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Discussion Starter #1
This is not just about treating but I figured it was as good a place as any to ask this question. I am starting my first 2 hives this year. I am going as natural as possible. With one exception. I have decided to regress my bees before starting foundation free frames. That said, it was suggested that I attend our local Beekeepers association meeting and take their short course. At first I had no problem with this but after attending their monthly meeting I know that I we are not on the same page at all. I realize that I could still learn from their years of experience but at what cost? Am I gonna put a lot of bad stuff in that I will have to overcome? Will it be worth it. It is a 8 hr class. Any thoughts? I figured this forum would have the most like minded people in it.
 

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I also plan to be as natural as possible, but coming from an organic gardening/farm I will just say treatment free is not exactly parallel to that ethos. The book I read and will likely rely on for a natural guide is Ross Conrad's Natural Beekeeping. Basically I would like to start with the gentlest treatments and do them correctly, and learn how to maintain healthy bees.
 

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Take the course. I'm sure it will be worth it. I just started reading Ross Conrad's Natural Beekeeping myself - so far I really like it.
 

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Agree with FollowtheHoney. A big problem I have with some people I sell bees to is they are so suspicious of everything I or others tell them they don't learn a thing or even worse do things that are totally bizzare and do poorly or fail completely with their bees. Prior to varroa everybody here was on the same page. After varroa, bees and the basics of beekeeping did not change, 99% of it is the same.

Sounds like the course you mention will be run from a pro treatment angle and you do not agree with that. Those people will probably spend a fair bit of time discussing treatment etc, because to them, you have to get that right or you fail. This will be hard for you to listen to. But, go with an open mind, to everything, at the moment, you know basically, nothing. After the course, remember all the good stuff you learned about bees and how to run a hive. The seasons, swarming, honey flow, supering, how to open a hive, all that useful stuff. Just don't apply the stuff about treating if you don't want.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Yes it seemed like they had a chemical solution for everything and agreed on nothing. I have spent quite a bit reading and watching video. I have Ross Conrad's book and Michael Bush's. Have read many, many post and articles online. Probably retained 30% if I am lucky! Your right that I would have to learn SOMETHING from it. I will go, I would just rather stay home and paint my hive on a Sunny Saturday then sit in a class that I have my doubts about. My bees are coming Wed. They weren't suppose to come until later. They got moved up a week but that is a good thing! Thank you all, for your input!
 

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Good attitude Libby & I'd even say try to make a friend or two while you are there, you never know when you may need a hand to move a hive, someone experienced to look over a queenless hive & tell you what to do, etc. And in time of course, become a mentor yourself. :)
 

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I realize that I could still learn from their years of experience but at what cost? Am I gonna put a lot of bad stuff in that I will have to overcome?
This confuses me. You realize that there is a lot to learn, but you are afraid that because they might say something you disagree with, that you will necessarily be compelled to follow their advice? Or perhaps it is the fear that you won't know it is bad advice? If you augment with the books you already have purchased, you'll have enough to filter through the advice that doesn't resonate for you.

I'd strongly encourage you to take the class. But be a critical thinking and a critical learner. Use your own sense of reasoning and intellectual discipline to evaluate the information and take away from what works for you. You'll probably find that there is a lot of common ground and much to be gained, even from understanding what those who use treatments are doing (for example, they may talk about the cycle of treatment options ... when they apply certain treatments and for what reason ... these reasons are driving by the seasons and activities in the hive ... and that information will also be relevant to natural treatments).

Also, you will likely meet other beekeepers in the class that will have similar goals to your own ... it may be an opportunity to connect with more like minded folks that you can share your first year adventure with. And in time, you may all become a contrary voice within the club that will serve well to those that follow you.


Brian
 

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Is the course with live bees or classroom? You would get a lot out of spending a morning helping someone with their hives, even if it just scraping bottom boards. You do not have to talk treatment, talk queens, nucs, queen spotting, beetles and moths. Feeding winter prep, when to add frames and boxes.
 

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Take the class. I teach one and I'm still learning. Only you know what will work for you. Much of the basics of the course should have to do with bee physiology and behavior - recognizing what is going on in the hive based on your observations. If you are worried that much of the class will deal with things you are philosophically opposed to, call up the instructor and lay out your concerns. Don't preach or try to convince the instructor that yours is the one true way. See if you can get your hands on the curriculum.

You ought to find out too if there are any restrictions on what the instructors can tell you. In the Master Gardener class that I am taking now we have drilled into our heads that we should not be suggesting any pesticides (which includes insecticides, herbicides, etc.) to any one when speaking as a Master Gardener.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I think it's more worried that I have wasted my time. Because I have things I could be doing to get ready for the unexpected early delivery. And yes, being a new beekeeper, when you see a man who is considered a Master Beekeeper stand in front of you for 8hrs debunking your choice, not directly of course, it is a little intimidating. I do respect him. He is successful but I have chosen to go a different way. That doesn't mean that I am above being unsure of myself at times. The whole thing is I have eye surgery on the 15th. The same day my bees ship. I would much rather stay home and paint my hives. And make sure I have all my ducks in a row. So that when I leave for John Hopkins Monday morning I know I am on track with my program. That when I return, I am ready for bees. If I learn from this course and come home excited then good. If I go and come home confused and wondering if My bees are gonna survive and worrying then I have chose poorly. This course is being taught in a classroom not in a bee yard. I have had hands on with bees. I have handled them and seen them in their different life stages,etc. My neighbor has them. I have seen beetles and mites.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thank you that is good to know, about the basic curriculum.I will most likely attend. I think I am over thinking it. My whole thing is about time. More than anything. I have been thrown into a tailspin and worrying about not being ready and on top of it someone said to me "your better to know nothing then to learn the wrong way" so now I am just being paranoid and looking for a way to find more time at the same time! I am a little nervous about what I want to do. Most people have bees for honey. I just want to bring the bees back and to have a good Lima bean yield again.
 

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Thank you that is good to know, about the basic curriculum.I will most likely attend. I think I am over thinking it.
Even if 50% of the time is spent on treatments, you will still want to know why they are treating. Disease identification is just as important to the TX free as it is to the treatment beekeeper. And the rest of beekeeping requires the same basic knowledge. Besides in the future you may decide to treat, one way or another, and having the basic knowledge will be a benefit.
 

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Do you know the treatment history of the nucs? That can be a rough transition.
 

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It is a mixed bag. Whilst I am doing quite well without the methods taught in the course I attended there were some valuable tips around basic bee biology, flows, and some management that I benefited from.
A lot of beekeeping is about successful timing. The beekeepers in your area may be using methods that you will not adopt, but they will know a lot about timing of flows - which are dependable and which are not. They will know when it is safe to produce a queen larva and have her mate successfully. They will know when you had better get your hive winterized or not. There is lots to learn in beekeeping and when you show these guys respect by taking their course it will be easier to get them to share.
 

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You may be pleasantly surprised. I advised first year beekeepers to be prepared to treat for mites in August. But I had a speaker who has moved toward foundationless and uses no "chemicals" in the hive. I use 8 frame mediums but had a speaker who uses top bars. Although it is hard to present options without making the material more overwhelming, I think good courses will present at least some options and identify good materials from a variety of perspectives.
Like someone above said, make some friends. Seek to understand even ideas and methods which you don't agree with.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Just a quick update. I went to the class and so glad I did. It was nothing at all what I expected! Many different viewpoints were expressed. The state inspector who taught the class was very open minded and supported the least chemicals the better and presented alternatives to traditional methods. It was such a good thing that I went. I should not have jumped to conclusions based on a few outspoken members. Thanks for all the good advice. I have a lot to learn. Humility be the first lesson! Lol
 

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Woohoo so pleased to hear that.

I can see a successful hobby coming up for you, and you becoming a useful well balanced future mentor. :)
 
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