Hi, I'm new to the Beesource forums. My name is Mike Bispham and I live in the UK. I kept bees for around five years in the early 1990's, building up 6 hives from collected swarms. This was successful at first, but I was then hit by varroa. Told by my local beekeepers association that I must medicate with chemicals, and that there was a policy of destroying ferals that 'harboured' the disease, I gave up in disgust. I had been an organic gardener for around ten years, and understood instinctively that this was no way forward, although I couldn't put in to words why.
I've spent the intervening years watching what I'd feared unfold, figuring out the 'why,' and putting it into words, using a two-handed approach.
The first uses the principles of animal husbandry, with particular reference to breeding practices. It states that you never, ever, breed from sick stocks. Keeping sick bees alive to send their sick genes into future generations is quite simply stupid, and is the main cause of the crisis now facing beekeeping. This is backed up with an understanding of the mechanisms that operate in nature: 'Natural Selection for the Fittest Genes.' Evolutionary Theory explains how in Nature sick, or 'unadapted' animals die, and their genes cannot go forward. Those that do survive are 'adapted' to the new disease environment, and can thrive, and begin the longer proces of throwing off the parasite completely. Natural Selection keeps species in rude health by ruthlessly culling the sick and weak; and this process must be copied in sound husbandry in order to achieve the same end.
And so now I'm an advocate for a version of 'organic' or 'natural' beekeeping that takes the rather extreme position of saying: we must allow our bees to live or die according to their viability in the local environment. To treat for diseases in any way - by medication, or by any of the many methods involving fiddling in the hives, simply makes future generations dependent upon our being present to do the same in the next generation. It also has the effect of sending the same unadapted genes into the wild, weakening the feral colonies.
The result of these practices has resulted, here in the UK, in beekeeping becoming an unviable business, and ferals becoming non-existent. Despite the concerted attempts of regulators - who do exactly the wrong things - CCD has been unstoppable. This I hope serves as a warning for those who live in other parts of the world, who still have time to locate an clear understanding of what is going wrong, and what is needed for bees to return to rude health.
I believe that much of what the 'regression' movement does, works with the grain of these principles, and that its successes are due to that fact. What you call 'regression' is actually mostly to allow natural selection for the fittest strains. The most important features are: A) that you do not medicate, and B) that you allow weak colonies to die. The result is adapted, disease-resistant bees. I think this is a great achievement.
I hope I'll be able to discuss these ideas here with you, and look forward to your critiques of the theory underlying 'Evolutionary' beekeeping. I look forward too to the day when I can start keeping bees again here in the UK, and I hope I can help keepers in other countries prevent what has happened here.