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Author Topic: Becoming Treatment Free  (Read 1440 times)

Offline ParksMtnApiary

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Becoming Treatment Free
« on: December 19, 2019, 07:37:54 pm »

I am wanting to start being treatment free beekeeper. I feel that ?man? thinks he knows how to make nature better by changing how nature intended. I feel we have weakened bees natural defenses with chemicals upsetting the homeostasis of hive and making things worse by increasing bee size with today?s foundation. Anyway, I want to begin changing to chemical free, small and/or natural comb. I follow Michael Bush mgmt introducing empty frames with starter sticks or comb. Try to place a few in each hive couple times during flow. Also going to introduce small cell wax foundation as I recycle out old comb. This will take some time to replace all my hives at this pace. How can I keep mite counts down during this long process without treating and tainting my ?new? comb? Any help appreciated....Matt 
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Offline The15thMember

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Re: Becoming Treatment Free
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2019, 08:10:51 pm »
I'm only in my second year, so take my advice with a grain of salt, but I also am trying to be as treatment free as possible, and I use no foundation in my hives.  There are plenty of organic treatments available (formic acid, oxalic acid, thymol, etc.) that wouldn't leave residue in your wax.  Perhaps you could treat organically until such a time as you decided to stop treating altogether, if you find your bees are successful enough to stop treating.   
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Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Becoming Treatment Free
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2019, 08:32:15 pm »
I'm only in my second year, so take my advice with a grain of salt, but I also am trying to be as treatment free as possible, and I use no foundation in my hives.  There are plenty of organic treatments available (formic acid, oxalic acid, thymol, etc.) that wouldn't leave residue in your wax.  Perhaps you could treat organically until such a time as you decided to stop treating altogether, if you find your bees are successful enough to stop treating.   

Sound advice Member.
Phillip

Offline gww

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Re: Becoming Treatment Free
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2019, 11:28:06 pm »
Pretty new myself.  I have 9 hives right now and am in my forth winter.  I am foundationless due to being a cheapskate and treatment free due to being lazy and not having that bite me in the butt yet.  I agree that oa will not leave residue in your comb if you decide to use it.  If I lived in a place that gave me no choice, I would do what I needed to do to not have to buy any bees.  If you really are worried, you could continually split and just make bees and not honey and probably survive quite well.  I just take whatever honey the bees make extra and try and keep my bees from swarming and they seem to live just fine so far.

My philosophy on the treatment free is that you don't know it will not work till you just try it and see.  I believe others when they say they have tried and it did not work for them.  I will say though, that I have never tried treating  cause my bees have not yet forced me to treat.  They just keep living with out it.

You have to decide if it is worth knowing or not whether your bees will handle it. Only one way to do that and that is to try it and see and take the good with the bad.
Either way, good luck to you.
Cheers
gww

Offline FloridaGardener

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Re: Becoming Treatment Free
« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2019, 12:24:20 am »
1. Keep feral bees from cutouts. 
2. Or, buy from long-term successful treatment-free beeks only. Michael Bush does sell queens.
3. Choose to live where bees aren?t badly stressed.
4. The healthybeesllc company claims to have a lot science to back their product, but in a way it?s a treatment.  Depends on your definition of treatment.

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Becoming Treatment Free
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2019, 01:16:26 pm »
From the point of view of keeping the honey organic, formic and oxalic acid are fine.  From the point of view of maintaining the microbes in the hive they are devastating.  The point at which I started having good luck with treatment free after Varroa was when the CORE of the brood nest was small.  That's only about a third or fourth of the actual comb.  It doesn't take that long to get the core reduced.  If you don't mind plastic you can get it immediately with PF120s or PF100s from Mann Lake.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnotreatments.htm
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm en espanol: bushfarms.com/es_bees.htm  auf deutsche: bushfarms.com/de_bees.htm  em portugues:  bushfarms.com/pt_bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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Offline ParksMtnApiary

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Re: Becoming Treatment Free
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2019, 04:59:58 pm »
So just use small cell and/or natural for broodnest? Rest of frames standard size? You would recommend plastic over wax foundation?
« Last Edit: December 20, 2019, 05:10:36 pm by ParksMtnApiary »

Offline Acebird

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Re: Becoming Treatment Free
« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2019, 09:22:41 am »
I think with the little experience I have that your success with treatment free will depend on how many hives around you that aren't.  I have never heard of anyone doing both in the same apiary succeeding with treatment free.
Brian Cardinal
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Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Becoming Treatment Free
« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2019, 03:01:30 pm »
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm en espanol: bushfarms.com/es_bees.htm  auf deutsche: bushfarms.com/de_bees.htm  em portugues:  bushfarms.com/pt_bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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"Everything works if you let it."--James "Big Boy" Medlin

Offline CoolBees

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Re: Becoming Treatment Free
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2019, 06:02:48 pm »
...  I have never heard of anyone doing both in the same apiary succeeding with treatment free.

Randy Oliver keeps both treatment & non-treatment bees in his Apiary. He has written extensively of what he's been accomplishing in hygienic/treatment-free beeking - http://scientificbeekeeping.com
You cannot permanently help men by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves - Abraham Lincoln

Offline CoolBees

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Re: Becoming Treatment Free
« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2019, 07:03:36 pm »
Parks - I can't speak for others, I can only share my personal experiences & studies,  some of which may be only relevant to my location.

I chose to be treatment free from the start, as recommended by my beek mentor. In 2015 I captured 2 swarms, split them once each to get 4 hives. All of those hives died by mid 2016. Cause of death was disease(s) due to Varroa.

My studies (compressed) - At this point I began to study bees in depth. Here's what I learned:

The 2 large/commercial beekeepers that I hold in highest esteem are:
Michael Bush - www.bushfarms.com
Randy Oliver - scientificbeekeeping.com

I've read everything on both gentlemens' websites. Well worth the time imho. To my view, both men have arrived at the same place - treetment free genetics - using different paths to get there. Both men offer incredible knowledge on this subject. I highly recommend studying their work.

We are very blessed to have Mr Bush posting here on Beemaster.

Timewise, Randy is well behind (Mr Bush) - and only has part of his Apiary TF currently.

I read somewhere - that India made a government decision not to treat when Varroa hit the country. They suffered a 96% to 99% loss of their bees. However, within 2 years their entire country was back to full production capacity. See - only the bees that were able to survive, were left to breed colonies from. India has never allowed treetment, as I understand it - and doesn't need it.

Africa did not treat their bees when varroa hit - with similar results to India.

In 2017 (I think it was) Randy Oliver tested (via alcohol wash) all of his 1000 commercial hives. He found 20 hives that did not require treetment - that's 2% of his total apiary. He immediately began to use those hives/queens as breeders & drone producers. Last I heard, he had 200+/- treetment free hives (and growing) in his Apiary, and intends on being 100% TF eventually.

The one difference with Randy Oliver's approach that I observed, was that he chose to keep his remaining hives alive via treetments, as he grew his TF apiary.

So, to my view & studies, there are 2 main approaches to achieving a totally TF apiary:

1) buy or capture a large number of hives & go TF immediately. Create your queens and new replacement hives from the ones that survive. Don't be at all suprised if you experience losses from 70% up to 99% (maybe 100%) in the first 2 years.

Or

2) start with a smaller qty of hives. Monitor mite counts via alcohol wash. Treat the hives that are going to fail - they will give you honey, wax, pollen, and bees for use with you other hives. Create queens from your lowest Mite count hives - until the day comes that you apiary self sustainable and 100% TF.

Small/Natural Cell size & clean comb (foundationless) definitely can't hurt the likelyhood of success in either one of the options listed - they will probably greatly increase your chances of success.

Back to my story - In Feb 2018 I got more bees. I chose the 2nd option this time - so that I don't spend all year "hoping & wondering" if I'll have bees next year. I currently have 10 hives, all from captured swarms & resulting splits. They are doing good. Right now, I seem to be observing an improvement in mite counts, and overall health of my hives - not because of treatments, but because of genetic selection. It will be a long process - but I'm not going anywhere, so we'll see ...

Note 1: some people have gone totally TF in one shot and their bees are still surviving - I completely believe them. That absolutely did NOT work for me, and many others also.

Note 2: when you raise daughter queens from successful TF mothers, the daughters will have offspring with [potentially] only 1/4 TF genetics - unless you can control the drones that your queens breed with. So if you can't control the drones, it may take longer to achieve true TF.

Note 3: I treat with OAV - only when/if needed, and nothing else.

I only post all of this in the hope that it will help someone.
You cannot permanently help men by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves - Abraham Lincoln

Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Becoming Treatment Free
« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2019, 08:23:04 pm »
Great post Alan. Thanks for sharing your studies.
Phillip

Offline ParksMtnApiary

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Re: Becoming Treatment Free
« Reply #12 on: December 22, 2019, 12:07:22 am »
Thank you Cool Bees. I do follow Bush and started looking into Oliver. I?m running just under 20 colonies now through winter. Ended fall with 25 but condensed my weaker ones. Grew up working bees with Dad as kid then took 30 yr break lol. Starting back into it and boy have things changed. The mites are new to me and I have been researching quite a bit. Really liking Mr Bush's? take on beekeeping mgmt. Only started back bout 2 yrs ago with 2 colonies from local beek I had been shadowing. Next yrs got 10 colonies from Kansas beek. First yr the 2 single deeps became 2 double deeps and 2 double nucs. Lost 1 nuc over winter. Had treated with OA drip end of flow. 2nd yr bought the 10 from Kansas and did not treat. Also started doing foundationless this yr. Will see what I have left this spring and begin rotating in more foundationless and start rotating in small cell. Also do some alcohol washes to see what mite counts are to find best colonies to choose donor eggs/queens for splits. Mite counts were relatively low last yr from all the splits I did disrupting brood cycles I believe. Anyway, we?ll see how it goes. Thank you all for your input

Offline CoolBees

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Re: Becoming Treatment Free
« Reply #13 on: December 22, 2019, 12:26:03 am »
No worries Parks. My highest respect goes to Mr. Bush.

I started to go foundationless in 2018. Unfortunately I had a lot of foundation frames by then. I'm at about 80% foundationless now. So it's taking a while. The transition should be complete by the end of 2020. I switched almost all my gear to mediums. I do have 10 frame (I'll probably sell those in the future as complete hives), 8 frame, 5 frame (nucs), equipment. Standard frame size is just a no-brainer.

Sounds like you've got a really solid starting position. Glad to have you here on beemaster. Hopefully we will both be able to claim "completely treatment free" in the near future.
You cannot permanently help men by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves - Abraham Lincoln

Offline ParksMtnApiary

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Re: Becoming Treatment Free
« Reply #14 on: December 22, 2019, 01:48:35 am »
I?m working on getting everything to medium also. Would make things easier 😜

Offline van from Arkansas

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Re: Becoming Treatment Free
« Reply #15 on: December 22, 2019, 09:38:28 am »
: I read Cool - that India made a government decision not to treat when Varroa hit the country. They suffered a 96% to 99% loss of their bees. However, within 2 years their entire country was back to full production capacity. See - only the bees that were able to survive, were left to breed colonies from. India has never allowed treetment, as I understand it - and doesn't need it.

Mr. Cool, I have no doubt you read above.  I?m confused!   India has cerana species of honey bee.  Cerana is the original host of Varroa and adapted long ago, maybe 1,000 years, who knows, to live with Varroa.  Varroa made a species jump to our common Italian.  Cerana does not cross breed with out Italians or put another way, when the two species cross breed the offspring is not viable.       Maybe India imported and tried to breed Italians and this  is to what you refer?  Like I said, I am confused, but understand I believe you indeed read an article.  It?s the article that confuses me?

Africian honey bee is somewhat tolerant to Varroa also.  I?m not talking the africian cape honey bee rather the sculotta [sp]. strain, the very mean killer bee strain. 

Best to your bees, Cool, May we both have treatment free bees one day.  Lithium looks very promising.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2019, 09:57:04 am by van from Arkansas »
I have been around bees a long time, since birth.  I am a hobbyist so my answers often reflect this fact.  I concentrate on genetics, raise my own queens by wet graft, nicot, with natural or II breeding.  I do not sell queens, I will give queens  for free but no shipping.

Offline Acebird

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Re: Becoming Treatment Free
« Reply #16 on: December 22, 2019, 10:13:56 am »
...  I have never heard of anyone doing both in the same apiary succeeding with treatment free.

Randy Oliver keeps both treatment & non-treatment bees in his Apiary.
Do you have an article that confirms that?  Everything that I have read is that he is treatment free until he isn't.  He favors treating bees.
Brian Cardinal
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Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Becoming Treatment Free
« Reply #17 on: December 22, 2019, 10:39:09 am »
...  I have never heard of anyone doing both in the same apiary succeeding with treatment free.

Randy Oliver keeps both treatment & non-treatment bees in his Apiary.
Do you have an article that confirms that?  Everything that I have read is that he is treatment free until he isn't.  He favors treating bees.

I do not know the answer Ace and I am not trying to answer,  you ask Cool for the article.
I would like to say that Mr Oliver seems to be an open minded, un-bios minded person as for the idea of treating or not treating bees.  As far as organic treatments oxalic and formic pointed out by Mr Bush,  I have read some of Mr Oliver?s articles on experimentation and the different uses of organic treatment methods, successfully accomplishing the use of these organic methods. Refined the methods if you will. There seems to be some confusion or discrepancies about the situation in India as Mr Van pointed out. Making a very good point and one that clarification is desired. This subject is very interesting.
Phillip

Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Becoming Treatment Free
« Reply #18 on: December 22, 2019, 10:45:40 am »
Let me add, let us not over look the very last short but very important statement Mr Van stated in his last post (Lithium looks very promising.). This certainly should raise some eyebrows of excitement to each of us! Thank you Mr Van
Phillip




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Offline CoolBees

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Re: Becoming Treatment Free
« Reply #19 on: December 22, 2019, 02:44:38 pm »
...  I have never heard of anyone doing both in the same apiary succeeding with treatment free.

Randy Oliver keeps both treatment & non-treatment bees in his Apiary.
Do you have an article that confirms that?  Everything that I have read is that he is treatment free until he isn't.  He favors treating bees.

The only articles I have on this are Mr Oliver's own writings:

http://scientificbeekeeping.com/selective-breeding-for-mite-resistance-walking-the-walk/

More articles found here ...

http://scientificbeekeeping.com/articles-by-publication-date/
You cannot permanently help men by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves - Abraham Lincoln