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Newbeeneil

Queen Bee
***
Joined
Jan 1, 2018
Messages
4,550
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4,157
Location
Fernhurst Sussex
Hive Type
National
Number of Hives
40 plus 23 that I maintain for clients.
Hi My name is Chris.
I'm the Chair of Lancaster beekeepers. I have been keeping bees now for 5 years, 2023 will be the 6th.
I have been a treatment free keeper from the start. I know, this can be a decisive subject, but I believe The bees and mother nature will sort this problem out themselves.
Just look at Apis cerana the Asian honey bee. It has adapted to living with, tolerates and managing Varroa levels it's self. Yes it's taken a long time, but Mother nature knows best!!!!
I don't claim to have Varroa free or Varroa tolerant bees, But the numbers speak for themselves.
I now have 28 colony's and to date have only lost 4 over the 5 years. None to Varroa.
One to Nosema Or Dysentery.
Two colony's were to small going into winter. ( I should have united them.)
And one colony I keep in an ASH log, died through being honey bound. I leave my log hive to get on with life and do not interfere unless like this one it showed signs of a problem. I have 4 log colony's, the other 3 are doing well.
I do have a IMP (Integrated Management plan) to deal with Varroa. but to date have not had a reason to imperilment it.
I have well kept record for all my colony's, showing the time line for each, as I feel it is very important to be able to look back at each colony for data.
Any way that me.
I look forwards to many a chat with the bee community out there.
Chris
Only time will tell.
Just popping out to get some popcorn! 🏃‍♂️🏃‍♂️😀
 
Just look at Apis cerana the Asian honey bee. It has adapted to living with, tolerates and managing Varroa levels it's self. Yes it's taken a long time, but Mother nature knows best!!!!
Just to clarify this. Apis cerana and Varroa destructor evolved together over thousands of years, so coexistence should be expected not marvelled at. The mites jumped to A. mellifera when their paths crossed, and A. mellifera have yet to evolve any form of mite management. There are behaviours that mitigate the damage Varroa do, but that's not the same as being resistant, just the bees being lucky that their default behaviour helps - things like hygiene, brood breaks, etc., and it's clear that these behaviours are carried by recessive alleles, so inheriting them is also down to luck. In a thousand years, perhaps they will have evolved resistance, but don't expect it in your lifetime.

For the record, I only treat if the mite load is heavy enough to warrant it, and preferentially I use biomechanical methods. I do, however, have a fairly strict IPM regime, but try to stay at the lower levels as much as possible.
 
I thought Varroa jacobsoni was the mite that parasitised Apis cerana (Asian honey bees) and that Varroa destructor used to be included under the name V. jacobsoni. But the two species can be separated on the basis of the DNA; and the adult females of the more harmful V. destructor are larger than females of V. jacobsoni.
 
Hi My name is Chris.
I'm the Chair of Lancaster beekeepers. I have been keeping bees now for 5 years, 2023 will be the 6th.
I have been a treatment free keeper from the start. I know, this can be a decisive subject, but I believe The bees and mother nature will sort this problem out themselves.
Just look at Apis cerana the Asian honey bee. It has adapted to living with, tolerates and managing Varroa levels it's self. Yes it's taken a long time, but Mother nature knows best!!!!
I don't claim to have Varroa free or Varroa tolerant bees, But the numbers speak for themselves.
I now have 28 colony's and to date have only lost 4 over the 5 years. None to Varroa.
One to Nosema Or Dysentery.
Two colony's were to small going into winter. ( I should have united them.)
And one colony I keep in an ASH log, died through being honey bound. I leave my log hive to get on with life and do not interfere unless like this one it showed signs of a problem. I have 4 log colony's, the other 3 are doing well.
I do have a IMP (Integrated Management plan) to deal with Varroa. but to date have not had a reason to imperilment it.
I have well kept record for all my colony's, showing the time line for each, as I feel it is very important to be able to look back at each colony for data.
Any way that me.
I look forwards to many a chat with the bee community out there.
Chris
Only time will tell.
Welcome Chris👍
 
Good to see you here Chris. Some of the debates get quite heated and treatment free may well be one of them! Hope you understand that all comments are meant for discussion and not to ' take offence at' . I am pre empting what may never happen of course but welcome to the mad house!
 
Welcome

Do you have pets such as a cat or a dog? Are they vaccinated against natures worst or do you let mother nature sort them out? Nature does not know best. Nature has viruses, bacteria and all sorts of horrible nasties. I believe in duty of care if you are to intervene with nature and keep bees or any other animal.
 
Hi Chris
Keep on going - I have been treatment free for well over a decade and have over 35 colonies. I am sure I benefit from some degree of isolation being in a rural area near Loch Lomond and running foundationless my bees will likely dominate the local drone propulation. I select my breeder queens on the basis of temperant and winter frugality but take splits off many other colonies to keep genetic diversity high.
 
Welcome

Do you have pets such as a cat or a dog? Are they vaccinated against natures worst or do you let mother nature sort them out? Nature does not know best. Nature has viruses, bacteria and all sorts of horrible nasties. I believe in duty of care if you are to intervene with nature and keep bees or any other animal.
Hi Ely.
It's good to talk.
Let me just say I'm no expert. I don't want to start a heated debate on who's right and who's wrong. It's just the way I have decides to keep bees.
You know the saying. 'Ask 10 beekeepers a question and you'll get 10 answers'. We all have your ways we do things. Right or wrong.:)

I hear where your coming from and agree with you to a certain extent. Bees are now classed as live stock, and as you say we have a duty of care.
However, we know what effect the treatment you put on cats and dogs has, it kills the flees and that's it. that's what it has been designed for.
What we don't know, is when we treat hives with what ever treatment you use, what it's doing to the rest of the Eco system of the hive it's self.
There are not just bees living in the hive, there are many other organisms and microscopic insects, which keeps the hives Eco system balanced.
All the treatment that have been designed to kill Varroa, indiscriminately kill other organisms and microscopic insects within the hive. Have you ever monitored very closely a colony after it has been treated? and seen just how long it take for that colony to recover from the treatment.
As I said in my intro. I do have a IMP, and I will use it if I feel it is necessary. But are other ways of treating Varroa with out putting pesticide in a hive.
I'm sure you know that they are. Just to name a few:
Brood break.
Bailey comb change
Shook Swarm
Queen trapping
Icing sugar
Drown culling
All are invasive treatments but do not harm Eco system of the hive.
I'm a sticker for hive records. They show the data needed to be able to say just how a colony is and has preformed over the years.
My oldest colony is now 5, It's a long box hive, which I've split twice and it has re-queened itself once, it has never swarmed and has always been a very strong colony.
I can trace the life of the two splits as they were given to a fellow beekeeper, who I am mentoring. These colony's are still treatment free and thriving. The astonishing thing is (and you will probably not believe this), but the Original Queen which came from my long box, (my first colony) is still alive.! It will be interesting to see when she is finally superseded.
All my colony's record from day one are my way of being responsible for my bees. Yes I've had losses. I autopsies all my dead out to find out why it died.
None have died as a result of Varroa. Two weak colony's going into winter(numbers just dwindled). One starved (My fault, not enough stores left on the hive + it was a small colony and the last one which died as a result of Nosema.

My opinion, and that's all it is.
Is that there has to be a better way.
And I believe there is..............................!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Chris
 
Hi My name is Chris.
I'm the Chair of Lancaster beekeepers. I have been keeping bees now for 5 years, 2023 will be the 6th.
I have been a treatment free keeper from the start. I know, this can be a decisive subject, but I believe The bees and mother nature will sort this problem out themselves.
Just look at Apis cerana the Asian honey bee. It has adapted to living with, tolerates and managing Varroa levels it's self. Yes it's taken a long time, but Mother nature knows best!!!!
I don't claim to have Varroa free or Varroa tolerant bees, But the numbers speak for themselves.
I now have 28 colony's and to date have only lost 4 over the 5 years. None to Varroa.
One to Nosema Or Dysentery.
Two colony's were to small going into winter. ( I should have united them.)
And one colony I keep in an ASH log, died through being honey bound. I leave my log hive to get on with life and do not interfere unless like this one it showed signs of a problem. I have 4 log colony's, the other 3 are doing well.
I do have a IMP (Integrated Management plan) to deal with Varroa. but to date have not had a reason to imperilment it.
I have well kept record for all my colony's, showing the time line for each, as I feel it is very important to be able to look back at each colony for data.
Any way that me.
I look forwards to many a chat with the bee community out there.
Chris
Only time will tell.

Hi Chris. I'm in Scotland but originally from Preston, so I know your area well.
You'll soon realise that the majority who regularly put their opinions on here do treat their bees very thoroughly, and that oxalic acid vaping is considered to be both very effective and virtually harmless to the bees.

It's really good to hear someone who has some collated facts gained from experience, of seeing how bees manage without too much management; I hope that some constructive conversations will follow. :)
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Hi Ely.
It's good to talk.
Let me just say I'm no expert. I don't want to start a heated debate on who's right and who's wrong. It's just the way I have decides to keep bees.
You know the saying. 'Ask 10 beekeepers a question and you'll get 10 answers'. We all have your ways we do things. Right or wrong.:)

I hear where your coming from and agree with you to a certain extent. Bees are now classed as live stock, and as you say we have a duty of care.
However, we know what effect the treatment you put on cats and dogs has, it kills the flees and that's it. that's what it has been designed for.
What we don't know, is when we treat hives with what ever treatment you use, what it's doing to the rest of the Eco system of the hive it's self.
There are not just bees living in the hive, there are many other organisms and microscopic insects, which keeps the hives Eco system balanced.
All the treatment that have been designed to kill Varroa, indiscriminately kill other organisms and microscopic insects within the hive. Have you ever monitored very closely a colony after it has been treated? and seen just how long it take for that colony to recover from the treatment.
As I said in my intro. I do have a IMP, and I will use it if I feel it is necessary. But are other ways of treating Varroa with out putting pesticide in a hive.
I'm sure you know that they are. Just to name a few:
Brood break.
Bailey comb change
Shook Swarm
Queen trapping
Icing sugar
Drown culling
All are invasive treatments but do not harm Eco system of the hive.
I'm a sticker for hive records. They show the data needed to be able to say just how a colony is and has preformed over the years.
My oldest colony is now 5, It's a long box hive, which I've split twice and it has re-queened itself once, it has never swarmed and has always been a very strong colony.
I can trace the life of the two splits as they were given to a fellow beekeeper, who I am mentoring. These colony's are still treatment free and thriving. The astonishing thing is (and you will probably not believe this), but the Original Queen which came from my long box, (my first colony) is still alive.! It will be interesting to see when she is finally superseded.
All my colony's record from day one are my way of being responsible for my bees. Yes I've had losses. I autopsies all my dead out to find out why it died.
None have died as a result of Varroa. Two weak colony's going into winter(numbers just dwindled). One starved (My fault, not enough stores left on the hive + it was a small colony and the last one which died as a result of Nosema.

My opinion, and that's all it is.
Is that there has to be a better way.
And I believe there is..............................!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Chris
Can I ask, do you believe your bees are cleaning the varroa off or just existing with them or that you have none? Have you ever treated one of your untreated hives just to see what the drop is? I can get a drop of thousands in a season and I would be loathe to let them deal with that!
 
Hi
It's nice to talk.....
As I said at the start. I'm no expert, and I don't want to start a heated debate.
It's the way I keep Bee's, and it seems to be working.
My IMP is there if I need it, and I will have no hesitation to use a Varroaicide if the situation arises. But to date It has not been needed. Long may it continue.
The none Insecticide methods are just as effective.
Brood break.
Bailey comb change
Shook Swarm
Queen trapping
Icing sugar
Drown culling
It's all about managing Varroa, the above are just as effective, in my opinion. And a lot easier on the Bee's too.
Happy Beekeeping for the season to come, lets hope it's as good as last year.(y):)
Regards
Chris
 
I think the shook swarm method was debunked a while back as varroa control method. It is far more harmful to a colony than a dose of Oxalic vapour.
 
I think the shook swarm method was debunked a while back as varroa control method. It is far more harmful to a colony than a dose of Oxalic vapour.
Yes, I can't see how a Bailey comb change controls varroa as surely the mites just migrate to the new cells?
 
Brood break.
can work to an extent if you are happy to kill all that brood
Bailey comb change
the bees just take the mites with them - pointless for the objective you have
Shook Swarm
a barbaric ineducated system that does more harm than good and should be left back in the dark ages (where most who practice it still live
Queen trapping
OK, will work if done properly - how do you do it?
Icing sugar
absolutely pointless - is effective for only precisely five minutes after employing
Drown culling
Who are you drowning?
If you mean drone culling - it has very little benefit as fat as varroa is concerned, but have you thought of the stress on the bees? they create drones for a reason - all you are doing is thinning the gene pool and making successful matings harder and less viable as well as forcing bees to work hard replacing the drones you have killed
 
Can I ask, do you believe your bees are cleaning the varroa off or just existing with them or that you have none? Have you ever treated one of your untreated hives just to see what the drop is? I can get a drop of thousands in a season and I would be loathe to let them deal with that!
Hi.
If anyone is saying they don't have Varroa, then they are living in cloud Cuckoo land. I have Varroa, every colony has. But I and the Bee's manage them.
Part of My IMP is Mite counting, which I do 4 times a year or sooner if the colony is showing any signs of any sort of trouble.
I have two, possible three colony's which have very low counts all year round. Are the bee's Hygienic Bee's, meaning they are dealing with the mites themselves. Possibly, Yes. But it's not yet proven that they have reached the leave of what I'd call Hygienic Bees, but they seem to be getting on with it.
I've never used any type of treatment yet, but i'd infidelity not do it just to see a bigger mite drop, as there are other ways to check on mite levels.
I your getting drops of thousands then you are in trouble, i'd say it was time to try something else. By the way you are using different treatments every year aren't you. If not then you'll have bees that are resistant to the treatment you are using, you need to switch them about to avoid this.
 
By the way you are using different treatments every year aren't you. If not then you'll have bees that are resistant to the treatment
it depends which treatment you use
Maybe you should change your method every year too
Part of My IMP is Mite counting, which I do 4 times a year or sooner if the colony is showing any signs of any sort of trouble.
works every time - they don't like being counted. Glad you're not doing it regularly or they may get resistant
 
Hi My name is Chris.
I'm the Chair of Lancaster beekeepers. I have been keeping bees now for 5 years, 2023 will be the 6th.
I have been a treatment free keeper from the start. I know, this can be a decisive subject, but I believe The bees and mother nature will sort this problem out themselves.
Just look at Apis cerana the Asian honey bee. It has adapted to living with, tolerates and managing Varroa levels it's self. Yes it's taken a long time, but Mother nature knows best!!!!
I don't claim to have Varroa free or Varroa tolerant bees, But the numbers speak for themselves.
I now have 28 colony's and to date have only lost 4 over the 5 years. None to Varroa.
One to Nosema Or Dysentery.
Two colony's were to small going into winter. ( I should have united them.)
And one colony I keep in an ASH log, died through being honey bound. I leave my log hive to get on with life and do not interfere unless like this one it showed signs of a problem. I have 4 log colony's, the other 3 are doing well.
I do have a IMP (Integrated Management plan) to deal with Varroa. but to date have not had a reason to imperilment it.
I have well kept record for all my colony's, showing the time line for each, as I feel it is very important to be able to look back at each colony for data.
Any way that me.
I look forwards to many a chat with the bee community out there.
Chris
Only time will tell.
Welcome Chris, I'm treatment free too ... have been since I started keeping bees. I'm afraid there are a few on here who will take exception to anyone declaring themselves as TF... I've heard all the arguments over the years and to be honest, if my colonies were suffering from an excessive varroa load then I would treat them ... and you will find that the best treatment and the least invasive is Oxalic Acid by sublimation. I strongly recommend it when you need to treat for varroa, it has virtually no effect on the bees, can give up to a 97% mite kill rate and once you have the kit costs pennies per hive. There's a lot to be said for it ... unlike (and please don't take this the wrong way) nearly all of these, most of which are useless, disruptive or destructive, in some cases all threeno:

Brood break.
Bailey comb change
Shook Swarm
Queen trapping
Icing sugar
Drone culling

You say you are counting mites ... presumably on the inspection board ? This is a notoriously poor way of estimating the mite load in a colony. If you are going to be truly cognisant of the varroa level in your colonies you should be doing sugar rolls .... this does a proper job and does absolutely no harm to the bees. It's quick, effective and you can do it on at least some colonies every time you inspect. If you are not doing sugar rolls you should watch this video.



There are a number of TF beekeepers on here .. and it is clear that some colonies, in some locations. for some reason and a bit of luck appear to be able to thrive and survive and manage the varroa levels in the hive. MIne do and as I've often said on here, I have no firm conclusions about why this is. It's clearly a combination of factors that together contrive to permit my bees to continue to be TF.

Local area
Hive environment
Beekeeping practice
Local Forage
Other colonies in the area
Factors that can affect varroas' ability to successfully breed
Your bees

All can have an impact ...

So, we've been here before - hopefully people will give you a bit of leeway as you are a new member ... try not to be evangelistic about being Treatment Free ... you are very welcome on here and entitled to keep your bees the way you keep them and equally respect those who prefer to tread a more conventional path in their beekeeping.

Tell us more about your beekeeping and the journey that you have been on .. there's only two rules on here - No profanity and kick the ball not the man ... but it's a lightly moderated forum so expect to be challenged if you make statements that you can't substantiate. Hang around, there are lots of experienced beekeepers here who have some novel and innovative ideas and a wealth of knowledge which they share freely.

It's undoubtedly the best beekeeping forum on the planet. Enjoy.
 
Just to clarify this. Apis cerana and Varroa destructor evolved together over thousands of years, so coexistence should be expected not marvelled at. The mites jumped to A. mellifera when their paths crossed, and A. mellifera have yet to evolve any form of mite management. There are behaviours that mitigate the damage Varroa do, but that's not the same as being resistant, just the bees being lucky that their default behaviour helps - things like hygiene, brood breaks, etc., and it's clear that these behaviours are carried by recessive alleles, so inheriting them is also down to luck. In a thousand years, perhaps they will have evolved resistance, but don't expect it in your lifetime.

For the record, I only treat if the mite load is heavy enough to warrant it, and preferentially I use biomechanical methods. I do, however, have a fairly strict IPM regime, but try to stay at the lower levels as much as possible.
The experience of resistance occurring in South Africa was 5-7 years. No?
 
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