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madasafish 

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I would be interested to know the honey yields of TF beekeepers.
Yes : I know:
it varies on seasons and bee types and how you keep them... and where you live...and where your bees are located.

I know a lady near me who goes TF . Her honey yields are miniscule - 10-20lbs per hive.
She may very well be an incompetent exception.
 

The Poot in Somerset 

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Hi Amanda,
Thanks for your response - that’s where I originally found his stuff, but being old school (or just old) I bought the hardback volume, so I could read it in the sun,(where the wi-fi doesn’t reach) with a beer or two.👍 His comments are always based on “this is what I do” or “this is what you can do”, not “you must” instruction. Some could learn from his approach, both in attitude and beekeeping practice. I hope all goes well for you and you get a decent honey harvest🐝
 

Mellifera Crofter 

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People confuse treatment free with leave alone. The two are vastly different.
Yes, but in a Venn diagram, treatment-free will totally eclipse let-alone, and only slightly cover those who care for their bees by treating them when necessary.

In fact, I wonder whether there really are TF beekeepers among the larger group. We’ve seen here somebody who claims to be TF, in fact isn’t.
 

bobthecob 

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In fact, I wonder whether there really are TF beekeepers among the larger group. We’ve seen here somebody who claims to be TF, in fact isn’t.
Yes, me, among many others I am sure. I wouldn't take one example as representative of those who claim to be TF.
 

Dogged 

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My bees have been treatment free since 2010. I check them for notifiable diseases, feed them if they are short of stores but aim to leave them with enough honey so that I don't have to, I don't use queen excluders, I have solid floors on my hives (it's windy here) and I use foundationless frames (you should see the mess they make sometimes😁 ). I spend time watching the bees at the entrance and only do a full inspection every now and then or if I think something is amiss. It works well for me.

I know lots of beekeepers and we all do things differently. When I first started out, I would ask several beeks what to do in a certain situation and would get different answers from each of them. We talk a lot about our different methods without being judgemental beyond the "Oh, I don't do it like that, I do it like this." Of course I think I'm right, otherwise I would be doing it differently. But I respect their right to be wrong!...and sometimes I even decide they are right and copy them so that I am still right.

I love to know what others are doing with their bees, even if I don't want to do it the same way. But we all have to be polite or some people will not feel confident in sharing their ideas and we will all be the poorer for that.
What do you do to manage swarming please?
 

bobthecob 

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I know a lady near me who goes TF . Her honey yields are miniscule - 10-20lbs per hive.
She may very well be an incompetent exception.
Not everyone defines competence in beekeeping in terms of how much honey they are able to take from the bees. In fact I wouldn't view it as a very good definition at all, unless you are talking about honey farmers.
 

madasafish 

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Not everyone defines competence in beekeeping in terms of how much honey they are able to take from the bees. In fact I wouldn't view it as a very good definition at all, unless you are talking about honey farmers.

SO why bother keeping insects which sting and swarm?

If bees produced no honey, I would suggest the number of bee hives and beekeepers would drop by 90%...
It is a very expensive hobby. If all you got was stings, most would not bother.
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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Not everyone defines competence in beekeeping in terms of how much honey they are able to take from the bees. In fact I wouldn't view it as a very good definition at all
I would - the alternative is bee havers or bee fiddlers, you may as well just keep wasps, same stings but without the hassle of honey or swarming
 
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bobthecob 

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SO why bother keeping insects which sting and swarm?

If bees produced no honey, I would suggest the number of bee hives and beekeepers would drop by 90%...
It is a very expensive hobby. If all you got was stings, most would not bother.
Because it's fascinating to watch them at work in and out of the hive, help them when required, get out of their way when required, split them to avoid swarms when they want to swarm, make new colonies to give or sell to other beekeepers, collect swarms from the local area as a service to other people and sure, take a bit of honey to have something to give to the neighbours.

I didn't say that beekeeping isn't at all about taking some honey off for yourself. I said that measuring competence purely in terms of honey yields is not a very good measure, apart for those beekeepers for whom bees are essentially a crop-producing form of livestock. If that's what you are in it for, fine, but not everyone is.

If the neighbour with low honey yields has clean, healthy bees, inspects regularly, knows what to do about swarms, and so on, then she is perfectly competent and may simply choose not to add super after super.
 

1amanda1 

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SO why bother keeping insects which sting and swarm?

If bees produced no honey, I would suggest the number of bee hives and beekeepers would drop by 90%...
It is a very expensive hobby. If all you got was stings, most would not bother.
Many hobbies are expensive with no usable outcome. They are still legitimate hobbies. When I first started keeping bees, I didn't even like honey. Even now, much like children, I only really like my own. I just liked the idea of having bees so that they would pollinate my newly planted orchard and so that I could watch them flying, collecting pollen and nectar.
I know a lady near me who goes TF . Her honey yields are miniscule - 10-20lbs per hive.
She may very well be an incompetent exception.
I know several beekeepers who keep bees simply for the pleasure of keeping them. If they get a bit of honey that is a bonus but they only need a few jars a year for their own use and always leave enough for the bees own needs. They are certainly not incompetent; they gain a lot of enjoyment from their chosen hobby and nature is no poorer from their efforts.

It is fine to be a bee farmer, but there are other ways and other reasons to keep bees. I am somewhere in the middle. If I get surplus honey, I sell it and am happy. If I only get enough honey for myself and my family (who have developed quite a honey habit over the years 😍) and have a little extra to give as presents, I am happy.
 

1amanda1 

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What do you do to manage swarming please?
I put out bait hives. I also check hives in swarm season for queen cells and then split the hive to make increase unless I think they are supercedure queen cells. Sometimes (let's be honest..often...this is North Wales) the weather is too poor to be looking through the hives at the weekend and I work during the week. This is where the bait hives come in handy. I am luck enough to live rurally where the nearest neighbour is a mile away and so far I have not had any complaints. I have had a swarm that ignored the bait hives and decide home was the back wheel of an old landrover or a swarm that preferred the pile of empty supers in the barn - see below re books! I don't use queen excluders so the queen is less likely to run out of laying space. I will move supers of honey up and place an empty super above the brood so that they always have enough space for more brood.

I'd be interested to know what you do.
 

fiat500bee 

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SO why bother keeping insects which sting and swarm?

If bees produced no honey, I would suggest the number of bee hives and beekeepers would drop by 90%...
It is a very expensive hobby. If all you got was stings, most would not bother.
You may be right. But although I started beekeeping under the illusion it was all about honey, I soon became more intrigued and satisfied by the intricacies of the beekeeping itself; I don't think I'm alone in that. If and when I ever get any honey, that will be a bonus! ;).....and I do expect to get quite a lot in my second year. I would define "a lot" as sufficient for my own needs and a few for friends and family....approximately one small jar per week...possible? treatment-free with two or three hives? I think so. :)
 

fiat500bee 

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I would - the alternative is bee havers or bee fiddlers, you may as well just keep wasps, same stings but without the hassle of honey or swarming
I'm sure that if you think about it a bit more, you will realise that isn't really true. You clearly love bees and everything about them as much as if not more than most people here.......and that includes the TF people. ;)
 

bobthecob 

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I would - the alternative is bee havers or bee fiddlers, you may as well just keep wasps, same stings but without the hassle of honey or swarming
Presumably a commercial pig farmer could deride a small-holder or hobby-farmer with just a few pigs who doesn't maximise their breeding and bacon production, saying something along the lines of "you may as well keep hamsters and avoid all that shit-shovelling". But the small-holder might well have healthier, happier pigs than the farmer. Who is more competent?
 
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Dogged 

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I generally keep my fingers crossed! I do splits if there are QCs and then put them all together again at the end of the season. I usually have to catch at least one swarm that has escaped and landed in the most inconvenient place they can find - I'd not thought of putting out bait hives and will do that next year. I also like your way of using a super to give space and not using a QE - again, next year I'll do two hives like that to compare. My best colony is one that came as a swarm from who knows where and landed underneath an empty hive with OMF a few years ago, so I guess that was a bait hive in all but name, shame they didn't find the door themselves!
 

Dogged 

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I put out bait hives. I also check hives in swarm season for queen cells and then split the hive to make increase unless I think they are supercedure queen cells. Sometimes (let's be honest..often...this is North Wales) the weather is too poor to be looking through the hives at the weekend and I work during the week. This is where the bait hives come in handy. I am luck enough to live rurally where the nearest neighbour is a mile away and so far I have not had any complaints. I have had a swarm that ignored the bait hives and decide home was the back wheel of an old landrover or a swarm that preferred the pile of empty supers in the barn - see below re books! I don't use queen excluders so the queen is less likely to run out of laying space. I will move supers of honey up and place an empty super above the brood so that they always have enough space for more brood.

I'd be interested to know what you do.
I generally keep my fingers crossed! I do splits if there are QCs and then put them all together again at the end of the season. I usually have to catch at least one swarm that has escaped and landed in the most inconvenient place they can find - I'd not thought of putting out bait hives and will do that next year. I also like your way of using a super to give space and not using a QE - again, next year I'll do two hives like that to compare. My best colony is one that came as a swarm from who knows where and landed underneath an empty hive with OMF a few years ago, so I guess that was a bait hive in all but name, shame they didn't find the door themselves!
 

1amanda1 

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I generally keep my fingers crossed! I do splits if there are QCs and then put them all together again at the end of the season. I usually have to catch at least one swarm that has escaped and landed in the most inconvenient place they can find - I'd not thought of putting out bait hives and will do that next year. I also like your way of using a super to give space and not using a QE - again, next year I'll do two hives like that to compare. My best colony is one that came as a swarm from who knows where and landed underneath an empty hive with OMF a few years ago, so I guess that was a bait hive in all but name, shame they didn't find the door themselves!
This has some good info on bait hives Bait hive location - The Apiarist
and this page Bait hive guide - The Apiarist.

I use old brood boxes or supers and put them as high up as I can - having said that, the swarm that preferred to start to build comb on a dirty barn floor up against the back wheel of our Landrover obviously had other ideas about an ideal new home 🤦‍♀️. I know people who have used cardboard boxes wrapped in plastic.
 

derekm 

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Genuine questions; Why go treatment free if you know you are up against it?
And given that varroa is endemic, why should the presence of nearby, presumably infested hives matter, since your own are also infested?
And finally, if the objective is breeding resistant bees, the objective should be to ruthlessly encourage failure of the more varroa susceptible colonies as a way to improve genetics, but treatment free people seems to report few losses.
Seeley estimated that bees in an area would rapidly develop resistance to varroa, but only after enduring 90% colony losses.
Conducting experiments in artificial trees to measure peripheral galleries, where treatment is impossible and if it were possible might affect the results is one reason . Housing bees in hives which are radically different to those in which the treatment doses have been set is another. Not wishing to add to breeding of more virulent strains of varroa is yet another .btw last few years very little evidence of DWV.
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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Too many - but not nearly enough
Presumably a commercial pig farmer could deride a small-holder or hobby-farmer with just a few pigs who doesn't maximise their breeding and bacon production, saying something along the lines of "you may as well keep hamsters and avoid all that shit-shovelling". But the small-holder might well have healthier, happier pigs than the farmer. Who is more competent?
Well managed livestock (whether TF, small scale or not) give decent yields. The same as bad management doesn't bring home the bacon The poor average crop publicised each year bt the BBKA will tell you that.
 

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