Re: Are SBB essential to treatment free beekeeping?
It is debatable for sure.
If you use powder sugar dusting or dribble method oxalic or that type of treatment then yes, the sbb's are needed. If you are using vapor type treatments such as oxalic or formic vapor then they work agains you.
I've seen bees block off the entire sbb's by clustering on it in the cool spring when there is brood in the bottom box. In that case, that open ventilation may not be so good huh? Is it good to have in summer for ventilation? I say that is also debatable as the bees can't micro manage the hive environment as well with all that open bottom. Do bees prefer an open bottom in the wild? I'd have to say no, as they always seem to look for enclosed cavities. I think they like to micromanage their hive environment better than what an open bottom environment provides. So do sbb's help in dropping debri exiting the hive? I'd have to say yes to that one. Especially the smaller debri, which there is alot of from a hive at least at times.
I use all sbb's and have for the last ten years or so. Just last year and this I am using some solid bottoms again. I can't say that they are a needed item if you are not doing the powder sugar dusting or dribble method treatments. I started using them because it sounded like it might be a good idea, and I was doing powder sugar dusting back then. I now question my using them, mostly because it causes hardship on the bees for managing their hive environment, at least at times, and I'm not doing powder sugar or dribble treatments so am thinking of going back to solid bottoms for all.
20+ years, raise my own queens, feed when needed, I treat but have not perfected varroa management yet.