Steps to Treatment-Free

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Solomon
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Steps to Treatment-Free

Postby Solomon » Thu May 28, 2015 2:13 pm

How do you do it?

Here are some simple steps. I have found these to be absolutely necessary, even if you're starting with strong genetically resistant stock.

  1. you must not treat. If you treat, you take a huge step backward, you may contaminate your comb, and you need to start over.
  2. You must multiply your hives. You must take the hives you have and make more. Buying more does not count. Bought bees are not your bees and are not reliable. You must multiply from your own bees. Enter hard periods (summer or winter) with more bees than you plan on keeping because you will lose some.
  3. You must allow sick hives to die (or kill the queens yourself). This is important. Suffer not the weak to live. You must eliminate the weak from your stock. I prefer to let them fail on their own, but you may combine or requeen weak hives as necessary. You must not attempt to "save" a dying hive.
  4. You must multiply from the surviving hives. If there are no surviving hives, you must start over. See step 2. Multiply so that you have more hives than you need because some will die. Again, you must multiply from your own hives. Buying more hives starts the process back at the beginning with those hives.
  5. You must repeat the process for at least two to three years before you reach a sustainable population. Chances are you will lose more than average for the first couple years, that's why there is such an emphasis on multiplying. Learn strong and efficient methods of multiplying.
Solomon Parker, Treatment-Free 14 years, ~24 colony baseline
Treatment-Free Beekeeping Podcast - Parkerbees.com - Treatment-Free Beekeepers Facebook Group

Nate K
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Re: Steps to Treatment-Free

Postby Nate K » Fri May 29, 2015 4:02 pm

I think its important to note that you must multiply ALL of your hives. Not only 1 or 2 strong hives. To take queens from just these two would be detrimental and headed towards inbreeding.
Taking capped brood(or "bee bombs" as Mike Palmer calls them) from strong hives and open brood from other colonies is another way keep other genetic lines progressing.

I see it also important that we do not equalize our colonies. Taking brood from one and adding to a week colony. I've seen that recommended many times before.
Taking brood to multiply hives is not what I'm talking about equalizing though. Just to clarify.
What's good for the beekeeper, isn't always what's best for the bees.
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Solomon
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Re: Steps to Treatment-Free

Postby Solomon » Fri May 29, 2015 4:09 pm

Especially in the early stages, you should multiply all your hives than can handle it. Some hives are so weakling that they cannot and should not be multiplied. Perhaps a better practice would be to kill the queen and allow them to make another one, and see if she is any good. However, on our scale, I would never worry about inbreeding. We simply don't have that much control of our genetics. Our bees are not breeding in large part with our bees, they're breeding with the surrounding bees, hopefully at least some of those are feral.

Agreed, equalizing is not helping anything. It obscures the characteristic differences between hives. Leave the strong strong and let the weak dwindle.

As you know, I am very much an apologist for my method of making nucs, taking only larvae from the best hives and using the rest as brood donors. Walkaway splits are an extremely inefficient and disruptive method to multiply hives and make queens.
Solomon Parker, Treatment-Free 14 years, ~24 colony baseline
Treatment-Free Beekeeping Podcast - Parkerbees.com - Treatment-Free Beekeepers Facebook Group

lharder
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Re: Steps to Treatment-Free

Postby lharder » Sun May 31, 2015 1:28 pm

Sometimes we weaken hives with our own stupidity. I did it this spring. So I helped them out to make up for my mistake. Taking queens from everyone at the beginning makes sense to me as I have no idea which of my hives can survive mites. I'll find out this winter. I'm also not worried about inbreeding. Lots of other bees around. Other beekeepers are bringing in new genetic material all the time. Some of that is a good thing.

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ExpatBeekeeper
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Re: Steps to Treatment-Free

Postby ExpatBeekeeper » Thu Jun 04, 2015 2:08 pm

I get quite enthused every time I see my russian drones fly out of the hive maybe going to find a DCA, where they have a chance to spread their genes to the local populations, it almost feels like I'm provide a public service to the local beekeepers :-)
Beekeeper, Meadmaker, Teaboy, and Gopher. Richmond, VA


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