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Author Topic: Bee diseases caused by modern beekeeping methods?  (Read 5841 times)
buckbee
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« on: April 19, 2008, 12:01:29 PM »

You may like to consider the following words, written by A Gilman, an original thinker and author of one of my favourite beekeeping books, 'Practical Bee Breeding', published 1928.

"...disease is an expression of lowered vitality ...and simultaneously with increased fecundity there has been an extraordinary increase of disease. Their connection may be denied, but when we find a similar occurrence taking place with other livestock which we know to have been pushed for super-production, we consider the matter far more than a mere coincidence."

"...the increase of diseases has occurred principally in those countries where modern methods of breeding have prevailed. In America, brood diseases became so devastating as to call for legislation... on the continent of Europe, apiarists have been troubled with Nosema disease... we had Isle of Wight disease, which so decimated apiaries all over the country that we had to resort to foreign bees for re-stocking purposes."

"...the only conclusion to which one can come, is that the principles on which the whole structure of modern apiculture are based must be at fault, in either one or more important directions."

He goes on to quote from Dadant's System of Beekeeping (date not given) as follows:

"If anyone had asked us, twenty years ago, how much trouble might be expected from bee-diseases, we should probably have shrugged our shoulders and answered that they were very insignificant and hardly worthy of notice. For forty years after we began beekeeping the only disease we saw in the apiary was diarrhoea... from which the bees suffered more or less after a protracted winter, especially when their food was not of the best... Foul brood, in either of its two forms was entirely unknown to us. In 1903 the writer had to go as far away as Colorado to be able to see some rare samples of it... It was not until the spring of 1908 that we found it among our bees..."

So, Dadant himself never saw foul brood in his own bees until 1908 - just one hundred years ago.

And yet, the beekeeping 'authorities' continued to preach the litany of 'movable frames and foundation' for another century! And what is more remarkable, is that they continue to do so despite one hundred years of declining bee health - and they still refuse to take seriously those who have turned their backs on that travesty of a beehive - the Langstroth - and are experimenting with protocols designed to help the honeybee return to its natural state, uncorrupted by synthetic medicines, ill-designed accommodation and ill-conceived breeding methods.

Isn't it time you did some serious thinking, those of you who toe the 'official' line?

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kathyp
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« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2008, 01:08:25 PM »

Quote
Their connection may be denied, but when we find a similar occurrence taking place with other livestock which we know to have been pushed for super-production, we consider the matter far more than a mere coincidence."

examples?

Quote
"...the only conclusion to which one can come, is that the principles on which the whole structure of modern apiculture are based must be at fault, in either one or more important directions."

i can think of other reasons.  the growth of population and people taking their bees from one area to another.  more hives in areas resulting in more contact between bees.  mutation of virus and cross contamination with bacteria from other pollinators.

Quote
"...the increase of diseases has occurred principally in those countries where modern methods of breeding have prevailed.

how do we know this?  do we have good records from other countries?

Quote
and are experimenting with protocols designed to help the honeybee return to its natural state, uncorrupted by synthetic medicines, ill-designed accommodation and ill-conceived breeding methods.

they do not have a "natural state" in the US.  they are not native. 

Quote
Isn't it time you did some serious thinking, those of you who toe the 'official' line?


what is the official line?

all that you posted may be correct, but the conclusions reached, can not be reached by the info in this article. 

BTW.....welcome to the board.  smiley
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
buckbee
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« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2008, 01:28:41 PM »


> Their connection may be denied, but when we find a similar occurrence taking place with other livestock which we know to have been pushed for super-production, we consider the matter far more than a mere coincidence."

examples?

You can hardly ask me for examples when the words you quote are not mine! But if you insist, let's start with cows.


Quote
"...the only conclusion to which one can come, is that the principles on which the whole structure of modern apiculture are based must be at fault, in either one or more important directions."

i can think of other reasons.  the growth of population and people taking their bees from one area to another.  more hives in areas resulting in more contact between bees.  mutation of virus and cross contamination with bacteria from other pollinators.

All the result - in fact - the definition of modern beekeeping methods. Except the growth of population, which has exacerbated the problem.

Quote
"...the increase of diseases has occurred principally in those countries where modern methods of breeding have prevailed."

how do we know this?  do we have good records from other countries?

You want to ask Dadant?

Quote
and are experimenting with protocols designed to help the honeybee return to its natural state, uncorrupted by synthetic medicines, ill-designed accommodation and ill-conceived breeding methods."

they do not have a "natural state" in the US.  they are not native.

Bees have a 'natural state' wherever they exist. They adapt to local conditions in a wide range of climates, from Africa to Siberia. When slaves were taken to America, they were not 'native' either. Does that mean their descendants should have continued to have been kept in captivity?
 

Quote
Isn't it time you did some serious thinking, those of you who toe the 'official' line? 

what is the official line?

The 'official' line - as distinct from the official line - meaning that I was using quotes for a reason - is that Bees Should Be Kept In Movable Frame Hives Using Foundation. Or does your local Beekeeping Association teach something different?

Quote
all that you posted may be correct, but the conclusions reached, can not be reached by the info in this article. 


So tell me then, why did foul brood, nosema and acarine hardly exist 100 years ago, yet is a scourge virtually worldwide now?

Quote
BTW.....welcome to the board.  smiley

Thank you Smiley
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sarafina
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« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2008, 09:33:21 PM »

I agree with kathyp that there is not enough information in the article tocome to the conclusions that it did.

As for why the diseases did not exist 100 years ago, the article stated "...disease is an expression of lowered vitality .."

So you assume the "lowered vitality" is a result of movable frames?  Could be - but there would have to be a study to verify that.  Lowered vitality could come from a variety of sources - pesticide use, for one.  They did not have those 100 years ago.  There could be other factors as well.

What do you propose as an alternative to movable frames?
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Pond Creek Farm
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« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2008, 10:45:21 PM »

Wecome to the board. No one can honestly disagree that bees are feeling the effects of something (or several somethings).  Whether our hives are part of that problem, I am not able to say.  I am not sure I agree, however,  that there is an 'official' line on this forum.  I have seen several members who ascribe to many different ways of keeping bees, and I have learned much from all of them.  I am interested in your opinions and experiences and what alternatives you see to the Langstroth hive. 
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« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2008, 11:11:40 PM »

ANYONE ELSE SMELL BEELUVER IN THE HOUSE?Huh?
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thegolfpsycho
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« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2008, 11:17:43 PM »

Many bats are pollinators as well as the bees.  There is a great die off of bats, both tree dwelling and structure dwelling bats going on right now.  I'm wondering if there is some connection.  It has me plenty worried about what is happening out there.
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kathyp
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« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2008, 12:08:27 AM »

Quote
ANYONE ELSE SMELL BEELUVER IN THE HOUSE

different style.
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
taipantoo
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« Reply #8 on: April 20, 2008, 08:26:45 AM »

ANYONE ELSE SMELL BEELUVER IN THE HOUSE?Huh?

Check your shoes!
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #9 on: April 20, 2008, 09:13:36 AM »

Actually the timing of the start of the problems is well after the invention and adoption of the Langstroth hive and even foundation.  And almost precisely correlates with the upsizing of the foundation...

Just an observation, and certainly doesn't constitute proof of anything. Smiley
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taipantoo
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« Reply #10 on: April 20, 2008, 09:45:05 AM »

I agree with kathyp that there is not enough information in the article tocome to the conclusions that it did.

As for why the diseases did not exist 100 years ago, the article stated "...disease is an expression of lowered vitality .."

So you assume the "lowered vitality" is a result of movable frames?  Could be - but there would have to be a study to verify that.  Lowered vitality could come from a variety of sources - pesticide use, for one.  They did not have those 100 years ago.  There could be other factors as well.

What do you propose as an alternative to movable frames?

There is no alternative to movable frames because the law here states we all have to use them for purposes of inspection.
So that aspect of the equation is moot.
The fact that we use movable frames does not mean the we have to move them around, either in the same hive or from one hive to another.

Lowered vitality is a result of stress.
I think we can all agree that stress is a contributing factor and most likely a major one.
Each time we go into a hive we create stress in one form or another.
Feeding during a dearth is a good example.
Does the intrusion out weigh the stress created?  In most cases, YES!

Examples of intrusions that do not always out weigh the stress are:

Stealing honey during mid season
Stealing and/or introducing brood any time of the year
Changing the worker drone ratio
Feeding sugar water when nectar is available
The introduction of foreign comb
The constant requeening of hives
etc...etc...etc...

The point I'm trying to make here is that most of what we do to/for our bees is mainly for our benefit and not necessarily for the benefit of our bees.
We want more honey, we want more wax, we want to take a short cut to pest management, or we just want to take the easiest route to solve our problems.

The hobbyist beekeeper is in the best position to try alternative measures.
The small commercial beekeeper (I will draw the line at non migratory) may also be well suited to venture into these waters and may be best suited to set up proper controls for experimentation.
The large commercial beekeepers (migratory) probably can't afford to risk their investment in order to experiment and are locked into a method of operation that is beyond their control.

We are not going to see "PROOF" as we have come to know it.
Nobody has the ability to set up double blind tests.
Let's face it, most of the information over the last 150 years is anecdotal at best.
We have to rely on anecdotal evidence and sift through it with an open mind and make the best sense of it, for ourselves, taking into consideration the type of bees we keep, the reason(s) we keep them, the location and climate we keep them in, and our style of management.

I'm not trying to offend anybody and if I have I apologize.
I'd just like to point out that we should be discussing the problems and their potential solutions instead of digging our heals in and arguing.

By the way, Buckbee's forum, has active members from six continents and is the most diverse group of beekeepers that I have had the privilege of communicating with.

welcome aboard, Buckbee.

Modified from seven continents to six.  Brain fart on my part.  I know of no one on the continent of Antarctica who posts there.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2008, 07:30:10 PM by pdmattox » Logged
Draginol
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« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2008, 01:31:33 AM »

Many bats are pollinators as well as the bees.  There is a great die off of bats, both tree dwelling and structure dwelling bats going on right now.  I'm wondering if there is some connection.  It has me plenty worried about what is happening out there.

I have been considering raising my bats using smaller cells rather than larger celled. I think we can all agree that bats raised with larger cells are more prone to various diseases which is probably why the're been a die of domestic bats... Smiley
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asciibaron
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« Reply #12 on: April 21, 2008, 02:11:36 PM »


The 'official' line - as distinct from the official line - meaning that I was using quotes for a reason - is that Bees Should Be Kept In Movable Frame Hives Using Foundation.

this is so official here in Maryland that is a law:

§5–506. 
In each colony that it maintains, a beekeeper shall provide movable frames, each of which may be removed from the colony without causing damage to the combs in the colony.

makes it hard to experiment.  not sure how the State Inspector could examine a colony otherwise.  foul brood is the reasoning for this and is taken very seriously.

-Steve
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Barbara
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« Reply #13 on: April 21, 2008, 02:38:21 PM »

In Maryland, are we required to use foundation as well as movable frames??

Barbara
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Barbara
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« Reply #14 on: April 21, 2008, 02:43:01 PM »

In Maryland, are we required to use foundation as well as movable frames??

i quoted the law - if you have a movable frame hive that doesn't cause damage, then i guess it would be ok.

i'd contact Jerry Fischer, the state inspector - fischeje@mda.state.md.us

-Steve
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taipantoo
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« Reply #15 on: April 21, 2008, 03:36:46 PM »

The law does not require you to use foundation.
The law requires your comb to be movable for inspection without being destroyed.
Your comb can be in frames or hung from top bars with or without foundation and/or starter strips.
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Doc
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« Reply #16 on: April 21, 2008, 09:36:24 PM »

It seems to me that this article says that selective breeding for increased fecundity has resulted in decreased vitality in bees. This makes sense. Selecting for one trait and ignoring others does tend to produce exactly that result.

The italicised text doesn't say a thing about movable frame hives, and I really wonder why Buckbee has drawn the conclusion that they are to blame.

Movable frames allow the beekeeper (or the agricultural inspector, a mythological figure where I live) to inspect the hive for disease. It stands to reason that a beekeeper using equipment that does not allow him to inspect for disease will find disease considerably less often than a beekeeper who is able to look for it. It is a logical fallacy and a gross misapplication of statistics to say that finding more disease where it is possible to look for disease means that there is more disease there than there is in places where you can't look.

Bee gums and straw skeps and clay pots, the only non-movable-frame type hives I have ever looked at, require the beekeeper to pretty much destroy the colony when harvesting honey. I imagine this would reduce the incidence of disease -- every colony will be a spring swarm that is destroyed in autumn, or an overwintered summer swarm also destroyed in autumn. This doesn't give the colonies a very long time to become infected and incubate a disease up to a destructive level.

I do associate foul brood (which I've never had but a neighbor did, and I have seen in large bee yards) with old, dirty comb. You wouldn't get old dirty comb in a bee-gum, because you tore out the comb last fall and ate it or crushed it to get the honey. I wonder if hobby beekeepers who don't use centrifugal extractors but crush the comb instead have less disease than hobby beekeepers who extract. Then again, those beekeepers, like me, might leave old comb in the brood-chamber for years, negating this experiment.

I'd speculate that if non-movable-frame setups prevent disease, it's because you're starting new installing a swarm each year and having them build all new comb. This isn't worth it, is not sustainable, and isn't natural to bees either. Buckbee, have you got some clever setup that makes the destruction unnecessary yet still has immobile frames? I can't imagine one.

Maybe intensive selective breeding is a factor, but it seems more likely to me that pesticides and chemicals are weakening bees, that large bee yards (or garden hobby-hives close together because they are in small back yards) make it easy for disease to spread from colony to colony. Stress too might be a factor. It seems a reasonable scenario to suppose that a hive from a commercial apiary, when moved to pollinate an orchard and then moved back a few weeks later might become immuno-suppressed from the stresses of this treatment and develop a disease and then spread it rapidly around the large apiary.

By the way, pollinator bats are tropical. I'm pretty sure that all North American bats are insectivores. Some people do suppose that these animals are suffering from a build-up of pesticides in their bodies, which is very likely for an insectivore. But there is a simpler explaination for their decline. To raise young, bats require quite specific conditions -- a narrow gap that stays very warm inside all the time. In nature, the roost of choice is a dead tree that has shrunk inside its own bark, leaving just such a gap between bark and trunk. Don't see that very often, do you? And if you do, it's in deep wood where people have not come to remove deadwood for fire-prevention, and in deep wood that dead tree doesn't usually get enough sun to warm up the gap under the bark sufficiently. (This is why your garden bathouse doesn't work -- it may not be tall enough to get good and warm at the top, and the people who sold it to you didn't tell you to put it in a sunny spot and they didn't tell you to paint it the right shade of black or grey for your latitude, so females with young can't use it and at best you get a bachelor group of males in there from time to time.)
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taipantoo
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« Reply #17 on: April 22, 2008, 01:35:38 AM »

Doc,

Buckbee drew the line at what he calls the travesty of a hive - the Langstroth, which consists of movable frames and foundation.
Nobody is disputing movable frames, not even Buckbee.

Have you ever seen a Ware hive or a top bar hive?
I believe they have been discussed on this forum.
They both use top bars, not frames, and they do not use foundation, but use starter strips or beads of wax as a starter.
Top bars are movable, but they are not moved around within the hive or to/from another hive.
They are moved for inspection, but are put back in the same order.

It is true that top bars of honey are harvested by crush and strain although some are experimenting with holding baskets so an extractor can be used.
In a Ware hive, in the spring, you lift the hive and put a deep of top bars under, not disturbing the brood box or supers.
In the fall you harvest the supers leaving enough stores for over wintering.
Depending on the number of supers that you have, your comb is recycled in that many years.
The hive stays intact.
It is not destroyed every year.
By the way, frames work very well in a ware hive because it has straight sides.
When frames are used, the inside edges have a bead of wax to encourage the building of straight comb.
When foundation is not used bees build the comb the way they want it.
The cell size is natural and may even be mixed in a single comb.
The worker drone ratio is also dictated by the bees.
Frames can also be used in a Tanzanian top bar hive which is a long hive with square sides, but using top bars instead of frames is a great material and labor saving consideration.
Frames can not be used in a Kenyan top bar hive because the sides slope in towards the bottom.
Some believe that this reduces the side attachment of comb, but the jury is still out on that.
And let's face it, frames in a Langstroth hive get attached and cross combed all the time.

I'm in the process of building a kenyan top bar hive that will be 4' long with openings at each end.
It will be 19" wide at the top to accommodate the transfer of bees from a Langstroth deep and may even be supered with a Langstroth deep.
Follower boards are used to reduce the space inside and is only expanded as needed.
The brood will be at one end and it will be expanded as more room is needed.
It will have a special follower board that will have a feeder on the other side of it that will be inside the hive so as not to promote robbing.
I could even divide it in the middle and run two hives.
I have a lot of options.

Almost every time someone advocates not using frames, the assumption is that we are advocating immovability.
Look at how much of your post has been taken up defending movable frames when that was never the issue.

I don't want to discuss the benefits or draw backs of selective breeding other than to say I believe in a diversified gene pool.
I also don't want to discuss bats although I think bats and bees do suffer from a lot of the same things.

I hope I have cleared up some misconceptions.
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Scadsobees
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« Reply #18 on: April 22, 2008, 08:35:57 AM »

So...
we've imported bees from all over the world, along with the diseases that were limited locally to that population,
we throw them all together in a great disease mixing pot called "California" and then move them back,
we've medicated like crazy to fix that,
we use comb that carries the diseases far longer than what would have been destroyed in the "good old days" after a year or two (because they used gums),
we've inbred the bees for gentleness and honey production

...and the shape of our hives is going to fix all that?  It is fun to experiment, but it isn't a very good business model if you are in the business of making honey.

I just cut open a natural hive in a log without movable comb or foundation or modern structure that didn't survive the winter.  All mine in Langstroth hives did survive.  Looking at tree hives I'd say that the Lang hive is much more natural than a top bar hive.

I'd say a bigger problem than movable frames is the reusability of comb.  That would cause the more widespread advent of AFB.  When was the honey extractor invented and widely used?

Rick

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taipantoo
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« Reply #19 on: April 22, 2008, 12:19:18 PM »

Quote:  ...and the shape of our hives is going to fix all that?

No, but I think it is a step in the right direction to help alleviate stress which could allow our bees to better cope with all that.

Quote:  but it isn't a very good business model if you are in the business of making honey.

I'm not in business to make honey.
This is a hobby for me and I have a responsibility to keep my bees the best way I can with their interests at heart, not mine.

Quote:  I just cut open a natural hive in a log without movable comb or foundation or modern structure that didn't survive the winter.

Why are we back to the immovability issue.

Quote:  All mine in Langstroth hives did survive.  Looking at tree hives I'd say that the Lang hive is much more natural than a top bar hive.

Now your just being silly.

Quote:  I'd say a bigger problem than movable frames is the reusability of comb.  That would cause the more widespread advent of AFB.  When was the honey extractor invented and widely used?

I'm glad to see that you got something out my post.
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