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Offline crazzy_426

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opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« on: June 26, 2015, 05:22:14 PM »
 I have listened to several podcast on treatment free and I'm a little confused. It seems to me the a treatment free purest does not treat for pest at all and does not feed and the I'm curious what that means. I have 2 hives and this will be my first winter. does that mean let them die if they cannot take care of verroa or starve if i got a late start. I'm not sure that i can do that even though I like the idea of treatment free. Is formicacid considered organtic? I know its is neutrally in hives in smaller quantity's. Not tyring to start a fight here, just need some guidance please.

 Rob

Offline mikecva

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2015, 06:12:13 PM »
If treatment free means doing nothing then I would call that neglect. I feed 1:1 in spring, 2:1 in fall and granulated sugar if stores are low in winter. I use moth crystals to protect my supers during storage only once every 2-3 years I use mite away.   -Mike
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Offline divemaster1963

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2015, 10:17:53 PM »
Im Very old school. I work the hives like I was taught by my uncle with his 4000 hives. I took care of the 1000 on his farm with the hired help. I guess you can call him organic and natural beekeeper. the only thing we used to treat hives with was powdered sugar dusting. we never fed sugar water or corn syrup. we checked hives monthly and added stored honey frames to hives low on stores.  the month before temps droped we would due store checks and added to low hives. weak hives were combined. he gauged that a hive needed two to three frames of honey per month for winter stores. I am in the south so I just remove supers before the fall flow and  leave the fall flow on the hives. then in spring rotate brood and check for left over honey and pull just before the flow starts. farel hives don't get treated and can be some of the biggest hives in the hive has the room. I have found hives that were three to four years old that were 4foot by 8 foot with comb 16 inches tall. in floors.

john

Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2015, 10:55:21 PM »
Crazzy,
First question, where did you get your hives? Second, what did they treat with?
If you do not know, call them. You will need to do what they did for them to survive the winter.
If you got your bees from removing them from an old feral hive and you were able to save the queen or they raised a new one from her genetics, then you probably do not have to treat them.
Jim
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Offline kathyp

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2015, 12:39:34 AM »
I think the treatment free bit should depend on your loss tolerance and your philosophy on the keeping of things.  do you have enough hives that you can experiment with doing nothing when they have mites or disease, and take the risk of losing them all?  Do you think it's ok to keep a thing and let it fend for itself even though you have interfered with it's natural environment? 
If you have disease and pests, do you put other beekeepers in the area at risk?

I am not in favor of treating unless it's needed, but I can't imagine not taking care of a problem when found.  I don't think it's an all or nothing proposition. 

As sawdstmakr pointed out, you need to know the history of your bees.  you need to learn to recognize when they need help...and that takes some time and you will lose some in the learning process.  before the need to step in comes up, you need a plan.
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Offline biggraham610

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2015, 02:21:34 AM »
^^^^^^^^^ x2       That's the approach I took. I did have to treat a couple times the first couple years, and if it looks imminent, I will do what I have to do again. That being said, the local raised queens coming from my splits over the last couple seasons seem to be doing a fine job as of now. Hope they keep it up. They seem to be managing things well. Touch of VSH starting off is helping too I suspect. G
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Offline crazzy_426

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2015, 08:14:27 AM »
Thanks for all of thr responses.  I live in MO and bought the first hive as a 3lb package from a place in Vermont.  I put that one in a top bar half barrel hive that I made and its doing great. The second one was in a 5 frame hive body that I got from a local guy. He said that he used might strips on all of his hives.
 I started out thinking treatment free was what I was going to do, but I now think that I need to expand so I dont have to by more bees and that means not letting these 2 hives die.

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2015, 01:11:04 PM »
The last statistic I saw was that 60% of US beekeepers are not treating.  So treatment free is actually the norm, even here.  In Africa it's the norm.  In most third world countries it's the norm.  Most of the treatments used by beekeepers in this country are illegal in all of the EU, Australia and New Zealand.  In reporting on Apimondia 2013 in the American Bee Journal Volume 153 No. 12, December 2013 on page 129, William Blomstedt quotes Dr. Nicola Bradbear and refers to presentations by Tom Seeley and in the article he says:

"?           Generally speaking, poorer beekeepers have healthier bees than wealthier beekeepers. This, according to Dr. Nicola Bradbear, president of an Apimondia standing committee, is because the poorer beekeepers do not use chemicals or antibiotics in their hives, and they often allow swarming and drone production.

"?           Later in the conference, keynote speaker, Dr. Tom Seeley offered some solid research to back up Dr. Bradbear's thoughts."
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Offline divemaster1963

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2015, 06:35:57 PM »
most of my losses are from hives that the queen ball saw caught to far off feed during a deep and prolonged freeze. that Is the only time that I cant get into the hives to check ball location and stores location. this pass winters loss was at 48%.

john

Offline OldMech

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2015, 10:52:54 AM »
I'm curious what that means.

   It means their hives die.
   I have also read that there is 50 to 60% treatment free..  I dont know anyone that is "successfully" keeping bees treatment free...
   I know several that claim it, and I sell them bees quite often. Bees that they will re queen with this or that queen that is "Guaranteed" to survive without treatments.. then they die in their second year.

   Now, having said that, I have bees that have not been treated in 4 years, and I am still keeping my fingers crossed, watching them closely..  Mite levels seem to rubber band a lot as the bees try to deal with them..   I dont think it would take much to tip the scales and cause the hives to crash..
   New bees this year to add to the treatment free testing..  With luck they will be capable of handling the mite load better.

   As far as not feeding?  well...  my opinions are all posted here;   http://www.outyard.net/natural-beekeeping.html
39 Hives and growing.  Havent found the end of the comfort zone yet.

Offline Solomon Parker

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2015, 11:18:37 AM »
I have listened to several podcast on treatment free and I'm a little confused. It seems to me the a treatment free purest does not treat for pest at all and does not feed and the I'm curious what that means. I have 2 hives and this will be my first winter. does that mean let them die if they cannot take care of verroa or starve if i got a late start. I'm not sure that i can do that even though I like the idea of treatment free. Is formicacid considered organtic? I know its is neutrally in hives in smaller quantity's. Not tyring to start a fight here, just need some guidance please

Rob, ultimately, you are correct.  As the producer of one of those podcasts (the only one that I am aware of) the Treatment Free Beekeeping Podcast (tfb.podbean.com) I can certainly answer your questions.

The idea behind treatment-free is that we let the bees take care of themselves.  We focus on allowing weak hives to die and multiplying the surviving ones.  Many of us are sugar free, but not all, and there is certainly latitude allowed for freshman beekeepers as they are in a difficult spot.  We recommend against packages as they have a low survival rate.  But yes, if bees cannot handle varroa, we let them perish.  Some times feeding is necessary to get new hives caught up but ultimately, the bees should become adapted to their environment such that feeding is no longer necessary and is certainly not desirable.

Organic has become a meaningless legal term for us.  It is not practically applicable to beekeeping, and has ultimately become utter nonsense.  I am a treatment-free beekeeper and that has a specific (and one would think, obvious) meaning (parkerfarms.biz/treatmentfree.html)
Solomon Parker
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Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #11 on: June 30, 2015, 12:39:44 PM »
I'm curious what that means.

   It means their hives die.
   I have also read that there is 50 to 60% treatment free..  I don't know anyone that is "successfully" keeping bees treatment free...
   I know several that claim it, and I sell them bees quite often. Bees that they will re queen with this or that queen that is "Guaranteed" to survive without treatments.. then they die in their second year.

   Now, having said that, I have bees that have not been treated in 4 years, and I am still keeping my fingers crossed, watching them closely..  Mite levels seem to rubber band a lot as the bees try to deal with them..   I don't think it would take much to tip the scales and cause the hives to crash..
   New bees this year to add to the treatment free testing..  With luck they will be capable of handling the mite load better.

   As far as not feeding?  well...  my opinions are all posted here;   http://www.outyard.net/natural-beekeeping.html

Old Mech,
It sounds like you are saying that if you treat your hives that they won't die but if you do not they will.
I do not treat and most winters I do not lose hives. This year I lost 5. The five I lost, all in the spring between flows, were strong hives one week and and in each case, a week or 2 later they disappeared. When I took them apart, there was still honey and lots of pollen (some had entire frames of pollen), almost all of the brood was hatched out and almost no dead bees with a few newly hatched bees. They didn't die, they absconded. The weather had warmed up and after the maple flow was gone, they up and left.
I suspect this is from the AHB genetics is enough that they do the same thing they do in Africa, when the food runs out, they move while they have enough food to fill their stomachs.
Jim
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Offline crazzy_426

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2015, 04:15:22 PM »
I have listened to several podcast on treatment free and I'm a little confused. It seems to me the a treatment free purest does not treat for pest at all and does not feed and the I'm curious what that means. I have 2 hives and this will be my first winter. does that mean let them die if they cannot take care of verroa or starve if i got a late start. I'm not sure that i can do that even though I like the idea of treatment free. Is formicacid considered organtic? I know its is neutrally in hives in smaller quantity's. Not tyring to start a fight here, just need some guidance please

Rob, ultimately, you are correct.  As the producer of one of those podcasts (the only one that I am aware of) the Treatment Free Beekeeping Podcast (tfb.podbean.com) I can certainly answer your questions.

The idea behind treatment-free is that we let the bees take care of themselves.  We focus on allowing weak hives to die and multiplying the surviving ones.  Many of us are sugar free, but not all, and there is certainly latitude allowed for freshman beekeepers as they are in a difficult spot.  We recommend against packages as they have a low survival rate.  But yes, if bees cannot handle varroa, we let them perish.  Some times feeding is necessary to get new hives caught up but ultimately, the bees should become adapted to their environment such that feeding is no longer necessary and is certainly not desirable.

Organic has become a meaningless legal term for us.  It is not practically applicable to beekeeping, and has ultimately become utter nonsense.  I am a treatment-free beekeeper and that has a specific (and one would think, obvious) meaning (parkerfarms.biz/treatmentfree.html)
Solomon I am 23 episodes into fine podcast as of now. I have to say I was completely on board until I heard everyone say that my package bees would die this winter if I did not treat them. They have been doing great but their in a homemade TB and its hard for me to see any errors.that being said,  I believe I have come to the conclusion that I will monitor them closely and if it gets bad I will do what it takes to get them to next spring. Then ill start splits and we will try your treatment free when I can afford some losses.

Offline crazzy_426

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #13 on: June 30, 2015, 04:36:16 PM »
The last statistic I saw was that 60% of US beekeepers are not treating.  So treatment free is actually the norm, even here.  In Africa it's the norm.  In most third world countries it's the norm.  Most of the treatments used by beekeepers in this country are illegal in all of the EU, Australia and New Zealand.  In reporting on Apimondia 2013 in the American Bee Journal Volume 153 No. 12, December 2013 on page 129, William Blomstedt quotes Dr. Nicola Bradbear and refers to presentations by Tom Seeley and in the article he says:

"?           Generally speaking, poorer beekeepers have healthier bees than wealthier beekeepers. This, according to Dr. Nicola Bradbear, president of an Apimondia standing committee, is because the poorer beekeepers do not use chemicals or antibiotics in their hives, and they often allow swarming and drone production.

"?           Later in the conference, keynote speaker, Dr. Tom Seeley offered some solid research to back up Dr. Bradbear's thoughts."
Michael i also caught you on a podcast and correct me if I'm wrong but you are completely treatment free and your bees are thriving. If memory serves me correctly you have a fair number of hives. Do you think that if you treated that you would loose the same percentage of bees that you do now?

Offline OldMech

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2015, 06:59:43 PM »
  It has been my experience that it takes from two to four years for untreated bees to "die" if they are not treated. Some die in their second year, some have mild resistances and manage to hold out a little longer, depending on when they replace their queens.

 Most beginners buy packages, and then opt 'out" on treating because its the easy way out of the information overload, and their bees die. Even experienced beekeepers who buy "resistant" queens and or nucs, find that their hives die when not treated. Taking a queen or nuc from where it has been living without treatment for many years, and hauling it 200 to 2000 miles, and expecting them to survive is a long shot..  I have Survivors from NC, and I have Old Sol survivors. I HOPE I never have to treat them, but it has been my experience that I will eventually do so, to save them.
   Taking those survivors, and setting up your own treatment free program puts you a step ahead of buying package bees from California, Hawaii, or somewhere in the south, but you cant expect to stress the bees through travel, and set them up in a different climate with different forage, usually in proximity to hives that are crashing due to mite loads, yours, your neighbors, or even feral hives, and expect them to do as well as they did where they originated. Add in the non resistant drones the replacement queens will be mating with for a wonderful mix of eventual fail..

   I believe you can run treatment free. I believe it when you and others tell me they are treatment free. Some keeps have great luck, buy resistant bees and trot on down the no treatment path without a hitch in their giddyup. Maybe its climate, maybe its other resistant bees in the area their queens mate with? Lack of other bees in the area?  I dont know how to explain why they can live one place treatment free and not another....

   Perhaps it has to do with how many beekeepers could give a rats.... behind about resistant bees.. they have never had resistant bees and dont care if they ever get them, they treat, so any effort I put forth to develop treatment free queens is severely hindered when my queens mate with their drones.
   I have had bees that showed fantastic hygienic behavior. They passed the liquid nitrogen test with flying colors. They did well for two years, superseded their queen in year three, and by year four were crashing hard. 
     That doesnt mean I will quit trying.. I figure every resistant drone I put out there that mates is helping, but there are many MANY beekeepers who import the packages every year to replace their losses, so I am fighting a battle I cannot win over the course of time, until those other fellows/gals quit beekeeping, die, or wise up and import their own resistant stock.
     Treated bees thrive, untreated bees die.

   The "natural" way is foolish..  allowing bees to die because they are not resistant makes no intelligent sense to me.  Why would you not treat them, and replace the queen?  In six to eight weeks there wont be any of the old progeny left, then you get to see if the new genetics can survive, and all you paid for was the queen..  I guess if your rich and dont mind buying packages or nucs every year..   I'm not rich, so I think I will treat when forced to it rather than let them die.
 
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Offline kathyp

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #15 on: June 30, 2015, 07:39:43 PM »
It's a good idea to look at all the things the treatment free people do.  It usually involves a lot of time spent developing strong stock and queens, collecting true feral stock, etc. 

anyone who tells you that one thing or another will work on it's own (small cell as an example) is either deluded or lying.
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Offline divemaster1963

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #16 on: June 30, 2015, 09:52:38 PM »
Out my survivers all are farel stock and all at least 3 years old. One of my hives I call my getto hive ( because their was a shooting at the complex while I was doing the removal is over six years old and booming.

John

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #17 on: July 01, 2015, 08:03:18 AM »
I'm always a little frustrated by the varying opinions on treatment free.  First there are those who think it's just impossible, despite that fact that most of the bees in the world are treatment free and doing fine.  Then there are those who think its so complicated and difficult compared to treating.  Treating is complicated, difficult and obviously failing.  On the opposite extreme are those who think they can buy some package bees from Georgia or California, put them in a hive in the far North, never manage them and are surprised when they die.  In my experience, most package bees from warm climates die their first winter in the North whether you treat them or not.  In fact losses seem unrelated to treatments.  Losses are more related to management and genetics.  If you look at the statistics that various clubs in the country put together and the statistics from the Bee Informed surveys, it becomes clear that people who treat their bees lose them at the same rate as people who don't treat their bees.  The major difference is which bees they are losing.  If you aren't treating you are losing the weak bees.  If you are treating you are losing the bees who can't survive the treatments.  The other thing that is clear from these surveys is that the majority of beekeepers are not treating.

In my experience the people using natural comb and small cell and not treating are having better luck than those treating or those who are on "normal" large cell foundation and not treating.

Beekeeping is still about management, whether you treat or not.  Feeding is another issue you brought up.  If you never feed your bees, then sooner or later you will lose virtually all of them in a bad year.  If you feed them only when they need it, you may only be feeding them once every five or six years, but you will get through those bad years with a lot less losses.  If you don't manage your bees so that they don't swarm too much, you will populate the local area with bees, but they won't be in your hives anymore.  They will swarm and occasionally the old hive will end up queenless.  Also every winter you will lose a few.  So if you just leave them and don't manage them, the number of bees in the area, total will probably stay about the same but they will no longer be in your hives.

My point is that "treatment free" does not mean you don't manage your bees.  It doesn't mean you don't need to understand what is going on in your colonies.  But you need to know all of that whether you treat or not.
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Offline OldMech

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #18 on: July 01, 2015, 09:13:12 AM »
My point is that "treatment free" does not mean you don't manage your bees.  It doesn't mean you don't need to understand what is going on in your colonies.  But you need to know all of that whether you treat or not.

   Well said!!!  I agree with everything.... except this part....
 
 Treating is complicated, difficult and obviously failing.

   Why?  Treatment is simple, fast, easy and works like a dream without bothering the bees a bit...    Provided you use OAV...    :grin:
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Offline cao

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #19 on: July 02, 2015, 12:10:03 AM »
Beekeeping is still about management, whether you treat or not. 

I think that is the key.  You can treat a hive or not and it will eventually die if not managed in some way.  Whether adding a frame of brood to a weak hive, adding a super for more room, feeding sugar water, removing old comb, treating for mites, requeening or even harvesting honey.  Any of these are meant to help but if applied at the wrong time or the wrong amount can do more harm than good.  We as beekeepers are responsible for keeping bees.  Which means we need to learn what they need and try to provide it.  Sometimes (or probably Most of the time) what they need is to be left alone.  I, as a third year beekeeper with 11 hives and 9 nucs, am learning new things everyday.  My three hives lost over the last two winters were sad but I learned a lot from them.  Bees will be bees.  They may not be on the same page as you or be reading another book all together.

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #20 on: July 02, 2015, 08:46:12 AM »
If you think about what happens in nature, if every swarm survived then the number of colonies would about double every year.  Soon the earth would be covered several yards deep in bees (in about 50 years or so).  But, of course, this doesn't happen.  The reproduction of bees evens out in the long run and just makes up the losses from the bad years in the good years.  Basically if every colony swarmed once every year (which is probably what it averages out to since some swarm several times and some don't swarm) then an average of half of the colonies have to die every year (in the long run) for that to even out.  If we beekeepers had those kind of losses we would be pretty disappointed.  We do our best to make up for the bad years by feeding and leverage the good years by splitting and hopefully if we don't break even on hive numbers it's because we are expanding the numbers...
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Offline Eric Bosworth

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #21 on: July 02, 2015, 08:49:09 AM »
Please don't get me wrong I am trying to grow my apiary and proper management is a large part of that but bees have existed for thousands of years on their own without management. I would just like to be the devil's advocate and argue that perhaps mismanagement is how we got to this point.
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Offline Solomon Parker

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #22 on: July 06, 2015, 03:37:43 PM »
Then ill start splits and we will try your treatment free when I can afford some losses.
It doesn't work that way.  Treating also results in losses.
Solomon Parker
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Offline Solomon Parker

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #23 on: July 06, 2015, 04:54:46 PM »
I HOPE I never have to treat them, but it has been my experience that I will eventually do so, to save them.
Save them for what?  What?s the point when you stop treating at some point, like the point when you die or get crippled, and then they die at that point?  Why not just clear out the nonsense now?

   I believe you can run treatment free. I believe it when you and others tell me they are treatment free. Some keeps have great luck, buy resistant bees and trot on down the no treatment path without a hitch in their giddyup. Maybe its climate, maybe its other resistant bees in the area their queens mate with? Lack of other bees in the area?  I dont know how to explain why they can live one place treatment free and not another....
Not true, there are TF beekeepers everywhere.  The problem comes when you try to move bees from one place to another and expect the same results.  Bees aren?t meant to move.

   
   I have had bees that showed fantastic hygienic behavior. They passed the liquid nitrogen test with flying colors. They did well for two years, superseded their queen in year three, and by year four were crashing hard. 
I don?t find that bees often encounter liquid nitrogen in nature.  Seems to be a more or less useless talent.

     
   
Treated bees thrive, untreated bees die.
  That?s simply false.  Treated bees are dying almost as rapidly (or in many cases more rapidly) than untreated bees.  Feral untreated bees do just fine.  Long term treatment free bees do just fine.  I?ve been keeping bees for 12 years and never used a single treatment, hard soft or otherwise.

   
   The "natural" way is foolish..  allowing bees to die because they are not resistant makes no intelligent sense to me.  Why would you not treat them, and replace the queen?  In six to eight weeks there wont be any of the old progeny left, then you get to see if the new genetics can survive, and all you paid for was the queen..  I guess if your rich and dont mind buying packages or nucs every year..   I'm not rich, so I think I will treat when forced to it rather than let them die.
This is where the major disconnect is.  If you?re paying for every hive you get, sure, it?s not very bright to just let your hard earned cash die.  But it?s irresponsible beekeeping to buy bees!  I haven?t bought so much as a queen since 2011.  My bees come from my bees or feral swarms.  Don?t buy bees!  And for sure, don?t buy packages!

Also, the treatment-free way is not ?natural? if that word really means anything at all anymore.  It?s beekeeping.  Beekeeping is not natural.  However, rather than make weak bees and strong mites by treating, we make strong bees and weak mites by employing natural selection, or enhanced selection by artificially increasing more rapidly than nature would normally allow.

It makes no sense whatsoever to dump chemicals in a hive, then switch out the queen.  The hive is already affected by chemicals, it?s a lost cause at that point for me.  Time to trash it and start over.  Rather than let a hive die, smash the queen and unite it with a better equipped hive.
Solomon Parker
Parker Farms, Fayetteville Arkansas

Offline biggraham610

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #24 on: July 07, 2015, 12:41:11 AM »
Treatment/Treatment Free is a circular debate. I think everyone would love to be treatment free. I also think that there are some people that see it as irresponsible to watch a hive dwindle. Soloman, If one was to take the treatment free approach from square one, buy 5 local nuc's or packages whatever to get started, and they all crashed, how would you suggest one replace the bees to start again? We dont all have swarms on the doorstep.
I think everyone wants to have a sustainable apiary and never have to buy bees. Screaming "don't buy bees" is counter productive. Perhaps you never bough a bee, but I doubt that's the case. We all had to start somewhere.
I am doing my best to keep my bees alive and free of treatments, All of my current hives are led by queens raised off of original VSH stock open mated to feral drones. They are doing well at the moment, and my hopes are high. I don't think that means if it looked like my whole yard was crashing, I would not take action and try to save them and continue to get more of the local genes working on the next round of queens.
At the end of the day we are managing our bees. There are different management styles in all aspects of Farming, as in Life. To each his own. Belittling someone because they take a different path, solves no mysteries. Also, whats up with the random question mark? Makes it a little hard to read your posts. Good Luck to all. G
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Offline Maggiesdad

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #25 on: July 07, 2015, 08:54:15 AM »
I believe the board doesn't recognize certain punctuation marks from different systems, G.  I've seen it before with other folks posts too. I don't think SP is putting the ?s in there like that.

Also, I don't see belittling... just a passionate position. The OP asked for opinions, and they are going to be firmly held on this topic...   :grin:

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #26 on: July 07, 2015, 02:33:02 PM »
> I think everyone would love to be treatment free.

All my life people will say to me "I'd give my right arm to play the guitar like that"  (of course they are partially trying to make that joke) but I say, no you wouldn't.  If you really wanted to play the guitar, you would play it.  Play it when you get up.  Play it during you lunch hour.  Play it when you get home.  Play it in the middle of the night.  If you REALLY want to play the guitar you would play it.  Everyone obviously does not REALLY want to be treatment free or we would all be treatment free.

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Offline Solomon Parker

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #27 on: July 07, 2015, 03:59:46 PM »
Treatment/Treatment Free is a circular debate. I think everyone would love to be treatment free. I also think that there are some people that see it as irresponsible to watch a hive dwindle. Soloman, If one was to take the treatment free approach from square one, buy 5 local nuc's or packages whatever to get started, and they all crashed, how would you suggest one replace the bees to start again? We dont all have swarms on the doorstep.
I think everyone wants to have a sustainable apiary and never have to buy bees. Screaming "don't buy bees" is counter productive. Perhaps you never bough a bee, but I doubt that's the case. We all had to start somewhere.
I am doing my best to keep my bees alive and free of treatments, All of my current hives are led by queens raised off of original VSH stock open mated to feral drones. They are doing well at the moment, and my hopes are high. I don't think that means if it looked like my whole yard was crashing, I would not take action and try to save them and continue to get more of the local genes working on the next round of queens.
At the end of the day we are managing our bees. There are different management styles in all aspects of Farming, as in Life. To each his own. Belittling someone because they take a different path, solves no mysteries. Also, whats up with the random question mark? Makes it a little hard to read your posts. Good Luck to all. G
I have no idea where the question marks came from.  They were apostrophes when I typed them.

See, I hear something like "I'm doing everything I can to stay treatment-free" and all I can think is, "there's a misunderstanding here."  That statement is an oxymoron.  You don't do a bunch of things to be treatment free.  The bees do treatment free.  Doing everything to stay treatment free is simply not treating and letting the bees handle it.

Yes, I bought bees, in 2003, 20 packages.  Like Michael says, I wanted to be treatment free, so I did what was necessary to make it happen.  I worked really hard and saved my money.  I researched morning noon and night.  And most of all, I found a model and followed it.  So much failure in this field comes from people who start out on their own and don't follow the model of those who have already succeeded.
Solomon Parker
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Offline biggraham610

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #28 on: July 07, 2015, 04:44:05 PM »
I read Michaels story Solomon. I know he lost all his bees treating, and lost all his bees not treating, and then hit the right chord and it has worked out since. How about you? You bought 20 packages and had enough from the beginning to not treat and be sustainable. That's nice, what were your losses the first year? The second year? Until you got enough local genetics built in, how big of a hit did you take? If anyone thinks I am anti treatment free you got it wrong. Everyone does not start with 20 hives. If you start with 2 and lose one, you have a chance, if you start with 5 and lose 4 you have a chance, if you start with either and lose all, you are buying bees.  G
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Offline divemaster1963

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #29 on: July 07, 2015, 08:46:36 PM »
I personally chose not to buy bees. I get bees from cutout and trapouts apx: 10-20 per year. then I split survivors from previous year. I have been down to as little as 5 hives in bad winter years. but mostly my loss have been from as I stated during long cold snaps and the balls are caught to far off stores and I'm not able to open them to check and move stores closer to them.

john

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #30 on: July 12, 2015, 09:34:55 PM »
I think what some people do not realize is what natural selection means.  It means elimination.  And it could be your bees.  And it could be 100 hives of your bees.

That's where it hurts.  When you are spending $100+ for a colony of bees and they are dying, you hate to see your money disappear.  But it has to be your belief system.  If you really truly believe treatment free is best, then you can't say when the going gets rough you'll fall back to the time tested method of treating.  That would mean you don't really believe treatment free is the answer.

It would be a little like someone who has high blood pressure and doesn't want to take drugs but wants to reduce through lifestyle changes.  So he goes along, makes little headway, and his blood pressure rises.  He then caves in and says, exercise and better eating choices is not working so guess I'll have to go and take drugs.  What this means is that he really believes drugs are the answer.

Same with bees.  You either believe treatment free is the answer or you don't.  It's a pure faith statement.  It might be based upon evidences, but each side has their own evidences.  This is about how you actually believe.  If you believe, truly believe, treatment free is the answer, then treating is not an option.  However, you have to be prepared to lose bees.  And you should be learning from others.  But treating them may only delay the problem.

I've seen people saying if you don't treat, you are endangering everyone else's bees.  Kind of makes sense.  But I think such an attitude is more of a popular thing these days. Call it socialism, liberalism, or whatever name goes with it.  If you look at natural selection, those who are propping up disease susceptible bees are actually hurting everyone else's bees.  They are weakening the gene pool.  But saying this isn't really true.  Because no one really knows how to raise healthy bees.  If someone claims someone else is hurting other people's bees, they are saying they know everything about how to raise healthy bees.  And that, is simply not true.

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Offline Duane

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #32 on: July 13, 2015, 10:19:29 AM »
I don't recall having come across that page on your site before.  If I have forgotten, it might have influenced what I said.
I especially liked this:
Quote
If you believe there is a solution and you are focused on finding that solution within the framework of your view of the world, you will likely find something that will work.
If one believes treatment free is possible, they will continue searching until they find a way which works for them, even though they may fail along the way.

With the example of the lag screw, if she really believed the idea would work, and even though what she attempted did not work, she might contemplate why the specifics she tried did not work, and come up with another and another attempt until she came up with a fine threaded oil plug along with using some gasket sealer.  But she believed it would not work, "proved" it did not work, and stopped short of the goal.

I've seen some equate natural cell and small cell to be the same.  They say they used small cell and still have mites.  But they can't really compare what they did with what someone who lets the bees make their own comb did.  Because they didn't do the same thing!  And I've also seen some telling what they did along the lines of "put a bolt in it".  They did not give adequate details to follow.  They fully knew what they meant and intended, but failed to convey the details.

I've observed something I didn't expect in the hive.  To me pollen is pollen, get it in there and store it.  But for some reason, the bees put one color of pollen together, and other colors together.  Now this could be because each be has their own area and concentrates on one flower.  But could it be a possibility that they use different pollen for different purposes?  And if they make such a do about keeping like pollen stored together, could they use different cell sizes for different purposes?  Of course we know that regarding workers, drones, and honey cells.  But could the bees select different cells at different times of the year for different reasons?  For example, if the mite load reaches a certain threshold, could they switch to different size cells?  They might even be doing their own mite management with cell size.  There's so much we don't know, but seeing them segregate pollen caused me to think there's lots of things going on.  And if we force one cell size, whether small, medium, or large, their choices and ability to deal with things are reduced.

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #33 on: July 13, 2015, 10:36:12 AM »
While there are some things we all agree will fail, there are things where one person has succeeded and another has failed.  The difference is always in the details.  If you take one of these controversial ideas and state it in general terms (such as "put a bold in it") then you need only tell me how you want the outcome to be and I can set up an experiment to prove it either way.  Why?  Because it's all in the details.  If someone wants to disprove some general statement they need only stack the details in favor of that outcome.
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Offline OldMech

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #34 on: July 13, 2015, 10:21:40 PM »
Then ill start splits and we will try your treatment free when I can afford some losses.
It doesn't work that way.  Treating also results in losses.

   How do you figure? I have never lost a hive from treating, but I have lost them from NOT treating.
39 Hives and growing.  Havent found the end of the comfort zone yet.

Offline OldMech

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #35 on: July 13, 2015, 10:32:05 PM »
I HOPE I never have to treat them, but it has been my experience that I will eventually do so, to save them.
Save them for what?  What?s the point when you stop treating at some point, like the point when you die or get crippled, and then they die at that point?  Why not just clear out the nonsense now?

   Mech;    Because you dont have to pay hyunjdreds of dollars to replace bees you didnt need to lose. Feel free to spend your own money however you wish.


   
   I have had bees that showed fantastic hygienic behavior. They passed the liquid nitrogen test with flying colors. They did well for two years, superseded their queen in year three, and by year four were crashing hard. 
I don?t find that bees often encounter liquid nitrogen in nature.  Seems to be a more or less useless talent.

   Mech;   I am hoping are you are yanking my chain?


     
   
Treated bees thrive, untreated bees die.
  That?s simply false.  Treated bees are dying almost as rapidly (or in many cases more rapidly) than untreated bees.  Feral untreated bees do just fine.  Long term treatment free bees do just fine.  I?ve been keeping bees for 12 years and never used a single treatment, hard soft or otherwise.

   Mech;   Then we have very different bees, or perhaps methods of treatments?


   
   The "natural" way is foolish..  allowing bees to die because they are not resistant makes no intelligent sense to me.  Why would you not treat them, and replace the queen?  In six to eight weeks there wont be any of the old progeny left, then you get to see if the new genetics can survive, and all you paid for was the queen..  I guess if your rich and dont mind buying packages or nucs every year..   I'm not rich, so I think I will treat when forced to it rather than let them die.
This is where the major disconnect is.  If you?re paying for every hive you get, sure, it?s not very bright to just let your hard earned cash die.  But it?s irresponsible beekeeping to buy bees!  I haven?t bought so much as a queen since 2011.  My bees come from my bees or feral swarms.  Don?t buy bees!  And for sure, don?t buy packages!

Also, the treatment-free way is not ?natural? if that word really means anything at all anymore.  It?s beekeeping.  Beekeeping is not natural.  However, rather than make weak bees and strong mites by treating, we make strong bees and weak mites by employing natural selection, or enhanced selection by artificially increasing more rapidly than nature would normally allow.

It makes no sense whatsoever to dump chemicals in a hive, then switch out the queen.  The hive is already affected by chemicals, it?s a lost cause at that point for me.  Time to trash it and start over.  Rather than let a hive die, smash the queen and unite it with a better equipped hive.

  Mech;   Perhaps you need to start using OAV, I can now see that the entire post was related to the "other" treastments.. I have used nothing but OAV for several years now..   Killing a little insect on a big insect with insecticides never did make sense to me....  so.. I happen to agree with your last statement 100%, the only difference is I just give them a better queen after smashing the old one.
39 Hives and growing.  Havent found the end of the comfort zone yet.

Offline divemaster1963

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #36 on: July 13, 2015, 10:48:18 PM »
I'm not rich by no means. low wages and high medical and cost of living pushed me towards non treatment. but sense I did this I like it. the added cost of treatment would cost me more money than I could or what to spend. mother nature knows more than anyone of us or all of us together how the bees survive. (by swarming) if a area is not benifical to a hive the hive swarms and improves in a different location. so I take ques from the bees. if a hive is not working in one area I move to a new area. I do this with out yards. none within 3 miles of each other and on different forge. this is what was taught to me by my uncle. let the bees tell you what works and what does not.

john

Offline Eric Bosworth

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #37 on: July 19, 2015, 07:26:16 AM »
Yoda once said "Do or do not, there is no try." I have to wonder how bees have not gone extinct without treatment for thousands of years. Just as antibiotics in humans have created super bugs, the same can and will happen with bees. Genetics plays a huge part in survival. I remember something from highschool about survival of the fittest. Some people are surprised that new types of diseases are discovered in humans quite regularly. It should not be a surprise. Medical advancements have made it possible for people to live healthy lives that would have died at birth 100 years ago. So now they can have children that have new problems. The same can be said about bees. Non treatment very well may result in bees dying. But it could be that natural selection was not given the chance to select.
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Offline little john

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #38 on: July 26, 2015, 11:50:17 AM »
I've never treated bees, but maybe I would - providing it made sense to do so. Sure, I lost a few colonies in the early days - mostly during winter - but those that survived are now pretty tough.

I reckon most maladies develop due to poor hive conditions - in particular inadequate ventilation. Either that, or weak strains of bee are being supported by chemical treatments and so their genes are being passed on, rather than dying out as nature intended.

I do treat Varroa (but that's NOT treating bees) with OAV, and luckily we don't have SHB. If we did, then I'd treat those too - but I can't see me ever treating bees prophylactically.

I certainly don't see feeding, or other methods of basic hive management, as being forms of 'treatment'.

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Offline OldMech

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #39 on: August 04, 2015, 11:38:43 AM »
You have to wonder how bees went without treatments for thousands of years??   Really?  Did bees have the problems introduced by pesticides and mites for thousands of years? Not hardly. Those are the things we introduced...  want to see the results of the things we introduced? Come on over, I'll show you at the very least, a dozen empty feral bee trees. They suruive in this rea right now by swarming.. a LOT... they swarm, and the mother hive dies. That winter, or the next..  however long it takes them to be overcome with mites..  its a GUARANTEE.. no hope, and if you are hoping then your up for a bit of heartbreak.  I personally dont want swarmy bees, and not treating because its expensive is about as silly as it gets.  It costs around ten dollars a year to treat 50ish hives.  120 dollars or so for the vaporizor.. which would have been a single treatment for less than half of my hives...  a one time cost...

    Treatment free..   start with the best bees you can get, and then be prepared to lose a LOT of them while you find the ones who can deal with the problems associated with your area/weather/humidity/mites and diseases..   Yep, possible. I know keeps who are doing it, but they are doing it with intensive management instead of treatments..  I have not found a bee yet that will survive more than three years without  TREATMENT OR INTENSIVE MANAGEMENT in the area I live in.  I am looking, I am trying..  MN Hygienic?  nope, died.. VSH Gold? Nope, Died..  Old Sol?  No, REALLY died. "Survivors from NC are the best I have seen to date, have to see if they make the winter.. they built up FAST and are pulling larvae that have mites... keeping my fingers crossed...     the issue here is.. replacing these queens.. they will cross with local drones, and LOSE the ability to survive with mites.. So I will need to keep buying queens until their drones have infused enough resistance into the local bees.. how long will that take? ten years? Fifty years?

   Not treating, and or NOT managing your bees to survive is irresponsible. if you HAVE bees that can survive.. GREAT!! Awesome!  Advertise them and sell queens!  For everyone else who allows them to die.. I really hope I get to meet you in person one day. Your THE problem that the rest of us have to put up with while trying top raise resistant bees.
39 Hives and growing.  Havent found the end of the comfort zone yet.

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #40 on: August 04, 2015, 11:48:56 AM »
> Treatment free..   start with the best bees you can get, and then be prepared to lose a LOT of them

Treatments?  Start with the best bees you can get, treat them and then be prepared to lost a lot of THEM.

I don't know where this idea that people not treating are losing any more bees than people treating.  If you average out all the surveys where the only thing being considered is treated or not treated it comes out about even.  If you MANAGE them well and manage them to not be treated then your odds should go up from there.

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Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #41 on: August 04, 2015, 11:48:40 PM »
When I started keeping, back in 2010, I was told by a lot of experienced beeks, mostly commercial beeks, that you cannot keep bees without treating them. I have yet to treat them. Most years I do not lost bees during the winter. This past year was the worst, bees were strong going into the spring and I lost 5 hives to absconding, not dying out. All left honey supplies in the hives and very little brood.
Jim
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Offline Eric Bosworth

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #42 on: August 05, 2015, 09:13:35 PM »
I didn't realize I would get such a fired up response OldMech. While I do agree that pesticides have been pretty hard on bees and there has been human intervention that didn't exist for thousands of years, I can't say we caused the mites. We have however imported bees with no genetic defense to mites so when mites were introduced here there was no natural bee defense. Many beeks also use foundation that enlarged bees by almost 50%. That may not have had any effect but it certainly wasn't how bees survived on their own. Yes many problems for bees have been created by man. But I would not say that treatment free is the cause of problems or that bees could never make it on there own.
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Offline Joe D

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #43 on: August 05, 2015, 10:51:00 PM »
I have been real lucky with my bees.  I started with three hives from an estate.  The beek had treated, he came down with cancer, became unable to take care of his bees and later he died.  His bees were on there on for a year or so before I got them.  The boxes were in bad shape I changed out some of them the day I got them.  They had SHB's bad, and I did read a lot and watched u tube on things to do for them.  I did treat for the SHB's, until there count was none or almost.  Then I quit treating for them.  I started with 3 hives, caught seven swarms the first year.  Didn't have enough boxes to hold them gave a few swarms away.  I keep four, which gave me seven hives.  One absconded the next year, had some robbing and lost another.  Then had five and keep that number until this spring, I lost one due to me, they starved this spring before blooms.  And so far I have only treated the SHB,s.  Also like John, money was and is a limiting factor.  I try to do treatment free.  And we all have to do what we think is best for our own bees.  Last year is the first time I have bought any foundation, I have been trying to do foundationless since I got my bees.
Good luck to you all and your bees,
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Offline OldMech

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #44 on: August 08, 2015, 06:25:19 PM »
> Treatment free..   start with the best bees you can get, and then be prepared to lose a LOT of them

Treatments?  Start with the best bees you can get, treat them and then be prepared to lost a lot of THEM.

I don't know where this idea that people not treating are losing any more bees than people treating.  If you average out all the surveys where the only thing being considered is treated or not treated it comes out about even.  If you MANAGE them well and manage them to not be treated then your odds should go up from there.


   I dont lose hardly ANY bees, because I treat them if they start to crash, and move them to a different yard. THe ONLY bees I lost last year were the packages I attempted to over winter, AND, two hive I attempted to modify their ventilation, and the moisture got them. ALL other hives survived wonderfully. The winter before? The winter that we had a 70% loss state wide? I lost one weak hive i should have combined. The winter before that? I lost 4 packages.. the winter before that? I lost two packages...   I had 5 year old queens superseded this year. Next year I will have four five year old queens, provided they survive the winter.. I have no reason to believe they wont.  I have two outyards with survivors in them that will not be treated, unless they start to crash.  When i find 4 to 6 mites PER drone cell, DWV crawlers all over the place, deformed abdomens and a LOT of mites in the hive, and DO NOT see a lot of brood being removed, I know the hive will not make it without treatment..   Treat them, and they explode with bees...   Give them a queen that may be more resistant and try again...


. But I would not say that treatment free is the cause of problems or that bees could never make it on there own.

  I am not sure how you got the idea that treatment free was a cause? But your right, it IS a cause.. when my neighbor decides to be a lazy AZZ and not treat, his hives crash and I end up with the problem in my hives.. even bees that were capable of surviving without treatments will now DIE when the influx of bees overloaded with mites joins them....


   HOW, is a hive treated with OAV one time flooded with chemicals? Thats as silly as letting them die. If thats the case, you need to exterminate your bees that are storing honey, because honey has Oxalic Acid in it naturally.
    Let me quote Randy Oliver;
   
   Allowing hives to collapse from AFB or varroa makes you a disease-spreading nuisance!

   I agree 100%

   Rustys blog at the honey bee suite is even better. Both can be read on my site or theirs;

http://www.outyard.net/natural-beekeeping.html

   Treatment free, if you have the right bees and conditions is admirable, and the way we all need to go.. treatment free and letting your bees die?  You are NOT a beekeeper, your the nuisance mentioned earlier.
39 Hives and growing.  Havent found the end of the comfort zone yet.

Offline GSF

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #45 on: August 28, 2015, 03:54:20 PM »
Survivors from NC are the best I have seen to date, have to see if they make the winter.. they built up FAST and are pulling larvae that have mites... keeping my fingers crossed...     the issue here is.. replacing these queens.. they will cross with local drones, and LOSE the ability to survive with mites..

..allow me to advertise my ignorance by asking a question..,

Has anyone considered "learned behavior"? Does it exist in the insect world? Let me provide an example,

My wife has cats. (and fleas  :cheesy:) Only one of the four (now 3) use to come to her - where ever she was - and meow like crazy because it wanted food. Now a different cat has caught on and does the same thing.
All four are rescue cats who were kittens from different areas meaning non related.

So my thinking is, wouldn't it be possible for half sister non hygienic bees to recognize a good trait and continue it?
When the law no longer protects you from the corrupt, but protects the corrupt from you - then you know your nation is doomed.

Offline Eric Bosworth

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #46 on: August 29, 2015, 09:34:52 PM »
GSF I do not know how much is genetic instinct and how much is learned behavior. Good question I would love to know.
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Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: opinions on treatment free beekieeping
« Reply #47 on: August 30, 2015, 08:13:38 AM »
Eric,
Considering the average bees life span is 6 weeks, I suspect most of it is instinct. They have to learn their territory but most of what know on how to bo their job is instinct.
In nature, the more a species depends on learning how to live, the longer the child rearing time.
Jim
"If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed.  If you do read the newspaper you are misinformed."--Mark Twain