Five years ago I ran across Mel Disselkoen behind a table at the Tri-County Beekeeping spring workshop in Wooster, Ohio. He was, as usual, busy explaining to several beekeepers that they could easily raise their own quality queens and control mites at the same time. In short, he was describing what he has called "On The Spot Queen Rearing" or "OTS".
I was intrigued, to say the least. I was quite familiar with grafting and raising queens, and the time and effort that went with it. But, Mel was discussing something much simpler using a simple technique he had discovered call "notching". This was all well and good, but what really captured my interest was his methods for controlling mites without chemicals using OTS with brood breaks at the proper time of year.
In a nutshell, Mel had learned how to 1) raise quality local queens and 2) control mites simply, and without commonly-used miticides.
My mind was swimming. I grabbed his material (not cheap!) and took it home. After re-reading it several times I was thoroughly convinced. I decided to change my beekeeping practices the following spring and put OTS to test.
So how did it turn out? It is now five years later and I'm not looking back.
- I haven't bought bees since
- I raise high-quality queens that don't disappoint
- I have great overwintering success
- I can easily expand my bees, using my own queens, as much as my budget will allow.
- I don't worry about mites nor the diseases that come with them.
In a nutshell, OTS just works. In fact, Mel has been using OTS methods for over 25 years now without miticides and without buying bees.
I plan on adding many new posts all about the OTS beekeeping over time starting March 2017.
2017 Update: Over the past two years, I've seen re-infestation of mites later in summer and early Fall due to wandering drones and/or insufficient mite kill with my July 4 brood break. This results in some weak colonies that don't make it over winter. I plan on adding in oxalic vapor alongside OTS (21 days after removing queen) this year and anticipate great results. Let me know if you have any questions... glad to help.