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Who on biobees is treatment-free?
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MikeRobinson
Foraging Bee


Joined: 01 Apr 2012
Posts: 200
Location: Upper Northwest Georgia, USA

PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2013 2:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I leave them strictly alone, and that's that.
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


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

PostPosted: Fri Aug 23, 2013 9:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Mike,
can you tell us more please. How many years did this strictly alone approach work for your colonies?
Also, how does your locality look like? Is it biodiverse or surouned by mono agriculture or is it urban?
Would be great to know more.
Thanks
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MikeRobinson
Foraging Bee


Joined: 01 Apr 2012
Posts: 200
Location: Upper Northwest Georgia, USA

PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 2:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I live on a rural plot of acreage in northwest Georgia (USA) which is not particularly surrounded by attempts at "organized agriculture." There are a few cattle on the nearby hills, and folks around here raise chickens for eggs, and to get to any house you'll drive 100 yards or more back from the road.

I put my several colonies into hTBH hives that are a very poor Rolling Eyes woodworking substitute for the BioBees designs, although cut to the same general dimensions and entirely from "found wood." At first, I "peeked" on them constantly. I think I did much more harm than good. Now, I leave them alone. I do observe them every day or so, but I leave the hives closed. Mind you, I'm not suggesting that anyone should copy my example ...
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samphorgatherer
House Bee


Joined: 15 May 2012
Posts: 10
Location: Gwynedd. N. Wales

PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2013 9:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don`t treat at all and nor do the majority of beekeepers in Lleyn, Eifionydd and Meirionydd, N Wales.
I sat on the fence for many years doing bits of treatment with thymol here and there but since giving up completely I now hardly ever even see a mite and would never consider going back to using any form of treatment whatsoever. My bees look as healthy as they did pre-varroa and have just got me my best honey crop since 2004.
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


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

PostPosted: Mon Oct 07, 2013 9:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi all and thanks for contributing to this thread.

The treatment time is upon the bees. Soon enough beeks will start treating with all sorts of acids and miticides, sugar dusting, electro shocks (just kidding).

What about you? Will you treat or not?

I decided to continue with treatment free beekeeping. This will be my second winter without treating bees. First year with these 6 colonies I now have though. Last years colonies will not be treated i think (they aren't mine anymore).

This year I made sure to expand my 2 colonies into 6 relatively strong colonies which have no issues as far as activity and DWV.

With 6 colonies there is a bigger chance of some surviving than if I kept only 2 colonies.
My plan is to continue working with my survivor colonies next year knowing that they made it without treatments. Can't wait to meet those survivors Smile

When I bought the initial two colonies I asked the beek to sell me colonies which have 2 years old queens. Colonies which survived 2 winters on Oxalic Acid only are good enough for letting them be treatment free in my opinion.

Lets see how this fares.
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Barry Jackson
Foraging Bee


Joined: 27 Jan 2009
Posts: 231
Location: UK, London N2

PostPosted: Thu Oct 17, 2013 7:17 pm    Post subject: non-treatment Reply with quote

I don't treat my bees. Couple of years ago i experimented with sugar, but our local DEFRA boss agrees, albeit having in his case to follow conventional beekeeping and treating with acid and the works. I have two colonies, one which will be in its fourth year and second queen and the other having moved the old queen. There was a showing in colony 1 early this year of DWV, but no sign since. the weather disrupted my third colony and they starved due to my contracting a serious illness and unable to attend to them.
Best Wishes to Non-treatment beeks.
Barry
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9945121
New Bee


Joined: 03 Nov 2013
Posts: 4
Location: Vancouver BC

PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 2:30 pm    Post subject: varroa treatment free Reply with quote

Hello

I am joining today for the first time .
Quick presentation: located near Vancouver BC , in a low pressure area regarding chemicals ( little agriculture around and lots of wild bushes ).With many beekeepers around , many of whom want to not treat.
Myself: vegetable production manager for 20 years, NOT organic , but I myself am very much organic "inside".Significant experience using beneficial insects , monitoring populations...using alternative methods for controlling pests.
My hives are treatment free , for 4-5 years now; I did varroa counts (daily drops) and mostly had low numbers (5-10 per day ) but also sometimes ( very few times ) high numbers ( 20 or more ).
I do not bragg about the hives being treatment free .It upsets some people.I am not going to the bee club any more , as are many commercial local beekeepers.
It would take me a long time to describe what I think.Here is a summary:
varroa thrives because of the design inside the hives, the bees in nature control the nest conditions ( temp and humidity).When we let the bees ( hands off approach) they build burr comb in some specific way , so that they control again the temperature and humidity.WE THINK we know better by removing that burr comb, but we make a mistake.
I also think that drones heat up the nest , which is good AGAINST varroa but it is not ENOUGH.The straw that breaks the camel's back is the "air draft" in the hive: with excessive air draft , the hive nest loses "energy" ( just like a poorly insulated house ) but the temperature is not less ( just like in a poorly insulated house : the furnace just runs more hours).
The lower part of the frames/hive is feeling the air coming in , and the drones are the best area for the varroa because it has enough time to cycle .But also the varroa likes the lower humidity created by the air draft.It is actually very sensitive to the air movement, some research has shown this.From my professional experience I know that the insects of the varroa family are sensitive to air draft , especially dry ( they like ) or humid (they dislike).
So my hives are not conventional.The quilt from the Warre hive is great in my opinion.I have it on all my hives with no hesitation.It stops the air draft WHEN and only when it rests on the top of the frames ( separated only by a cloth for easiness of removal ).
I have 6 hives only .Four are regular langstroth with a Warre "hat" and two are Warre with frames ( mistake ?i think ).
The key in my opinion : "heat retention" but also without excess , that is correct.
The like very much the design from Marc Gatineau or Gilles Denis.(Some openings to allow air out WHEN it is hot.)

When a pest is thriving, or a disease , it is usually because the ecological niche is right for the pest.Restoring a proper niche for the bees is the answer.That ecological niche means the right temperature , humidity , balances between various fungi ...etc and that can be reached when we allow the conditions to be as close as possible to what it is in nature.( hive design , year cycle of the hive, what gets in the gut of the bees...).

many choices we make for the bees also go against letting the bees manage the ( very ) nest: foundations sizes, use or not of foundations,comb spacing...

I believe the varroa then transmits viruses between individuals and slowly weakens the hive, but is not enough to cause CCD.



PLOU0511
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biobee
Site Admin


Joined: 14 Jun 2007
Posts: 1051
Location: UK, England, S. Devon

PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 2:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I completely agree and have been saying much the same thing for years. The same is true of top bar hives, which has led me to the introduction of the eco-floor, described elsewhere.

Could you please change your username to something resembling your name, or at least, a word? Numbers don't cut it here - we like to get to know people, preferably by name.
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Houstonbees
Guard Bee


Joined: 25 Jul 2012
Posts: 81
Location: Houston Tx, USA

PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

See post above first from member 9945121 (Yes, a name would be very nice to have). WOW, exactly as I see things. I have to agree with 994's post. I'm a first year "beehaver" having hived my package May 11th this year. Some things I'll note:
1. I choose to go with the Warre after being turned off by the cost of the conventional hives here in the U.S.A. This happened after doing a lot of research on the web and I came across this website.
2. I got turned off by looking through the online "catalogs" and got turned off by all of the chemicals needed for beekeeping. Almost didn't proceed with building a beehive until again, I found this website (thankyou Phil!).
3. I built the Warre almost exactly to Warre's specifications and dimensions, the only change is that the boxes are slightly deeper by an inch and a half due to the dimensions of the wood available at my local hardware store (local pine is cheap).
4. Even before I built the hive I decided I was going to run the hive as an experiment and follow Warres principles as close as possible, and intervine the least amount if at all. What I've seen/noticed so far, being treatment free:
---a few weeks after hiving, I saw a lot of SHB. I almost treated for that,
but then decided not too. Seems they have overcome that problem as I
no longer see them going into and out of the hive.
---then DWV showed up about mid summer and it was really tough not to
want to treat for the deformed wings, but they've gotten past that too.
No longer do I see any deformed wings.
---and then sometime mid August I suspect they superceded. I watched a
lot of drones leaving the hive and returning over a two day period.
So let's see what happens over the winter months. I'm going to harvest only early spring next year and let them have their honey over our cool/damp winter months here in Houston. I live in a heavily wood area with no other hives that I know of (neighbourhood/subdivision) so there is little to no competition for stores. Which would also seem there are no other Varroa infested hives to pollute my hive.
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9945121
New Bee


Joined: 03 Nov 2013
Posts: 4
Location: Vancouver BC

PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2013 2:31 am    Post subject: varroa : treating or not ? how I look at it Reply with quote

Hello every one

sorry for nor putting a name .Jean-Marc. One of the few in BC , Canada.
Anyone wants French lessons...?
When a pest "takes over" , as aphids on winter squash , that means to me that there is no more a "balance" between the pest and its own/the conditions prevailing .Then in nature , things take their course and a new balance gets reached...We tend to see this only when there is a "disbalance".
The same happens for our health, us poor humans , we usually just fail to see the bigger picture.
The older I get , the more I understand this bigger picture and the easier many things become.I am very much interested in organics.Yes , I grow vegetables in my backyard.A lot of garlic, onions,etc...
i do not pretend this is all about varroa but the conditions are obviously too easy for the varroa.
I have seen myself ( not in my hives ) that when left alone , bees do many times fine , even when not expected.That means something on its own.
I think that cold hives make a lot of drones : drones are like heaters for the brood , and when the brood is increasing then the numbers of drones go up.When in the fall , there is less brood then there is less need for drones.

The "authorities" do not like to hear that some hives have no frames, but I expect that over time this will also be more easily accepted than now.

Jean-Marc
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Solarpat
Foraging Bee


Joined: 03 Dec 2010
Posts: 220
Location: Bandon, OREGON, USA

PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2013 6:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't treat. My log hive made it through it's first winter (they are mild here on the Oregon Coast) and threw 6 swarms. "Some hives will swarm themselves to death," were the words of the bee club expert. I figured that would happen, but it didn't. I saw lots of drones and some DWV, even some paralysis that an 80 something year old beekeeper told me was Round-up poisoning. (Is that okay to say here?)
I put some photos and videos over here...
http://www.biobees.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=14715&start=0&postdays=0&postorder=asc&highlight=
The log hive looks strong going into late autumn now, possibly my strongest hive, but I never have opened it up, smoked, or taken any honey. I'm happy looking at it, watching what the bees are bringing in, and catching what swarms the hive has put together naturally to produce and multiply.
The bees came from a myrtlewood tree, via a swarm bait box treated with a few drops of LGO, old comb (frozen first), and melted sap (Bernhard's suggestion)

I have to add my thanks to Phil Chandler for his podcasts that got me so interested in beekeeping, his book "The Barefoot Beekeeper," with his information on natural comb building (let the bees decide the cell size), and this forum which has sooooo much information available at all levels.

I haven't given up on the bee club yet. Yes, there are many experts that have done the same thing the same way forever, but it's possible that I can learn a thing or two from them, and you know, they might learn a thing or two from me.
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biobee
Site Admin


Joined: 14 Jun 2007
Posts: 1051
Location: UK, England, S. Devon

PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2013 10:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome, Jean-Marc!

Would you like to/like me to use that as your username? Optional, of course, but people who do not read this particular thread won't know who you are - unless you sign every post. It's up to you.

I do agree with your analysis, and I think you have described the ethos of this place pretty well.

Varroa has had an easy time of it since it spread from SE Asia: a whole new species to prey on; free transport around the world by stupid beekeepers; selective breeding of pyrethroid-resistant mites courtesy of Bayer; more stupid beekeepers providing ideal conditions in their frequently-opened, draughty hives for their reproduction... must have been a dream come true!

Now they are a fact of bee life just about everywhere, the challenge for us is - as you suggest - to create the ideal conditions in the hive in which the bees can solve the problem for themselves. It's going to be about heat, pheromones, propolis vapour, humidity, correct air circulation and more - and ultimately only the bees can do it - and we have to think about how we can best help them.

Glad you found us.
Phil
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zaunreiter
Moderator Bee


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

PostPosted: Sun Dec 29, 2013 6:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For your interest, copied:



Hi Mike,

uuh, I do not want to put the finger into the wound. I am just curious on how your project goes on. I need to orientate myself and I am honestly looking up to the man with the only rightful concept in the World, the right hypothesis and approach. Hardly surprising I want to know how the progress is in it's second year.

To throw a chunk into the discussion a recent table of mine with chosen examples of treated colonies. I reckon that you can select bees towards resistance even from colonies that are treated. See the differences.

Explanation/Translations of the titles of the columns. First colum is number of example hive. Second column is the natural mite fall before autumn treatment. (October) Third is the calculated mite population derived from the natural mite fall. Up to 10 mites per day is multiplied with 300, 10 to 50 mites per by 200, above 50 mites by 100. (Note: All calculated values in the table are italic/cursive. Also note that in German the . is used to mark a thousand. So 2.400 means 2,400)

The fourth column is the number of mites that dropped after one single treatment with vaporized oxalic acid. The fifth column is the calculated rest of the population derived from the calculated population in column three minus the mites that dropped after treatment.

On the right hand of the blue vertical line, the same but in December. Winter treatment.



As you see by the numbers some populations come with low numbers of mites and do continue to have low numbers. In this example this is hive D,F and G. It is interesting that hive C and D are actually sitting right next to each other. No invasion of mites throughout the year observed. One hive simply copes with mites, the other doesn't.

Hive E is a typical example for a natural swarm. I regularily found natural swarms do have a higher mite population. Splits do have the lowest.

Guess which hives I breed from next year? Yes: D,F and G. They also build up strong colonies and do get a good honey crop, too. Such outstanding hives go into the Bond test, means they are not treated at all. If they fail to cope on their own, they are taken out of the test and breeding.

The Soft Bond Test by Kefuss is so easy. And I do see some progress since less and less hives need treatments. This is how it works:

1) Start with as many different breeder lines as possible, preferably with some resistance background. Rear daughters and re-queen a maximum number of hives. Put daughters in all bee yards to maximize drone production of selected stock.

2) Select more resistant stock from treated hives as shown above. Select by monitoring results. Use different methods to monitor mite populations. Sugar roll, mite drop and visual assessment is what I use. I plan to use hygienic tests, too. (Removal of killed brood.) Put those that do good into the Bond test. Monitor them.

3) Breed from those that do fine without treatments. Requeen your yards with survivors that thrive. Exchange genetic material with others. Introduce good survivors from other locations from time to time.

That's basicly it.

Losses are limited. The work of detailed monitoring is concentrated on selected hives. So monitoring costs are reduced to those that are worth it. Saves treatments on selected hives. Slow progress and growing resistance can be observed. All in all few risks and no unnecessary waste of bee colonies by letting them die. (What for anyway...)
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Viggen
Scout Bee


Joined: 04 Jan 2010
Posts: 433
Location: USA, Arizona

PostPosted: Sat Jan 04, 2014 8:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From the urban desert in Arizona.
Our hives are from local swarms - we assume all are nicely Africanized with the queens producing different sized an different appearing workers depending on the season.
No treatment. No problems. About 2 years ago we finally saw a couple of mites in a picture of the hive interior. Otherwise no mites from our observation.
The local stuff handles itself nicely
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Merinos
Foraging Bee


Joined: 12 Sep 2011
Posts: 163
Location: Brussels, Belgium

PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 8:10 pm    Post subject: 11 years threatment free Reply with quote

Last time I bought Apistan is 2003 ... And forgot to use it.
I have thrown it away in 2005.

Result 4 hives lost (100%) in April 2012. I restarted from a swarm in July 2012 and when totally natural from then. All other wintering have been problem loss.

Now 3 hives (2 TBH and 1 Warré like) I see no problem with varroa. They are just there, not bothering my bees.

You will say that I lost all of them in 2012. That is sure. But the guy next door that threat against varroa lost also 100% the same month. I would more likely say some chemical was the cause.

When I read all the post here, I see 3 categories of keepers:
Treatment free
Pro treatment, that say 100 % of bees dies on short term without treatment
Keepers that fear loses & quick back to treatment when they see more wings problem in their hives.
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Che Guebuddha
Golden Bee


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

PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 10:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some Swedish beeks have tried to stop treating their bees and lost all or almost all their colonies.

Stopping with treatments yet continuing with the conventional manipulation of bees seems not to give good results; mono-cell foundation, no brood breaks, often inspections, swarm prevention, queen excluders, artificial queen raring, forcing colonies to expand into large unnatural size by supering, Drone culling ...

Top Bar Hives seem to work better treatment free because bees get natural various cell size combs (only bees know why they need various worker size cells), less interference, brood break and swarming. They are not forced to become large.

It helps though if one starts with strong colonies instead of packages I guess. Im glad Scandinavian beeks dont sell packages but only established last year colonies.
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zaunreiter
Moderator Bee


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

PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 5:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I see another category of beekeepers: pro treatment free that do treat when necessary only.

And it is not only due to modern beekeeping practices. Since I have kept bees in almost any container or hive possible, let them swarm, winter on honey, all fixed combs and no treatments, yes, let's say I have kept them "super-natural" - and still they did not thrive on their own. It is a myth that bees do better when left alone.

So don't have the same misconception as I have had. It is good to be nice to bees, setting them as free as possible. And it is a joy for the bees and you to let them swarm and draw combs the wild way. But it doesn't save the bees from dieing out as a species.

All my trials lead me to the conclusion, that there must be another factor coming into the game and this leads me to pesticides. At least since I am doing anti-pesticides manipulations, my bees do seemingly better. So the environment is the crucial part in treatment free beekeeping. In my eyes.

So I treat if necessary. You can see this by deformed wings, too many varroas and a weakened colony, when it is about time for action. Mite counts do help, too, to get a picture. Breed from survivors and localize your bees. Split up your weaker hives and requeen them with survivor queen daughters. Treat them bees nice and preserve a bee-friendly attitude towards the bees.
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1564
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 6:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm pretty much in the same category as Bernhard, although I'm lucky enough to have an area of mostly wild forage and I conclude that this is why I have been fortunate not to treat for the past 5 years. ie. Pesticides have not been an issue for my bees so far.

My original hives are supered Nationals started with foundation which is now shockingly old and blackened and whilst I am slowly swapping out old comb and replacing it with empty frames for them to build free comb, it is these conventional hives on foundation that are my oldest surviving treatment free hives (so hive type and foundation less of an issue I think)...... although I hope, only because my TBH's have not had a chance to reach the same age. I do believe that allowing them to swarm and having localized bees are big factors too though.

Where I move away from Bernhard's ideas, is in requeening, as I believe that the integrity of the unit should be sacred and that all colonies should raise their own queens whenever possible and that those colonies are all capable of becoming treatment free given time and treatment only when necessary.

The most difficult part is holding your nerve but recognising when things are really bad and beyond the bees ability to cope and only treating then. Much more difficult I imagine if you only have one or two colonies.
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imkeer
Foraging Bee


Joined: 03 Oct 2011
Posts: 203
Location: Belgium, Antwerpen, Schilde

PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 8:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
At least since I am doing anti-pesticides manipulations, my bees do seemingly better.

Did you already explain these anti-pesticides manipulations somewhere on the forum, Bernhard? Where? (If not, please do. It would be a great help for beekeepers like me that don't have the advantage of beeing in wide natural surroundings with wild forage and lots of feral colonies...)
Many thanks !

Luc P. (BE)
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zaunreiter
Moderator Bee


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

PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 9:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Know your local farmers, talk to them. Avoid pesticides by moving bees away as far as possible. Don't put your bees too close to farmland. Care for fresh unpolluted water nearby. Set up a bee well. With moss and all to attract the bees away from the morning dew. Trap pollen away, especially canola/oilseed rape pollen and corn pollen. I fitted all my hives with pollen traps for this purpose. Cutout all pollen combs that stay in the hive for too long. Pollen is used up within weeks, if not, do cull out. Take care to renew the wax regularily. Change it for freshly drawn comb. Have a close look at the queens, they suffer from sublethal poisoning and shut down egg laying and so. Replace as soon it is obvious that the queen is about to fail. Keep your bees well fed all year long. Trap pollen from non contaminated sources and feed back in times they consume toxic pollen, to mix it up a little. It is all about contaminated nectar, pollen and water and how to keep it out of the hive or get it out once it builds up in the hive.
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BBC
Scout Bee


Joined: 11 Jul 2012
Posts: 398
Location: Bicker, Lincolnshire, UK

PostPosted: Fri Mar 28, 2014 4:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't treat bees for bee diseases, but I do treat mites to OA vapour, as they're a parasite. Hopefully one day I won't even have to do that.

Colin
BBC
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Mark Young
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Joined: 27 Jan 2011
Posts: 277
Location: High Weald, Kent, England

PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2014 8:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That makes me a pro-treatment free candidate (by Bernhards definition)
I still live in hope that when (if) my small cell regression takes hold then I will be treatment free. I am however less convinced than I used to be that, that is achievable. I treated for varroa once last year with a 1/4 dose of thymol. 9 out of 10 survival rate. So im doing something right; just need to work out what Smile
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1564
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2014 1:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Mark

Congrats on 9/10 survival. Do You know what the cause of demise of the 10th colony was?

Did you treat all hives with Thymol or just the one(s) that had an obviously bad infestation of varroa? If so, how did you assess the need to treat. I do think that timing of treatment is critical and sometimes you have to hold your nerve until things are pretty bad before you jump in rather than just when you see an increasing mite count.

Quote:
I still live in hope that when (if) my small cell regression takes hold then I will be treatment free. I am however less convinced than I used to be that, that is achievable.


Are you losing hope of becoming treatment free or achieving small cell regression, because I'm not convinced the latter is necessarily the answer? My oldest treatment free colonies are mostly on standard foundation comb.

As you say with a survival rate like that, you are obviously doing something right though, so lets hope that continues.

Best wishes

Barbara
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andy pearce
Silver Bee


Joined: 30 Aug 2009
Posts: 663
Location: UK, East Sussex, Brighton

PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2014 1:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mark, I have gone through small cell regression on all my framed hives and am now moving toward 'free comb', replacing all the small cell with empty frames so that the small bees can do what they like. I see a small varroa drop on most and have one I am concerned about (I have just got these back from being away).

The colonies overwintered on honey and the good sized ones going into the winter are now huge. I am still open minded about the merits of doing this and only time will tell. It was much work and I when I started some years ago I had different ideas about bee keeping. Would I do it again...I do not know. If I have to I will do an intervention, I cannot see the merit in letting them die.

If you look for varroa you find them and if you look for DWV you will find it, if you do not look you will not find any. Some small cellers say they do not look.

On this forum we see many people come and go, do people go because their bees have died and they move on to different hobbies? Sometimes I read a post that interests me that someone comments on from an old thread and the names of people I had forgotten pop up. Where do they go...that would be a research project in itself.
A
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catchercradle
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 May 2010
Posts: 1487
Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2014 9:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Three colonies here in Cambridge looking very strong. Some varroa drop but not much. Two framed hives going but much weaker. The three strong colonies are one national, one htbh and on Warré. The Warré has a full box of capped honey and has almost filled the third box with comb. I will be adding the 4th box this week as they are in danger of running out of space.

I will look in the two weaker colonies, probably on Wednesday when it is predicted to be a bit warmer. They are both nationals. Also lost one htbh which was a small cast. In retrospect, perhaps I should have combined them with another colony.
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Mark Young
Scout Bee


Joined: 27 Jan 2011
Posts: 277
Location: High Weald, Kent, England

PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2014 2:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Barbara
The 10th was a TBH and I am entirely to blame. Going into winter I thought they would be OK, but was wrong and they starved.

I treated because I could see mites on some of my bees which I can’t usually; so I decided that it must be a higher infestation than usual. I then went ahead and treated all hives while I was at it. Not the most scientific approach, I concede to that.

I think small cell is possible but it just takes a very long time; perhaps not all bees can manage the transition! It certainly appears to me that some of my bee colonies are smaller insects that others, despite a similar amount of management. Management = Cut out old comb on a rotation basis to remove residue icides and encourage smaller cells. I also build my bees down in vertical hives. (Place new box underneath) that makes it easier to work out old comb quicker I.M.O.

Treatment free, I’m not sure 100% is achievable for everyone, everywhere but I want to be wrong.

Hi Andy
I just went with ‘free comb’ so it could take me longer to achieve the same result but I like to ease the girls into it at their own pace. I always over-winter on Honey which is easier if you are not into it for Honey-Money but as it helps cover the hobby costs then I sell a little to friends and family. Or rather I take donations and give gifts. I agree “seek and ye shall find” I certainly do not count Varroa but I do have an idea of what looks a lot and what looks a little.

I wonder if the whole concept of Biobees encourages people not be part of organised beekeeping, and as an unexpected side effect they just merrily go their own way and get on with it.
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MikeRobinson
Foraging Bee


Joined: 01 Apr 2012
Posts: 200
Location: Upper Northwest Georgia, USA

PostPosted: Mon Jul 07, 2014 9:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sometimes, I wonder if "conventional" beekeepers run into trouble ... in part because the environment they've created is so artificial, but also ... because they always seem to be monkeying with it: opening it up, tearing the thing completely apart (as you have to do, with stacked very-heavy boxes!), poking around inside. Any sort of natural environment, and natural defenses, would be utterly destroyed by this.

"Seek and you will find," but not in a nice way. Your "seeking" just might be creating opportunity for the vermin that you're so fearful of. Basically, every time you visit, oh conventional beekeeper, you visit them with a disaster. (With that hive-design, there's no other way to do it.)

And in any case, I will never, ever accept that a colony of insects "requires" intervention with ... ahem ... insecticides. Likewise, if you're using antibiotics and stuff, it can only mean that you have completely ripped-away the defenses that these insects have successfully used for centuries. There's something very desperately wrong with this picture that you've painted, and, well, that "something" is probably you. Do as you please, but please don't offer me a jar of your stuff.

I rather think that "treatment-free beekeeping" and "horizontal top-bar hives" would go hand-in-hand, because (only ...) with an hTBH, you can inspect the thing without ripping it apart. Carefully lift out the end bar (hoping there's nothing on it), carefully insert a mirror on the end of an extendible pole, and, with your handy-dandy headlamp, have a peek inside. A few curious bees will inevitably come to greet you, but most continue to go about their business, at least for long-enough. If you decide to inspect further, you can do so one bar at a time, taking care to keep all other spaces tightly closed(!). The environment within the enclosure is only minimally disturbed.

You can even take a harvest that way. Your natural tendencies will also be to "don't take much, just enough."

(P.S.: Yes, I have definitely found: "no gaps between the bars, except the one-and-only one you've opened." Whether that "one gap" be small or large. I guess that the bees interpret "multiple holes (however small) with sunlight streaming through" as a sure sign that the integrity of the hive has been compromised, putting them immediately into defensive mode. Come to think of it, it does make perfect sense ...)
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ValBee
Nurse Bee


Joined: 03 Apr 2013
Posts: 26
Location: UK, MIDDX

PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2014 10:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am treatment free, I got my first split from a treatment free TBH last yr in May. They had come through winter strong with no signs of varroa damage.

I read a lot on M bush site, and was interested in the simple bee keeping and interfere as little as I can. They came through winter very strong and built a queen cell so I split to my temp 15 bar TBH. Which is almost full.

So far so good.

I want to start looking for varroa, to see how well they are coping. So far I cat see any signs so will try harder I got a big magnify glass in post. There must be some in hive
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9945121
New Bee


Joined: 03 Nov 2013
Posts: 4
Location: Vancouver BC

PostPosted: Sun Sep 14, 2014 12:14 am    Post subject: update on no treatment Jean-Marc Reply with quote

Hello everyone

I am not posting very often ,but since I see the thread is still "alive" , then I would like to post an "update".Last Nov , I posted for the first time.At that time , I had 6 hives and my colleague on the same apiary had 8 hives.We both go about the same way to look after the hives.All the 14 hives made it through the winter and were very healthy in the spring.Since then we both increased the number of hives : 12 and 14 , so 26 total for the two of us.
We have not done any treatment for anything and that includes varroa. and we will continue doing so .My friend is already building more hardware.I do not want more than 15 hives,that is enough to keep learning.
As for myself: out of my 12 hives, I "count" on 10 making it through the winter.The other two are weak,because of mistakes I made ( mostly I did not allow the brood to stay compact: I moved frames in a wrong way,I learned ).Last year , one of the six hives was in the same situation, and still made it through the winter.
my best guess is the following :
the closer we keep the bees to the "natural" way , as in nature,the better for them.Which is not easy in hives...The main problem IS the varroa mite.When that is solved , then the DWV is also SOLVED, then that allows a lot of FAT WINTER bees , and the overwintering problems are gone,...

Here is what I do :
-(the hives are never moved)
-the area is low in pesticides
-the bees build the COMBS themselves, the way they want.I only give them a guide.
-I never feed them.Nothing at all.
-they do swarm , which so far we did not "mind" since both of us wanted to increase.(next year,I will try to limit that by interfering more in the nest: placing frames...moving frames...).
-my 12 hives: 4 are WARRE types with frames for most of the boxes.The other 8 are Langstroth but with a quilt box ,as in the Warre hives.
-I use for most of them a "swamp box" , but usually with nothing in them.

I do not post often , nor Do I come often on the forum , but I do appreciate the exchange very much.
Starting in the new year,I will also do a lot of research around "spotted wing drosophila".Another insect problem,interesting...

good beekeeping to all

Jean-Marc
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Solarpat
Foraging Bee


Joined: 03 Dec 2010
Posts: 220
Location: Bandon, OREGON, USA

PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2014 5:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been sitting on the sidelines wondering if I should weigh in on this thread. I'm a relatively new beekeeper, third year now, so I have a little experience, but only a little. I've been treatment free since I started in June of 2011. My first beekeeping book was, "The Barefoot Beekeeper." It just made sense to let the bees determine their own cell size, so I decided not to use foundation of any kind in my hives. Beekeepers in my club said they were just "helping the bees," but in my beginner beekeeping class, we were taught that the workers build the cells which determine the gender of the eggs. If that's the case, could it be possible that if there's a problem in the hive, the hive mentality could take over and fix it if given the time?

My Warre 2 hive had a heavy mite load as seen on the bottom board. I first noticed it around January of this year (2014) Since i'm treatment free, we just figured it would either right itself or it wouldn't. Some time in February or March I saw a big pile of dead bees out in front of the hive. I wish I had examined them, but I'm not a scientist and I'm afraid I was in denial, but I had seen evidence of Deformed Wing Virus and I just figured these bees were victims of it.
This hive threw two or three swarms, the last of which happened on May 10. From that date on, the hive went into decline. I'm calling it a long long brood break, http://solarbeez.com/2014/10/02/a-long-long-brood-break/
but the queen must have laid some eggs, just not very many. I never opened the hive, but I looked through the observation windows to see the number of bees were down. I figured that hive was a goner and would get robbed out sometime in July as I had seen that happen before. July came and went with no robbing. August came and towards the end I started seeing the number of bees had increased. In September the numbers kept picking up, but every time I'd tip the hive it felt light in weight. On October 4th I shot some video through the back window and noticed some activity on the comb at mid box. (Top box is full of clean comb, but after the last swarm in May, there's been no activity there) On October 9, the combs had thickened up tremendously and there was a bunch of honey capped. This is probably something experienced beekeepers see all the time, but it shocked me to see it happen so quickly.

If I would have sought help from my local bee club, I would have been advised to check for eggs or larva. Then I would have been told to replace the queen because she's a poor layer. Actually the heavies in my club advise to kill the queen from a swarm and replace her with a 'known' queen. I have never done that because I believe in using swarms...bees that are already acclimated.

I might be just plain lucky, but this hive came back on it's own, with no intervention from me. Could it be that the hive mentality slowed down egg laying to interrupt the varroa cycle? Checking the bottom board, I see NO mites.

On another note, I've got a box hive hung in a tree. It's been there through the winter storms of 2013-2014 and is still going strong, feeding and intervention free. It threw three swarms (that we know of).
http://solarbeez.com/2014/10/11/my-unmanaged-hive-in-a-tree/
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