I don't know one commercial beek that kills off his bees. With the costs of queens and packages plus the lost time in building up a package I can't see any serious comm beek engaged in this. Bees winter well and you don't have to do much to take care of them. I resent the implication that this is some kind of "standard" practice and since this is in the commercial beekeeping area if you are not a commercial beek and haven't got a clue about what is practiced then state that up front.
BTW I run chemically free hives but that doesn't allow me to label my honey as organic. So that argument doesn't cut it. Only three operations claim organic and it is based on where the bees forge as well as how they are managed. Not an easy thing and I doubt that packaged bees will be counted as chemical free since you don't know the origin.
I strongly disagree with Scadsofbees in that business sense it makes sense...the cost/payoff/workload/buildup doesn't add up.
Life is tough, but it's tougher when you're stupid.” John Wayne