After this past winter, most of the local hives are going to come from packages.
I wish we had the inclination, to tease these terms out a bit more. 'TF' covers too much ground to make proper sense. To me having someone else supply you bees that are replaced annually, and breeding your own are such different things that they really require different descriptors.
When we're talking its all too easy to lose sight of that. And then things get confusing.
Well, he doesn't treat, so he's treatment free.
Course that definition could include someone who lets all their bees die every year and replaces them with packages of treatment requiring bees & let's them die again & does the same thing over. But I don't think WLC will do that he's buying treatment free bees.
There may be several methods of being treatment free but end of day you don't treat, you are treatment free. You do treat, you are not treatment free.
Fellas, I hate to bring this up, but the vast majority of TF beekeepers have to replace their dead-outs annually.
That's why so many of them quit.
I had the impression that most of them were able to make up their losses from their own bees?
I'm referring to hobbyists.
So was I. That's the impression I've gained from reading the writings of hobbyists on Beesource.
Although I have seen people talking about buying packages but most of what I read is people talking about breeding from their own.
Course, I only know what people choose to divulge.
In my own situation, I prefer to rely on the skill of the queen breeder, Daniel Weaver.
He's not my only choice by the way. Look at it this way, I get to try out different stocks from around the country without having to flood Manhattan with drones.
"I've been encouraged in recent rears by the number of beekeepers who appear
to be successfully keeping locally-adapted stocks of bees without treatment
for varroa. I am a strong supporter of their efforts, and see them as the
wave of the future." 
The key to what he means is in 'locally adapted'. While he doesn't say it, I'm pretty sure he's referring to people who carefully select and breed. Who do 'husbandry' in its full sense - 'population husbandry'.
Randy goes on:
"Unfortunately there is also great deal of confusion as to what 'treatment
free' beekeeping really means."
Part of that confusion is found here. We need to distinguish between - apart from anything else - TF beekeeping as described by Randy, and TF beekeeping as practiced by people like yourself. Just because... they are worlds apart.
We can't talk clearly unless we do that. And that's a good enough reason.
 QUEENS FOR PENNIES, Randy Oliver, American Bee Journal, March 2014, 273-277
Good point Mike.
I think you should write a plan and submit it to WLC to guide him as to how to run a selective breeding program with his 2 hives.
Or failing that, perhaps he is doing the best that is practical already?
How can you go the extra mile? Do you put them in a freezer in winter? Do you put them under a sprinkler?
Or are you talking about making it easier (helping, or treating as it could be called)?
[Originally Posted by Solomon Parker]
"The selection need not be careful, as anybody who has tried it has found. One is always selecting for something, and the first thing we can select for is basic survival without even trying."
You can speak for yourself Solomon! I'm doing everything I can to maximise my chances of having treatment free bees at all. I've invested a lot of work in it and I think its worth going the extra mile. I want the best quality bees I can make - not just basic survival.
First, that wasn't intended as an insult, or a criticism of what you do. I'm a big fan of your approach. If I've insulted you in the past it wasn't intentional.
It meant what it says. I put a great deal of time and thought into my resistance raising project. (I don't mean to say you don't!) I'm not sure how resistant my bees are, or whether things will all fall apart. While I'm pretty sure I have feral bees around, I also have a big commercial over the hill.
So I'm planning to do what I can to influence my drone space. I'm planning to make increase only from my best - and that means carefully creating the circumstances in which tests show up the things I want to see. I don't want to make bees that can only survive if you split them every year. (I'm not accusing you of that!) I want to make the best bees I can, without in any way damaging my surrounding ferals. I want performers, not 'survivors'.
And I want to see how far this kind of thing can go - as much as anything to prove a point and make the experience and method available to others. I hate the industrialisation of bees, the stupidity of the system, more than is healthy.
I make no compromises whatsoever with treatments or maniplulations - in fact I'm working hard to ensure that manipulations that benefit the bees aren't created accidentally.
I'm aiming high and investing a lot of effort - this project occupies about a third of my work time and swallows a not insignificant proportion of the hard earned money earned in another third.
There are plenty of half hearted - and wholehearted - efforts that fail - and spread the word that 'tf doesn't work.' I don't want to be one of them.
Those are some of the things I meant by 'going the extra mile.'
At last you are a noble man, Mike, and you will be successful if you keep up the good work. Less discussing, more learning from the bees. I see you working hard, but do not too easily dismiss reality. Than you will not belong to the treatment free bee crashers.
All the best,
Last edited by mike bispham; 04-08-2014 at 03:53 AM.
I do agree with the idea that if all you are doing is killing bees then you are not in fact keeping them. If what you are doing is primarily failing then you are in fact practicing failure. I do not see that treatment free and success go together. To often the argument about treatment free want to ignore that point. First establish that you have anything that works better than normal. Which so far I do not see. Show a higher survival rate. a more disease free apiary on average. Higher honey yields. anything. But as far as I can tell the average treatment free beekeeper runs neck and neck with any other beekeeper. this indicates that treatment free causes no change at all. And the treatment free beekeeper suffers much higher losses in getting their.
I see much reason to think that the success of some regardless of weather they treat or do not treat has to do with experience and becoming a better beekeeper.
Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.