How does one impart to new beekeepers – specifically those taking a Beekeeping 101 type class – that thinking Beekeepers take time to consider Pest/Parasite loads before deciding on a method of dealing with the pest/parasite?
Please don't have this thread become a treatment/treatment free argument.
What I'm after instead is a methodology that very inexperienced beekeepers can successfully adopt to follow an IPM strategy.
For those not familiar with IPM (Integrated Pest Management,) the concept is in very rough terms 1) identify the pest/parasite/disease that is present, 2) determine a threshold of injury that you can live with, 3) develop an understanding of the life cycle of the pest/parasite/disease so that steps can be taken (cultural or chemical) to reduce their impact, once the economic threshold is passed.
Beekeepers have a bit of an advantage in that Varroa and Nosema are predictable problems and tend to be annual in occurrence.
I'm trying to avoid saying “you'd best treat for Varroa in August to help ensure that you have lots of healthy parasite free winter bees.”
Many of the new beekeepers I work with are not interested in testing or making detailed observations, nor are they necessarily starting with bees that have any genetic ability to coexist with the pests/parasites/diseases in question.
Please keep in mind that we are talking about people new to beekeeping and that simple often oversimplified answers are what are remembered.
I'm tempted, and I caught myself a bit in class last night, to talk about beekeeping requiring a thorough understanding of both colony and individual bee life cycles, so that when confronted with a pest/parasite/disease there is an understanding of the impact to the colony.
A thorough understanding of colony/bee life cycles is beyond what can be taught in the limited time of a Beekeeping 101 class, especially when students are worried about 1) sourcing bees, and 2) are they going to get stung when they install their bees?
Do you say “Welcome to the adventure and by the way there are intermediate and advanced classes on all these topics offered by our state Association and EAS.”
As an instructor I want my students to succeed in beekeeping, to keep their bees alive through the winter, making some surplus honey along the way.
I don't want to say “3/4 of you will find yourselves with dead hives next spring.”