Happy to see this...

Discussion in 'Organic Beekeeping' started by An-Nahl, Apr 8, 2009.

  1. An-Nahl

    An-Nahl New Member

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    I am pleased to see this here... Organic Beekeeping (non chemical) is the method I prefer...

    ... I have never used any chemicals and look forward to hearing others opinions and advice for chemical free beekeeeping...


    :mrgreen:
     
  2. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    I agree!

    Seems the influx of new beekeepers are focused on healthier living, chemical free beekeeping, and going "green". I'm no tree hugger myself, but have been chemical free with the bees for 6 years.

    I look forward to spirited debate on such topics as "What is Organic?", "What is natural to you?" and many more threads to come. I think these are areas and discussions that many can dissagree upon, but everyone can learn from.
     

  3. trumpet01

    trumpet01 New Member

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    My mentor has been keeping bees for over ten years and hasn't medicated in about nine. He has sixty+ hives.
     
  4. Hobie

    Hobie New Member

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    "Organic" and "Natural", and even "Chemical free" are tough to define, and not entirely in our control (most of the time). I do not apply any chemicals to the hives, but I live next to farm fields where the owners have no problems spraying clouds of herbicides and pesticides on their crops, so I'm sure the bees get some of that.
     
  5. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Do you take aspirin, "petroleum". or any other "chemical" when you are sick? I see nothing wrong with treating bees with "chemicals" when they need it.

    In my opinion, the problem lies with those who treat because of weather, time of year, when they can afford it, and any other reason other than "the bees need it because they are sick".

    Unneeded treatment, applied without checking the bees first, is the big problem today.

    Another problem is, "the label says blah, blah, blah, but I don't have the time for that, so I just threw a handful in the hive and left." Treating with untested chemicals, unknown amounts, untested procedures, when not needed, all make for dead bees.
     
  6. Robo

    Robo New Member

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    Ah "chemicals", a pet peeve of mine.

    I love the way some folks claim "chemical-free" in one breathe and doing sugar shakes or feeding in the next. Last time I checked, sugar is a chemical too :eek: There are good chemicals and bad chemicals, but it seems quite a few folks feel comfortable using "chemicals" to represent only the bad. :twisted:

    Don't get me wrong, I haven't treated in many years, and when I did/or if I ever have to again it was/will be with soft chemicals. I also agree with Iddee, to many people just treat because that is what your suppose to do. I'm not a believer in preventative treatment. Monitor and treat as needed. I just find some of the discussions to be too politically correct and quite hypocritical. Whatever one does it is their decision and I can respect it. But at least represent yourself correctly. Since this forum is relatively young, it hasn't happened yet, but it seems that every other beekeeping forum has their share of tree-hugging Nazis that throw around the generic "chemicals" term and take it personally if not everyone takes to their "non-chemical" chemicals for treatment.

    The term "organic" to me is just a marketing tool to mean higher cost. Just look at the proposed standard for organic honey. You can treat with antibiotics and menthol, but can't feed sugar to prevent starvation :roll:

    How about organic chemicals? Are they OK to treat with?

    I'll leave "natural" for Bjorn, I know he particularly enjoys that one.

    BTW, My comments are not directed at anyone here, just a pet peeve as I mentioned at the start. So no one get offended ;)
     
  7. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Dang, Robo, I'm going to start using you as a ghost writer. You say what I'm thinking a lot better than I can say it.
     
  8. An-Nahl

    An-Nahl New Member

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    I prefer bee-hugging Nazis :roll:
     
  9. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    You better believe it! I'm sitting here "el' Natural" as I type this. Nothing better than full natural.... :lol:
     
  10. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Ouch! Hurts just thinking about it. :p
     
  11. barry42001

    barry42001 New Member

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    bjorn wrote:
    "You better believe it! I'm sitting here "el' Natural" as I type this. Nothing better than full natural."

    Thank you for that mental image----------------------------------------------
     
  12. lil grain of rice

    lil grain of rice New Member

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    Re:

    Now that's a classic case of denial. Why not just come out of the closet, and go hug a tree, for Pete's sake! :mrgreen:
     
  13. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    Ok, first...who is Pete? :eek: And it highly unlikely I'm coming out of the closet for him. :shock:
     
  14. David LaFerney

    David LaFerney New Member

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    I want to be chemical free (I'm going to consider that if it doesn't more or less occur in nature that it's a "chemical") and I certainly don't want to put something in my bees that I wouldn't want to end up in my grandchildren.

    On the other hand if you have 8 hives and suffer 25 percent losses this winter then you still have 6 hives. If I lose 2 hives I'm out of bees.

    My bees seem healthy right now, but until I can expand a bit I'm feeling pretty insecure. If I saw a mite I would be mighty tempted to use some thymol - if it isn't too late.

    So far I've never seen anyone post a strategy for going from typical newbee with 1 or 2 hives and growing (without stupid amounts of money invested) to a sustainable operation - with or without using chemicals. Is there such a road map?
     
  15. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    David,
    Yeah there is. It is just that map gets all cloudy, confusing, and perhaps not worth looking at when everyone starts drawing on it and adding so many lines that it's just a bunch of two years olds bickering of what is a chemical, what is not, and what is natural, what is not natural, and so on.

    I do not use traditional mite treatments. But that is not to say that I do not treat my bees. It is just that my "treatments" involve using equipment options, genetics, and management, to overcome or to be used instead of other mite controls.

    I think one must, if your serious about not using treatments, use a well rounded approach as part of your overall IPM strategy. Using good hygienic stock, young queens, using brood breaks with requeening and splitting efforts, SBB, as well as other items. And it can get as basic as looking at even your apiary location in regards to sun/shade and moisture issues. It always amazed me how many beekeepers put their bees at a disadvantage by the poorly choosen apiary location. This effects overall hive health and then becomes an issue for secondary disease, which takes it's toll, eventually impacting the bees ability to maintain health in other areas such as mite resistance.

    I am amazed at beekeepers who mention they lost hives after deciding to go treatment free. I ask what they did differently to make up for any treatments previously used. They normally say...."nothing"! As if just taking bees one year that relied on treatments, and expecting them to magically cope with mites the next as the beekeeper stood back and claims going "Natural" or "treatment free" and wishing for good results was really going to happen. As if that was going to work....NOT!

    I do not want chemicals in my hives. But also know that I better give the bees EVERY advantage of coping with mites.

    That road of going treatment free, chemical free, or some wrongly claimed "natural" beekeeping is filled with many silver bullet options, magical genetics, and false claims. And there is the problem. No type hive or claimed special genetics will allow a beekeeper to stand by and have bees deal with mites on their own. Yeah, I know....that ticks off many people. That road to not treating your bees with chemicals, is best traveled with the knowledge of a good IPM and REALISTIC expectations.

    BTW.....splitting and building your hive numbers is an excellent way of controlling mites. Why do you think some big operations (like in Texas) can claim no treatments for 8 years or more? Requeening and constant brood breaks is an excellent mite control. Much of my own success is from the nature of my business with nuc building and queen rearing. I just happen to tell it like it is....and NOT claim some superior genetics with fluff and hype. ;)
     
  16. David LaFerney

    David LaFerney New Member

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    You are confirming some things that I've come to suspect. 1) Raising queens and keeping lots of nucs going are probably (I'm starting to think) key to being able to recover from losses. 2) Summer splits or some other brood break are probably helping to control varroa in some cases where it is being attributed to another pet factor by the bee keeper.

    I've also noticed that quite a lot of people tell how long they have been treatment free, but don't tell how many hives they've lost on average in that time.

    Here's my plan so far - as if anyone cares what a first year thinks, but let's pretend.

    * Assuming I have bees in the spring...
    * Try to raise a batch of queens using the best genetics that I can get from my own bees or from a friend.
    * Use my queens to start some nucs - without weakening my 2 hives too much - so not a lot of nucs.
    * Hope the mother hives don't swarm - if it looks inevitable go ahead and split.
    * Maybe put the old queens in nucs as well, and requeen the mother hives after a brood break - especially if swarming looks likely - if I even know what that looks like.
    * Maybe give some brood back to the mother hives from the nucs if it will result in foragers to help with the flow.
    * Hope for a bit of honey crop - our flows end in late June - no fall flow to speak of, but plenty of pollen. Maybe I should plan to collect pollen.
    * Raise another batch of queens in June.
    * After the flow ends, make as many nucs as I can in late June/early July - give them the honey.
    * If I play my cards right This should result in a brood break in all hives.
    * Somewhere about here (I'm not quite sure) would be the time to do something more about varroa if anything - I get to think about it for a while longer.
    * By this point I will have a basis for comparison - several hives that start out being more or less identical.
    * Cull under performing queens, and combine those hives with the better ones.

    That will get me another year older, and deeper in dept, but with some luck I *might* have enough hives the following spring to actually do something with. If I don't still have bees next spring, I guess I get to start all over, except now I have some drawn comb.

    I *think* my goal is to have 8-10 working hives, and about that many nucs more or less. Enough to enjoy and produce some honey, not enough to dominate my life.

    It's not much of a plan (several "maybe"s in there now that I've written it out), but at least it's something. Please feel free to poke holes in it. BTW, I know that this probably isn't the *best* way to expand, but this being a hobby, and times being what they are I can't throw a lot of money at it. Wooden ware I can make for cheap - almost free. Buying lots of bees is not an option.
     
  17. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    david's comment follow > by tecumseh's:

    've also noticed that quite a lot of people tell how long they have been treatment free, but don't tell how many hives they've lost on average in that time.
    tecumseh> the idea is to raise enough to replace your losses. most of my 'losses' (I don't view them in exactly that language) is in the splitting process itself. quite typically this is due to the 'new' queen either not getting back to the new nuc or not getting properly bred.

    Here's my plan so far - as if anyone cares what a first year thinks, but let's pretend.
    tecumseh> new or old any plan can benefit from being previewed by a lot of eyes... imho.

    * Assuming I have bees in the spring...
    * Try to raise a batch of queens using the best genetics that I can get from my own bees or from a friend.
    * Use my queens to start some nucs - without weakening my 2 hives too much - so not a lot of nucs.
    * Hope the mother hives don't swarm - if it looks inevitable go ahead and split.
    * Maybe put the old queens in nucs as well, and requeen the mother hives after a brood break - especially if swarming looks likely - if I even know what that looks like.
    * Maybe give some brood back to the mother hives from the nucs if it will result in foragers to help with the flow.
    * Hope for a bit of honey crop - our flows end in late June - no fall flow to speak of, but plenty of pollen. Maybe I should plan to collect pollen.
    * Raise another batch of queens in June.
    * After the flow ends, make as many nucs as I can in late June/early July - give them the honey.
    * If I play my cards right This should result in a brood break in all hives.
    * Somewhere about here (I'm not quite sure) would be the time to do something more about varroa if anything - I get to think about it for a while longer.
    * By this point I will have a basis for comparison - several hives that start out being more or less identical.
    * Cull under performing queens, and combine those hives with the better ones.
    tecumseh> might I suggest... split the hive that show either little resistance to the mites or consistantly have large varroa numbers. thus using the less resistant hives for splitting material and the more resistant hive for 'drone' production purposes (this hive should also produce something of a honey crop). if you split everything you will likely have little swarming issues but will also have lower drone numbers (these two things follow hand in hand). this years I am also attempting to raise a few fall queens and produce a small number of nucs to take thru the winter months.
     
  18. David LaFerney

    David LaFerney New Member

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    tecumseh> By lost hives I'm thinking of dead outs, absconded, or otherwise "collapsed".

    I get what you are saying about using less resistant hives for split material. Right now I don't really have much basis for comparison - One hive is from a package this May, and the other one is from a trap out started in July. The first queen that the trap out made didn't seem to make it back from mating so I crowded the bees together with dummies and gave them another frame of eggs/brood (between frames of pollen and honey) and they seem to have made a good queen on that try - producing lots of brood right now.

    Anyway, with only 2 hives (and they are very different from one another) I can't really tell much about which one is doing better. I just hope at least one of them is still doing well in the spring.
     
  19. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    well I hope you have 2 good hives come spring time david.

    and the best of luck to ya'...
     
  20. LtlWilli

    LtlWilli New Member

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    I'm still a relative novice, so you cannot expect any earth-shaking revelations from me. My bees do double-duty----pollinatinating my fruit crops, and yielding honey from their efforts.. With the exception of winter oil, my trees get no chemicals---not even fertilizer, and they do fine, as a byproduct of photosynthesis is plant food for the trees and blackberries.
    I'd like to compliment you all for the civility of this discourse because I have seen many go the route of Rodney King getting mistaken for a pinata by the LA Police. ...Shoot, they thought he was full of candy. :|
    When the threads denegrate into name-calling and petty bickering, I believe that it should be lain to rest.
    LtlWilli~Rick