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How apiary location effects Natural beekeeping #2

3094 Views 15 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  BjornBee
Lets me say, first at foremost, that I am not a neonicotinoid bandwagon cheerleader. From day one of CCD, some have focused on very specific chemicals or pesticides. And although they may play a part, let me expand that thought beyond focusing on the chemical as the sole culprit.

Good advice, even before CCD, was that you should choose apiary location with pesticides as a concern. Pesticide kill was a problem even before the latest class of neonicotinoids came on the market. Of course, back before that, beekeepers could bring in and remove bee hives based on spray schedules, etc. And with the new pesticides, that is not possible. The pesticides are forever present and pose real problems. Since these chemicals will not be banned anytime soon, choosing a chemical free location may be the best thing you can do.

I spoke to two seed reps last year. Both indicated that more than 90% of the corn and soybean seeds on the market are pretreated with systemic type chemicals. So if at all possible, stay away from corn and soybeans.

Second thing to consider is BT corn/products. Many studies have shown no real danger to BT corn. And I happen to believe it. But here is something that you should consider....

BT works on very specific insects. Why does it kill one insect but not another? The answer is in the fact that BT works within the insects/larvae and is very specific to ph levels. Insects have very specific ph levels, and so BT is formulated to work within a very specific ph level of the intended insect to be killed.

Now if you have read some of the other stuff I recently posted, you will see a possible connection between ph levels and AFB, and other ideas.

Lets suggest this.....If BT does not normally harm healthy bees with proper internal ph levels, due to that level being outside a certain "range", then could it also be possible to change that internal ph level within the bees that would allow BT laced pollen to kill bees/larvae?

Would acid treatments, or anything else we put in the hive, change the internal ph levels of bees? What about a certain level of chemicals or a combination of chemicals, all playing off each other, and changing the internal ph level bees, now putting them in range of the lethal effects of BT.

My advice to keeping healthy and natural bees....keep them away from field corn, soybean, and BT crops. I think there is much information we do not have yet, and many more "dots" will be connected.

Just food for thought. ;)
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What about spraying BT on the comb? Often done for storage, but I assume it doesn't just "go away."

Is there a possibility that other external factors (field pesticides, herbicides, etc.) could change the bees' pH such that their own comb, which I sprayed with BT, would kill them?
Good queston. BT, has many different formulas and types. Some are specifically designed to kill a certain type of larvae/grub, while others have a more wider application. All based on the internal makeup of the insects it's designed to kill. In testing, I'm sure the test subjects are assumed "clean" from the standpoint that their internal material as well as ph levels are normal.

But throw in chemical overload, formic and oxalic acids, and whatever else we put into a hive, or the bees drag from down the street, and who knows what damage can happen once normal ph ranges are changed.

You could even include antibiotics to the mix of questioning this sort of possibility. Ever take antibiotics to then have a screwed up stomach? It has been mentioned that antibiotics could changed the internal digestion track of the bees by killing off beneficial enzymes, and other matter needed to maintain internal regulation of ph levels and other aspects of digestion.
Is there a book on keeping bees healthy without chemicals? I want to keep my girls strong but being new to the bee world I don't know what and when to look for something. I don't need an Encyclopedia book that is impossible to read but basic bee diseases ect and how to treat naturally. Beekeeping made easy... :?:

I hate this chemical world we now live in. You can't even sit and watch an hour of tv without commercials about drugs we should be on. But may cause diarreha, kidney disease, dry mouth and suicide tendancies but other than that let's try it anyway.
Book without chems? Not one that I have seen thus far.
is the term natural beekeeping an oxymoron?

it would seem to be that once we put the girls in those little white boxes and began the beekeeper's dance that the bees ceased to be truely natural.

I would suspect (ain't no chemist) that it would take a significant slug of stuff of significantly lower or higher ph to effect the ph level even a smidge.

a bt type spray use to be sold to treat comb under the name 'certan'. I don't think (recall) that the product was ever approved in the us of a. some beekeepers have informed me that once placed into a box of bees the girls would work right up to a certan treated frame and go no further. studies suggested (written up at that time in the bee jouranals) that bt was not 100% effective in regards to wax moth damage.
My own opinion is...... I would say that hitting the hive with an acid treatment, is beyond a "significant slug of stuff".

As I wrote before, if longterm blueberry pollination can change the susceptability of disease within the hive, presumed to be from ph changes, I would say that acid treatment would or could, have far more impact of ph change.

My own thoughts are that sometime down the road, we will see reports of internal gut damage, changes within the ph levels of bees making them susceptable to disease, with possible ramifications involving chemical/pesticide mixtures (and treatments now presumed safe) within the hive.

Stay tuned...... ;)
And yes, I agree with tec's comment :shock: about natural beekeeping. Anyone who knows my writings, can recall many instances of my stepping on toes and commenting against claims of "this hive is natural", "This comb is natural", or "This treatment is natural", and so on.

I think much of the comments of "natural" point out one's own desire to do things "as natural as possible". Nobody can be a "natural beekeeper". But we can use the term, as we already do, to point to more natural, better ways, and an overall way of keeping bees.

It is one of the first things I harp on in my own class. It is called "Sustainable Beekeeping - A more natural approach". and NOT "Natural Beekeeping - A more sustainable approach" Big differences between the two.... ;)
I had some drawn comb frames that got one application of certan 20+ years ago and forotten at my moms house. No wax moths and the bees filled it right up this summer, there was not any stopping short of it.

Bjorn, I can follow your ways of thinking on the natural way of the bee, even if you are a yankee :lol: (I only said that because I knew Iddee would like it)

OK, G3...Bj is my own little teasing post. You go find your own... :p :p :D
BjornBee said:
My advice to keeping healthy and natural bees....keep them away from field corn, soybean, and BT crops. I think there is much information we do not have yet, and many more "dots" will be connected.
That sounds like good advice.

Next year I am moving home to take over Dads farm in south central Nebraska and I don't think there is anywhere within 50 miles of the farm that you would be more than 1 mile from BT corn or GMO corn/Soybeans. So as I start keeping bees next year I will do all I can to be as natural as possible, but I don't see the other farms in the area changing thier crop selection any time soon.

First, let me say "welcome" to the forum. Hope you participate often and share your experiences.

You may be interested in a thread in this board called "Thinking outside the box #2" which touches on BT and crop concerns as it relates to treatments.

And I agree, I do not think we will change the farming practices anytime soon in the U.S. So that leaves it up to the beekeeper to do what they can to protect themselves.

Take Care.
bjorn writes:
It is one of the first things I harp on in my own class. It is called "Sustainable Beekeeping - A more natural approach". and NOT "Natural Beekeeping - A more sustainable approach" Big differences between the two....

well it seems a new world record has been set in that bjorn and I agree on two point in one thread.

I would suggest to ya' bjorn (from what I can recall from chemistry class) that since the ph scale is logrithmic (sp?, but this basically means that the scale works on an expontential mathmatical model) that shifting ph requires a great deal more 'slug of stuff' on the opposite end of the ph scale than some folks might suspect (ie thinks what sounds reasonable and multiply by 10X). the other consideration relative to your comments on ph is that externally applied product should (based upon how insects are constructed) have little effect on the internal operation of a honeybee. I would suspect that you would have much more success at altering internal ph by something that a honeybee might ingest (in this regards I would suspect that your blueberries example would apply here directly).
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I would think that hitting a hive with acid for extended periods of time (a full treatment), would effect the stored pollen, open cells of nectar, bee bread, at least as much as the differences that has shown and documented in the ph level within one honey or the next, and the resulting higher frequency of disease.

I agree that to change the ph level through externally applied mediums, that it "might" (we do not really know) take a great amount. But were talking about acid being applied to the very food sources being eating, being fed to larvae, and being stored long term in the hive. The products such as Bt are not externally applied product that results in changes or consequences from external application. It is a product designed for ingestion, and to be "activated" in certain very specific mediums with the correct ph level.. Bees do not need to "eat" the acid treatments. Only the food sources that were tainted, and perhaps unnaturally effected.

If you look at a scale of ph levels, and the difference needed to effect one larvae and not harm another, we are talking very small change amounts in one Bt product and the next. Each one is micro-designed to effect a certain group of larvae all based on very narrow ph parameters.

And if you throw in anitbiotics such as the antibiotic treatments, we may be changing internal gut matter even more, with unknown consequences. Prior to CCD, gut matter from antibiotics was being looked at in regards to whether it was effecting bees internally.

I'm laying my odds (based on what I know and have heard... ;) ) on that acid treatments and medicating with antibiotics, are all playing off each other and in a few years, we will be reading about such matters when long winded reports are presented and the matter has been played out in getting research money, etc.
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What is BT :?:

Hope you excuse this Ole Aussie's ignorance

B.T., is Bacillus thuringiensis

It come in various forms and "designer" makes. It can be used for broad based caterpillars control such as with the subspecies "kurstaki" B.T. product. Keep in mind that caterpillars are the "larvae" stage of the life cycle. So it must be ingested for control.

Other B.T. products are made for black fly (gnats), mayfly control, west nile mosquito spraying, etc. There are many subspecie of the product.

There are other bactrium products that are similar to B.T. They include bacillus popillae-dutky also known as milky spore. Again, the product states that the spore "In the ground" presents no effects to bees. But were tests long term conducted to show spore transfer via plant and forage habits of the bees? I don't know.

It should be noted that manufacturer did testing and clearly states that "foraging" bees are not harmed by the B.T. product by the instructions of the label. It says nothing about bees larvae, etc. And my angle is that with many products testing, solely on their own merit, many times no damage can be documented. But mix one product with another, and something no doubt is NOT done with getting a product to be labeled for use, and the resulting damage from this combinat5ion can be seen.

There is a whole host of spore based products being used in the environment. From farmers protecting crops, homeowners wanting a perfect lawn, to public spray programs.

The possibility of bees ingesting, collecting, and feeding larvae, spore based pesticides, is something to be looked at more seriously. And if beekeepers are changing the normal ph levels in bees and larvae through treatments and antibiotics, then all the previous research claiming products safe, is useless in regards to bees and beekeepers.
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