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Author Topic: Natural Beekeeping in the North  (Read 13629 times)
derbeemeister
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« on: February 14, 2006, 01:09:56 PM »

I wish to briefly summarize what I think is the correct way to keep bees alive in this era of mites, chemicals, and unwanted African bee genes. This method is described in great detail in a six part article Kirk Webster wrote for the American Bee Journal in 1997. Those of you who have this magazine are advised to reread it. Those who don't, should be able to read Kirk's upcoming series in the Bee Journal this spring. Let me pint out that this is a person who has dedicated himself to a more natural method of beekeeping; one that eschews drugs and chemicals, as well as importation of bees and queens, except as a means for stock improvement. In his own words:

"[20 years ago] I decided it was the right time to begin working seriously on a northern apiary centered around queen rearing and stock selection. Right now is the right time to start planning for a different way of life; to move away from our failing social and economic system. A society that uses everything and take scare of nothing isn't sustainable."

"On three different occasions I have lost 50% of my full sized colonies. But I have never lost more than 25% of the nucleus colonies [over winter]. If a yard of 25 double stories goes into winter with two nucs on top of each, that makes 75 colonies total. In my worse case scenario (50% loss of full sized colonies and 25% loss of nucs) there are still 50 colonies left alive in spring. The nucs all have young, proven queens and by equalizing the brood the entire yard can be rebuilt to honey-producing strength and still yield 25 nucs for use elsewhere."

"During June and July is when new colonies and queens of the best quality can be produced easily and cheaply in the northern states. I have observed a few beekeepers attempt to use this method of making and using nucs, and then give up after experiencing winter losses of 50% or more. They all made at least one of these two fatal errors: 1)They purchased queens of unsuitable stock; or, 2) They started the nucs too late. Here where we don't have a fall flow, it is best for the nucs to plug out before the weather turns cool."

"Untold work and expense has been saved by selecting winter hardy and frugal bees here over several years. By having a system that can accommodate a 20-30% winter loss without economic damage, a more natural system based on selection pressure becomes possible. As a matter of fact, if I knew that even 40% of my bees would survive  and build up without treatments, I would quit using them."

In fact, several years later, Kirk did stop using them. And that is the next chapter.
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Herve Abeille
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« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2006, 01:52:17 PM »

Quote from: derbeemeister
I wish to briefly summarize what I think is the correct way to keep bees alive in this era of mites, chemicals, and unwanted African bee genes.


I do not know what is the idea in this. Here in north I have never heard any natural way to get rid off mites.  Is it manage with varroa without chemicals or treatments?

30% winter losses are much. It is only bees but a lot of frames will be spoiled: feces, mould, fermentation, rotten bees...

Normal winter loss is the queen. When it is question about varroa, it is whole colony. Often colony overwinter but is not any more able to get honey.

Here is  explanationhow to catch mites with drone larvae during  summer.
http://www.xs4all.nl/~jtemp/dronemethod.html
.
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derbeemeister
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« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2006, 03:59:37 PM »

Finsky:
I do not know what is the idea in this. Here in north I have never heard any natural way to get rid off mites. Is it manage with varroa without chemicals or treatments?

ME:
Yes. It is not a new idea, like I have said. It starts with Langstroth, is expanded by Brother Adam and updated by Kirk Webster. It is essentially allowing susceptible bees to die off, and to replace them with fresh colonies.

Instead of buying packages from the south, like so many do, you make your own new colonies. Varroa does not build up to critical levels in the nucs.

So that if a lot of hives die in the fall, or during winter, you still have the nucs coming on for the next season. Of course, these colonies will provide bees for the next batch of nucs.

I hope over the next few days it will become more clear what I am describing. I am trying to keep these postings brief and concise. The technique is described fully in the American Bee Journal.

Also see "Beekeeping at Buckfast Abbey"

Herve
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Herve Abeille
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« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2006, 04:11:37 PM »

Quote from: derbeemeister

Instead of buying packages from the south, like so many do, you make your own new colonies. Varroa does not build up to critical levels in the nucs.


Perhaps we have here so much nature that we are not eager to keep bees "naturally".  As we say here, varroa is not problem here any more. Coltrol is simple. Bees have no brood at winter and it is easy to kill mites from hives.  70% of beekeepers use oxalic acid trickling, and it is least harmfull to bees.

http://bees.freesuperhost.com/cgi-bin/yabb2/YaBB.pl?num=1136436349
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derbeemeister
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« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2006, 07:57:04 PM »

> As we say here, varroa is not problem here any more. Control is simple. Bees have no brood at winter and it is easy to kill mites from hives. 70% of beekeepers use oxalic acid trickling, and it is least harmfull to bees.

First off, Oxalic is NOT legal in the USA. Canada, yes. But I wonder how long it will take before mites can resist that, too? The point is, to either get bees that can live without chems, or develop a technique that can enable us to expand quickly enough to stay ahead of the losses. Kirk's method does both

Herve
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Herve Abeille
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« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2006, 06:28:13 AM »

True, not legal, but people do it.  The mites are pretty resistant to all of the "legal" methods.

Herve - what are you using now for mite control?

Do you have your bees in Cambridge? I'm there four days a week. I would like to see your seup at some point.
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Finsky
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« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2006, 07:42:44 AM »

Quote from: derbeemeister
But I wonder how long it will take before mites can resist that, too?


I do not worry about that. There are a lot of people making that development work and  I am not going to make me hero in this issue. I wait what others get ready.  What I check every day is in what direction Downjones and Nasdaq are going. wink - As stock saver ...
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downunder
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« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2006, 08:29:54 AM »

Quote
But I wonder how long it will take before mites can resist that, too?


Highly unlikely unless they evolve some sheild around their mouth. Correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't it dissolve the proboscis on the mite and it dies by starvation? It loses it's suction ability and is unable to feed on the bee.

No resistance has been reported in anything that physically removes a vital organ like a (mouth)   cheesy
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Finsky
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« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2006, 09:26:48 AM »

Quote from: downunder
Correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't it dissolve ..


I have read that is is not truly known how oxalic acid trickling really affects on mites, but it affects. So it is impossible to guess what happens next.
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downunder
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« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2006, 08:04:19 PM »

The researchers I collaborate with which includes Dr Denis Anderson (who named varroa destructor) say that on microscopic examination of the varroa after oxalic acid treatment, they have a dissolved proboscis and are unable to attatch to the bees. There is literature out there to support this.

http://www.moraybeekeepers.co.uk/varroa.htm
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derbeemeister
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« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2006, 10:52:21 PM »

Hello

You should maybe think a little bit harder about insect resistance. Like for example, what would happen if every time you saw a roach, you stomped it? Can roaches survive stomping? Of course not. But that's why roaches are scurrying around in the dark, when they can't be seen! That's their defense.

So, mites could develop over time that had the ability to hide in cells whenever they smelled oxalic, and soon they would be the only mites left. Resistance to treatments can take many forms. That's why we want to get off the pesticide treadmill & use resistance for our benefit: to raise resistant bees

H. A.
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Herve Abeille
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« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2006, 01:15:26 AM »

Quote from: derbeemeister
to raise resistant bees.


Of course and varroa is not only problem with bees. Resistancy is valuable feature. I can get rid off European foulbrood and chalkbrood easily when I change the queen.  

Many write that hygienic behaviour is important. In Australia they found that  10% of their bee  stock showed hygienic behaviour.  How many queen breeder makes hygienic tests? In my country.

But it is awfull to me that new beekeepers believe that some beehives owner can change the world and just jump to new train. But it is not necessary that all beginners grow to beekeper. Natural selection must work among beekeepers too.
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Finsky
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« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2006, 01:29:59 AM »

Quote from: downunder
The researchers I collaborate with which includes Dr Denis Anderson (who named varroa destructor) say that on microscopic examination of the varroa after oxalic acid treatment, they have a dissolved proboscis and are unable to attatch to the bees. There is literature out there to support this.

http://www.moraybeekeepers.co.uk/varroa.htm


This is good ant this too

http://www.moraybeekeepers.co.uk/downloads/managing%20varroa%20new.pdf

but downunder what happened later to your hives after those hot days 48C . Beetles attached to hives and ...
.
.


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downunder
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« Reply #13 on: February 16, 2006, 04:50:06 AM »

I lost 3 doubles and six nucleus colonies to the dreaded temperature and beetles. The extreme heat stress made them throw dead brood on the floor. This provided the medium for a feast.

The hives I ventilated and spaced out all recovered and are doing well. Some went broodless for a while but are laying well again now.

I lost two more nucleus colonies to beetles, high humidity and overcrowding since.  The bees absconded into the grass and left a feast for the beetles.

This absconding is becoming common around beetle affected areas in Australia. In the past pre-SHB I had never seen a hive abscond. Now we see numerous giving up and dying in the grass wings covered in slime.

We beleive that european bees are novice's at absconding. They leave resources behind which is why SHB is so successful. African bees are professional absconders taking most of their resources. This may be part of the reason why SHB is not a major concern to scutellata bees.
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Dick Allen
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« Reply #14 on: February 16, 2006, 01:09:14 PM »

Quote
Correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't it dissolve the proboscis on the mite and it dies by starvation? It loses it's suction ability and is unable to feed on the bee.


That's the first time I've read that theory. I have read speculation that oxalic acid works by dissolving the cuticle of the mite and it dies from dehydration.  I've also read that oxalic acid works more as a systemic poison to the mite. Bees ingest the acid when it is dissolved in syrup or breath it when it is vaporized. Mites are thought by some to die when they ingest the acidified blood of their host bees. That scenario seems more likely to me, but of course it's just my personal opinion.

Quote
I have read that is is not truly known how oxalic acid trickling really affects on mites


My thoughts, too.
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derbeemeister
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« Reply #15 on: February 16, 2006, 01:27:09 PM »

I wrote:
I wish to briefly summarize what I think is the correct way to keep bees alive in this era of mites, chemicals, and unwanted African bee genes. This method is described in great detail in a six part article Kirk Webster wrote for the American Bee Journal in 1997.

ME:
Well, nobody seems to be interested in this. I didn't come here to talk about Oxalic Acid, which is illegal anyway in USA. There are serious alternatives to the conventional chemical path on the one hand, and the small cell fringe on the other. The problem is, it is a fairly complicated management technique and no doubt will not interest anyone who wants the quick fix (no such thing anyway)
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Herve Abeille
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« Reply #16 on: February 16, 2006, 03:03:24 PM »

I have talked to Kirk in person, he makes sense!!!
he's been in beekeeping for more then thirty years I think.
 And has seen some pretty horrific loses like in the hundreds or
even thousands over the years, he's still in the bizz. so his work
 has alot of merrit!!!!!!
In my veiw...anyway!
chemicals are in the way and if we dont get smarter soon
  the earth wont be our home anymore and bees cant as of yet pollinate in space let alone live.....if we are even going to have a chance of saving
ourselves at this point in the game, it will take an open heart, an open mind
a ablity to change and everyones input!!!!!!!!!!!
 there wont even beeeeeee a stock market  Cheesy cheesy  cheesy
I beleive its time to take the gift god gave us alot more serius
 if one has a gift with bees like you finsky, your not a hero your an asset
there are no more heros !!!!! just people to feed and problems to fix.

Ok I'm sorry I'm going on again!
Have fun!!!!!!!!!
  I asked Kirk why he wasn't online, and I told him about beemaster
he said he might get himself in trouble, now I know what he was sayin!!!
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Finsky
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« Reply #17 on: February 16, 2006, 03:39:34 PM »

Quote from: TREBOR
chemicals are in the way and if we dont get smarter soon  the earth wont be our home anymore !!!


However, even if you are going to make some kind of revolution, it is good to know: " oxalic acid ... In beeswax there is no notable risk of residues, because the acids are not fat soluble."

Knowledge adds pain...

.
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TREBOR
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« Reply #18 on: February 16, 2006, 04:53:23 PM »

Thats cool,
I 've been reading your posts and plan on using O.A. myself this coming year, don't get me wrong, I use chemicals (formic acid in fall) but if I
can learn of more long term things that nature aready has (and we upset),
 then I think it would be a smarter investment, the harsh chemicals that may do more damage then we can see!
 
 Knowledge aids in not having to know pain.....!if I know it will burn me, I wouldn't stick my finger in it....!!!! cheesy
 we know by now that chemicals are trying to be silver bullets
there is no silver bullet, just dependence!
 Nature had it right before we came along,... and,.. we are suppose to be apart of that!! Question is, how do we get back?
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Kris^
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« Reply #19 on: February 16, 2006, 08:04:01 PM »

Quote from: derbeemeister

Well, nobody seems to be interested in this. I didn't come here to talk about Oxalic Acid, which is illegal anyway in USA. There are serious alternatives to the conventional chemical path on the one hand, and the small cell fringe on the other. The problem is, it is a fairly complicated management technique and no doubt will not interest anyone who wants the quick fix (no such thing anyway)


Actually, the idea of wintering nucs over on top of full hives sounds interesting, but I don't have access to the 1997 American Bee Journal (and I only have a subscription to the "other" magazine).  Are Kirk's articles or discussions of his method published anywhere online?  I've found very little, and what there is seems conflicting.  

-- Kris
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