Re: Guidelines of Treatment Free Beekeeping - Planning & Implementation
welcome gurkan and ferdi!
this forum is also full of friendly beekeepers, although the debate is usually spirited when it come to the best way of dealing with varroa.
i am relatively new to beekeeping, but i have built up from 4 to 14 hives in last three years, and have not treated for mites.
if one is going to abstain totally from any treatments for mites, there are oftentimes colonies that die out from mite infestation.
much of the debate that i have been involved with here, has to do with the approach of what to do with a dying hive, or even one that has so many mites in the summer, that it is not likely to survive the winter.
one approach is that is to give the bees a chance to survive, even if it is very likely they will not. the idea is that if they do survive, they may have some advantage that can be passed to future generations. and if they die, the lack of that advantage will die with them.
i do not subscribe to this approach, mostly because unless one can keep a very close watch on the hives, there is the likelihood that a collapsing hive will ultimately get robbed out by the healthy ones, and this could lead to the healthy ones collapsing. also, if a colony is not demonstrating some advantage or 'resistance' to the mites, it is easy to requeen such a hive from stock that has shown it.
i am going to do my best to select for bees that show this advantage, and requeen the ones that do not.
mr. bush has a lot of good ideas about how to keep bees without varroa treatments, and he has been very succussful in doing so, as have others on this forum. what has been the case though, and especially with those just starting out in beekeeping, is that when they try to go treatment free their losses are many.
when the question is asked about what the infestation rates were in these colonies that were lost, the answer is oftentimes that no mite counts were taken.
my suggestion for your group would be to come up with a good way to determine the mite infestation rate. (i like the alcohol wash method), and use that information to decide whether or not to allow the colony to go untreated vs. taking some kind of action. that action could be requeening if possible, and if not, using oxylic acid as a temporary measure until requeening is possible.
journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives