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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am curious if there are any beeks out there who have done absolutely no treatments (including sugar dusting) of any kind for varroa mites for at least 3 years. If so, how is the condition of the hives, if they are still alive? Are they on small cell wax foundation or plastic, or natural cell? Are there any special management practices you are using to keep them alive? I'm just doing some research on my own into varroa mites. Thanks in advance for your answers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
There is a beekeeper like that, right here (meaning myself). There are others too. You should do a search on this subject, you will find several discussions of this subject.
That's great, but can you go into a little more detail on your own bees, including answering a couple of the questions that I asked in my initial post. Thanks
 

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One of the major problems with theVarroa mites is that a hive will dwindle down to a point that the bees abscond and guess wher they go?
It's just not good economics to go without some form of approved treatment and IPM.
Ernie
 

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Are you speaking specifically about large cell colonies with Varroa infestations? Because if you listen to natural cell folks, they say that their hives don't even get close to the point where the bees abscond. The way I understand it, and I may very well be misunderstanding it, is that Varroa does not get the upper hand in hives with small or natural cell, the hive functions productively along side a stable mite population.
 

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I've been keeping bees this same way, but with even fewer (actually none) of the treatments I mention next, since about 1968. The only treatments I have used for several years now, are: 1) B401 sprayed on most empty and/or idle comb. 2) Sometimes, but not always, I put a little copper gluconate in the sugar syrup I feed to nucs right after I've just made them up. 3) I use some small-cell foundation, some foundationless frames, some regular sized foundation, some PF120 (small-cell plastic foundation/frames), and a few HSC (Honey Super Cell) plastic small-cell combs.

My management, especially for honey production is shown here in a SketchUp drawing that illustrates how my colonies are configured for honey production - Hive Configuration.

This configuration incorporates some adaptations I've developed in order to better take advantage of my location and to avoid many of the hazards that are here too. My configuration may benefit others, especially in similar environments, but may not even be an advantage to others.
 

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BEE CULTURE magazine June 2009 issue: "The most effective method to combat Varroa mites is to use honey bees that are resistant to Varroa mites. They exist. You can buy them. You can make them. They are Russians. They are the survivors. They are hygienic. They are better than the rest. If these bees aren't in your colonies, on your list to buy, on the way to your colonies today...then you are on the list of those who are on the way out. That we continue to pour poison into our boxes when we could be pulling pure and perfect honey out of them instead is amazing. It boggles the mind that this industry hasn't adopted these bees yet." Kim Flottum, editor

Several (if not all) Russian Honeybee Breeders Association members are treatment free. Carl Webb, Georgia, and Hubert Tubbs, Mississippi, are two that I'm aware of. They are both primarily honey producers with the queen business and nuc sales secondary parts of their operation. I've been treatment free for two years with good results.

Read the quote carefully. There should be no doubt as to the strength of Mr. Flottum's conviction as to where the industry should be headed.
 

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I haven't treated with anything at all in 5 years. 15-20 hives. Average 1-3 supers of honey per hive and would get more if I was better at controlling swarming. Mine are nothing special Italians that I've had for many years with the addition of some feral genetics that I have gotten. They are on mostly standard large foundation. I use SBB. The only time I dust is to check the mite level in a poor performing hive.

My technique for getting there was simply that I got tired of spending the time & money to treat like some people (especially Monsanto, Bayer and the bee supply companies) say you should. I accepted some initial losses, but it was probably more luck than my management skills.

Lots of others on here do the same thing with their local bees.

The quote from Kim Flottum seemed to be addressed to the large commercial guys. VSH and to some extent Minn Hygenics & NWC are also tolerant of varroa.
 

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The quote from Kim Flottum seemed to be addressed to the large commercial guys.
Most commercials I know do not want Russians because they winter in too small a cluster to pass grade. The Russian breeders are reportedly working to alleviate this problemr. Unless or until they do, Commercial operators needing almond bees won't be changing to Russians anytime soon.
Sheri
 

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Most commercials I know do not want Russians because they winter in too small a cluster to pass grade. Sheri
:eek:t:Sheri this presents a subject which I don't believe has really been discussed. Many may not realize that it takes an adequate size of bee population, not only to maintain cluster temperatures, but also, once it begins to warm there has to be enough bees come through winter to begin a rapid spring buildup. Many (including myself) would value your experience and also Michael Bush and Palmer and some others on this subject. How about starting a thread.

Kindest Regards
Danny
 

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Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
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>I am curious if there are any beeks out there who have done absolutely no treatments (including sugar dusting) of any kind for varroa mites for at least 3 years.

No treatment of any kind from 1975 to 1999. No treatment of any kind from 2003 to 2010.

> If so, how is the condition of the hives, if they are still alive?

http://www.bushfarms.com/beescerts.htm

> Are they on small cell wax foundation or plastic, or natural cell?

Yes. But all either 4.95mm or smaller. Wax foundation. Foundationless, natural cell, PermaComb and Honey Super Cell.

> Are there any special management practices you are using to keep them alive?

I try to leave them honey for the winter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I really appreciate all the responses to my questions I've been getting, I realized this subject has come up time and time again, and I could have done a search to try to get answers, but I wanted to get some specific details that were up to date from beeks here on this site. I have only been here about a year, but I have gained a wealth of information from people more experienced than I. The more I study the varroa mite, the more I think that the solution to this problem will come from the ranks of the average beekeeper and not in a laboratory. There was a time when varroa was not here with us, do you think that the time will again come when it is not here?
 

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Most commercials I know do not want Russians because they winter in too small a cluster to pass grade.
Sheri
Sorry but I disagree with this.
My Russians overwinter with huge cluster (3 deeps).
Early in the spring the hive is busting!
I do not use any ABs or chemicals. Just TLC.
 

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Been Treatment free for 6 years started process after finding Weaver queens were treatment free for a long time, plastic foundation wood frames normal size, I buy from other breeders also to keep a good mix and trap feral hives, I had in the past pinched off queens that had problems, a strong hive is the test, as best as I can tell I have not lost a hive to Varroa, CCD or SHB, I see the beetles in the hive all the time, I my opinion Bees have seen these pests in there past Genetic history, they will figure it out.
Bob
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Sorry but I disagree with this.
My Russians overwinter with huge cluster (3 deeps).
Early in the spring the hive is busting!
I do not use any ABs or chemicals. Just TLC.
Do Russians have more of a tendency to swarm though? I realize swarming is not all genetics, but a lack of properly timed management too.
 

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It's just not good economics to go without some form of approved treatment and IPM.
Ernie
Ernie -

I respect the fact that for your business, you find that you need to treat your bees. However, in this forum, we are interested in management without treatments. Perhaps the economics don't work in a business like yours, but it does work for many others.
 

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:)Currently I have all of the top quality genetics available in my operation to try and go the no treatment path which is much more than I can say for the people with a few hives.
I have run the expenses of the no treatment route and I have many hives currently in field testing.
Ernie
 

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I resumed beekeeping in the spring of 2006 by purchasing packages from the Weavers. I spent 2005 researching, because beekeeping had changed drastically from the time I last kept 16 hives. So from the time my two packages arrived in April 2006, to now, I have not treated. I now have 14 colonies, going up to 30-34 this year.

Now, and this is going to be sacrilege to some, but not only have I not given any chemical treatments, I haven't dusted, used essential oils, nothing. nada. zilch. And here's where the sacrilege comes in... I haven't even taken the time to do mite counts. :lookout: My rationale is, if they survive, they survive, if they don't, I didn't want them anyway.

I run the sbb with a slatted rack. I do use the cd jewel case trap for the shb. I feed when necessary, but try to leave plenty of honey on each fall. I run two deep brood boxes with a medium or shallow super for honey stores. So far, knock on wood, all 14 of my hives are still alive this year. But to be realistic, I won't know their health or strength or survival numbers for another month or so. Got to get them thru the next 6 weeks.
Hope this helps.
Steven
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
StevenG, thanks for the interesting details on your bees, I have a couple questions. I assume all your hives have some mites, you just don't take a count. Have you had anything that resembled a disease problem, or have you seen any bees with deformed wings? Are you on small or natural cell?
 
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