• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Mike Haasl
  • paul wheaton
stewards:
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Dave Burton
  • Joseph Lofthouse
master gardeners:
  • jordan barton
  • Greg Martin
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Ash Jackson
  • Kate Downham

zero synthetic chemical bee keeping?

 
Posts: 117
9
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My family keeps bees and after lots of research I want to get a hive. for many reasons (honey safety, hive safety, cost, being able to be truly off grid etc) I don't want to use pesticides or fungicides or even smoke on my bees.

Living in canada the only real threats to my hive will be foulbrood (which i will be able to deal with chemical free) and V. destructor.

My questions to anyone out there not using commercial sprays, how do they deal with pests? specifically but not limited to V. destructor?

Any input welcome

PS I plan on keeping Apis mellifera carnica, so if anyone has any input on this subspecies that would be appreciated as well
 
pollinator
Posts: 1365
Location: Bendigo , Australia
87
dog gear plumbing earthworks bee building homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
TRhey look to be an interesting bee.
From Wikipedia;
It is favored among beekeepers for several reasons, not the least being its ability to defend itself successfully against insect pests while at the same time being extremely gentle in its behavior toward beekeepers.
These bees are particularly adept at adjusting worker population to nectar availability. It relies on these rapid adjustments of population levels to rapidly expand worker bee populations after nectar becomes available
in the spring, and, again, to rapidly cut off brood production when nectar ceases to be available in quantity. It meets periods of high nectar with high worker populations and consequently stores
large quantities of honey and pollen during those periods. They are resistant to some diseases and parasites that can debilitate hives of other subspecies.

I also see they are gentle and non aggressive.
As a bee keeper I never use chemicals and I doubt any do.
But not using smoke is new to me, it may work.
Good luck with them.

 
pollinator
Posts: 744
Location: Ashhurst New Zealand
197
duck trees chicken cooking wood heat woodworking homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Several organic apiarists in NZ report decent results using thyme oil against varroa. I think it's also a function of general hive health...the more resilient your bees are, the better they can cope with a low-level infestation and the non-chemical treatments like essential oils will knock down the mites far enough that hives don't fail.
 
gardener & hugelmaster
Posts: 1946
Location: mountains of Tennessee
761
cattle hugelkultur cat dog trees hunting chicken bee homestead ungarbage
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Rhubarb contains oxalic acid which is the main ingredient in some types of varroa treatments. I've been adding a leaf to hives once or twice per year. Not really sure how well it's working but it seems to help.
 
Posts: 778
23
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
you will most likely need smoke to keep bees calm when working with them. smoke does occur in nature and don't see how it could be considered un natural.
 
bruce Fine
Posts: 778
23
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
there are plastic strip traps that  go between frames on top and attract some pests by the color and size of holes in openings that use no chemicals, kind of like rat and mouse traps that use holes in the sides, some pests just are naturally attracted to crawling in hose of a certain size according to their own size. there is also sticky paper can be used under screen at bottom of super to catch other small mites and things. I can understand not wanting to use chemicals on bees. but reading your post don't quite understand your aversion to smoke which has been used to aid in beekeeping since beekeeping began as a thing. even cultures that rob wild bee hives for honey rely on smoke to aid in working with them. using smoke from pine needles works well and is natural its not like smoldering plastic or pressure treated wood. why would you want to kill off bees by having lots of them stinging which does end their life when a little bit of smoke used properly prevents this sort of behavior when you open up a box for whatever task you are trying to accomplish. do you know why bee suits are white? well bears are black or dark and bears are one of natures natural bee predators. bees instinctively attack black and dark moving objects its in their dna. I am by no means an expert but during the years I kept bees I tried to learn as much as I could to try and protect them and also keep myself safe.
 
Posts: 93
Location: Chipley, FL
19
trees chicken homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Check out natural beekeeping. https://horizontalhive.com/

"Keeping Bees With a Smile" is one book on the topic.  There are youtube vids around too.
 
pollinator
Posts: 305
Location: NE Slovenia, zone 6b
56
dog forest garden books cooking bike bee medical herbs homestead
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi, we have a small number of hives with a.m. Carnica - located in Slovenia where they come from.

They live in 2/3 LR boxes with wax foundation (wired frames).

I treat them with formic acid during the warm part of the year and with oxalic once in the winter (around Xmas). This is in Zone 6/7.

Both organic acids are found in nature and in nectar, although of course not in the quantities that are inserted at a single time when I do the treatment.

Oxalic is amazing against varroa but does not penetrate into closed cells; also, it's heavy on the bees' digestive system. That's why a single application in winter.

Formic is not as decisively effective but it does help. An additional bonus is that it also helps with fungal situations since an acid environment tends to clean that up.

In my (limited) experience the various herbal treatments, especially the essential oils, can't be compared to the effectiveness of oxalic acid at all.

In principle, were I to go fully treatment-free, I would a) need a really large number of hives so that natural selection would have a chance, and b) live at a good distance away from any other beekeeper so as not to become known as the neighborhood's varroa factory.

Hope any of this helps. Yes, the organic acids are not "no checmicals" but they are not synthetic either in the sense that they would be something artificial and foreign to the hive.

Let me now hijack the topic a bit.

In our location it is becoming something of a trend that in the last 3-4 years the local beekeepers do not really harvest honey. Instead we do all we can to keep the bees alive - and that's not because of varroa (anymore).

It's because the weather patterns are so weird compared to what used to be the average. We're fluctuating around it in wider swings than what used to be "normal".

The consequence is that for example this year, the bees needed all of April and May's forage ** and also artificial feeding ** to make it through June. June! ... After that our particular bees were OK because there was buckwheat in our field (not a coincidence) and later on there was again buckwheat in other people's fields that was sown after the grains harvest. But the amount of honey accumulated was in the end not such that I would feel comfortable taking any away.

The bees used to work for us; now we work for the bees. It's kinda karmic if you try really hard to say something good about it, but I don't think many beekeepers are ready to see it that way. Nor to continue being beekeepers.

Check what your local weather is like.
 
Yes, of course, and I accept that blame. In fact, i covet that blame. As does this tiny ad:
BWB second printing, pre-order dealio (poor man's poll)
https://permies.com/t/147624/BWB-printing-pre-order-dealio
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic