Quote Originally Posted by Paul McCarty View Post
I have observed there seems to be a size cut-off for being able to go totally treatment free. I cannot tell if it is because of the ability to provide more oversight of the hives or if it is the "too many rats in tha cage" effect. The larger you get, the harder it becomes to stay totally treatment free. It seems to be that way with many animals.
As I understand it John Kefus and his partners have managed this - I think they run several thousand hives. I think operations on that sort of scale are requeening yearly, and I would think it would be necessary to be taking breeding queens (and sourcing drones) from the farmed stock, in order to be managing a process of co-evolution with the mites. But it could be there is just too much horizontal transmission of mites genes to allow the milder, less fecund strains of mites to evolve - something that is I believe key.

It may be too that there are limits to the degree to which you can pack hives and expect them to thrive without throwing chemicals at them. Like battery hens; at a certain size and density its impossible to continue without systematically feeding antibiotics.

In theory at least a large operation could be composed of a number of smaller genetically independent apiaries - in which case any such critical-mass problem shouldn't exist...?

These are just my own thoughts mind...