Treating bees-organic

Discussion in 'Organic Beekeeping' started by stevendt, May 19, 2014.

  1. stevendt

    stevendt New Member

    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    My family is quite new to bees. We currently have 4 boxes that are doing good. We aren't treating our bees with any chemicals, as we are keeping them organic.
    What can I use to protect against common pests and diseases? It had to be organic.
    Any help would be appreciated! Thanks!
     
  2. CeeGee

    CeeGee New Member

    Messages:
    84
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    --depending on your definition of organic--I use cinnamon for ants (sprinkle around the inner cover hole, or blocks); powdered sugar(dust them), screened bottom boards, some management and observation for mites; and a lot of reading and talking to people. There is some pretty good literature regarding 'natural' beekeeping. Anything by Michael Bush. search on this site too. Non-chemically-invasive may not yield the instant results of some treatments, but in the long run (in my opinion) in makes for a stronger, tougher bee.
     

  3. stevendt

    stevendt New Member

    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    What happens if they do have to much mites? I know about the chemicals but is there any alternatives to get them down that are chemical feed & all natural?
    Thanks :)
     
  4. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

    Messages:
    2,060
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    First welcome to the forum. Their are a number of ways to be chemical free and keep bees. Break in brood rearing, pulling and culling drone comb. Where you are located can effect how vigilant one has to be about mites.
     
  5. stevendt

    stevendt New Member

    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I'm located in Northern California, an hour away from sacramento.
    And thanks!
     
  6. kebee

    kebee Active Member

    Messages:
    1,008
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Welcome stevendt to the forum, enjoy your stay here and ask questions, we all learn from them.

    ​Ken
     
  7. CeeGee

    CeeGee New Member

    Messages:
    84
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Almost all bees now have at least some mites. It's the level of mites that make a difference.

    Like apisbees said, a break in the brood rearing helps, as the mite's cycle is dependent upon the bee's. Replacing the queen, or making some nucs, will pause the brood production, and hence the mite's.

    He also mentioned culling drone comb, which is simply taking frames of drone comb and tearing the cells open, or freezing them. (Mites prefer drone comb - gets the mites without impacting honey production, as the drones have nothing to do with it)

    Some folks use a cocktail of thymol and menthol and place it in the hive for a specific time, but I don't know much about that.

    For dusting, just take a cup or so of powdered sugar (just the kind from the store) and lightly sprinkle evenly over the bees - I usually do each deep individually. This, however, is done in conjunction with a mite count, which involves leaving a board covered in Vaseline under the hive for 24 hours before the dusting, and then a day or so after. If the mites are at a "manageable" level (subjective term), then I don't do this, as it seems to be slightly invasive, to me.

    The screened bottom board does not allow the mite to re-enter the hive when plucked off by bees (as encouraged by the sugar)

    I also use mostly foundationless. That way I know, for the most part, what’s in the wax. And I'm lazy like that.

    There are many other methods and approaches, many of which seem to work.

    I've only been doing this about seven years, and in that time I've lost some hives. It's the ones that survived I split off, or graft from, and now I don’t find myself having near the mite problems (or high drop counts) I used to, and with less intervention.

    You're going to love this stuff.
     
  8. stevendt

    stevendt New Member

    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Thanks for the warm welcomes everyone!
    & thanks ceegee, this deff helps!
     
  9. ibeelearning

    ibeelearning Member

    Messages:
    316
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Ordering some supplies for spring (Kelly is 15% off this month).

    For culling drone brood to interrupt the mite population: does anyone have a preference for drone foundation vs just hanging a medium frame in a deep and letting the bees build foundationless on the bottom of it?
     
  10. camero7

    camero7 Member

    Messages:
    713
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Tried that organic, treatment free approach. didn't work for me. I monitor the mites with alcohol washes and treat when warranted. I do use drone culling and try to treat with "natural" acids like formic and oxalic. This year oxalic has worked quite well and my bees are going into winter in pretty good shape. I believe in your area there are multiple commercials and there will be drift of bees and varroa transfer. That's what doomed my hives when I tried to be treatment free.
     
  11. LazyBkpr

    LazyBkpr New Member

    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    If you NEED to treat, consider using Oxalic Acid Vapor.. Thats ALL I use now.. OA is in many plants naturally, is not harmful to the bees, will not accumulate in the wax, and does not harm the honey.. in fact honey already has OA in it..

    Getting good resistant bees to start off with may help, but as camero7 said, if there are nearby collapsing hives they could well doom even a strongly resistant hive.


    ibeelearning;
    For culling drone brood to interrupt the mite population: does anyone have a preference for drone foundation vs just hanging a medium frame in a deep and letting the bees build foundationless on the bottom of it?

    The easiest thing to do would be just to slide a single foundation-less frame in between to drawn combs. The bees will draw it out, and if you have no other drone comb in the hive, it is highly likely they will use it as their drone comb. Use a starter strip for best results, and they will make you proud.
     
  12. Melissaejacklyn

    Melissaejacklyn New Member

    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    If you are an organic beekeeper why would you treat? All the chemicals, even "natural" ones will contaminate the honey and wax.
     
  13. camero7

    camero7 Member

    Messages:
    713
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    18
    There is no such thing as organic honey in this country. Bees fly too far to insure organic honey. And tests have shown that oxalic acid does not contaminate the honey and wax. Besides honey naturally has oxalic acid.
     
  14. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    2,887
    Likes Received:
    16
    Trophy Points:
    38
    organic powdered sugar works if you have vsh bees. I have never used OA, or anything else for that matter. The sugar does 2 things. 1. they clean off mites as they clean it off themselves and 2. creates a brood break, the number one effective part in any mite treatment, as most of the mites are typically in the brood cells. No treatment penetrates capped brood without wiping out the bees, so repeated treatments as brood hatches are required. I need to re-do my powdered sugar tomorrow when the grandkids have gone home. (bees get a little irritable and since the sugar doesn't kill any, well they get feisty)
     
  15. Melissaejacklyn

    Melissaejacklyn New Member

    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Duh there is no such thing as organic honey! I was talking about the bees. Organic beekeeping should just translate as treatment free. Why would you put more oxalic acid in the hive? The hive has very delicate ph levels. ANY treatment affects the queens fertility.
     
  16. Melissaejacklyn

    Melissaejacklyn New Member

    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Duh there is no such thing as organic honey! I was talking about the bees. Organic beekeeping should just translate as treatment free. Why would you put more oxalic acid in the hive? The hive has very delicate ph levels. ANY treatment affects the queens fertility.
     
  17. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    2,887
    Likes Received:
    16
    Trophy Points:
    38
    I have long since quit arguing about treatment free. Mites have gotten worse in parts of my area so even the organic vsh guy I got queens from in 2014 has had to treat. I am fortunate in that while I am in a dearth area of mainly prairie and not much forage I also am in an area without commercial keeps as not much forage not much honey, so if I clean up my bees they don't bring home a bunch of mites. Although I am seeing more this year than last those could have come in a swarm.

    Translation I popped open a drone cell on one of my hives and there was a mite in it. Of course the 400 or so I opened to kill the drones on the hot hive also only had one mite. so it is going to be a variable situation this year and I am not going to ignore the mites and hope vsh gets them all, If the powdered sugar fails I still have time to do OA but hope not to have to.

    it is obvious that that vsh bees alone are not fully controlling mites for me. I use screened bottom boards and only put in a sticky when doing mite counts and hive checkups, or in winter/early spring when I use a vented sticky. (translation, one I tried to float some tomato seedlings in.) I make a lot of my own equipment so if I say something you can't find in your catalog ask for a pic. I make this stuff up as I need it. It is not patented.
     
  18. camero7

    camero7 Member

    Messages:
    713
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    18
    How can the bees be organic when they are constantly exposed to pesticides, miticides and fungicides? I've never seen and reduced queen fertility with Oxalic Vapor. And I question how "delicate" the ph levels of a hive really are.
     
  19. camero7

    camero7 Member

    Messages:
    713
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    18
    ditto here. and I use nothing but VSH queens [or so they are reported to be].
     
  20. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    2,887
    Likes Received:
    16
    Trophy Points:
    38
    By the same token if I can dodge the chemical bullets, with all the other stuff my city bees get hit with, I am going to dodge them. I am breeding my own bees, finally, have 3 hives I am happy with and seeing how all of them handle mites will be interesting and inform next year's decision. With great sadness I did not get my regular vsh queen this year, happened to miss the supplier's visit to town. But I lost an overpopulated hive of that strain last winter. I have kept last winter's winner that are a little warm but not too bad and the best swarm hive based on temperament and performance hoping these all gell into a superior vsh strain that doesn't build too big a cluster going into winter.