TF hives often die out in yr 2- how to avoid it ?

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Bob Wilson:
John. Glad to hear the bird box bees are doing well. I am sure they swarm every year, and so have picked up the genetic material of feral bee drones.
I believe my first hive was a swarm from another beekeeper. Since then, the bees have become smaller and darker building their own comb and cell size, and swarming. I am still working on how to keep the brood nest open in my long hives.
I am still learning a lot of the basic concepts of beekeeping, and still have a lot to consider, especially on issues of varying opinion.
Some are adamant about everyone needing to treat for mites. Time will tell if I can succeed TF, but I am committed to this purpose.

Ben Framed:
TF hives often die out in yr 2- how to avoid it ?

Treat. lol just kidding. Wishing y'all the best. I understand the romanticism and other views of non treating. As Bob stated, his bees are better off with him than in a feral setting. Lets not forget Cao. Very successful except for SHB this season.

It does need nerves of steel Bob   :smile:  A few times I have been weakening and thought just a bit of a treatment won't hurt, then I toughen up and stick with it.  Look at Scot's video as he covers some of the problems.  He is a TF commercial keeper which is unusual.  When I listen to people like Leo Sharaskin it helps with my resolve.  I figure once year two is passed and they start swarming then that is success.  The swarms are of bees that know how to survive and the one's left get a new queen with part of that ability, and on and on.  There will come a time when they fail naturally, queen predated on a mating flight, exceptional cold but that's ok as their work is done and I now have a space for a swarm to occupy.

For people like myself with two hives there is a risk of losses but we have the time to devote to minimising that risk. I am planning my 'wild' hive in a stand of trees so that any swarms from these, or anywhere, can be put there and left untouched.  If I do have a hive that dies out I would hope a swarm from there (long term plan this) would repopulate it, or one from the hive next to it.

My bird box hive died out due to Asian Hornets as too small to withstand the attack or they may well still be there, new hives are better protected. I was sad when they died as I thought (having no idea about bees) all my bees I have had for so many years are dead.  Then as I learned I realised they would have swarmed at least once a year maybe more as a too small box really.  So the bees at the end were probably 7-10th generation and the original bees and their descendants had swarmed elsewhere long ago.   Some photos in the links.   
The box itself, on a garage wall in full 40c sun sometimes (hence the sunshade) 
Bees in the box on a garage wall, got so rotten I had to repair it, note the shelves meant for birds. 
What was inside when they died out, warre body next to it (about 1.5x warre box volume

Bob Wilson:
John. I would imagine that your bird box put off several swarms a year. Not just one. It is very small.
So you are keeping warre hives? People seem to like those. My long langs hold 32 deep langstroth frames in a row like a file cabinet. Each one is 4 feet long and equivalent  to 3 deep langstroth boxes. They are working great for me, a hobbyist.
Michel Bush also works to be TF, although he does treat some, I believe. You can find his website at It has a LOT of great info from TF to foundationless frames to feral genetics. He is very practical and keeps about 200 hives.

Bob Wilson:
Michel Bush at is completely TF. He keeps ahout 200 hives and makes some compelling arguments about treatment free beekeeping on his website.
We are creating our own mite problem by purchasing inbred, inferior queen stock rather than feral, naturally selected bees, that survive and breed/swarm in our own local area. These feral populations are not sickly and inferior to purchased stock. They are often superior to sugar raised, treatment dependent queens bred in very different climates than our own areas. Meanwhile, healthy feral colonies grow and swarm without treatment in the wild, which displays mite resistant qualities.
Mite treatment weakens the colony, often is only partly effective, contaminates the commercial wax pool, and breeds stronger mites.
The best mite control is to let treatment dependent colonies die out in favor of naturally resistant bee genetics. It is a difficult initial cost to pay, but is the best way to overcome the mite problem.


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