I ran into the beekeeper I used to rent bees from to pollinate our water melons and he offered to let my son and myself follow behind while he inspects 500 hives that are going to be shipped to California for almond pollination. During the course of our lengthy chat he was telling me how horrible varroa, SHB, and tracheal mites have been this season and how much he had to spend on treatments for his bees to which I replied I had started out treatment free and planned on staying that way. He told me he would accept no failures when it comes to beekeeping and not treating was unacceptable and I told him I had to expect losses, even a total loss, at the beginning to start out correctly. We argued for a while until I told him I just wanted to see how he inspected and how he was prepping his hives for the trip to California. The biggest thing that bothered me is that his apiary is 3 miles from my apiary so we have at least a 1 mile overlap in our respective apiaries foraging range. Even though this guy is adamantly pro-treatment there is so much I can learn from him, up to and including which treatments are out there, what they are used for, and when and how they are administered. Even though I don't plan on using treatments it surely can't hurt knowing about them not to mention his 35 years of experience vs my 1 year. This fellow did hire me to help load tractor - trailers with hives as his son is ill so during the morning I expect to tag along on 250 inspections before I start loading skids of hives onto trailers.
The guy seems very willing to be my mentor but he is very adamant about me treating my bees. I am equally adamant in the opinion of not treating my bees. There is no doubt this beekeeper has been very successful, he has 1500 hives and doesn't lose much in the winter. I do see friction between he and I on the treatment issue though. We'll see if he is reasonable enough to lay off when he understands Im not going to budge on the treatment issue. Hopefully this point of contention won't interfere with a working relationship because I don't have any issues helping him to administer treatments to HIS bees even though its not how I plan on doing things.