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Author Topic: Attention "Natural & Organic" Beekeepers  (Read 14509 times)

Offline Meadlover

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Re: Attention "Natural & Organic" Beekeepers
« Reply #40 on: January 21, 2010, 05:57:55 PM »

What I'm saying is this.  I'm a (fairly typical I suspect) first year beekeeper.  I've never handled bees before so I didn't consider swarm catching or removals an option.  I've never even seen a swarm.  


David,

I'm a 1st year Beek too. So far I have:
Made a nuc by taking 2 frames from my hive, and added a mated queen I bought,
Did a cutout
Did a swarm removal
Am half way through a trapout which are raising their own queen

I see no reason why 1st year beeks shouldn't have a go at doing swarms, cutouts and trapouts. I have found that in the process of doing these I have learnt more about bees than doing anything else, especially with the trapout. It is VERY daunting the 1st time but now it is just fun  :-D.

The cutout I did died (SHB) - learnt heaps about brood, SHB infestation timeline and more
The swarm I collected was/went queenless and is almost dead - learnt heaps about signs and effects of queenless hives, as well as more about SHB infestation and treatments
The trapout I'm still doing is going great - learning more still about SHB and where they hide, emergency queen raising, bee psychology (what makes them tick) etc

I guess as bad as they have turned out, I would prefer to lose those 'free' hives rather than lose several hives that I paid good money for, as I don't plan to make those same mistakes again! The biggest thing that I learn from all of this is that if I had more than 1 hive I probably could have saved those hives by boosting them with brood or bees or both, or eggs to raise an emergency queen etc. I now plan to have at the very least a spare nuc in my backyard, but hope to have a few nucs on the go at once.

I would encourage all 1st year beeks to try to do 1 swarm collection, 1 cutout, and 1 trap out - the amount you can learn is awesome!

ML

Offline heaflaw

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Re: Attention "Natural & Organic" Beekeepers
« Reply #41 on: January 21, 2010, 08:42:02 PM »
I've been keeping 15-20 hives for about 12 years.  I know it's difficult for a new beekeeper to lose a hive, but it's just a part of the learning experience.  10-15% loss over winter is average for the best beekeepers.  Some hives are going to die-that's just part of the nature of the honey bee.  Fortunately, it is very easy to increase your number of hives through catching swarms, splits etc.  Don't be afraid to "fail".  It's going to happen.

Sounds like you are gaining a wealth of knowledge & are on your way to becoming a very succesfull beekeeper.

Offline Natalie

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Re: Attention "Natural & Organic" Beekeepers
« Reply #42 on: February 15, 2010, 10:01:24 PM »
Last year was also my first year of beekeeping and I dived right in.
I caught a swarm and did a cutout within two months of getting my first hives.
I also started out my beekeeping with 11 colonies and going foundationless.
I have langstroth hives, topbar hives and a 2 queen hive.
I had a great deal of support and knowledge from the great group of people from this forum which gave me the confidence and know how to do what I did.
I think its better to jump right in and step outside your comfort zone sometimes.
I find that I can do just about anything and then later people will explain all the reasons why I shouldn't have been able to succeed, but I did because I didn't know any better. :)

Offline JP

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Re: Attention "Natural & Organic" Beekeepers
« Reply #43 on: February 16, 2010, 12:58:40 AM »
This thread is right up my alley, as I have never used treatments of any type and all my bees are from swarms and cut-outs.

I would like to also mention that people get too hung up on a few mites and shbs in their hives. Most all feral colonies have some of each but its all in how the bees deal with them that makes the difference.

I know first hand (being in the pest control field) how chemicals will breed resistant strains, making the parasite stronger than its host, which is not the intent of any bee keeper but is the inevitable outcome if chemicals are used.

There is a treatment free movement larger than ever and never more timely than now folks. Dare to be treatment free and say no to chemicals in your hives.


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Offline luvin honey

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Re: Attention "Natural & Organic" Beekeepers
« Reply #44 on: March 21, 2010, 12:10:29 AM »
I'm completely with you, David. I don't like "chemicals" for anything in my life, including my hives. I swore I wouldn't do a single thing to prop up my bees, but I started with 2 commercial packages, learned a lot through this year and went into winter with 1 strong split and 2 weak twice-swarmed hives. I ended up doing a lot of sugar feeding.

It IS tough the first year to consider losing the bees. I'm swearing all over again that next year I will do absolutely nothing, including sugar. We'll see. I bet if my good hive is weak come spring I will be out there with sugar after all.

Well, spring is here--at least until it snowed today--and the strong hive made it. The twice-swarmed, robbed-blind hives didn't.

I won't be feeding. I won't be treating. I will be swarm trapping and trying one more 2-lb southern package. I would like to do splits from my hives to go into winter with 4 strong hives. I think it will give me more options in case things go wrong.

It's incredible to have the support and advice of so many treatment-free folks on this forum!

I totally agree, as mentioned above, that "organic" is nearly impossible. But, when I'm using some of this wax for lip balm and skin products (not to mention chewing on honeycomb!), I feel better that it is as pure as it can be where I live, that at least I'm not adding any pollutants into the process.
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Offline Acebird

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Re: Attention "Natural & Organic" Beekeepers
« Reply #45 on: December 15, 2010, 06:00:05 PM »
Quote
It IS tough the first year to consider losing the bees. I'm swearing all over again that next year I will do absolutely nothing, including sugar. We'll see. I bet if my good hive is weak come spring I will be out there with sugar after all
.

I am not sure what your fear is the bees dying or you loosing the honey.  What is the heading ,“Natural and Organic” beekeepers, right?  If you are an organic farmer you are not going to throw seven on your garden if the bugs take a toll are you.  I am sure there are many first year beekeepers who won’t give up because of losses especially if they know the advantages of natural and organics.  Just do it.
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Offline alfred

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Re: Attention "Natural & Organic" Beekeepers
« Reply #46 on: December 17, 2010, 11:41:52 AM »
I'm curious what folks think of his idea of not harvesting until spring. Seems to make some sence to me.

Offline JP

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Re: Attention "Natural & Organic" Beekeepers
« Reply #47 on: December 17, 2010, 12:23:43 PM »
A good bit of honey that was left on for wintering if not consumed is often granulated, so any pulled in the spring down here goes to feed.


...JP
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Offline Acebird

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Re: Attention "Natural & Organic" Beekeepers
« Reply #48 on: December 17, 2010, 12:39:44 PM »
I was concerned about this too until I started to listen to podcasts that you can get form this site that Robo gave a link to in another topic.

http://robo.bushkillfarms.com/beekeeping/beekeeping-podcasts/

I know there is no advertising on the forum but I would recommend ever new beek visit this site for the shear information that is contained within.

My head is spinning with all the conflicting views that occurs amongst beeks but my feeling now is don’t leave all the honey in the top which is what we did this year.  I am certain that where the hive is placed and under what climate will make a huge difference on what method is more successful than another.  So even though you can see or hear about varied practices throughout the world (internet access) the best ones for you will be the ones that are close to home.  That means joining a local club and be active enough to pick their brains.  “Well this is what I do.” doesn’t sound so bad to me anymore.

Just so you know, Utica, NY is at the breaking point when you come to weather patterns.  It makes a huge difference if you travel north, south, east or west by as little as 20 miles when it comes to weather.



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Offline Scadsobees

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Re: Attention "Natural & Organic" Beekeepers
« Reply #49 on: December 17, 2010, 01:23:33 PM »
I'm curious what folks think of his idea of not harvesting until spring. Seems to make some sence to me.

If the bees don't make it, or you get an all natural mouse in there, they can make a really nasty mess.  They poop all over as they die.  120lbs good only for feeding the other bees.

Not to mention many hives will collect 100s of pounds of honey, WAY overkill, and could tip a hive in the winter.

And the granulation thing.

If you've only got an extra super or two...well...that won't make much difference, you can leave that, and probably you'd only take a few frames anyway for personal use.

Rick   
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Offline Bee Happy

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Re: Attention "Natural & Organic" Beekeepers
« Reply #50 on: December 17, 2010, 02:01:48 PM »
Mine took in a lot of honey in the spring, and the fall crop wasn't a lot, so I just left it for them, I'll probably do that every fall unless they take in a huge haul.
I don't think I'll ever use pesticides in the hive (isn't that what miticides are anyway?)
« Last Edit: December 17, 2010, 02:11:59 PM by Bee Happy »
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Offline Acebird

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Re: Attention "Natural & Organic" Beekeepers
« Reply #51 on: December 17, 2010, 05:53:00 PM »
Quote
Mine took in a lot of honey in the spring, and the fall crop wasn't a lot

Does anyone have an explanation of why that happens?  It doesn't make sense to me why a healthy hive would not produce when they have had the whole season to collect nectar.
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Offline Robo

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Re: Attention "Natural & Organic" Beekeepers
« Reply #52 on: December 17, 2010, 06:53:35 PM »
They can only collect nectar when it is available.  Dry times does not make for good flows.  Also,  I have heard that it may take 2 years for certain plants to recover from a drought and produce significant quantities of nectar.
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Offline Acebird

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Re: Attention "Natural & Organic" Beekeepers
« Reply #53 on: December 18, 2010, 11:08:35 AM »
That still says to me you should wait until fall after the honey flow has ended to determine how much to take.  Kinda like the Pilgrims.  Or at least curtail how much you take in the Spring until you can see what is ahead.
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Offline T Beek

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Re: Attention "Natural & Organic" Beekeepers
« Reply #54 on: December 18, 2010, 02:52:37 PM »
I stop taking any honey by mid August,, then wait till the Spring dandelions explode to get the lions share of "my" honey.  I didn't really get into this for the honey, although that is the bonus.  If I hadn't stopped taking honey they would have consumed it all during the 60 F temps we had up here in November with NOTHING for them to forage on, forcing me to either feed sugar or let them starve.

I've still got the unopended containers of terrymiacin and other such chemical treatments and haven't felt compelled to use them in five years yet.  I have used sugar dusting one time on a mite invested hive that did well after treating but perished during the winter.  I'm coming to beleive in the "let em live, let em die, but let em chose" philosophy.

I got my first bees (2 pks) from texas (over 12oo miles south) and still have (never treated) survivors from those.  I've purchased more packages from same place, as I learned and lost bees, now regularly catch swarms, have been given bees, ready to do splits, make Winter NUCs and produce my own queens.  I feel treating may be no treat at all .  I'm beginning to even question some feeding as I learn more about Nuc Colonies.

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Offline Acebird

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Re: Attention "Natural & Organic" Beekeepers
« Reply #55 on: December 27, 2010, 11:59:49 AM »
As long as you keep treating, you keep propagating the bees that can't survive. This is the opposite of what we need. We beekeepers need to be propagating the ones that CAN survive. Also we keep propagating the pests that are strong enough to survive our treatments. So we keep breeding wimpy bees and super pests.

You really need to raise your own queens from local surviving bees. Only then can you get bees who genetically can survive and parasites that are in tune with their host and in tune with their climate. As long as we treat we get weaker bees who can only survive if we treat, and stronger parasites who can only survive if they breed fast enough to keep up with our treatments. No stable relationship can develop until we stop treating.


My question is how do you get started?  If you don’t have the nucs or queens to start with you have to get them from somewhere.  It is unlikely a new beek is going to start with a swarm or cut out not knowing a thing about bees.

We get our nucs from a local guru that told us the sperm comes from Europe, it is shipped to Hawaii and then the fertile queen is shipped to him where he creates the nuc.  He is a jokester so I don’t know how true the story is.  At anyrate he is probably getting the queens from somewhere.

Anyhow, how do you know the genetics are not going to be good until the hive develops?  How do you know that your own queens and hives are not in an area that the bees have been foraging which has been tainted?  I understand and agree with the “survival of the fittest”.  It is nature’s way.  So regardless of where the genes come from, if they are good the hive will flourish and if they are not then they would parish.  In my view it comes down to a philosophy of human intervention or not based on what happens.
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Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Attention "Natural & Organic" Beekeepers
« Reply #56 on: December 27, 2010, 10:16:12 PM »
The first step is to get them in an evironment they can survive in.  In my experience, since Varroa, that is either small cell or natural cell.  The next step is to breed from the ones that do well.  Obviously you need more than one to choose from...
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Offline luvin honey

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Re: Attention "Natural & Organic" Beekeepers
« Reply #57 on: December 28, 2010, 06:52:57 PM »
Quote
It IS tough the first year to consider losing the bees. I'm swearing all over again that next year I will do absolutely nothing, including sugar. We'll see. I bet if my good hive is weak come spring I will be out there with sugar after all
.

I am not sure what your fear is the bees dying or you loosing the honey.  What is the heading ,“Natural and Organic” beekeepers, right?  If you are an organic farmer you are not going to throw seven on your garden if the bugs take a toll are you.  I am sure there are many first year beekeepers who won’t give up because of losses especially if they know the advantages of natural and organics.  Just do it.

The only "treatment" I have ever done is sugar. I would never, ever do any chemicals. I don't use them in anything in my yard, gardens or hives. But, I did feed sugar. Unforunately, this is now a moot point anyway as the bears took out both my hives! Now, would I be "organic" in my behavior towards bears? Hmmmm :D
The pedigree of honey
Does not concern the bee;
A clover, any time, to him
Is aristocracy.
---Emily Dickinson

Offline Acebird

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Re: Attention "Natural & Organic" Beekeepers
« Reply #58 on: December 28, 2010, 07:42:18 PM »
Bears are tough.  Have you or anyone else in your area tried an electric fence?
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Offline luvin honey

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Re: Attention "Natural & Organic" Beekeepers
« Reply #59 on: December 28, 2010, 07:45:13 PM »
Afterwards :) But, the bees dwindled out and there was nothing left to protect. Will try again next year.
The pedigree of honey
Does not concern the bee;
A clover, any time, to him
Is aristocracy.
---Emily Dickinson