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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    4,756

    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
    9,602

    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
    2,971

    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
    179

    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?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,602

    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    Yeah, what about them? Do have any studies in mind that shed light on this?
    Regards, Barry

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    New York City, NY
    Posts
    4,317

    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    Here's a new one:

    http://www.plosone.org/article/info%...l.pone.0030641

    However, you are aware of the impact that varroa has had on native pollinators, no?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    90

    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    Someone told me that being treatment free is only just a feel good thing. So why would anyone really want to go treatment free?

    So who treats the feral honeybees and the native bees?
    Greg Barnett
    7a

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Lititz, PA, USA
    Posts
    710

    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    Just yesterday there was a thread about treating and I had some thoughts. Before they congealed in my head someone had already made a good posting of where my brain was going. If bees were cute and fuzzy, you'd have to treat. The point the other poster made was that if we didn't treat our dogs for heartworm because we were going to breed heartworm resistant dogs, or if you don't treat a horse for some disease it has because you want horses that can live with that disease, the Humane League or SPCA or whoever would come and confiscate the animal for neglect. Not to push this down another path...but I find it curious that the same folks who would be most appalled at not treating a disease in a dog or horse or cow or steer or whatever other fuzzy animal one owns seem to often times be the same people who don't treat their bees.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,602

    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    Quote Originally Posted by WLC View Post
    However, you are aware of the impact that varroa has had on native pollinators, no?
    Sure, so are you claiming that TF beekeepers are more to blame in this area?
    Regards, Barry

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    New York City, NY
    Posts
    4,317

    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    Yes, I suspect that they are.

    TFB hives are in general more 'clinical' and less productive.

    They can serve as a recurring source of infection in the area for native pollinators.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    90

    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    WLC, what types of treatment interventions do you apply to you hives? I am certainly not one to create problems or tlet them exsist, if there is a way to do so with minimal impact.

    I do not advocte for the use of anti-biotics for every sniffle in human, but obviously treatments must be applied appropriately. The over-use of antibiotics and hand sanitizers has created resistant strains of human bacteria. Could the inproper use of honey bee treatment create a similar issue?
    Greg Barnett
    7a

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Baker Oregon
    Posts
    2,462

    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    Kinda like closing the barn door after the horses ran away. Treatments do not equal disease free, a treated hive can be a vector as well.
    Dan Hayden 4 Years. 12 hives. Tx Free. USDA Zone 5b.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Ga,Madison county
    Posts
    54

    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    [QUOTE=G Barnett;857096]Someone told me that being treatment free is only just a feel good thing. So why would anyone really want to go treatment free?

    My thinking is Let the experts find the cure or strain ob bee's that do not require treatment. I am not the expert or have the resources to discover the perfect bee. I do have the ability to keep bee's alive and increase their numbers until the treatment free bee is breed. I myself am not treatment free, I go to the doctor, my dog goes to the doctor,there is not a treatment free cat. Do we really know how many bee's in the wild have died from mites, just because a hive has been in a hole for years does not mean it is the same hive or another has moved in.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    90

    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    This is a great discussion. I am just trying to learn how to do a good job, be successful and contribute a little to a natural thing.

    Does on consider feeding syrup, Bee Pro Patties+ with Pro Health, SuperBoost and hive mangement treatment. Or does treatment consist of more applications through the year?
    Greg Barnett
    7a

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    New York City, NY
    Posts
    4,317

    Default Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks

    It's obvious that commercial operations and globalization were responsible for the spread of a multitude of Honeybee pests and pathogens across the U.S. .

    I think that we can all agree that there is an inherent risk to local pollinators (both native and non-native alike) associated with going treatment-free in order to get 'survivors'. Something I'm trying out myself.

    The risk is certainly present in the initial stages of going treatment-free.

    I would say that it's still present in survivor hives unless someone has some hard evidence that it's not the case.

    So, in going treatment-free, you are presenting a local risk to native pollinators, perhaps more so than treated hives.

    I've yet to see a study showing that treatment-free hives have a substantially lower pest/pathogen load than treated hives.

    As a TFB beekeeper responded when I asked, "How do you know that they are resistant?"

    The TFB response, "They didn't die."

    That's the wrong answer to give a conservationist.

    There's a hidden risk in TFB beekeeping that rarely sees the light of day.

    WLC.

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