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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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Online 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.

Online 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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Online 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.
?Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.?


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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

Online 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.