Friday, September 19, 2014

Treatment-Free Beekeeping Podcast - Episode 10 - Michael in Nebraska Part 1

In this episode, Michael Bush and I discuss some beekeeping philosophy and answer some questions from the Facebook page.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Treatment-Free Beekeeping Podcast - Episode 9 - Lisa in Denver

On this episode, I talk to the spouse of a beekeeper!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Treatment-Free Beekeeping Podcast - Episode 7 - Scott in Central Arkansas

Today, I talk to Scott, a friend of the Treatment-Free Beekeepers group on Facebook who is a freshman beekeeper in Central Arkansas.  As a former Arkansas beekeeper, I have some tips and tricks for him.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Treatment-Free Beekeeping Podcast - Episode 6 - Anita in Massachusetts

Meet Anita in Massachusetts.  She is a treatment-free beekeeper who has accomplished much in the last few years.  She talks with me about the challenges and successes she is is having keeping bees in the northeast.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday, August 8, 2014

Treatment Free Beekeeping Podcast - Episode 4

Back from vacation.  In this podcast, I answer a bunch of questions including some on winter prep, equipment, and a proposal for a new format!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Moving Pains

Friends, Beekeepers, Lend me your ears!!!

I have emigrated to Colorado.

Check out that view from the Dakota Hogback (Dinosaur Ridge, where the first stegosauruses were discovered).

So, now that I'm in Colorado, you're probably going to see a few changes, the pictures I've been posting of my apiary in my back yard are no more, those bees are not there anymore.  But I forgot to take a picture of my new apiary, so you'll have to wait a couple weeks to see what it looks like.

I have also started a beekeeping podcast which will soon be available over there.  As soon as I have the appropriate links and such, they will be posted.

Thanks for your forbearance in this move.  Now is an adventure in learning how to keep bees in yet a new place.  This is now the third place I have kept bees.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

How to be Successful at Treatment-Free Beekeeping

Very often, I hear of people who have "tried treatment-free beekeeping" and failed.  However, when I look into the situation, what I've found is that they've tried conventional beekeeping without treatments and failed.  This post is something adapted from just such a case, a guy who lives in Maine and bought Texas treatment-free bees.  He lost all but one of them and all but one in his treated apiary as well.  So I want to explain how it's done so people are not confused.

The solution is using local bees and breeding like a mad person, ferals, swarms, any bees that survived your last winter, (this guy has at least two hives that did that, these are now your local stock) and you multiply them.  You take those two hives and turn them into five or 20 or 50 if you have the ability and then you try again next year.  And when you get bees that survive consistently, then you work on other traits.  Many have tried what he tried, either with BeeWeaver's bees (outside of BeeWeaver's climate) or any other, dropped hundreds of dollars, and blew it.  All the time, I hear the argument "learn the basics and then try treatment-free" but in treatment-free, what I've outlined just here is the basics.  That's how it has to be done because that's just about the only way it really truly works.

If you want to know how to take two hives and make 50, I suggest grafting into a queenright cell builder (  The limiting factor is equipment and brood donors.  My equipment limits me to 27 nucs at a time.  Two hives will probably put a hard limit at about 10 nucs.  But if there are other hives to donate brood, the sky is the limit.  At this stage, you want unnatural increase (why this is treatment-free beekeeping and not "natural" beekeeping), to get as many new bees into your area as possible and let them figure out how to survive.  Many of them won't at first, but the more years of adaptation you have, the greater the strength of the result.

I say this year was great.  I lost all the bees that aren't going to survive a tough winter.  And since I'm moving to Colorado, that's an important trait to have.  It happened to this guy and many other beekeepers too.  The mindset that all hives should survive every year is conventional thinking and treatment-free is never going to stand up to that metric.  That's not how it works in nature and it doesn't work that way in treatment-free.  There is and must be an ongoing winnowing process that does and must kill some hives every winter and every summer.  And some years, both summers and winters, are particularly harsh, but as this case has shown, there are always some that survive somewhere.  It may be very few that take years to repopulate the area (naturally) but you as the treatment-free beekeeper use these things to your advantage and use your methods of rapid increase (I call it "Expansion Model Beekeeping") to give the process a kick in the hind end.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Jim Tew - Bee Diseases - NEOBA Big Bee Buzz

This is a real conventional treating sort of presentation and I'm not much interested in repeating it here but there are usually some bits of wisdom here and there.

Don't do the same thing and expect different results.  [Many things you can do differently, source, management, hive style, etc.]

He said we can't select on the varroa end of the occasion.  I completely disagree with this as treatment-free does exactly that.  He does admit that there is some selection going on, but he doesn't admit that we have anything to do with it and I see that we do, but only if we eschew treatments altogether.

Pulling frames gives you experience and you'll start evaluating it automatically after three years or so.

PMS (parasitic mite syndrome) became BPMS for obvious reasons.

I really must tell you how entertaining Dr. Tew is.  Though he seems to hate speaking, he is very interesting to listen to and keeps your attention easily.  If you have a chance to hear a presentation by him, do it.

You really need a mentor.

Bees are like an 18 month child.  They don't make plans, they just react to stimulus.

We need to get away from pest destruction and toward colony asstance.  [Of course I disagree with both.]

Treatments only work 40-60% of the time anyway.  Most don't work anymore at all.

Search for old book, American Foulbrood by White.

45 years of anti-biotic use, probably no better.