Re: treatment free beekeeping - the risks
A couple of observations, if I may.
First, there is a difference between a diseased hive, and a hive infested with varroa. Disease and pests are not the same thing. Treatments for each is different.
Second, the varroa mite can be a vector for disease, i.e. dwv, Israeli xxxx(forget the specific name of the virus), and possibly others.
Third, proponents of treatment admit they do not eliminate ALL the mites in their colonies, they just get the mite load down to a survivable level for the honeybees.
Fourth, both treated and untreated hives, based on the previous three propositions, CAN BE vectors for disease in a person's apiary and to others, via robbing, absconding, swarming, etc.
Now, how many of us had a smallpox vaccination when we were younger? The vaccination gives a small dose of the disease, the body's response builds resistance. If we accept the concept that the honey bee is a super organism, then could not a developed resistance, a survivability to varroa, function in much the same way as a smallpox or other vaccination in a human? The pathogen, pest, disease is still present, maybe in the body (hive, colony) maybe in the environment. But now the colony can survive.
Regarding treatment free and swarming, I can't speak for other treatment free beekeepers, but I lose swarms all the time. I try to practice the traditional methods of swarm control, but not always to great success. Of my 6 hives in the back yard, I've caught 4 swarms in the last couple of years, and those are only the ones I saw. At the height of the honey flow, my hives can have 3-6 extracting supers on them. They are as productive as the hives I had back in the '70's.
And to answer a previously asked question, YES!!! I wish beekeeping was as easy now as it was back then. Plus, Midnight or Starline queens were only $2.50...but then again, I could only sell a pound of honey, labelled and bottled, for a dollar. sooooo......
"If all you have is a hammer, the whole world is a nail." - A.H. Maslow