Re: Treatment Free Commercial Beekeepers?
Yes it was easier before mites.
But when I hear stories like you just told mnbeekeeper ie "I treated but still lost X number of hives", I have to wonder, did the person after treating, test to see if the treatment actually worked?
If a person treats, finds a pile of dead mites on the floor & thinks yes, good kill, sweet, That might be fatal, if they only got 70% of the mites. Mites build their population back exponentially.
Anyhow I'd really like to see you succeed. But be aware there are many beekeepers who have failed because they wouldn't treat. I know some personally it's been tried in my country also. Just this year I dealt with a really nice couple, great folks, who have (or had) 300 organically certified hives, going on three years, and had so far been able to live on that by selling to Boutique markets. When they spoke to me I marvelled at their success. But within a few months, they were back wanting to buy bees, nearly all hives had crashed. The wife went back to a paid job, and they bought all they could afford from me which was 50 hives, plus treatment to try and save whatever was left of their existing hives, they have thrown organic out the window.
But at least, I believe they will survive. Others have been ruined and never gone back to bees.
But what you want to do is not impossible, please come back & update from time to time. Maybe you could do what I do, not all my eggs are in one basket. I have treated hives, and some completely separated treatment free hives. Doing this can also give a useful reference point as to how one group is going against the other.
But if treating, DO CHECK that it worked.
44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).