Re: [BANV] Re: Diluting acids
Thanks for noticing my forebearance.
I've been working on the latest novel. I have one last edit, then can send it out. I hope it gets to the publisher by the end of this month. So, things have been stacking up.
Miki is home for semester break which means that there is always something that I need to do.
And the crescendo of enthusiasm, on the list serve from people asking for me to just go away and leave folks in peace, was such that the Fire Marshall had to station a fire engine in my driveway. The cost of keeping those boys in beer is prohibitive.
Enough rough humor.
No, I don't use strips or sugar, acid, etc.
Here is why.
When we do things like that, we change the biology of the hive.
Some of our fellow beekeepers will argue that to not use science and technology to the bee's benefit is to be derelict in our responsibility to the bees in our "custody."
That is nonsense.
First, the bees aren't really in our custody, nor control.
Read the recent posts by the lady over in Arlington about the swarm that may or may not have been.
Just this week I went on a swarm call for bees in a tree. They just arrived out of the blue from somewhere. Now they are well founded in an oak, 20 feet above the ground where people still wouldn't leave them alone until I told the owner of the house and tree they'd do fine if he'd just accept them for what they are, Wild Creatures in his neighborhood.
At best, we beekeepers try to influence bees into staying in containers which we "hope" and which experience seems to justify they will stay in and prosper enough for us to steal their honey and by-products.
But we don't control them.
We give ourselves an illusion of control.
One of my favorite gripes is beekeepers who use the word "feral" when talking about what at best might be called "wild." For myself, I prefer wild. But only because I'm honest enough to say that all of my bees, in and out of the hives, I have provided, are in fact Wild.
Check the etymology for the words, wild, domesticated and feral. Since I used to be a teacher, I am something of a purist in the use of words. Not only did I know where the dictionary was, I had read it! And I still do. For me just because current fad uses a word wrongly doesn't mean I should join them or even encourage it.
Back to the question of the strips, and the bees.
I started to wonder about the wisdom of all the various attempts which are currently popular with the purveyors of medical and chemical invasions of bee hives to save the bees during my first year. I was feeding my bees sugar water with my shiny Boardmans.
My father stopped by and asked me,
"why are you doing that? When I lived on the farm, we just harvested the honey when it was there and collected swarms to keep our hives filled."
Being full of piss, vinegar, and wisdom from my beekeeping course I told the "Old Man" that we live in a modern era, and we have much more serious problems keeping bees than he did in the olden days of the Model T and party line telephones. "Why," I told him, "even our bees are different, not only do I need to medicate them, I have to feed them all summer long so they can survive."
He looked at me shook his head, then before walking away he asked politely, "What about that wild bee tree down by the pond on Pinch Gut Farm? Whose medicating and feeding them?"
It took me a whole year to replay that conversation over and over until I understood several things on the biological level which were implicit in his parting question.
1. As I pointed out bees are not truly domesticated. In spite of our fondest hopes, the honey bee doesn't give a hoot or a holler about people. So, like a tiger or coyote, they are by nature, wild.
2. If while they are in our hives, we medicate them, we are changing the biology of the hive. Adjusting it to fit our concept of what is or is not viable in a hive. Thus we have tolerable or intolerable, supposedly, levels for the various pests which inhabit the hive along with the bee.
If, I decide that the level of mites is intolerable to the bees survival, and I treat or medicate for the condition, I immediately invalidate any biological norm the hive may have enjoyed. Its like an airplane cruising along on auto pilot while the captain has gone to the toilet. In his absence a worried passenger goes to the cockpit and starts making changes because he/she is certain the plane will hit a mountain without some immediate input.
In virtually every case, neither the passenger, nor the beekeeper, has the necessary expertise to make any such judgement. (read the daily posts if you doubt it) And yet each is eager and certain in their own mind that their actions will correct "the problem."
Let's assume that once in a while some actually have what appears to be success. The bees survive the coming winter. Shouts of success go forth, and we have a rash of beekeepers joyously lining up and at no little expense pouring the latest nostrum on their bees.
Some people are able year in and year out using their treatments to apparently keep their bees alive. I say "apparently" because few of the people who do this do a double blind or even a basic empirical study in which some of the hives are treated and some not.
Life is too short and memories are too weak, and beekeepers having come to beekeeping as a hobby are a disparate group of people. They are enthusiastic about bees, but have, in general, little enthusiasm for any thing more rigorous than discussing what they think happened. Unlike a Brother Adam, or Warre they don't devote their time to just studying the bees. What they do notice are vignettes of the hive, but nothing comprehensive. They keep no accurate records or notes of what happened at the various hives which failed or lived. They just don't know.
While I do keep notes on all my hives, and detailed photo and video journals, they are no better than those of any other hobbyist.
I don't know much.
And what I do know others don't necessarily want to hear.
My thoughts on the subject have convinced me of the following.
First every beekeeper should read what the advertising promises.
NOT what they want it to deliver.
Putting anything in the hive which isn't carried by the bees themselves will change the outcome.
If I used the new APIVAR strips which are being advertised, what can I expect?
Apivar is advertised in this month's American Bee Journal, second full page in.
It says, "Kills up to 99% of Varroa mites in one application."
On the back page of same journal it says, Apivar, "Leaves no significant residues in hive products."
Lets try a different tack.
Boeing advertises its new787 plane reaches the destination 99% of the time.
How about this idea?
McDonald's hamburgers has discovered that Cyanide spread on food before it is cooked leaves "no significant residues in food products.
And since they have been doing it in one store for the last 15 years it has been proven safe and effective. They are confidently starting to do it in all their stores this week!
Okay, we now grasp that ad copy is a little ambiguous.
We have some problems in it which we have been ignoring.
99% effective could mean that 1% of the mites are surviving because they are resistant to Apivar.
But they aren't offering us even 99% effectiveness, are they? Its really, "UP TO."
Mites reproduce at a rate quicker than do the honey bees.
So the one, or ??, percenters will be a significant population if you don't treat regularly.
But if you do, you will simply continue to improve the quality of the mites resistance.
In one or two years of active use, you will have significantly changed the hive's biology. Now all the weak and inferior mites are gone, and only the strong survive.
The Red Queen will not yield.
So, what is my solution?
I don't promise anything better.
But it is significantly less expensive.
Set the hives up as strongly as possible open to the environment.
Hope its good enough that a reasonable number of them make it through winter.
Then draw stock off of them.
Repeat until you either build up a sustainable apiary, or can't go on.
And in the meantime.
Go fishing in my new boat with my Dad.
While the bees do what bees have always done.
Black Squirrel Cottage Enterprises
7558 Marshall Drive
Annandale, VA 22003
---- On Mon, 05 Aug 2013 06:12:30 -0700 Ernie Becking <ebecking@...> wrote ----
Haven't heard from you lately.
I guess you don't use Mite Away Quick Strips either.
On 8/4/2013 2:50 PM, husztek-markoff@... wrote:
> Sometimes I am in awe of what people are willing to do to their bees.
> Compared with say what they would do to their children or pets.
> Good luck.
> Anyone who wants some of it to dilute, I have a gallon sitting of no use to me come get it, free.
Black Squirrel Cottage Enterprises
7558 Marshall Drive
Annandale, VA 22003