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Who on biobees is treatment-free?
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Post new topic   Reply to topic    beekeeping forum -> Bee health: the treatment (or not) of bee pests and diseases
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zaunreiter
Moderator Bee


Joined: 26 Nov 2007
Posts: 3097
Location: Germany, NorthWest

PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2015 7:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just made a video of a colony that survived several years now without treatments.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_qdElx-D8Q

For your interest.
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1549
Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2015 8:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the video Bernhard. You say Dark Comb and Propolis are important for healthy treatment free bees. Thats interesting because I thought dark comb is something to be removed every so often because of the pesticide build up? Isnt dark comb old comb?

I have decided to let my bees swarm. I will not even remove any swarm cells this year. But in this case they will keep all the old comb as well and if I continue with just letting them swarm in the future the comb will get older and darker. I dont rotate comb (no spacing with empty top bars) because i now have almost exclusively short top bar hives (max 9-10 comb followed by a follower board and 2 empty top bars where i feed the bees with sugar syrup if necessary.) I simply have no space to expand with new empty top bars. Bees do have 2 shallow supers for the honey (queen excluder) but these boxes will be removed in week time because we have no more forage after that, maybe some Thistles but thats it, its for the bees to fill up the top bar hive body for winter).

Do you think its ok to leave the comb get old and dark and not take it out? I also dont know how to take out old dark comb which has brood in it. I dont want to waste brood and I dont want to do human made splits, only swarms this year.
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zaunreiter
Moderator Bee


Joined: 26 Nov 2007
Posts: 3097
Location: Germany, NorthWest

PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2015 9:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Those hives that I keep treatment free are located in distance to modern agriculture which is what I think is necessary to be successful.

Old comb is interesting stuff. It can hold much more water than new comb, because it not only consist of wax but is a composite material made from wax and silk. The silk comes from the pupae skins left behind in the cells.

Because it can hold water, it is able to buffer moisture in the hive. That will make a much more stable hive climate.

Propolis is needed to keep the viruses at bay, that come with varroa. And that are pushed and spread by varroa much more. A lot of people think, it is not the varroa itself but the viruses that kill the bees. Although the anti-viral action of propolis is limited, it certainly helps the immune system of the bees.
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1567
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 10:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This ties in with my hives. I don't cycle out old comb. The comb my two oldest hives are on could be as much as 10-12 years old. I might give them one new brood frame a year to build new comb on, but not always.

Thanks for posting this Bernhard. sometimes I feel like I'm neglecting them by not changing out the comb (there is conventional pressure to cycle it out and I kind of feel guilty for not doing so) but I'm also loath to change the low management system that I have fallen into with these hives in case any change tips the balance away from their ability to thrive untreated. It's really useful to see that others are leaving the old comb and also finding the bees thrive.

Has this hive always had excess queen cells removed? Mine have been treatment free since I started allowing them unrestricted swarming and I would like to change that to reduce casts from them but again I'm wary that it will shorted the brood break and result in problems with varroa that they are not currently experiencing. These two are my original colonies and although all my other bees descend from them, I'm particularly "attached" to these colonies and protective of them.
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1549
Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 11:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is
just brilliant news Smile thanks Barbara for sharing. Just when I think that Biobees can't give me anything new about natural beekeeping such info comes up Smile That's why I love Biobees!

Ok, I too feel pressure about not cycling the comb. I know that new swarms will have freshly build comb but not the mother hives.

But also to mention my 2 prime swarms from last year had new comb and none survived the winter. But I also had 2 mother colonies who died.

Nice to know that old comb ain't evil Smile
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Adam Rose
Silver Bee


Joined: 09 Oct 2011
Posts: 582
Location: Manchester, UK

PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 11:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barbara and I are lucky in that we don't keep bees in a pesticide dominated environment. So we can leave the old comb in there, which is a more natural approach for a more natural environment.

But I think there is a case to be made for cycling out the old comb when you live in an agricultural area where there are a lot of pesticides, since the pesticides build up in the comb.

Berhard showed us his treatment free hive in a non-arable area, with its old, brown/black comb. But I'm sure he has also described other management techniques in areas with more pesticides where he forces the bees to rebuild the comb far more regularly.
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mannanin
Scout Bee


Joined: 25 Feb 2009
Posts: 259
Location: Essex. UK.

PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 11:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well please count me in as well. It is a subject that has cropped up before and I often wondered if I should be recycling the old brood comb. My first Kenyan is now six years old and has been continuously occupied since I introduced a swarm. Other than checking for straight comb at day five, I have never disrupted the brood nest since. I initialy added some empty bars between the new combs in order to keep them building straight, but that was it. The hive just seems to thrive. It's remarkably consistent in brood build up always hitting a peak right now when I know swarming (if it happens) will be in June. Other than a bit of chalk brood every year (always late April) it seems fine. I stopped counting varroa drops a long time ago. It may get them in the end but I have no intention of treating anyway. I am with David Heaf and Michael Bush as far as treatment is concerned. So .... that's at least three of us that don't need to feel guilty.
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peopleshive
Guard Bee


Joined: 07 Aug 2011
Posts: 51
Location: Central Scotland

PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 5:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting discussion - I've often wondered about this too. Up in Scotland my Warrés and Japanese-style hybrids grow only slowly, so the oldest comb in the top box is often several seasons old. For what it is worth, I haven't noticed any particular correlation between old comb and survivability yet. (They mainly seem to survive pretty well without treatment!)

I'm in an area of intensive agriculture, by the way Wink although I try to choose locations where the bees have at least access to some uncultivated or suburban landscape as well.

One thing I do try to achieve is a very low colony density (no more than 3 hives per apiary, usually only one or two and widely spaced, as per T. Seeley's latest recommendations on reducing drifting for varroa/virus control).

Andy
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AugustC
Silver Bee


Joined: 08 Jul 2013
Posts: 613
Location: Malton, North Yorkshire

PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2015 6:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have noticed that the older the brood comb the less actual wax there seems to be in it. Is there a chance that as the pupa cases accumulate the bees strip out the wax to use eslewhere?

Also, if everytime a new bee is born there is another new pupa case then over time the cell size would get smaller. Granted only in the same way adding a layer of wallpaper reduces the size of a room BUT this is a very small room being repapered every 21 days. So either the bees clear these out or they get a tiny bit smaller every year. Smaller bees have a shorted pupation period and varroa infiltration into cells correlates well with cell size. Perhaps it helps a little, what do we think?
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Broadwell
Foraging Bee


Joined: 22 Jul 2013
Posts: 122
Location: UK, Kent, High Weald

PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2015 7:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

zaunreiter wrote:
Those hives that I keep treatment free are located in distance to modern agriculture which is what I think is necessary to be successful.

I'm very pleased to have read this discussion. I had thought that I was going to have to be trying to get my colonies to build new brood boxes of comb every three or four years due to the agriculture around me, but Andy, for one, hasn't noticed a difference in longevity with his agriculture exposed hives. Has anyone else?

Bernhard, did you find through experience that colonies in agricultural areas would collapse after a certain time without brood comb being changed? If so, how long was that roughly, and how often do you replace the brood comb now?
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zaunreiter
Moderator Bee


Joined: 26 Nov 2007
Posts: 3097
Location: Germany, NorthWest

PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2015 8:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bees exposed to pesticides maybe don't collapse, but they sure benefit significantly from annual comb renewal. I shake them down on foundation and let them build their comb after the last harvest. Helps combating varroa, too, with minimal varroacide application. Brood hatches in another apiary, gets treated and reunited later. Colonies are going strong into winter after that renewal of comb.

At least one should remove the pollen combs, because they do touch the contaminated pollen combs in mid winter and that can kill them, leading to winter losses. Remove the contaminated pollen.
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Balamut
House Bee


Joined: 04 Nov 2015
Posts: 14
Location: usa

PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2015 3:19 am    Post subject: Re: Who on biobees is treatment-free? Reply with quote

I didn`t treat colonies for years. Strong colonies will take care of anything.
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BarnBrian
Nurse Bee


Joined: 08 Jul 2009
Posts: 32
Location: UK, Lancs, Southport

PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2016 9:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been keeping bees for six years in Warre hives. I've never treated or fed them and not taken honey for three years and have not opened the hives. I'm surrounded on all sides by arable farms, rotating crops of carrots, leeks, potatoes, rape and wheat. I lost one colony this winter but I'm thinking that was because it's been so mild and wet.
I have a colony in what was a barn owl box in my roof, they moved in two years ago so the owl has had to find another home. This appears to be the most active of my colonies. I can't access this so definitely no intervention.
When I moved the house and hives almost three years ago, which was only a distance of just under a mile, I did it in one straight move in August at about 10:00 am. Once I'd relocated the hives I laid branches up against the front of the hives and opened them up, the bees had no trouble finding their way home. I know that's a bit off topic but just thought I'd pass it on.
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NewForester
Nurse Bee


Joined: 23 Jul 2010
Posts: 26
Location: New Forest, Hampshire, UK

PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2016 9:54 am    Post subject: Re: Who on biobees is treatment-free? Reply with quote

Yes, I am treatment free and have been for about 5 years.

I too have been influenced by Michael Bush and by the fact that my first hive seemed to do very poorly after I gave it Apiguard, and then it died.

I have seven hives and they are doing well.

It looks as though this is going to be an interesting thread!!
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Thebigflyin
Guard Bee


Joined: 29 Jun 2015
Posts: 60
Location: Essex

PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2016 2:27 pm    Post subject: never used anything. Reply with quote

Hi , so I have only had my two swarms for two years now,

I have however never used anything other than smoke.

I have a top bar hive with, compost and wood chip in the bottom.. have loads of earwigs and spiders, but no moth or any parasite that I can see.

I also have an HAH hive , same again, only compost and woodchip in the bottom.
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