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Hello Everyone,

I live in Ontario and after attending a FANTASTIC Treatment Free Workshop by Michael Bush in Lindsay (thanks again Michael !), I plan on transitioning to treatment free this season.

I have three hives (each with two deep brood boxes) that overwintered very well, and are actively cleaning, bringing in pollen, and starting on coltsfoot and the first few dandelions. All still have some honey left from last year.

My goal is to reach Michael's four steps of a) Treatment Free b) Breed local survivors c) Proper Nutrition and d) Natural Comb.

My plan is to :
1) buy enough new deep plastic 4.9mm frames * to convert one brood box on each hive to small cell immediately.
2) not treat this spring or fall.
3) try to avoid splitting this year.
4) use new plastic 4.9mm frames for deep honey supers too and take very little or no honey this year.
5) use drawn 4.9mm honey frames to switch out the remaining large cell brood frames next spring and go with open frames from that point on.

I felt getting them to smaller cell size is the most important first step, but didn't think I could get all frames to 4.9mm in one season.

Sound like a good plan ?

Thank you,
Scott

* Note : Michael said the plastic frame is the most likely frame to have the bees maintain the small size since bees would resize wax 4.9mm foundation and continue to build large cell in open frames.
 

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What are the source of your bees?

If they are commercial stock then I would find some local TF queens and requeen. I would not hesitate to make some increase by making up some nucs with TF queens. Numbers and backup are your friend until your genetics and hive ecology settle out. I would also check out your local area for ferals. If there are some, I would try to obtain some of them.

In Ontario I know of Debbies Bees, that have a long history of TF. May be a good place to start.
 

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Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
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>3) try to avoid splitting this year.
Why? I mean if they aren't strong enough, of course I wouldn't split them, or if I think I can control swarming I wouldn't split so I can get some honey... but if they need to be split, I'd split them.

>4) use new plastic 4.9mm frames for deep honey supers too and take very little or no honey this year.
Of course if they don't have enough excess I'd leave them honey, but you might need to harvest...
 

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Noob here, so take what I say with a grain of salt, but... Not all plastic frames are created equal. From what I'm told, you will want to use Mann Lake PF 100 small cell plastic frames. Other plastic frames/foundation the bees typically don't like to draw out very much. But (again, from what I've been told--no experience yet), they do much better at drawing out Mann Lake PF100 frames. I'm told it has something to do with how deep the cells are on the Mann Lake foundation, or how high the starter walls come up that gives the bees a better guide to drawing out the foundation. Others more experienced than me can correct this if I've said anything wrong here.
 

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Sound like a good plan ?
I tend to use foundationless frames in brood chambers. That way my survivor mutts can build what has been working for them. That also allows me to measure brood cells in my best colonies if I choose to in order to see what size works best here. I tend to use plastic 4.9 frames or 5.4 plastic foundation in honey supers.
 
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