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I believe that everyone who treats would rather not. It's expensive in both time and money. We treat because we have found that by not treating, we lose bees. Many of those who treat (and I'm one of them) have found that you can't just consistently replicate the efforts of those who have had success with TF. You do the exact same steps as TF folks and you still lose bees.

Treaters (for a lack of better name) envy those who succeed TF. We don't however (for the most part) belittle those who have success, we (again) envy you. When a working standardization of procedures for going TF are promulgated and actually work to a MUCH, MUCH greater degree than now exists, you'll find beekeepers moving towards TF.
 

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People can argue what constitutes a "treatment," and I don't think there is a universally accepted definition of what is, and what is not, a treatment. I have two other questions which I rarely see addressed in the treatment debate:

How long does a hive have to not-be-treated before it can accurately be called "treatment free?" Put another way: I did a oxalic acid vaporization treatment to a hive on 1-1-2014. If I do no further treatments, on what date can I call the hive "treatment free?"

How productive does a TF hive have to be before it can be called "successfully" treatment free? Hypothetical: A hive I don't treat built up enough population to collect enough honey to survive until the spring flow with no surplus. Is this a "successful" TF hive?
 

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There is no official definition. For honesty sake, I think it depends on the context. From the point of view of the purity of the honey, a first year hive with natural comb probably has no contamination that was purposely put in it by the beekeeper. From the point of view of genetics, I think honesty would require at least three years with no treatments (more would be better) before you could say it is surviving without treatments. From the point of view of saying you have a sustainable system, five years might be a better goal...
 

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IMO, treatment free hits a wall about 4 years in where several colonies that have been hanging on suddenly die off. Once you get past that 4 year mark, the remaining bees will pretty much survive on their own. You will still have losses, but they will decline over time until it is less than historic averages.

I can clearly tell the difference between my bees that are mite tolerant and any other bees brought into the area.
 

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Beekeeping traditionally was "small business." In many countries, particularly in Europe, it is still like this - 30-40 beehives in apiary and no pollination. In large scale bee-business, colonies are concentrated in small place(s) creating conditions to spread (also - shared equipment) diseases. Pollination spreads diseases further. TF is not only "treatment-free", it is also different ideology in beekeeping - closer to nature, may be? I do not believe, that TF small-beekeeping practices may be successfully implemented in the large-scale bee-operation. AND there is no need for this - small-scale beekeeping has its own niche and does not need to be scaled up.

After how many years TF is considered to be successful? I do not know, but if beehive was purposely re-queened by beekeeper, it essentially replaces the colony and therefore the counting needs to be reset. My colonies were never artificially requeened or treated with any substance (inc sugar). I can not claim that my bees are 100% TF - they are treated with love. I am a hobbyist, I do not keep bees for profit. My bees are reproducing rapidly and I need to find a good home for each bee-family. It looks like, there is demand in "feral" survival bees. I have a waiting list for colonies I want to sell. Bees are doing great in my area. Good luck with your bees!
 

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For those of you that have been treatment free, do you feel that allowing the bees to build their own comb and not using foundation is a key to the success?
 

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For those of you that have been treatment free, do you feel that allowing the bees to build their own comb and not using foundation is a key to the success?
My bees are TF for 4+ years and they are foundationless. I do not think that one single factor can be responsible for the whole "success." But, I really believe that foundationless is beneficial for my bees. Other important factors are (relatively) clean environment, less pollution, less pesticides, more floral diversity, native plants, less stress, local pollination, natural diet.
 

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Beekeeping traditionally was "small business." In many countries, particularly in Europe, it is still like this - 30-40 beehives in apiary and no pollination. In large scale bee-business, colonies are concentrated in small place(s) creating conditions to spread (also - shared equipment) diseases. Pollination spreads diseases further. TF is not only "treatment-free", it is also different ideology in beekeeping - closer to nature, may be? I do not believe, that TF small-beekeeping practices may be successfully implemented in the large-scale bee-operation. AND there is no need for this - small-scale beekeeping has its own niche and does not need to be scaled up.
:thumbsup:
 

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"Uh, gee, let me think. Forever? Until you treat again"

If that is what you really think, then the term "treatment free" has no meaning to you. Which is fine, for you.


"What does it matter what you call it? It is a philosophy."

Accurately defined terms help to promote a productive discussion. Also, it is more than just a philosophy. It is a set of techniques or methods, as well.

If two people say they are treatment free, and one hasn't treated for 4 months, and one hasn't treated for 4 years, there is a big difference between them. And, if I was trying to go TF, I'd like to know because I would much rather follow the advice of the 4-year person compared to the 4-month person.
 

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When there is confusion about what someone means, ask them what they mean. Accept what they say and move on to a level of further understanding. This is not a contest.
 

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>Even in the best season, raising a queen in a half-populated nuc is tricky proposition, the little cluster simple doesn't have the resources to devote to raising a quality queen.

There is more to survival than just Varroa. Varroa is just one of the harder things to deal with. But wintering is also a factor as well as resistance to other infections (viruses, Nosema etc.). The more I've seen the research on microbes the more I think microbes are responsible for a lot of these issues. But microbes are as "inheritable" as genetics and local bees seem to have what it takes to survive as far as wintering. But as far as Varroa issues, yes, natural comb was the only thing that made any difference that I could see.
 

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When there is confusion about what someone means, ask them what they mean. Accept what they say and move on to a level of further understanding. This is not a contest.
In other words, accurately define the terms so you can then have a productive discussion.
 

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I do not believe, that TF small-beekeeping practices may be successfully implemented in the large-scale bee-operation. AND there is no need for this - small-scale beekeeping has its own niche and does not need to be scaled up.
Well said......
 

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In other words, accurately define the terms so you can then have a productive discussion.
I guess so. But mostly don't get hung up on defining the definition and arguing about whether one is more TF than someone else. Avoid pissing contests. People can get wet.
 

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Agreed. Pissing contests are stupid.
 

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>If two people say they are treatment free, and one hasn't treated for 4 months, and one hasn't treated for 4 years, there is a big difference between them. And, if I was trying to go TF, I'd like to know because I would much rather follow the advice of the 4-year person compared to the 4-month person.

Medical people for the most part have learned when you want to know if someone is a smoker, you don't ask "are you a smoker". They will almost always say "no". What you ask is, "when was the last time you smoked". You often find the "non-smoker" had a cigarette this morning and quit right after that... This is very similar...

>When there is confusion about what someone means, ask them what they mean. Accept what they say and move on to a level of further understanding. This is not a contest.

I agree with Mark, although it would be nice if we all agreed on what terminology means (and it would greatly clarify discussions) it means whatever it means to the person using the term and trying to convince them they are wrong is pretty much a waste of time. It is sometimes difficult to keep track of what a particular person means by that term when others mean something different, but convincing everyone to use language in the same way has never worked in all of history and it's unlikely to work now... not that we can't try to work that way to a certain extent, but once it's been stated, it's not worth expending the effort on arguing semantics.
 

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While it is true that one can get bogged down by spending too much time trying to too-precisely define terms, it seems to me that in a lot of the TF discussions that get nasty, people are actually in closer agreement than they realize, but are just using terms differently. This seems to happen more in the TF discussions then in other beekeeping subjects. That is a lot of unneccessarily wasted mental energy and hurt feelings which could be avoided if there was a better understanding of what people meant. This unfortunate wasting of resources stunts the development of the TF issue.

I understand that words and language will always have some imprecision. However, the language imprecision seems especially bad in the TF world, and I think there is substantial room for improvement that would be of great benefit.

Just being aware of this potential for miscommunication is a big step forward, IMHO.
 

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I'm a complete newbie, but for the sake of discussion the USDA requires a documented 36 months on land use for "organic" certification. As far as an individual animal it can never be treated and must be documented from birth to market.

I don't know how long honey would remain in a hive, but 3 years would cover even most queens and it seems a reasonable time to set to claim a hive is "treatment free". That would also prove the ability to survive winters and various other conditions.

Then one would only have to define a "treatment"....
 

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One of the suggested protocols for using oxalic acid vapor says to do a complete treatment (3 applications, each 1 week apart) in the Fall, and the hive should most likely be good until the next Fall. In other words, the OAV treatment is usually effective for a year. If the hive is not treated the next Fall, the first danger point of dying from mites is mid-Winter. Accordingly, in the case of having previously treated with OAV, I would think one would have to wait on the order of at least 15 months since the last OAV treatment to accurately call the hive treatment free.

I can also see that calling a beekeeper "treatment free" would require that a high percentage of his treatment-free-queen's daughter-queens to survive without treatments long enough to produce their own healthy daughter-queens. In other words, I don't think we can fairly call a beekeeper "treatment free" if he is required to treat every other generation.

Indeed, context sensitive as MB suggested, which further shows why it is important for there to be some understanding of what is meant by such terms.
 
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