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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone
Firstly, I didn't put this question in the treatment free section, as I want those who have moved away from it to put in their two cents as well.

I would like to know, for those of you that are beekeeping in a cold climate (Zone 4 or less, here is a map if you are not sure of your zone https://www.richters.com/show.cgi?page=Zones/NA.html), what are your successes and failures with going the "Treatment Free" way. Not looking for opinions so much as what your experiences have been, good or bad. That said, I suppose opinions on why you feel it works/doesn't work are valid. Please let me know how long you have had success/failure, your scale of beekeeping and what types of hives.

For example, in my case...I have two Warré hives that were populated this year with commercial packages in North Central Alberta. While I am currently treatment free, I don't have a firm decision on which way I will go, as I am too new. I am hoping to hear from those who experience similar weather (although I know that is only one part of the picture).

Please, I ask that this string not be used to argue one way or the other, just to post personal experiences with Treatment Free in cold climates. Thank you in advance.
 

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Be carefull of your definition of treatment free. We do not use any synthetic miticides, but do actively control our mites. If you do nothing to control your mites, your chances of success are very low.

Crazy Roland
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
What do you use? I'm at no way being judgmental about any bodies technique, as I am still making my own decisions.
 

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I am a small cell operation and will stay that way in the brood nest, but Small cell has not proven effective as a mite control for me. I stocked my apiary with queens from Treatment free breeders. I tried brood breaks but found it reduced my honey production to an unacceptable level. last winter I treated about 40% OF MY colonies and did not treat the rest in an isolated location. My winter losses were four times higher in the untreated yard and the untreated hives came thru smaller and weaker than the treated colonies. When Apivar is so cheap and easy on the bees and Mr Oliver has shown it does not build up in the comb, I sure can't justify not treating in the face of all the evidence. I am an old fat man who is not going to have a genetic breakthrough and create magic bees with my small operation. I reduced my production for five years trying to keep miticides out of my operation and it is just not worth the trouble and is a hardship for the bees. Small operators mucking around not treating is a leading reason for the guvmint findings of 40% colony losses.
 

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Most low level mite treatments are twice a year. I have had good results with essential oil in spring. It delays mite reproduction. But I will be getting out the strips in fall. Or earlier if significant mite growth shows. They seem worse on wintering over and early spring buildup. So mine get treated before winter.
 

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Learn how to do an alcohol wash or sugar roll test, and start monitoring, knowing what your plan of action will be if mites exceed your threshold.
 

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They got by for quite a few years around Thunder Bay Ont. without treating for mites. They are very isolated from other kept bees and zero feral bees. Someone let the genii out of the bottle a few years ago and I have not heard whether they recovered their mite free status.

I dont think you could hope to find any such isolation around Edmonton. I have to do very little in the way of mite treatment but I dont know how long my isolation will last. One area west of Ottawa I am familiar with, with lots of beekeeping is near hopeless without very proactive mite control. I lucked onto a good situation but if there are lots of mites around you I seriously doubt your luck will be good!
 

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If you do nothing to control your mites, your chances of success are very low.

Crazy Roland
Roland, your SO crazy ;). Not in those zones, but can say there's always something to do in the bee yard.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you, Everyone, for your comments! I certainly look forward to the day when I can have enough experience and knowledge to form a more solid opinion on how I will move forward. All I can do now is take advice, listen to experience and make a decision. It was difficult enough picking a type of hive...seems that may have been the easy bit.
 

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It was difficult enough picking a type of hive...seems that may have been the easy bit.
The Warre Hives may be as difficult as the treatment free although they may be better suited for it.
 
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