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Discussion Starter #1
The fall honey harvest was today. I am going into the 2016-2017 winter with twenty-five hives. Twenty-two of the colonies are in hives with eight frame medium boxes. Most of those twenty-two hives have three eight frame medium boxes, but a few have either two or four boxes. Three of the twenty-five colonies are fall swarms. Two of those swarms are in a single four frame medium nuc box. The third swarm is in a six frame swarm trap. All of the twenty-five hives are "chock full" as we say here.

In a couple of weeks, I plan to move some resources around and super the four frame nucs. I don't use sugar or syrup. This is my baseline for 2017.
 

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Is your goal honey production or nucs, or a treatment free queen bloodline?

Looking foward to reading your log along with squarepeg.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Is your goal honey production or nucs, or a treatment free queen bloodline?
For some reason that makes me think about a cowboy being asked why he rode a bronco the way he did and him saying, "I was just trying to get to the other side of the corral without running into a clown." My primary goal is for the bees to teach me how to shepherd them in a sustainable way that will let them make a lot of honey for me without me treating them or feeding them. I don't want to fight against nature; I want to harness it and use it to get across the corral. Like a flu shot using the body's natural defenses, not an antibiotic working directly on the bacteria.

My goal is not so much to produce honey as it is to husband bees that are capable of producing honey at economically viable levels without treatment for varroa and without systematic feeding. I want them to feed me, not me to feed them.

Having said that, it's hard to use husbandry to raise productive bees without producing quite a bit of honey. Someone who trains bird dogs is going to end up with some quail. I sell nucs, and I sell honey. I also do cutouts particularly looking for longstanding colonies with good genetics -- mining for genetic gems. I also trap swarms, and I enjoy building beekeeping woodwork. Thank you for asking. I don't know if I answered you question exactly, but that's why I keep bees and that's why I do it the way I do it. It's cheaper than golf.

Looking foward to reading your log along with squarepeg.
I'm not in the same league as Squarepeg, but I'd like to be!
 

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I don't know if I answered you question exactly, but that's why I keep bees and that's why I do it the way I do it.
Yes, you did, and now I understand the context.

To me Squarepeg has built a road map for others to one day learn from, one day, when I get above 100 hives, I hope to setup a treatment free out yard.
 

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david, i'm glad to see you've started a thread to chronicle your experience keeping bees off treatments. we've got several pages of contributors on the 'tf member listing' sticky thread representing various locations around the country and the globe. in my opinion the more folks we have willing to report like this the better. i'm a firm believer that we can all benefit by learning from our collective successes and failures.

it really sounds like you and i have much in common with respect to our approaches. i too am mostly motivated by trying to be a good steward with the valuable resource that i find myself entrusted with for now. i don't feel the success i am having with the operation is due to anything in particular that i'm doing or not doing, but rather that i happen to have ended up with good bees in a good location.

our biggest difference is that we reside in completely different ecoregions. it's very encouraging to me to hear about populations of bees doing well off treatments in all of these different areas. it's my opinion that those populations can be built upon and have the potential in the long run to benefit the beekeeping community at large.

lastly, i am flattered with the kind comments by yourself and buck but as i mentioned in the op of my thread my sincere purpose for posting here is primarily for ground truthing vs. wanting to bring attention to myself. barry deserves all the credit for providing what i feel is the best forum available for the frank and honest discussion of this topic.

i'm very much looking forward to following your thread, thanks for starting it.
 

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Looking forward to the updates. Your 3 box configuration is what I'm going to be wintering in this year. Reassuring to see as I'm still a lang newb.
 

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1st good luck in your project.

Can you provide information on your queen stock or genetics?
How close is your nearest apiary?
Is your annual precipitation over 20 plus inches?
What pesticides are applied near your apiary location.
Best regards,
Ernie
 

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Anywhere in Louisiana will have annual rainfall in the range of 40 to 60 inches.
 

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40 to 60 inches is a lot more than our mere 8 last rain season and our 12.5 which has not been possible with an 8 year drought.
I am thinking of moving for more rain.
An area of high precipitation should be much easier to go TF because of lower stress on the bees.
Ernie
 

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Discussion Starter #10
our biggest difference is that we reside in completely different ecoregions.
I believe that I am on the line between 8a and 8b.

Your 3 box configuration is what I'm going to be wintering in this year. Reassuring to see as I'm still a lang newb.
Keep an eye on their honey stores, particularly in late winter when it is warm enough for the bees to fly but there is little nectar coming in. My local mutts are frugal, but colonies with larger winter clusters will eat more.
 

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i like looking at the terrestrial ecoregion map more so than the plant hardiness zones.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Terrestrial_ecoregions_USA_CAN_MEX.svg

on this one you are in 48, or 'piney woods forests'.

my location is in 17, or 'appalachian mixed mesophytic forests'.

we are at about the same latitude so our seasons should be similar.

another important similarity in my opinion is that both of our locations have vast expanses of wooded lands that host feral survivors.
 

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I have done the same thing comparing my latitude to yours as well. Gives me an idea of the cross section and relation of climate. I lived in GA for a couple of years and seen alot of plants sharing the same biome.

I think your running log can be used by many along the gulf coast.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Can you provide information on your queen stock or genetics?
Most of my bees are feral survivors. I do a good number of cutouts and trap or catch swarms. We have some "swamp bees" in some river bottoms and wetland areas that remind me of feral hogs and are likely a few (or more) generations from tame. We have just enough rainfall to keep most, but not all, of the AHB genetic influence out.

My best queens are from lines from a few gnarly old cutouts with good provenance. I have purchased a couple of Baton Rouge VSH queens to try them out. I've also bought a few Wooten queens to shift the curve a little in the direction of higher production and better manners.

How close is your nearest apiary?
Each yard is within foraging and mating range of both managed bees and feral populations. Some of those managed bees are typical commercial stock and some are feral mutts like mine.

Is your annual precipitation over 20 plus inches?
51 inches.

What pesticides are applied near your apiary location.
Suburban blend, a little cotton related. There is a fair amount of new housing developments, pasture, overgrown woods, and untilled land. I moved a yard that was near cotton fields and a crop dusting operation.
 

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I believe that I am on the line between 8a and 8b.

Keep an eye on their honey stores, particularly in late winter when it is warm enough for the bees to fly but there is little nectar coming in. My local mutts are frugal, but colonies with larger winter clusters will eat more.
Will do. Thanks. These bees were a swarm capture this year that seem a bit more brood heavy and lighter colored than the typical bee I'm used to seeing. Very productive. I'm a little paranoid about them. They by all appearances are doing well, will see what next year brings.
 

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Discussion Starter #15

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
So, while I'm waiting for all my hives to die, I thought I might try to come up with a numbered answering system to try to be able to respond to most questions on Beesource with just a number instead of an actual verbal response, so:
1. Put a frame of eggs and very young larvae and see if they make queen cells.
2. PMS.
3. That means Parasitic Mite Syndrome.
4. They're starving. Give them a couple of frames of honey from a healthy hive.
5. Wait a couple of more weeks. It can take a virgin queen 21 days after emerging to mate and a few more days to start laying.
6. Laying workers.
7. Just dump them out 150' from the other hives.
8. DWV.
9. Don't feed them. They may become honey bound.
10. I wouldn't do anything.
11. Put the hive in full sun.
12. At least 80 lbs. in your location.
13. Suit up; there are AHB's in your area.
14. Africanized honey bees.
15. No, but you can send them off to a lab.
16. What difference does it make if they're that mean.
17. Email Cleo Hogan and ask for his instruction sheet.
18. Reduce the entrance.
19. Don't give up. You've learned a valuable lesson. Save all that drawn comb for next year.
20. That's normal for this time of year.
21. Some varieties of bees brood less than others.
22. Randy Oliver has an article about that on his website.
23. That's what Michael Palmer does.
24. Look at Michael Bush's website.
25. Thank you.
 

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37. The bees are all in bed asleep, why aren't you.
 
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