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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is intended as a new thread for those who are actually running a group of their bees "untreated" -- whatever that means to them -- to report and discuss how they themselves are proceeding and will proceed, and NOT to tell others how to proceed.

There are hopes, too to have a site or portion of a site dedicated to the narratives of each participant, along, hopefully with metrics (again decided only by each participant according to his/her own lights). We may also discuss this here as well.

--- here is the branching point from the previous thread at http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?p=508798#post508798 --

> I think this is getting way too complicated again and deviating from the original idea suggested by StevenG

I agree and it is filling up with posts by some who are not participating as well as some who on my ignore list for serially hijacking topics one after another.

The topic of this thread, one that Steven started to discuss his and similar projects, has now changed to discuss the survey.

To be perfectly straight about this, I do not think that the survey is a bad idea -- in fact I think it is excellent -- it is just a different topic of interest to a different set of people.

I'm going to start a new thread once again strictly for those who plan to run their bees as close to no treatment as they can and document their experience independantly, or separately on a common site. Barry is working on this I think, but if he is too busy, I can do it.
 

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I have never treated my hives with anything. When I originally purchased bees (again) I decided I would not treat for anything ever. I bought bees from people who were not treating and have only bred from my best 2 or 3 colonies each Spring (I only have about 50 hives). There are varroa in my hives but the bees do not seem to have a problem dealing with them or any other pest for that matter. I have been doing this for over five years now. I do have some SBB's in place but they are there more for ventilation than anything else. The biggest problem for me in SE PA is starvation. The last few years there hasn't been any fall flow and without feeding the bees will surely die. I guess I'm saying my biggest concern right now isn't pests but the apparent change in the forage enviroment in SE PA. The bees have to live on the May and June flow through winter.
 

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Hi Allen,
Thanks for starting the thread. Are there any ground rules about treating such as sugar dusting and feeding pollen sub or syrup, HBH etc.? Just wondering if not treating is limited to medications. Hope I don't open a new can of worms with this question.
BB
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
As I said, there are no rules and neither should there be on this thread, about what you can and cannot do.

"No treatment" means different things to different people, and not everyone can go completely "cold turkey".
 

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May I suggest something? Since the definition of "no treatment" is such a subjective term, maybe we can ask each poster to touch on at least these three points:
- no treatment as in no medications (ApiGuard, Terramycin, Fumagilin (sp?) and whatever else may be out there to treat)
-no treatment as in no powder sugar, formic acid, or whatever else is considered a soft treatment
-no treatment as in no splitting, drone frame removal, or other managements that disrupt the brood cycle of varroa mites through mechanical means

It might be helpful if posters could say something to these points to make it clear what they consider no treatment. I don't want to hijack or burden this thread, but I know it would help me put narratives and statements into context.
Thank you.
 

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Yuleluder, you are exactly the kind of beek we are looking to gather info from. I started in beekeeping 3 years ago and have not treated. I have lost some hives this past year, but they were all Russians I bought as nucs and the ones that didn't make it didn't seem to thrive from the get go.

For the purposes of this project, accurately reporting your no treatment management practices is very important. We are looking for trends/patterns in survivor bees.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I was hoping this thread would be strictly about what each person is doing or planning, and how best for each one to report, with no suggestions about what other people should do and no discussion about the discussion.
 

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Marc, here is my basic plan of action for "no treatment" for this project

Here is what I'm going to do:

1.Commit five hives to this program. I don't need to buy resistant bees because the ones I am commiting are all ferals. One hive is 6 years old with no treatment, another is three. The rest are newer.
2.feed sugar syrup, pollen sub as a stimulant and to prevent starvation.
3. I will use lemon grass oil/spearmint oil only in my pollen sub formula as an enticement for the bees to use the sub. which I don't view as a treatment since my intention is not to control or poison a parasite or pathogen.
4. I will keep track of the weather
5. I will keep track of what's blooming, nectar flows and pollen output as best I can.
6. I will let these bees raise their own queens. I will requeen only if necessary and in that event will use my own queens or VSH/SMR/MNH queens or if possible survivor queen(s) from one of the other participant's colonies.
7. I will use no treatments(chemicals, antibiotics, fogging, acid, sugar dusting etc)
8. My hive configurations will be two deep brood boxes on a SBB with an upper entrance between the hive bodies and the honey supers. I will start with pierco one piece frames(that's all I have right now) in the brood boxes and will switch bees to foundationless in the brood box only. I will use medium honey supers with pierco foundation in wood frames. There will be no inner cover and tops will be migratory covers.
9. For feeding syrup, I will use a community feeder which will be a 35 gal. drum feeder of my own design. Pollen sub will be fed on the hives.
10. I will report honey production, all hive observations good and bad and all hive manipulations on a monthly basis on the website Barry is setting up.
11. These hives will all be in the same yard, but will be dispersed amongst my other "non project" hives in that yard.
12. I am looking at May 1 as my start date and will post my first report June 1, 2010.

That's what I have right now, I may add additional guidelines as I think about this.
 

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My operation uses NO chemicals whatsoever. I do make a lot of splits in May and June for nucleus hives and queen rearing. I frequently look at drone larvae found between the two boxes and rarely find any varroa. I find that many of my hives display the VSH characteristics when observing brood patterns. As they should since I have sought out queens from breeders promoting this gene or genes. The hives that I do not split from seem to thrive and end up robbing from weaker hives come July in these parts. As I stated earlier my colony losses are related to winter or fall starvation and have not found any evidence of pests or disease being the primary cause of death. When a hive begins to starve other issues begin to rear there ugly heads, but that is a whole nother issue and not the root cause.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I have about 30 hives right now. They are the result of splitting 9 hives from last spring, which in turn came from 3 the year before.

I introduced several queens in 2008 but let the bees raise their own in 2009. I had an AFB breakdown and removed that hive (Three actually, from the one hive) and am planning to add some more HYG stock this year.

I did use oxalic drizzle in the fall the past two years, but nothing else and intend to monitor and avoid treatment this coming year. As for any further AFB, I will have to decide at that time, as I will decide about mite loads as I go.

I run a diary, but it covers lots of things. Maybe I should have a sidebar strictly for the hives in this project. We'll see what Barry comes up with.

I have been splitting fairly heavily and intend to split harder this year. Splitting is a varroa control in its own right.
 

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Thanks for this thread, Allen.
As I just posted on the other thread, Barry and I talked via telephone last night, and hopefully my report/site will be open for all in the next few days. Then several things will become clear.

It is great to see some new posters on this thread, who are not treating. I suspected that would occur.

When we talk about splits, perhaps we ought to make a distinction between "introduced queen" splits, and "raise their own" splits. When I've introduced a new queen into a split, there is a very short lapse in brood rearing, probably not enough to effect the mites. We all realize when we make a split and leave the split to raise their own queen, that long gap has a pronounced influence on varroa population. Just something to think about.

The other observation I'd make is that I assume my bees have mites. But they deal with it. Somehow. The analogy I use refers to a computer. I have one, I use it. I know it works. I don't know how it works. I don't care how it works, just that it work, and is dependable. That's what I want us to see in our Treatment Free discussions... to find dependable bees and ways to work them, so they don't need treatment. I'll leave it to the scientists to discover how it works genetically, and breed the bees. Hope that makes sense.

I suspect as we see more and more beeks revealing themselves to be Treatment Free, that will encourage others who've been fearful because of the large number of losses.
Regards,
Steven
 

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Good thoughts on splits and the effects different types of splits have on the varroa population. Most of my splits involve the introduction of ripe queen cells, however I have done and will continue to do whichever type of split the situation calls for. If I find a hive with a ton of swarm cells than that hive will be split. If I have no queens or cells and a hive is booming then I may do a walkaway split. There are also other variables to consider. Do you nucs or splits contain all stages of the honeybee. Do you use all capped brood, or do you use a frame of eggs, a frame of open brood, and a frame of capped brood. One could also make a split by shaking bees, ie packages. Different methods will have a direct effect on the varroa population.
 

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I had 3 hives last year – first year of beekeeping in about 40. I did not treat or monitor for mites at all last year. One hive – my best [Carnolian] – succumbed to mites/virus – both? My 2 Russian hives are limping along, but look like they will survive.
I am introducing 3 new packages this year. One Carnolian with Northern Raised Queen from untreated stock, 2 VSH/SMR packages from California. I am also introducing a small cell “Russian” nuc from FatBeeman [Georgia raised] also from untreated stock. I’m not sure if the VSH queens are from treated stock or not.
I will monitor for mites this year – particularly Varroa. If I start to get a buildup that looks like it will impact the hives, I’ll probably treat with powdered sugar.
I will feed my packages with HBH syrup and MegaBee Patties. Probably most of the summer.
I plan to split my Russians and introduce F1 VSH Virgin Queens [Glenn Queen] from a local hive. If that hive does not survive the winter, I will introduce northern raised Carnolian Queens, also from non-treated hives. If my VSH packages do well, I will try and make some nucs and allow them to raise their own queens. I will expand these hives as much as possible.
My goal this year is strictly expansion, not honey production. I am not making nucs to avoid varroa.
However, if mites become too big a problem, I will escalate treatment from sugar to ? – I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it, if I do.
I am using mostly natural cell. However, I do use some PF100’s to start on my hives and keep the natural frames straight.
I have one Kenyan TBH hive, one Tanzanian TBH hive and one long hive. I am going to move all my new hives to Langstroth hives because I have hopes to do some pollination and those hives are much better for that application.
Guess that’s enough for now.
 

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I am just getting started. I have two hives and plan to get 4 more.

I am not planning on doing any drugs. I plan on no reversing of hive bodies and let them do their thing pretty much undisturbed in three hive deeps. I use SBB but do not count the mites. I only will take honey they will not need for winter.

What data do you want us to collect?
 

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Sorry I missed most of the other thread as I have been on a skiing trip with the family and just got back on Sunday, only to find our phone lines down which did not get fixed until today.

I don't treat with anything I can't/won't put on a piece of bread [or spoon] and eat.I have screened bottom boards and drone frames; although I intend to allow those colonies whose genetics I favor to raise drones for breeding any raised queens. I will be making splits but for the purposes of expansion. I have copied a portion of my experiment from a thread I started, which I hope gives enough details that may be helpful here. See Bee Experiments here: http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?t=237603&highlight=experiments

"EXPERIMENT DETAILS:
I currently have 8 colonies all on small cells plastic frames. I currently have 1 BeeWeaver queen, 1 queen from Purvis stock, 1 Zia queen, 1 feral (supercedure) queen, 2 of Michael Bush’s queens, and 2 MH queens (one of which has cordovan coloration). I have made arrangements for the purchase of 20 deep frames of brood [from Darrell Rufer] and 15 Italian queens [Taylor made, Australian Italian queens, from BeeWeaver] the first week in March. Note: beginning the first of December I tried to find available queens from U.S.A. (including Hawaii) for my experiment, but none were available that I found.

By the first week in March my current colonies should have reached maximum brood production, but these colonies will not be at maximum bee populations for another 2-4 weeks or so [based upon my prior experience for my area]. I will use these purchased frames of brood and queens [along with brood from my original colonies] to make splits to about 23 nucs, 8 original queens and 15 Italian queens. For those new queens which might not be accepted, I will try to find replacements from whatever available sources, otherwise I will combine any queenless nucs with queen right nucs.

I currently have eight deep boxes and intend to move all my colonies to mediums this year [except my sample 5 which I will eventually sell] by using double mediums for the purchased deep frames until they can be transferred to medium frames. If everything works as planned, by the middle of April all nucs should reach maximum brood and bee populations. I will make my test samples the middle of April as follows:
a). I will leave the best 4 of my original 8 queens intact (Sample 2) for comparison with sample 1.
b). The other 4 original queens I will reduce to 5 frames of brood with bees (Sample 3).
c). I will make (with the best purchased Australian Italian queens) 8/2-3 frame nucs in my deep boxes (Sample 5), which I will use to test for survivability on small cells, and the other Italian queens will be destroyed.
d.) The rest of the bees and brood I will combine into my massive bee populations (ideally about 24 medium frames of brood) in 5-7 colonies (Sample 1).

The third week of April, I will destroy all queen cells in sample 1, and add frames of eggs/larva from what I consider to be my best original queens. I will allow all of my original colonies to raise a frame of drones [each of my original colonies has a drone frame] in order to maintain genetic diversity. When I make my increase splits mid June [after the major nectar flow] I will order the best available survivor queens to further increase genetic diversity within my apiary."
 

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We started 2 packages, last year. Only treatment used was powdered sugar. The strongest hive of last summer had high mite loads in October.
It came through winter with the original queen, & a very small cluster of bee's. The queen never re-started laying, & they dwindled away.
The hive had over a deep full of honey, no robbers, or wax moths after a month of good weather.
CCD like symptoms.

I intend to stay on the no treatment system.

The other hive re-queened itself mid summer, & is starting out well this year.
 

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We had 23 colonies going into fall.We used powdered sugar routinely until we had significant drops in mite counts. we fed all colonies sugar syrup most of the summer. We did treat one colony one time with fumigillan. We used screened bottom boards. We only harvested about 40 lbs of honey and left the rest to the bees. One colony did starve. They had honey but apparently just couldn't reach it. Of the remaining hives, about half just disappeared with honey and pollen left behind and the rest dwindled into oblivion. Of the original 23 we now have 11. 3 more are failing miserably. The last 8 look very good. One started producing drones a couple of weeks ago and we split it to raise their own queen. We picked up 2 gentle feral colonies that have been on their own for years. They are in old decrepit equipment and lots of burr comb. We are working to transition them into top notch equipment and hope to raise queen cells from them.
These colonies have been and remain in various locations, some at 4,400' elevation and some at 750' elevation. And a couple of locations in between. All in all, it was about a 60% loss. The ones at 750' were able to be split. Hope this helps.
 

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That's what I want us to see in our Treatment Free discussions... to find dependable bees and ways to work them, so they don't need treatment. I'll leave it to the scientists to discover how it works genetically, and breed the bees. Hope that makes sense.
If this thread is to be limited to reports rather than discussions, can I suggest the newly prepared thread: 'Selecting for parasite and disease resistant bees' might be used by those wanting to explore the mechanics of the art and science of in-apiary breeding.

http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?t=238098

I have replied to this post there.

Mike
 
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