How organic is it possible to be in keeping bees? I have an organic garden, which produces vegetables of far superior taste to the stuff you buy, without poison residues. I'm willing to grant a place for chemicals in the case of disease, but how far are there organic solutions to disease, such as FGMO?
>>How organic is it possible to be in keeping bees? I have an organic garden, which produces vegetables of far superior taste to the stuff you buy, without poison residues. <<
Depends on where you are... Unfortunately the bees will range far beyond your garden. Do you have fruit or veggie farms in your area? Cotton? Alfalfa?
Are there aerial spraying projects for mosquitoes, gypsy moths, medflies, grasshoppers? How about industrial and motor vehicle pollution?
There are a few "holes" in the USA, where there is no risk of pesticide spraying. Some areas of the northwest have lots of forage in the form of fireweed, which isn't sprayed. The Sonoran Desert of Arizona, is quite productive of honey if the monsoon rains come, and it isn't sprayed. Up and down the East Coast there are few places. You'd be clear of spraying in some of the higher elevations in the Appalachians, the Adirondacks, or some of the southeastern pine forests, but there is risk of starvation of the bees in these spots.
Hundreds of square miles, from South Carolina to Connecticut were sprayed with malathion last year after the hurricanes.
So I take a skeptical view, when a beekeeper claims his honey is organic. I want to know a lot more about the conditions of its production. Often there is more spraying in the area than the beekeeper realizes.
On the other hand, at least for insecticides, honey is self-cleansing. Since nectar is processed internally, contaminated nectar causes the death of the bee, and that batch is lost. It is rare to find insecticides in honey.
As far as mite treatment, I think the mites could be controlled without synthetic pesticides, if the beekeeper can follow some labor intensive procedures. I can't do this, as I am doing crop pollination, with limited help and resources. I'd have to double my prices, and my growers are already pretty discouraged, so I think they wouldn't get bees; maybe they'd even quit growing vine crops. A backyard hobbyist could do it; he's got an outside job to support his beekeeping....
Dave Green http://pollinator.com
I'm in central Birmingham, UK; I wouldn't imagine there would be much spraying. The odd person will no doubt spray their aphids, and that will be it.I'm looking into mite control without chemicals, as this could become a gaping hole in my organic principles if I'm not careful. I do have another job, so I'm not under the sort of pressure you are.