4 mile radius had to be certified organic or not.) Essentially, you would have to keep your bees in the backcountry of Yellowstone or another large national park just to get the 4 mile limit from roads.
 

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the next time you go through the hives take a marker and put a skull and crossbones on each frame:doh:
then start rotating new frames in, trash the old ones
don't use the old frames for any purpose (like splits or honey)
you could clean em up in a year if you push hard, two if you go slower
this is my opinion, I'm sure others will have their own thoughts

Dave
I've seldom read on here the need for discarding frames from treated hives. How much do they absord the chemicals?
 

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From what I understand, there is no set standard for honey to be classified as certified organic.

I recall hearing about a proposal that the bees would have to be 4 miles from any road (they spray along roads), and 4 miles from any GMO crop or pesticide application. (I can't remember if all the land in the 4 mile radius had to be certified organic or not.) Essentially, you would have to keep your bees in the backcountry of Yellowstone or another large national park just to get the 4 mile limit from roads.
From what I've read, there's nothing to stop the unscrupulous from misrepresenting their hive products on the label.

However, I have seen at least 1 example of a honey producer that has taken the trouble to be certified by 1 of the organic certification organizations.

That 4 or 5 mile 'treatment free' rule may be insurmountable in some localities.

However, I wouldn't throw in the towel right off the bat.

Not all roads are sprayed by counties/townships. Besides reaching out to the organic associations, you could also ask the local county if and where they spray.

While it does seem to be a tough proposition, there may be some beekeepers who do in fact have a very good opportunity to distinguish their products in the market place.

After all of the above is said and done, I think that a treatment free beekeeper who does forge a working relationship with organic associations will be in a much better situation than one who didn't bother to do so.

Of course, you might have to wear your 'dead head' outfit and say 'groovy' alot. :rolleyes:
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
After all of the above is said and done, I think that a treatment free beekeeper who does forge a working relationship with organic associations will be in a much better situation than one who didn't bother to do so.

Of course, you might have to wear your 'dead head' outfit and say 'groovy' alot. :rolleyes:

IMO the only way to forge a relationship with an "organic" certification board is with a checkbook!

No thanks.
 

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IMO the only way to forge a relationship with an "organic" certification board is with a checkbook!

No thanks.
How did you confuse an 'organic growers association' with an 'organic certification organization' ?

Organic growers are philosophically similar to no treatment beekeeping. They should be thought of as a local resource.

A certification organization is a business expense for those who want the organic certificate.

One is free, the other is for a fee.
 
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