No Chems. How is this possible?

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by PerryBee, Sep 1, 2009.

  1. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    I have been following a couple of these beekeeping websites for some time and have read with great interest of some beeks who have gone cold-turkey on the chemical side. I want to be absolutely clear that I am not questioning any of the claims made but I would like for someone to explain to me (reeeeeal slow :oops: ) just how this is possible?
    I currently have 19 hives and hope to do a successful (my first) cutout next week (Thanks Idee, the first trapout will have to be tried another time, not so late). If I was to go no chem. what sort of fallout would I likely expect? Disaster for the first several years would be my expectation. Do most folks going this route suffer from heavy losses for several years until .........................?
    While I love the idea of no chems. at all, I don't know that I could weather the storm. Again, thanks for your opinions.

    Perry
     
  2. G3farms

    G3farms New Member

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    I don't use any drugs at all.

    Don't know how to answer the other questions.

    G3
     

  3. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    When the mites came here in the late 1980's, 3 of us had 35 to 40 hives each. 2 of us lost them all. 1 lost all but 1. By 2002, that 1 was 5. We have raised many from that 1 without treating. None of that strain has been reported lost from mites.

    I have 1 that was a swarm in 2002. I harvested a super of honey from it this year and left 2 deeps and 2 mediums on it for the winter. It is still full of bees and stores, so I see no reason I should lose it before spring.

    Just one example, your mileage may vary.
     
  4. Robo

    Robo New Member

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    Perry,

    I got there by converting to feral survivor stock. I never had much success with any of the other methods talked about. I raise all my queens from bees that have been feral (or untreated) for a year or more. I consider them survivors if they can go over a year without any treatment. Don't confuse survivor stock with swarms or other unknown ferals, as they could very well be recently from another beekeepers hive.

    Just going cold turkey doesn't work well especially if you keep replacing your losses with more commercially produced weak bees that have been nursed along with treatment. If you do go cold turkey, make sure any replacement bees come from a non-treatment environment and preferably local acclimatized stock.
     
  5. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    Perry,
    I have been chem free for 7 years now. Going chem free is not about just deciding one day to not use treatments anymore. It's about understanding that it means of tailoring your "treatments" to non-chemical ones.

    If your going to go the non-chemical route, then an understanding of the mite cycle, using equipment options, taking advantage of the power of first year queens, using the right genetics, doing summer splits, and a host of other things, make up your IPM, or treatments. I say all the time, that I treat my bees all year long, just not with chemicals.

    The first year I went with no treatments 7 years ago, I lost 60%. Since that time, I lowered the rate down to 16% two years ago, and 25% last year (bad winter). During that time, I culled out my standard italians that I had from packages, bred from my own survivor stock, set-up drone yards where I probably changed over the surrounding feral genetics from my efforts. I use a stock of Carni and russian.

    Too many people go from treating one year to going cold turkey the next. They lose many hives. When asked what did they did to make up for the lack of traditional treatments, they usually say, "nothing". We have many problems in the beekeeping industry to which we all belong. Mites are still going to be mites. So you need to control mites through other non-chemical means. I use SBB, better genetics with hygienic traits, brood breaks, summer requeening, and with mother nature's culling the weak every year, have come to a winter kill level I can manage. I save money on not treating my bees which is used for requeening efforts. So in many ways, going from treating to non-treating, is just a trade off in many aspects. For me, the better genetics, knowing I'm not putting chems in the hives I eat honey from, and other factors make it well worth the effort.

    But do not be fooled. Being successful in NOT using chemicals is not about buying some magic bees, using some particular hive, or forcing your bees on certain cell size of foundation. It goes beyond that.

    I will say, that for all the fears of not using treatments, I hear of devestating losses from other beekeepers who use many forms of standard treatments all across the spectrum. It seems that 50-90% winter loss is standard for some. You would think they couldn't do any worse by just saving the money from the treatments and buying new queens next year.

    If you were closer, I'd suggest and invite you to the sustainable beekeeping class I hold every spring. We talk about the total concept of what it takes to go chem-treatment free, and actually be successful at it.

    In short, look at chem-treatment free as something you need to replace with a total concept approach to bees. The three areas are management, equipment, and genetics. Those three things if learned, will have anyone grateful for allowing them to get off chems.
     
  6. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    PerryBee writes:
    Do most folks going this route suffer from heavy losses for several years until .........................?

    tecumseh:
    well first off I ain't absolutely certain what you mean when you say chemical free? there sure can be a lot of quibbling when in comes to defining the term.

    for myself I have never used a pest strip or product considered to be an insecticide inside a hive. my bees don't seem to mind. I do use a bit of strategy along with testing and bioliogical treatment for dealing with the problem hives here and there.

    unlike some I would suggest that where you derive your stock can have a major effect. purely by accident (I can claim absolutely no brilliance in regards to this decision) when I started back beekeeping (after years of moving around and working for the man) I just so happen to have acquired my initial stock from bweaver who had just begun to move toward 'chemical free' beekeeping. just to demonstrate to you the full magnitude of my ignorance I didn't even know what a varroa or t mite might be at the time.

    other folks past experience here may not be such a great quide for what you might face* since the bees themselves have now somewhat gone thru an ecological sieve and all bees are now much more hygenic than they were 20 years ago. the casual and slow moe 'change' sure seems to be a detail a lot of voices in the beekeeping community overlook.

    guessing for certain (since I have absolutely no idea of what beekeeping might be like in nova scotia) I would suspect that in some regards or another that the t-mite would be a larger problem for you to deal with than for myself.

    just casually perrybee what kind (race or type) of bees do you keep in nova scotia?

    *I personally did quite enjoy the individual history lesson of what I missed during my absence from beekeeping.
     
  7. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    My bad!

    I hit qoute instead of edit....again! :oops:

    :lol:
     
  8. scdw43

    scdw43 New Member

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    I don't treat just IPM. If you treat them they will always need treating. If you leave them alone they will work most things out for themselves. I don't do cutouts or take swarms from other peoples bees. I don't want their problems. If they can't survive the mites on their own I don't want the bees, let em die.
     
  9. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    I agree.

    For many, IPM (integrated Pest Management) is about waiting for problems and then reacting to the situation. Where knowing what is happening, what may happen, and what is going to happen, and using that knowledge in a PROACTIVE approach, is the best road traveled. That is where effective IPM stategies are best applied. And that's not just thinking or knowing mites will increase in numbers. It encompasses many things from the flow, dearths, requeening, swarm season, what bee are programmed to do, etc.

    And I REALLY agree with your comments about cutouts and swarms.

    Now don't go blow my initial opinion of you by suggesting you love obama.... :lol: It's bad enough your a rebel southerner.... :eek:

    Welcome to the forum. ;)
     
  10. scdw43

    scdw43 New Member

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    I didn't vote for him and as you might suspect. I don't think anyone in my state did.
     
  11. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    somefolks certainly live in an alernative and self delusional reality.
     
  12. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    :lol: At least nobody who would admit it.... ;)

    I can't find anyone around here either... :D
     
  13. rast

    rast New Member

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    " It's bad enough your a rebel southerner.... :D "
    Hey, Whow up there! Now thats hitting awful close to home :p . Right at the front door as a matter of fact :D.
    (Not the voting part, I disagreed with the majority in Fl.}
     
  14. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    And now back to our regularly scheduled program........ No Chems. How is this possible?
     
  15. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    iddee writes:
    No Chems. How is this possible?

    tecumseh:
    are ya' tryin' to be the grown up here iddee?

    oh yea back to topic.

    perhaps it would be worthwhile to make a list?

    mine would go something like this and listed in lexicographic order...

    1)hygenic stock.

    2)rake all drone cells (excepting drone mother hives in queen yards ) early in the spring.

    3)strategy (which basically is) identifing problematic hive and use these for splits after treating with some soft treatment.

    1 places emphasis on pure selection and 2 and 3 places more emphasis on culling. if there is a qenetic solution to the problem in regards to mites culling may be a more signicant act by the decision maker than selection.
     
  16. rast

    rast New Member

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    tecumseh, want of education makes me ask.
    What is your description of a soft treatment?
     
  17. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    rast ask:
    soft treatment?

    tecumseh:
    like the word natural this term might be somewhat to highly subjective. for me soft treatment for varrroa is anything that knocks a goodly number of the little nasties off and doesn't leave any residual (residual over time also likely acts to build a bigger and badder mite). almost by definition such soft treaments are less effective (as a total percentage of mite killed) than a miticide strips (or shop towels soaked in sheep dip).

    I would consider powdered sugar, sucromid, oxalic or formic acids as soft treatments. The idea is to knock down the mite numbers prior to splitting (+ short period of broodlessness) to give the new splits a good start.