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Author Topic: Bee keeping for dummies makes all natural sound impossible  (Read 835 times)

Offline Simondsrach

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Bee keeping for dummies makes all natural sound impossible
« on: February 14, 2017, 03:33:17 pm »
When I first decided that I wanted to keep bees I knew I wanted to do it all natural.   This planet is one big organic balance and I feel it is  important to honor that balance despite what the rest are doing.    So I decided to read bee keeping for dummies because I don't really know much about bee keeping.   I know bees are amazing and fascinating and essential to life   But how to be a keeper ... I'm clueless.   the book makes feeding and medication sound necessary... even just as a preventative.  So How can I raise an all natural colony without stepping on the toes of mother earths balance...   
     Do u make syrup from organic sugar cane... my medicine cabinet is essential always and herbs ... can I treat my bees with these.   I don't need any detailed answers Just a little reassurance I can do this ... I don't mind work or research

Offline herbhome

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Re: Bee keeping for dummies makes all natural sound impossible
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2017, 05:37:20 pm »
Simon,

For starters, you need to source your bees from a beekeeper that is already raising treatment free or at least E.O. as needed.

There is very little "natural" about housing bees in a manmade hive.

I started with Russians and VSH Italians. The Italians are not around anymore but the Russians have made it through their second winter. I recommend getting purebred Russian stock if you can. In the end, all honey bees on this continent are hybrids but I see that as a decidedly good thing.

Offline little john

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Re: Bee keeping for dummies makes all natural sound impossible
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2017, 07:29:33 pm »
Quote
When I first decided that I wanted to keep bees I knew I wanted to do it all natural. ... Just a little reassurance I can do this ... I don't mind work or research

I hate to be the one to burst an idealistic bubble - but the keeping of bees is NOT natural, it never has been - so no, in an absolute sense you can never keep bees naturally.

What you CAN DO is to go some way towards accomodating the bees' natural behaviour - such as running a hive foundationless for example, rather than using man-made foundation.  What this means is that the bees then decide for themselves what size of cells they will create when building their combs - after all, it is those combs which actually constitute the bees' home, rather than the hive itself. That's just a box which houses the combs, and within reason, the bees will adjust to living within any old box.

With regard to treatments, there's a growing number of beekeepers who have adopted a totally treatment-free philosophy.  Then, at the other end of the spectrum, there are beekeepers who rely upon a chemical solution for just about very possible ailment - real or imagined. And then there is a third group (which is where I'm located) who don't treat bees for diseases, but do 'treat' (as in 'kill') their parasites such as Varroa mites and Small Hive Beetles.   

I'm not a great one for handing-out advice, but you could do a lot worse than reign-in your idealism for a short time, and just get on with the keeping of bees in whatever style is available to you - while you learn the basics. Then, once you have a season or two under your belt, you'll be in a much better position to make an informed judgement about which style of beekeeping is 'for you'.

It's a great hobby, totally addictive, and although the bees will never become cuddly pets, it's almost certain that you'll become extremely fond and protective of these amazing little creatures.  Most of us do.
LJ
A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping - http://heretics-guide.site90.com

Offline cao

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Re: Bee keeping for dummies makes all natural sound impossible
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2017, 07:58:18 pm »
You can do this.  The definition of all natural is open for debate.  Like little john said, keeping bees in a box is not natural.  The key is to find what you are comfortable with.  I started with 3 nucs 4 years ago.  At present I have 21 hives alive.  I do not treat my hives.  About half have screen bottom boards with oil trays to get rid of small hive beetles.  I do feed my hives sugar water or sugar bricks when they need it.  I also feed pollen substitute when necessary.  Most of the time my job is to let the bees be bees.  Books are a nice source of information but as they say bees don't read.  In my opinion the best beekeeper learns from the bees and gives them what they need.  Good luck and remember to have fun with your bees.

Offline gww

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Re: Bee keeping for dummies makes all natural sound impossible
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2017, 09:02:15 pm »
cao
Did you make any honey during the four years or just bees.  I am sorta at a cross roads.  I have three hives now.  I want honey but also want increase.  I want the increase cause I am not treating and I figure if I split off some bees, then if the mites catch up to me I will still have a few bees to move forward with.  I want honey cause I want something to show for my work.

Just curious of your last four year experiance.
Cheers
gww

Offline cao

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Re: Bee keeping for dummies makes all natural sound impossible
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2017, 11:29:48 pm »
gww

Sounds like you are were I was a few years ago.  The short answer is yes.  The longer answer is despite my clumsy attempts the bees made honey any way.  I didn't pull any honey the first year with the new hives.  The second year I doubled number of hives with basically walk away splits and still got 10 gal(most was given to friends and family).  The next year I increased my hive numbers by making splits by pulling nucs from hives.  Left two hives to produce honey and got 15 gal.  Ended up with 11 making it through the winter.   Last year I got more aggressive with making splits(only got 8 gal).  I pulled the queen and a couple of frames from two hives.  Checked on them a week later and every frame that had at least one queen cell got its own nuc(leaving one cell in original hive).  One hive turned into 7 nucs and a small hive. 6 of which are still alive.  I did make splits from most of my hives so my honey production did suffer some.  I now have
21 hives and will be doing more splits this year. 
It depends on how much honey you want.  With 3 hives you could save one or two for honey and the other for splits.  Taking a couple of frames of bees from a strong hive won't set them back much at all.  I was a little aggressive last year and wasted some resources plus the summer wasn't very good for the bees to build up(lost several late splits).  But once you get 6-8 hives it becomes much easier to grow you hive numbers.  You have more room to make mistakes and recover from them.  I've learned that you can't force things.  Sometimes the bees don't do what you want them to do.

Hope this helps.


 

Offline gww

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Re: Bee keeping for dummies makes all natural sound impossible
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2017, 12:23:11 am »
cao
It did help and I thank you very much for taking the time and effort to explain more.  It is much better hearing what really happened based on what was done then just knowing what might be done.  I bug people for their experiances and thank you for being good about it.

I didn't even get all my hives to recomended size and weight for my area but they are all still alive at this point and for the last few days they started bringing pollen in.  I will probly wait awhile before I even get in them but the entrances look good.
Thank you very much.
gww

Offline Jim 134

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Re: Bee keeping for dummies makes all natural sound impossible
« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2017, 01:27:58 am »
The last I knew the USDA does not have a standard for organic honey. At least for the honey that is produced in the USA.


                 BEE HAPPY Jim  134    :smile:
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Offline hjon71

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Re: Bee keeping for dummies makes all natural sound impossible
« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2017, 02:48:38 am »
You can do this

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Quite difficult matters can be explained even to a slow-witted man, if only he has not already adopted a wrong opinion about them; but the simplest things cannot be made clear even to a very intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he already knows, and knows indubitably, the truth of the matter under consideration. -Leo Tolstoy

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Bee keeping for dummies makes all natural sound impossible
« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2017, 09:37:00 am »
I have not treated for Varroa since 2003.  I have never treated for anything else except the first year I had bees and the books frightened me into using terramycin.  Except for a few years when Varroa first arrived I had not treated for anything since 1975.  Read "Complete Idiots Guide to Beekeeping" or my web site (or my book if you want to buy it instead of reading it online).  Other treatment free books, Les Crowder's Top-Bar Beekeeping: Organic Practices for Honeybee Health or Christy Hemenway's The Thinking Beekeeper.  Or read Kirk Webster's web site: kirkwebster.com  There are thousands of us not treating and doing well.  Keep in mind that beekeeping is not easy.  Everyone loses hives now and then and recent times have been more difficult with viruses, mites, diseases etc.  But keeping bees without treatments is no more tricky than keeping bees with them.

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Offline Simondsrach

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Re: Bee keeping for dummies makes all natural sound impossible
« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2017, 09:49:00 am »
Thank you everyone for the great responses ... I'm so glad I joined this forum... and I'm definetly going to look into the books you've recommended ... I myself try to live naturally and it's more definetly proven more difficult than the easy route of processed food prescriptions and chemicals... I think anything we try to do naturally in this fast food microwave  world seems tasking ...but not to long ago it was away of life.   with the balance so uneven we've definetly made it difficult for nature to heal itself by adding so many toxins to our water air and soil.  I feel some relief knowing I got a great place to turn with my infinite questions and concern.   Especially when I get started ... I'm know I'm going to lose bees but oh man I'm gana make myself crazy in the beginning trying g to prevent it. 

Offline Rurification

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Re: Bee keeping for dummies makes all natural sound impossible
« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2017, 07:07:44 pm »
I'm know I'm going to lose bees but oh man I'm gana make myself crazy in the beginning trying g to prevent it. 

You will lose bees and it will make you crazy.   I had a terrible time getting started but decided to hang in there.  This is year 6 for me.   It took me 4 years to figure out how to keep them going through the winter here.   I lost all my hives three winters in a row.  Spent a lot of money.  Cursed a lot.  It turned out to be a simple fix [solid bottoms and quilt boxes.]   All of my hives made it through last year and this year.   I have 4 this year.   

Michael's book and website [and participation here] are indispensable.   Every time I think I can't do it, I read through his book/site and have renewed hope.   

There are lots of folks here who are trying to go treatment free.  [and lots who aren't]  You'll get plenty of great help as you need it.       I hope you have a great year and a lot of fun getting to know your bees.
Robin Edmundson
www.rurification.com

Beekeeping since 2012

Offline jvalentour

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Re: Bee keeping for dummies makes all natural sound impossible
« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2017, 12:01:16 am »
I think you can do it in time.
From what I understand treatment free is more of an scheduled/organized type method.  With a few exceptions smaller apiaries and modest goals.  MB is the exception I think. 
In your journey you will experience failures, if you learn from failure you will eventually get where you want.
I am not in the treatment free group.  But I do respect their effort and maybe in the future I will start a yard TF.  For ,y purposes and lifestyle I treat like I vote, early and often.

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Bee keeping for dummies makes all natural sound impossible
« Reply #13 on: February 16, 2017, 09:46:32 am »
The better beekeeper you are the better luck you will have.  It takes practice to get good at anything and beekeeping is so dependent on your location and on the weather that particular year and on the decisions that the colony makes that may be different from colony to colony.  So, in the end, beekeeping is more art than science.  You can speed up some of the learning curve by trying to keep notes on things like when a certain tree blooms from year to year and when you think the main flow is from year to year.  After a while you know when the fall flow should happen and how much weight they are likely to put on during it.  And when in the spring they will start to really build up.  And when to expect the main flow based on those first blooms.  Keeping notes helps you know what to expect from year to year and make adjustments from year to year.

As far as treatment free vs treatment, treatment free is much simpler and much less work.  But you still need to learn to keep bees. 

You need to learn when to help them out and when to leave them alone.  When you can add a lot of room and when it's a bad idea to add room.  These things change depending on the current goal of the bees.  For example in late winter and early spring the goal of the colony is to raise more bees.  If you are thinking they should be making honey, you may make poor judgments.  How the bees respond to what you do depends on their goals at the time.  When the main flow hits, their goal is to make honey.  When a summer dearth hits, they may stop rearing brood altogether and they may respond very differently to the same manipulation you did in early spring or during the main flow.  Every year you watch and pay attention you will learn more and, what keeps bees so interesting, you'll never get it entirely figured out...
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm en espanol: bushfarms.com/es_bees.htm  auf deutsche: bushfarms.com/de_bees.htm
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Offline Jim 134

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Re: Bee keeping for dummies makes all natural sound impossible
« Reply #14 on: February 17, 2017, 05:13:24 am »
I know right now where there are a lot of commercial beekeeping operations. The ones that pollinate in New England . Seem to have brought a lot of viruses with them. Have notices this for about the past 5 to 7 years .  it's spreading to the stationary beekeepers. Throughout New England. Also some of these viruses also be are being spread by nucs,package bees and infected equipment.

           BEE HAPPY Jim 134  :smile:
"Tell me and I'll forget,show me and I may  remember,involve me and I'll understand"
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"The farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything at retail, sells everything at wholesale, and pays the freight both ways."
 John F. Kennedy
Franklin County Beekeepers Association MA. http://www.franklinmabeekeepers.org/

Offline BeeMe

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Re: Bee keeping for dummies makes all natural sound impossible
« Reply #15 on: July 08, 2017, 12:08:46 pm »
Simondsrach,  You have received soon really good reply.  They all make more sense than what you could find anywhere.

Thanks to everyone who responded.
Calvin
"leaving Africa soon and hopefully back to the bees"
Calvin King
"But the noble make noble plans, and by noble deeds they stand."  Isaiah 32:8

Offline cao

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Re: Bee keeping for dummies makes all natural sound impossible
« Reply #16 on: July 08, 2017, 01:41:46 pm »
Welcome  C. King.  :happy: