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Author Topic: No treatments/natural comb  (Read 5872 times)
bee-nuts
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« on: August 01, 2009, 03:20:15 AM »

OK.  So theres this let the bees just be bees, no chemicals, let them build there own comb from scratch, blah, blah ,blah thing going on. 

Yeah id like to jump aboard but am scared.  I have heard, "if there were such a thing as bees that can survive all the stuff than everybody would get them".  Sounds like reasonable logic. 

Yet it seems Michael Bush is having success.  Are you still Michael?  What are your losses?  I mean no disrespect, Ive been meaning to ask this for some time.  I really would like to know what people who actually practice this get and continue to get for results.

I don't know what to do.  I would like to try this natural comb (you know letting them build it from scratch) thing.  My biggest concern with this is that they will draw comb at a snail pace and swarm  constantly.  Has anyone ever used one hive to make the comb by feeding them sugar water non stop and stealing the comb from them as it is drawn.  I want to triple my numbers next spring if possible.  Of course my bees have to survive winter to do it without buying packages, nucs, or whatever.

So I need to start with resistant stock to begin with?

Thanks any and all for comments.

bee-nuts 
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kathyp
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« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2009, 11:29:54 AM »

your natural comb fears are unfounded.  they draw that as they need it, just as they draw foundation as they need it.  i would not count on natural comb as mite protection, however the idea that it reduces chemicals by not using wax with residuals of past treatment, is probably valid.

i, too, have the goal of not using chemicals.  i am cheap.  i don't want to spend  the money  smiley.  i do consider my bees to be the same as any other living thing i own.  when they require treatment, i will give it.  i will do my research and use the most effective and least toxic method.

i believe the long term answer to our disease and pest problem is genetics. for some, that means breeding their own queens.  i think MB does that.  for others, it's collecting feral hives.  for me, it's a mix that i am still figuring out.  i try to make queens from my strongest stock.  i don't go out of my way to save hives that do not thrive.  i get as many true feral bees as i can, which means doing cutouts of older hives and very rarely...getting a swam from a feral hive.

i would advise that you do what i did not.  sketch out a plan for expansion and treatment goals.  be flexible, but use that plan as a guideline to decide from which hives you will raise queens, which you may let go, and which you would be willing to treat if you need to. 
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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
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« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2009, 12:58:37 PM »

First,
I have had my bees tested for contamination from commercial wax foundation. Total parts per billion of ANY beekeeper induced chemical.....absolutely ZERO.

No test of I am aware of has shown a carryover effect of chemicals in wax from foundation. Most of the wax used in foundation is from supers and honey operations. The badly self-contaminated wax that beekeepers finally had to fess up to after LYING about what they were putting into their hives for YEARS, is probably way higher in the brood chamber wax, thus harming those beekeepers who poisoned their own hives. The whole process of rendering and bleaching wax probably helps somewhat also. So although I promote and support natural comb (not to be confused with those who mislabel smallcell) I do not think there is any proof that chemicals in foundation is as bad as some has rumored or suggested.

Any person who wants to get away from treatments needs to look at doing so from a multi-veiw angle. It is not that ANY given hive, comb, genetics, or management that will give resistant bees. But it's using a combination of the right hygienic bees, the right equipment options to take advantage and ENHANCE those hygienic bees, the right management strategies, as well as understanding everything that happens inside the hive.
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bee-nuts
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« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2009, 10:59:01 PM »

Thanks for the thorough responses.  Very interesting.

I still am not hearing successful chemical free results.  Is it even possible?  Is the closest thing to chemical free only, as chemical free as feasible?  What I mean is, where is the apiary or stock of bee that exists that has proved itself feasibly chemical free?  Does it not exist, period, anywhere?  I have gotten the impression that Michael Bush runs a "CHEMICAL FREE APIARY", or is it chemical free as possible.  I have read most of his website, but have read so much other stuff lately so I can not remember/say with certainty what is or is not his exact method of practice and do not wish to claim any, I just want to know what is possible.  I just want to be a better beekeeper that's part of the solution, not the problem.

As difficult as this issue is and the achievement may be to develop a strain or strains of bees that can live without constant and/or any intervention for survival is, a person must wonder: Have humans pushed the honey bees beyond even chemical intervention for survival on there own.  Has the combination and number of pests and disease's honey bees are subject to now, because of man, a domed battle with only one result?  This result being either extinction or a unhealthy, sick, diseased, miserable existence dependant on chemicals and the development of even more chemicals, and more chemicals as mites, and diseases get resistant to the treatments and evolve and of course more are introduced..

OR

Can we help the honeybee help itself by truly letting the survival of the fitest survive?  And by us helping, I mean by keeping enough colonies in existence for them to re-evolve and be able to survive the loses and still have enough viable genetic variation to finally one day witness a tough, healthy, gentle, chemical or mostly chemical free, honeybee.  Was this not the way it was once before we screwed everything up?

So if anyone has read this far and is not wondering if I am sane, let me see if I have a reasonable grip on the situation. 

All I can do is monitor hives for disease and pests, treat only when they have to have them or they will die, breed from best stock, always bring in new genetics to find new quality traits, and draw a line when treating hives and just let them go and move on.

I swear I'm not nuts.

bee-nuts.......... LOL
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kathyp
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« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2009, 11:12:43 PM »

people do run chemical free yards.  you could do so also.  it depends on your loss tolerance.

i look at it this way...if my dogs are sick, i treat them.  same with horse, cattle, and kids smiley.  it is in part because of chemicals that our life span is longer than 45 years.  we grow more crops, live more comfortable, and have more toys because of them. 

Quote
always bring in new genetics to find new quality traits

always try to bring in the best genetics, not the newest.
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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
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« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2009, 09:45:58 AM »

  My hives are all natural. At first I even left the wires out of the frames. All my bees are either ferals or split from ferals and are small dark bees.
  I do no more manipulation inside the brood boxes than necessary, and as a result I'm sure many would decry their condition. But they are the way the bees want them.
  I do not re-queen, that is a decision I leave to the hive. Given the track record so far I trust their instincts.
  Over the years I have brought in swarms of big bright pretty bees that came from domestic hives. They have all failed in a year or less. I even tried leaving a few nests in the gums they were found in and they failed as well.
  The hive bodies most Beeks use, unlike the natural cavities many settle in, provide the optimum space for the hive to develop. The clean environment with open spaces and some added protection from predators that is found in most bee yards reduces the stress on the hive. The ventilation and moisture control, the screens and slats provided to alow for ease in cleaning the hive, and the careful location of the hive to alow the balance of sun and shade all give the bees an edge they don't have in nature. And it shows in production and colony strength.
  For the ferals I provide a home that is heaven compared to the risks they face in the wild. But for the domestics, long accustomed to far more attention, the conditions seem less than ideal.
  I have not yet found a Hive Beetle or mite in a "feral" hive. But the domestics would be troubled by a few. 
  I'm happy, and the bees seem happy, with this approach.
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« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2009, 10:06:25 AM »

bee-nuts,
Once again, your asking a vary narrow question about having "chemical free bees", as if this is the only determining factor of having bees survive.

My own answer or reply is Yes, many people have success not using chemicals in the hive. But that success is translated or due to many combining factors. It's not about one hive being treated, and one hive not being treated. Its about one hive being treated, and the other hive NOT being treated because of many factors to include equipment options, genetic selection, management, etc.

One of your comments will doom your interest or pursuit in going away from chemicals. You state about "treating when needed". a weak chain only needs to fail at one point. You "saving" your weakest genetics, those that can not cope with mites, will cause your other hives to be at peril. Mite transfer, mating with weak genetics, massive amounts of time you spend saving the few bad colonies, as well as other factors all play into it.

As already mentioned, culling or excepting some winter kill is to be expected.

Last year, I lost about 25%. The year before that was 16%. Mother nature is my best employee. She takes the weak, leaves the strong, and I except that some loss is to be expected. And I'm convinced of the many stories at the local clubs of losses in the 50-90% from who TREAT, that I saved money, saved labor, and ultimately, my bees are better off.

Guard yourself from that "golden statement" you seek about a magic strain, or some hive, which seems to be mentioned from time to time from those who narrowly promote one way of beekeeping. Being chemical free, or not having to treat comes from  many factors.
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kathyp
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« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2009, 10:42:40 AM »

were we only taking about mite treatment?  i was thinking about all treatments.  for instance, when i had bad chalkbrood a couple of years ago, someone suggested i use tea tree oil in syrup to treat them. i would consider this a treatment.

 it didn't work, but i thought it was worth a try.  is tea tree oil  more "natural" than thymol? 

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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
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« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2009, 02:08:10 PM »

OK, I think I digested all that info.  What about this new nosema that seams to be the cause of CCD.  It sounds like blue bionic plague for the bees.  Would you still not treat if there was a cure.  Do you think the bees can survive this too on there own.

I have three yards I can keep bees and more If I need.  I think I will treat this fall and will build a plan for next year having one apiary that is chemical free or at least mostly.  I will make nucs with a few frames of drawn foundation and then allow them to draw the rest out on there own and then remove the old comb.  I am worried about the strain of bees I have though.  Sounds like I need to try to find some feral stock if any really exists here.  By feral I don't mean a swarm from a commercial outfit but a feral line that is or has been feral for some time.  If I understand correctly it sounds like my bees would just fizzle out if left on there own.

Are there many sources for feral queens like Mr Bush.  If any of you would be kind enough to sell me a queen from feral line I would defiantly buy one from you at a fare price. 

Thank you for you opinions and knowledge of this issue. 

bee-nuts
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BjornBee
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« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2009, 02:28:33 PM »

So your looking for a "line" of feral bees. One's just like the feral queens that MB has. This is becoming really interesting. Lips Sealed



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« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2009, 02:50:28 PM »

Quote
I am worried about the strain of bees I have though.  Sounds like I need to try to find some feral stock if any really exists here.  By feral I don't mean a swarm from a commercial outfit but a feral line that is or has been feral for some time.  If I understand correctly it sounds like my bees would just fizzle out if left on there own.

don't get hung up on absolutes.  it limits your ability to adjust.  collecting true feral swarms is a good idea.  finding them or being able to identify them can be a little tricky.  sometimes it just means waiting to see what they do.  if you are going to requeen, consider doing it with resistant stock.  it's out there.

i would never pass up a swarm from a 'domesticated' hive.  i do keep an eye on them especially for mites.  i picked up a couple last year that are doing great this year and with no treatment.

it's more about knowing what you are seeing and having a plan to deal with things (or not) as you find them. 
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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
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« Reply #11 on: August 03, 2009, 03:23:44 AM »

Kathyp

Have you ever tried or had any success with swarm traps or beelining.  I was thinking that maybe it would be a good idea to put swarm lures in tree stands.  The ones I'm thinking of are mostly about 12 to 15 feet high and are not used until fall anyway.  What I have read said 15ft is about perfect so maybe these would work great.  Do you think It would be worth the effort to have 10 or 20 around the area.  I was originally thinking about putting a few next to my main yard next year to see if I could at least catch a few of my own swarms back.

Thanks again everyone for all your comments

bee-nuts









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Michael Bush
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« Reply #12 on: August 08, 2009, 08:42:00 PM »

>Yet it seems Michael Bush is having success.  Are you still Michael?

Yes I am.

>  What are your losses?

They vary from year to year.  But losses where there are any more than single digit populations of Varroa (like 1 to 9) on the bottom have been zero for some time.  Losses from anything else "treatable" have been zero with one possible exception.  I may have had some Nosema winter before last which may have taken some of them.  I use no treatments, chemical or otherwise.  I don't even do drone trapping and most of my hives don't even have screened bottom boards.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beescerts.htm

>I don't know what to do.  I would like to try this natural comb (you know letting them build it from scratch) thing.  My biggest concern with this is that they will draw comb at a snail pace and swarm  constantly.

Actually they build their own comb faster and it has nothing to do with swarming.

>  Has anyone ever used one hive to make the comb by feeding them sugar water non stop and stealing the comb from them as it is drawn.

Somewhat when trying to get small cell from one small cell hive to give to a large cell hive, but I think it's too much work.

>So I need to start with resistant stock to begin with?

If you mean for Varroa, I have not seen any need.  If you mean for everything else, survivor stock that is well adapted to your area is helpful.  I'd look for a local queen breeder and/or do some cutouts and catch swarms.  If you raise your own queens they will tend to mate with local stock.  The more you raise local stock the better off you are.  I have stock that does well here.  That means it might do well in other Northern climates, but one closer to you probably would do even better.


Thanks any and all for comments.
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« Reply #13 on: February 20, 2010, 02:51:52 PM »

WOW! Those certificates were VERY impressive!  I'm going to bookmark that page for my local skeptics.   grin 
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« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2010, 03:18:50 PM »

just remember that there is often a difference between people successful with natural beekeeping, and those embracing the religion of natural beekeeping.  the first will help you find what works for you.  the second will tell you that you MUST do things a certain way. 

so many people on  here, MB among them, have put a huge amount of time into making info available to all of us.  as i have learned, i have taken bits from all and tried to work them into a program that is my own. 

don't be afraid to try new things and don't let people tell you that a thing can't be done.  if you are wrong, you will find out soon enough 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
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« Reply #15 on: February 21, 2010, 07:07:34 PM »

I'm not sure if my hives actually fit in here, but I am going on my 5th season with the bees and have never treated them with anything other than powdered sugar. I even stopped doing the powdered sugar last year and stopped counting mites.  In 5 years I only lost one hive over the winter. I went into the winter this year with 4 hives and have come out so far with 4 hives.  I don't know how they will perform this year, but I just feel good about letting them draw out their own wax combs using the starter strips and not using any more artificial treatments. (meaning the powdered sugar). I don't replace queens, I let them decide to do that. If it keeps up like this, then I will be more than happy about my abilities at beekeeping. 

I will give them sugar syrup if I believe they do not have enough honey.

Annette
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« Reply #16 on: March 13, 2010, 03:26:29 PM »

I'm not sure if my hives actually fit in here, but I am going on my 5th season with the bees and have never treated them with anything other than powdered sugar. I even stopped doing the powdered sugar last year and stopped counting mites.  In 5 years I only lost one hive over the winter. I went into the winter this year with 4 hives and have come out so far with 4 hives.  I don't know how they will perform this year, but I just feel good about letting them draw out their own wax combs using the starter strips and not using any more artificial treatments. (meaning the powdered sugar). I don't replace queens, I let them decide to do that. If it keeps up like this, then I will be more than happy about my abilities at beekeeping.  

I will give them sugar syrup if I believe they do not have enough honey.

Annette

Those are pretty excellent results.  What kind of bees did you start with?
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« Reply #17 on: March 13, 2010, 03:40:43 PM »

So your looking for a "line" of feral bees. One's just like the feral queens that MB has. This is becoming really interesting. Lips Sealed





What is wrong with that?  I understand that it might be better if you had genetically superior/pest resistant/locally adapted stock, but wouldn't 2 out of three be better than just some commercially produced queen?  Or even "local" genetics that you know nothing about.  Even that hive that has "always" been in the bell tower might be a new swarm from a bee yard that requeens with Georgia/Italians every fall and not be "locally adapted" at all.

I know that you don't proclaim that genetics alone are the magic bullet, but I gather that you think it is an important factor.  Getting a queen from a "line" (feral or not) that someone else has had success with seems to me like one of the better ways to start out - even if it doesn't come with a guarantee.
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« Reply #18 on: March 13, 2010, 06:55:41 PM »

I am also successful at no treatment.  The correct formula for success may be different for different areas and different objectives.  But this is becoming more & more common among beekeepers.   It's becoming obvious that it can be done.
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« Reply #19 on: March 13, 2010, 10:35:23 PM »

I'm not sure if my hives actually fit in here, but I am going on my 5th season with the bees and have never treated them with anything other than powdered sugar. I even stopped doing the powdered sugar last year and stopped counting mites.  In 5 years I only lost one hive over the winter. I went into the winter this year with 4 hives and have come out so far with 4 hives.  I don't know how they will perform this year, but I just feel good about letting them draw out their own wax combs using the starter strips and not using any more artificial treatments. (meaning the powdered sugar). I don't replace queens, I let them decide to do that. If it keeps up like this, then I will be more than happy about my abilities at beekeeping.  

I will give them sugar syrup if I believe they do not have enough honey.

Annette

Those are pretty excellent results.  What kind of bees did you start with?

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