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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had an interesting chat with some very well informed and enthusiastic high school students who were studying bees for a class project.

One question they asked made me curious to see how others thought on it.

The question was: " What is 'responsible beekeeping?"

My reply is and was;

Responsible beekeeping is doing what you think is best for the bees and your intentions as a beekeeper and knowing why you do what you do."

I think responsible beekeepers are those capable of independent thought and driven to learn as much as they can on their subject. They can see what "everyone else" is doing and wants to know why those things are being done.

If they don't agree with what is being done by "everyone else" they have the intestinal fortitude to make an educated decision and do what they conclude is the best action, regardless of whether it is 'popular' or not.

Now, you will note I didn't say they toss what "everyone else" is doing out of hand, simply that they investigate on their own the pros, cons, what's and why's of those methods before just putting them into action.

But hey, that's just me.

Big Bear
 

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>>'responsible beekeeping

I think it means the same as repsonsible farming. When running a business, decissions can be made simply to dollars and cents, or the decissions can be made with the business in hand and in the best interest of the viability of the farm. Sustainability of our operations has to be kept in mind.
 

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You gave sound advice. I am reading Langstroth on the Honey-Bee, 1865. My wife bought me the third edition for my birthday. It is full of sound advice I still hear disputed on this forum by beehavers that believe everything on the Internet. L L Langstroth gave the same advice 150 years ago. I attend all the beekeeping conferences in Florida and the research really makes you wonder if the myth believers are not on Meth.
 

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I attend all the beekeeping conferences in Florida and the research really makes you wonder if the myth believers are not on Meth.
Would you mind explaining, please?

I am finding that there were a number of beesource folks at the Orlando conference. I wore my t-shirt the first day and got no comments. I wore my UU t-shirt and got a handful of comments. I was the guy w/ the Ford Transit Connect Van w/ "Honey from the bees of Squeak Creek Apiaries" on the side. Did you see me there?

I also put out a No Drip honey container whenever the coffee came out. It's funny when there isn't any honey available at beekeepers conventions. Left one for the maid too.

Oh yeah, bigbear, good advice. Keep encouraging those youngsters. They may be the future beekeepers.
 

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I remember your Ford. I am too young for coffee at 52 so I missed the honey. You must have the finest honey to endure the scrutiny of beekeepers from all over. Thank you for bringing a sample and I will attemp to carry on your excellent example. I see lots of misinformation on these forums, hear it at the meetings. The researchers present what is truly observed in the hives. All the armchair experts are refuted by reality to the same miserable state of their weak hives. The drug dealers (miticides, anitbiotics, etc.) push their drugs and the research clearly shows the waste. They either do not work at all or only for a short time. My wife is a nurse and the pharmaceutical companies do the same drug pushing. How do you think they take us out for fancy dinners? They make more than the crack dealer on the corner.
 

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I know what it isn't. It isn't deciding to keep bees without treatment and replacing their dead bees each year, buying from those who do treat.

dickm
Excellent advice, Big Bear. I would add that, since bees sting, responsible beekeeping is also seeing to it that your/my/our bees are not a nusiance to the neighbors. We are responsible with our bees, and considerate of our neighbors.

dickm, I know your intentions are good, but... I am entering my fifth season with resistant bees, since I restarted in beekeeping. I have not treated, and have replaced the one dead out with a split from my first colony. I did not buy the replacement bees. When I buy bees for expansion (bought two nucs of Russians last year, and will buy 2 nucs of Russians and 2 nucs of MnHygenic this year) and queens, it is from breeders who do not treat. Last year I made three splits from my first hive, still pulled 20 pounds of honey off that hive, and all four colonies went into winter well. As of this writing, they and the rest of my 14 hives are doing just fine, thank you very much. No treatments for four years, entering the fifth. What were your losses last year?
Regards,
Steven
 

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I came here looking for answers when I first started this. I still come and look for answer too!

I think what you told the students was good because there are a lot of ways to approach beekeeping and not just one of them is right for every need or purpose.
 

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dickm, I know your intentions are good, ........................

Congratulations on your bees, those of you who are not treating. Let me see if I can make a point or two. As background, I have never really treated my bees in the 13 yrs I've had them but I have lost many hives in the winter. It's one thing to do that but another thing to teach it. I think we should teach IPM. If you have good russian bees and don't need to treat, hurrah! If you have a package of italians that built to (Insert your threshold) a serious population of mites in early July and you don't treat...you are being irresponsible. The right thing to do is KNOW what the mite situation is. That's what determines what comes next.

There's a heavy yearning for those good old days when we could just let our bees "do their thing" and be "natural" with them. I lived that dream in 1949 or so harvesting wild swarms. Wishing for it won't bring it back. There's a lot of yearning on this site, and a lot of new beekeepers gather that there are many sides to the question. It's not that complex. Mite populations at a certain point will kill the colony. Being open minded to alternatives to treatment won't save them.

It's well known, I think, that one can start with new equipment and make it to the 2nd year without intervention before the mites kill your bees. If, in YOUR location, with YOUR bees, you are able to keep bees without treatment ....you win no prizes. We may eventually learn from you. If you have a colony that is mite-ridden by July Aug and you just let them die, how is that responsible? Use a soft treatment, change the queen and try again.

The really responsible thing (IMHO) is to teach newbees that treatment depends on the situation, not on some idea that no treatment is heroic. And that's just mites.

End of rant,

dickm
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Dick, I think the whole point of at least what I meant and said was that responsible beekeeping is not letting others make your decisions for you. Don't just follow the trends or what 'the crowd" is doing. blindly.

I can see you have strong opinions on certain matters and that's fine to have and express opinions, however, my point was that each beekeeper should take all those varied opinions and information they can pull out of other beekeepers and books and websites and evaluate those things for themselves relevant to their situations and environments.

to be perfectly honest, I think even the word "responsible beekeeping" is very subjective and varies in terms of personal philosophy, environment, and situational experiences.

I think a lot of people would agree if one were to say that letting bees be killed or killing bees is not responsible or 'good' in general, but modify the situation a bit and say that the bees in question became africanized and highly aggressive, Many folks would also think it would be responsible to 'put down' those bees to protect public safety.

other folks might say wait, don't put down those bees, instead try to re-queen them first.

There may be a few possible actions for any one given situation that could be plausibly 'responsible' actions to take.

Some might even say that allowing 'natural selection' of bees that aren't highly resistant of mites to remove their 'non-resistance' from the local gene pool is a responsible long term action as well.

many ways to look at situations and each beekeeper must become educated and make those decisions for themselves instead of jumping on a bandwagon that may or may not be well suited for the specific circumstances they are in.

at least, that's where my thinking is.

Big Bear
 

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Hi Dick...
I went back and re-read your post #6, after your last post. I imagine you and I are not all that far apart when I think about it. I would agree with you, to buy bees from those who treat, and then not treat, IS irresponsible.

Now, as Big Bear just affirmed, there are different ways of looking at what "responsible" is, when it comes to caring for our bees. To my way of thinking, the most responsible, or perhaps ideal, way of buying bees is from those who breed for resistance, and who do not themselves treat. Thus one is acquiring bees that should have a degree of resistance that enables them to be kept, without treating. That does not mean buying resistant bees is responsible, and buying bees requiring treatment is irresponsible. Just a different approach.

I have great respect for those commercial beeks who continue to successfuly make a living at beekeeping. Personally I would love to hear of a commercial beek who started in the business in the last few years, and started with resistant stock, building their colony numbers up to commercial levels, and hasn't treated. Have they succeeded at making a living and maintaining their colony count? That would really be something to know.

It is one thing for a sideliner like me, to do what I am doing, and something else for a commercial beek. Personally, I think in the next 20 years the successful beeks will be the ones who use resistant bees, of whatever race, and don't treat. Time will tell if I'm right. And of course I could be wrong.

Back to Big Bear's theme of responsibility. It is easy to be responsible when the choices are obvious, and everything is cut and dried. It is quite something else when we're groping our way through the dark, trying to figure out how to make things work, and keep the bees alive. Is it fair to ask the question: How responsible are the package, nuc, and queen breeders being, breeding and selling the same kind of bee that is pretty much guaranteed to crash, without massive intervention by the beekeeper?

Not a rant, just some random, curious musings to evoke discussion.
Regards,
Steven
 

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I visited one of the big package producers in Ga last year. He picks breeders from the very best hives out of thousands, judged on several levels including hygenic traits. It's not the worst.

It's a much bigger problem to build a bee that can stand the rigor of current agriculture. We may get bees to work in a stationary place but that won't stand up to the crowding.
It may be that we get two bees: the hobbiest/sideliner bee and the commercial bee that is evolving gas masks and plant discrimination to fit her job. (The latter to reject poisonous pollen)

Given that the latter is heading to almonds each year she needs to be tough. Almonds, from the point of view of a bee, is a vast desert the size of Ma. Nothing grows but the trees as the nuts are vacuumed from the ground and vegetation would get in the way. Bees don't get much from almonds and can actually go downhill in the flow. They must arrive with stores or be fed. We can wish beekeeping and agriculture were some other way but I don't see how it can change. A semi-load of 400+ colonies will gross $50,000. If you were the 'keeper, when would you gather the nerve to stop treating?


Dickm
 

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Get out your red pen, Dick, and circle this day on your calendar! You're absolutely right! :gh: Were I a commercial beek, and had been when the mites hit, I'd be very reluctant to give off treating. I'd probably have my head examined, to even consider such a thing.

I'm in the position where I'm not going to become commercial, but I want to make some money at keeping bees. I also want to keep my bees alive. I do not understand the finer points of genetics, but I've tried to educate myself about the traits that tend toward treatment free survival. I appreciate the efforts many of our breeders are going thru to try to breed a bee that will survive all that we and nature (disease, pests, etc) throw at them. And do we even begin to understand the impact of GM crops on them yet? We're finally understanding how we've been killing them.

Now, because I'm curious, and have firm resolve (my wife calls it "stubbornness" :lpf:), were I a commercial beek going thru all the expenses of pest losses and treatments, I'd be inclined to take a yard or two (not colonies, but yards, since we'd be dealing in 100's, if not 1,000's of colonies) and move them treatment free. I'd do this simply by requeening as usual, replenishing deadouts with packages as usual, but with resistant bees. That way, after maybe one season, or perhaps two, I'd have at least one yard treatment free. Thus I'd be able to begin to make a cost analysis of the two methods of keeping bees. And then I'd move my operation step by step, a yard at a time, in the most cost-effective direction. This would of course include their ability to "vacation" among the almonds in sunny California. That approach might minimize my losses, as I figure out the best way to go.

I really appreciate our discussion of this. And just think, if there's an aspiring commercial beek reading all this stuff, starting to build an operation, just maybe he or she will decide to build their operation along these lines, and discover whether or not it's feasible to go treatment free from the get-go, and run thousands of colonies commercially, and successfully. Unfortunately, until someone actually tries it, and tells us about it, we'll probably never know.
Thanks!
Steven
 

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I know what it isn't. It isn't deciding to keep bees without treatment and replacing their dead bees each year, buying from those who do treat.

dickm
I buy mine from one of the biggest ,if not the biggest in the US and they don't treat,thank you and mine are doing great, no CCD.

http://www.beeweaver.com/home.php
 
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