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I use no chemicals on my bees and never have. I used to go with FGMO for varroa but got lazy last year and still the sticky board count in 24 hrs was under 5 in all hives. When I did my spring management this year I accidentally broke lots and lots of drone brood open and still saw no varroa. My hives are strong with lots of bees, brood, pollen and honey. One hive has 9 frames in three of its four boxes! I attribute it to helping the bees do what they want and have what they need rather than trying to get the bees to do what I want.
 

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Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner, gingerbee. My management practices are to make sure the girls are happy. While a lot of beekeepers manage their bees so that they do what the beekeeper wants, I manage my girls in accordance with what they want. My original purpose for getting bees was pollination and I really didn't care if I got honey or not. So the only things I use on my hives are Honey B Healthy and FGMO. SBB's, of course and slatted racks as well. . .I find they keep the girls cool in the summer and ventilated in the winter. I have not had a problem with bearding since using slatted racks.

I've bought only 2 queens in seven years, letting the girls raise their own. I have chickens for SHB, but the problem isn't great here and my bees are very strong.

I read somewhere that the brackish water in the marsh (right across the street) is very beneficial to bees and strengthens their immune system, so that might have something to do with it as well. I'll tell you one thing. . .some deeeelicious honey comes out of that marsh!

Also, last year when I found out about all the pesticide residue in foundation (if I had thought about it, I would have realized), I stopped using foundation and started letting the girls make their own. I think the comb is much more beautiful and they build it quickly if they need it.

First spring check found that three of my hives had four or five beautiful brood frames. The fourth had nine (!) frames of brood. I will split as soon as I get some time.

I have checkerboarded and added supers since the girls were full of honey, so hopefully that will keep them from swarming. But I have put swarm traps in their favorite landing places just in case. A few orientations outside the hive made me nervous but all is well so far.

Hope this answers your questions.
 
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