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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,772

    Default treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    ok, looks like i'm about to get opinionated here and open a can of worms, but.....

    for what it is worth, i accept with humility that i haven't been around as long as a lot of you have, and don't have the years of experience to draw on and.....

    for what it is worth, i am striving to avoid treatments, and avoid even putting syrup on my hives and.....

    i absolutely respect each and everyone's right to practice beekeeping as they see fit, unless.....

    it involves practices which puts at risk nearby colonies of bees not belonging to that person.

    let me explain.

    it occurred to me after participating on the 'treatment free beekeeping' forum, that a beginner like myself might get the idea that it is better to practice what i would describe as a 'hands off' approach.

    this concern was reinforced by a recent post in which the poster described letting the bees take care of making themselves queenright, and not doing much more than adding boxes. the poster received accolades from others on the forum.

    in fairness, i don't know the poster, nor do i know what all they do or don't do with their bees. this is definitely not a personal attack.

    and i can tell from reading that a lot of folks who participate on the forum and advocate tfb are outstanding beekeepers.

    and one of my all time beekeeping heros, michael bush, also promotes this approach.

    here's the problem: if a hive is allowed to become sick and collapse, that hive is likely to get robbed out by nearby healthy hives.

    whether it's mites, bacteria, viruses, or otherwise, that problem is likely to get carried back to the healthy hives and threaten them.

    so the question is, do we as beekeepers have some responsibility to our neighboring beekeepers and to the feral bee population in this regard?

    maybe i have missed it, and if so, i apologize. but rather than seeing advice given regarding how to manage bees successfully so as to not require treatments, what i see is advice given to let the bees work it all out for themselves and eventually you will have treatment free bees.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Toronto, ON Canada
    Posts
    92

    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    After 4 years of beekeeping as part of a co-operative along side individuals with various experience levels and 1 mentor who was formerly a provincial bee inspector and seeing a wide variety of situations occur in our 30 hives I'm:

    - Still very interested in going treatment free with my own hives.
    - But I am a little weary of blindly recommending the hands-off-aproach.

    I think messing with the bees as little as possible is great. I think making beekeeping more accessible to more people is great.(the number 1 question I get asked by prospective beekeepers is 'how much time does it take?")

    I also think people need to put in a certain amount of effort into understanding as much as possible how to work with the bees(or understanding how to not work with them and let them do their own thing responsibly.)

    and yes, taking efforts to minimize spreading disease.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,408

    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    Yep, that sounds to me like one of the main hypothesis for T.F.B.

    Sounds like articles I read, long ago, by Charles Mraz in "Gleanings in Bee Culture".
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,611

    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    so the question is, do we as beekeepers have some responsibility to our neighboring beekeepers and to the feral bee population in this regard?
    We do. One can take a hands off approach, but if any contagious diseases show up, you better get your hands involved pronto!!
    Regards, Barry

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    owensboro,ky
    Posts
    2,240

    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    "...here's the problem: if a hive is allowed to become sick and collapse, that hive is likely to get robbed out by nearby healthy hives...."
    Not "likely",its certain.
    "...whether it's mites, bacteria, viruses, or otherwise, that problem is likely to get carried back to the healthy hives and threaten them..."
    Again,not "likely",but CERTAINLY .
    This is the reason the government has mandated the use of removable frame hives-to enable inspection for disease.
    If diseased hives are left untreated and allowed to contaminate others hives,the logical response of government is to protect MY property from YOU and the most "likely" result will be more mandates concerning treatment .
    "Wine is a constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy" Ben Franklin

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    2,979

    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    I dunno, there's treatment free and then there's just being lazy in this scenario. If you know a hive is dead or going down from disease I would think any beekeeper worth a lick would take care of it so it wouldn't get robbed out etc.... because he'd be putting his other hives at risk too. Then again, the whole thing about treatment free is to make your bees stronger, so maybe you really want your other bees to rob them out and keep the survivors....

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    owensboro,ky
    Posts
    2,240

    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    "...., the whole thing about treatment free is to make your bees stronger, so maybe you really want your other bees to rob them out and keep the survivors...."
    But ones freedom to determine the management of ones livestock/property ends where your management endangers MY property/livestock ,and setting those boundaries is one of the primary functions of a civilized society.
    Based on history one can easily foresee where this path leads.
    Just this summer there was a thread here concerning a mans entire bee yard being CONFISCATED and BURNED by the government due to willfull lack of treatment of disease.
    I sympathize with ones conviction to not treat ones bees but not to point that I would sacrifice MY bees.
    "Wine is a constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy" Ben Franklin

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Lottsburg, Virginia USA
    Posts
    185

    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    HI guys is not America wonderfull, some are free not to treat their bees and others free to treat theirs. I personally will treat mine and do anything to keep them alive and productive and if a hive should fail to re-queen I will provide them with a queen cell from my varoa resistant Queen (I hope) and keep my hive alive. When all you non treaters eventually breed a truly survivor bee, I am sure your queens will be in demand from all and sundry. Untill then I will do whatever it takes to keep my bees alive
    Johno

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    New York City, NY
    Posts
    4,317

    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    Native bees and pollinators are vulnerable to the pests and pathogens that treatment-free beekeepers allow to exist as 'clinical' infections in their hives.

    So, while your treatment-free hives may be able to 'survive', I wouldn't be so sure that you can say the same for local native pollinators.

    Therefore, you're risking native pollinators by not treating 'exotic' Honeybees that often carry invasive pests and pathogens that got there because of globalization.

    Furthermore, you can say that european Honeybees have caused a world of harm to native pollinators, regardless of their treatment status.

    Let's not get into the pollinators (treatment or not) that travel across the country.

    You're not simply risking your own bees, or your neighbor's bees.

    What about our native bees?

    Hmmm?

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