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Author Topic: Mite treatment options  (Read 6821 times)
heaflaw
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« Reply #40 on: September 11, 2009, 09:27:03 PM »

super idea but it's probably good to have a plan for replacing your bees before you just let them die.  to tell people to 'just quit treating' when they are starting out, may be dooming their hobby and desire.  

having invested 100's of dollars on their new endeavor, it would be sad to have these new folks open their hives in the spring to find them all dead for lack of mite treatment.  the goal should be mite and disease resistant bees, but that is a goal...not a religion

additional thought:  maybe someone can start a thread on how to reach that goal.  things we have done to get mite resistant bees.  things that have not worked, etc.

Excellent points.  But, queens or packages  have already been developed that are mite and brood disease resistant and are available (Varroa Hygene Sensitive, Minnesota Hygenics, New World Carniolans and Russians).  They may cost a little more than the average Italian, but the additional cost is not nearly as much as a year's cost of most beekeeper's treatments.   

Maybe beginners should be encouraged to treat only for the first 2 years and be taught how to look for varroa resistance with the goal of ending treatments ASAP.

Yes experts, teach us how to make our hives naturally healthy enough to not need treatments.  I think most beekeepers love for the natural world makes us want to be responsibly organic.

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deknow
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« Reply #41 on: September 12, 2009, 11:50:50 AM »

...queens or packages  have already been developed that are mite and brood disease resistant and are available (Varroa Hygene Sensitive, Minnesota Hygenics, New World Carniolans and Russians).  They may cost a little more than the average Italian, but the additional cost is not nearly as much as a year's cost of most beekeeper's treatments. 

it's a nice idea, but ask around.  despite 20+ years of such breeding programs, and despite the spiffy names, most breeders, and near 100% of people who purchase such bees treat.  i know a lot of beekeepers that don't treat.  not a one of them simply bought name brand queens and were able to stop treating.

Quote
Maybe beginners should be encouraged to treat only for the first 2 years and be taught how to look for varroa resistance with the goal of ending treatments ASAP.
this is more of the same error that the breeders are making.  you can count mites.  you can freeze brood and see how fast the bees remove them.    you can weigh hives.  you can do dna analysis to determine what viruses are present.  you can do all of these things, but none of them tell us anything really important.  it would be like a venture capatalist going into a compnay and looking at one or two departments to determine the worth of the company...while not looking at where the company and its products fit into the market, or the actual overall performance of the company.

using these metrics to decide what is a good hive and what is a bad hive is near useless.  what we care about first is survivablity...will the bees survive.  you cannot determine survival by counting mites or freezing brood.  breeding for such traits with the goal of producing a bee that doesn't need treatments is an attempt to micromanage the bees in one or two aspects, and assuming that all the other traits will fall into line.

the only way to measure survivability is to let the bees survive or not.

after we have bees that can take care of themselves (by not breeding from the bees that die), we can then select for production.  all this other stuff is just noise, and an excuse for funding dollars.

the idea that one can gradually get off treatments is flawed in the extreme.  for one, you end up with contaminated equipement and a hive with a damaged microbial ecosystem.

secondly, if you assume that you will lose some bees when you stop treating (in most cases, i think this is a fair assumption), you can do it now and start breeding from the survivors next year, or you can treat for 2 more years, lose the same percentage of hives then when you stop treating, and you are now 2 years behind.

fyi, we also found that after regressing to small cell, mite problems went away completely.  we are running about 50 colonies, and i haven't seen more than 2 mites all season.  our state inpsector can't find mites either.  last year he claimed to see one mite in 20 colonies.  this year, he didn't find any on the 3 colonies he inspected so far.

Quote
Yes experts, teach us how to make our hives naturally healthy enough to not need treatments.  I think most beekeepers love for the natural world makes us want to be responsibly organic.
if you insist on using treatments until bees can be kept without treatments, you are in a catch 22.  you will have to wait for others in your area to do what you are unwilling to do...take some short term losses for long term gains.  if no one is currently doing this in your area, and you are not planning to be the one, you will probably have at least a 5 year wait before you can buy such bees from someone else.

deknow


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Mason
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« Reply #42 on: September 13, 2009, 11:49:36 PM »

Wow!!!

I love this hobby.  You folks are the best.

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scdw43
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« Reply #43 on: October 01, 2009, 12:02:09 PM »

I don't treat with chemicals. If you are treating you will allways have to treat. As long as beekeepers are treating, the drones from those hives are mating with queens from untreated hives. That is slowing the process of the bees adapting to any pest that they are threaten with. My signature says the way I keep bees. Bees have been around a lot longer than we have and probally adapted to a lot of things that we don't know that they have adapted to.  I don't keep russian bees but they are an example of bees that have adapted to mites without treatment.
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heaflaw
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« Reply #44 on: October 01, 2009, 10:51:47 PM »

Okay, so what is the practical method for ending treatments?  What do we tell other beekeepers to do?
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David LaFerney
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« Reply #45 on: October 02, 2009, 08:21:29 AM »

I've stayed out of this so far because I'm only a lowly first year bee keeper with 2 hives.  But that being the case I have a certain perspective that I imagine lots of other folks share.  If I lose 2 hives this winter I'm out of business.

I agree in principle with the "breed for survivors" philosophy, but if all of your bees die you can't do very much breeding.  Furthermore bees are different than any other livestock in that you can completely change the genetics by simply changing the queens.  Maybe I decide that the Italians that I have now weren't a very good choice genetically - for a relatively small cost and effort I can change to carnies or Russians, or whatever I want (if I can get them).  The old genetics become irrelevant in just a few weeks.  If I have dead colonies in the spring I don't have that option. If I had 4 hives I might be willing to gamble on 75% loss, but with only 2 hives I need to at least get one through the winter.

Furthermore, when you make a black and white "breed for survival" stand - does this mean that you aren't going to do anything that might prop up "weaklings"?  No screened bottom boards, no summer brood breaks or splits that might artificially lower the mite load, no feeding during a dearth because if they can't deal with it then let the weaklings starve?  No management at all that might make them soft? Maybe, but I doubt it.

There is Nothing natural about bee keeping (or any agriculture).  In N. America honey bees are a foreign species, we put them into an artificial environment, give them every advantage we can, and take the fruits of their labour from them - not to mention all of the pests that we have introduced from around the globe. All the while slecting for a gentle temperament.   Nothing natural about it.  If you really want to just let nature take it's course and let only the strong survive then you would have to leave them in Europe, in a hollow tree.

Treating or not isn't a moral position - it's a judgement call that has to be made by the bee keeper based on their best judgement and ability.  a reasonable position for one isn't always a good choice for someone else.  

We all want the same thing - healthy bees that make us a bit of honey.  We would all like to accomplish that without using (or buying) medications and treatments.  But if ideology leaves us nothing but dead bees it's kind of pointless.

It would be very helpful to discuss the requirements for building a treatment free apiary that is likely to survive from year to year so that all of us new folks could work toward that goal.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2009, 09:48:10 AM by David LaFerney » Logged

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heaflaw
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« Reply #46 on: October 02, 2009, 09:36:59 AM »

David,

For a 1st year beekeeper with 2 hives, you have a very thorough understanding of the issues.

Lawrence
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scdw43
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« Reply #47 on: October 02, 2009, 12:09:12 PM »

Please, do not take offense at what I said I was just stating my opinion. It is a decision that we all have to make and
I have made the decision to not treat.


Michael Bush said it better than I can.

Propping up weak bees

Yes, those with the Scientific philosophy will find that statement offensive. But I know of no better way to say it. Creating a system of keeping bees that is held together by antibiotics and pesticides that perpetuate bees that cannot live without constant intervention, is, in my organic view of beekeeping, counterproductive. We just continue to breed bees who can't live without us. Perhaps some people get some satisfaction of being needed by their bees. I don't know. But I would prefer to have bees who can and do take care of themselves.

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kathyp
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« Reply #48 on: October 02, 2009, 12:52:05 PM »

well said, david.

as for how to get to treatment free, i suppose we all do that differently.

as i was able to collect what i will now call survivor bees, i was able to transition to (so far) treatment free.  i have not used any treatments for 4 years.  i have had hive losses, but i don't think they were from mites.  they were more likely from my own inattention and from nature having her way. 

i don't have a scientific way of doing things.  it's more by feel.  last year i had two hives that were kind of questionable.  i removed those queens and dropped in frames of eggs from my really good hives.  this worked well even though i had to do it a couple of times in one hive due to swallows eating my virgin queen.  the other thing i have done is set aside one hive each year as a booster hive.  it's usually a swarm i have picked up that has not boomed, but the queen does a reasonable job of keeping a couple of frames of brood going all the time.  i use brood from the booster hive to keep numbers up in a hive like the one that took me time to requeen.  those bees will not change the genetics of the hive, but will help the hive do well until i can change the genetics.

i guess i keep my hives like i do my mite counts.  if it doesn't make me swear a blue streak when i open it up, it's all good.   evil
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« Reply #49 on: October 02, 2009, 12:53:48 PM »

David,
I couldn't agree more.  It reminds me of the gloves/no-gloves debates...after 5 years I'm now comfortable going glove free, but it took a while to get there.

With only 2 hives it is simple, easy, safe, and cheap enough just to treat as insurance to protect an investment and beekeeper self-confidence.  Regardless of all the discussion about what various chemicals do to bees and people, they've been demonstrated (when used properly) 1. not to cause any detectable problems to people (and we've got some awefully good detectors!) and 2. save hives.

New Obama-care slogan: "Not propping up weak humans"  grin
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David LaFerney
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« Reply #50 on: October 02, 2009, 04:11:57 PM »

Please, do not take offense at what I said I was just stating my opinion. It is a decision that we all have to make and
I have made the decision to not treat.

Not at all.  That probably all sounded more combative than I meant for it to.  I'd like to go treatment free too, but I don't see it as being sustainable until I have more resources.  Good luck.

well said, david.

as for how to get to treatment free, i suppose we all do that differently.

Thanks. No doubt there are a lot of ways to do it, but I wonder if any new bee keeper  has ever (in the last 10 years) successfully gone treatment free from day one?

I couldn't agree more...

Regardless of all the discussion about what various chemicals do to bees and people, they've been demonstrated (when used properly) 1. not to cause any detectable problems to people (and we've got some awefully good detectors!) and 2. save hives.

...(and) live to fight another day. 
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"It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." Samuel Clemens

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David LaFerney
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« Reply #51 on: October 02, 2009, 04:25:50 PM »

David,

For a 1st year beekeeper with 2 hives, you have a very thorough understanding of the issues.

Lawrence

Thanks.  I know that  I have a lot to learn yet that only experience will teach.
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"It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." Samuel Clemens

Putting the "ape" in apiary since 2009.
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