Why is Treatment Free beekeeping so important?

    • Natural selection (evolution) occurs due to environmental stress on an organism (Causes of Natural Selection), (Evolution and Natural Selection). No current mite treatment is 100% effective (see treatment fine print). As a result the strongest mites survive and breed. If you have any doubt that mites are becoming stronger, ask your state apiary inspector how many chemical treatments are no longer effective because mites are now resistant to them.
    • Shifting our focus from 'killing mites' to 'killing weak bees' (aka spreading strong genes, aka natural selection) results in rapid evolution of mite and disease tolerant honey bees (as demonstrated by some breeders who actually purchased mites to put into their colonies to verify their ability bring the mites down to a manageable population on their own), (Selection for resistance to Varroa destructor under commercial beekeeping conditions).
    • Feral honey bees around the world have gained the ability to survive side by side with mites (just as apis cerana has). This mite and disease tolerant condition is the result of natural selection or in some cases human directed selection, or breeding, (Life-history traits of wild honey bee colonies living in forests around Ithaca, NY, USA).

Can honey bees really survive mites and disease in a treatment free apiary? Maybe only in isolated apiaries, in ideal climates, with special equipment?

Should I feel guilty if I don't manage my hive (sometimes referred to by bee snobs as being a 'bee have-er' or keeping 'ornamental hives')?

    • Should mother nature feel guilty because she doesn't place amatraz strips in every open knot hole in a tree occupied by a colony? Feral Honey Bees have evolved natural varroa tolerance in the absence of human intervention (because weak colonies are left to die on their own). The worst case scenario here? 'Your bees' will die, and their weak genetics won't be spread into the regional population. There are scientists (Seeley) who advocate killing hives with high mite loads, and others (Kefuss) who in the past actually purchased mites to insert into his colonies to create selective pressure, ensuring only the strongest colonies survive in his apiary. Monitoring your mite levels carefully, and re-queening when it becomes obvious your colony doesn't have what it takes to manage mite loads on its own, is likely the best course of action.

How can feral colonies survive without being fed?

I'm not a queen breeder but want to contribute, How can I help?

    • If you are a bee keeper/steward/guardian, you are a queen breeder. Every management decision you make impacts the genetics of, and spread by, your bees. Whether or not you will spread weak or strong honey bee genetics in the region is under your control.
    • You can help by spreading the genetics of your strongest colonies (allow them to raise drones, share queen cells with friends and/or make your own new colonies) and reducing the spread of weak genetics (re-queen colonies that don't show varroa tolerance with locally raised queens that do).

How much experience do I need to start breeding queens?

    • Less than you might think... If you have a strong colony that makes a bunch of queen cells, instead of 'suppressing' the urge to swarm, just move your existing queen and a couple of frames of brood to a new hive and allow your queen cells to hatch, and mate. Voila! You're a queen breeder!

What local beekeeping groups really understand Treatment Free Beekeeping?

Feral bees can't really survive among varroa right? Aren't feral colonies just this year's swarms from imported packages?

I've heard you might get away with treatment free practice for a while, but then all your bees die. Is that true?

  • Apiaries going treatment free do appear to go through a cycle of collapse a few years after taking the hives off of 'chemical life support', but they appear to stabilize after that: http://www.resistantbees.com/krise_e.html

Aren't 'you treatment free guys' just spreading mites in the community?

    • Dr. Kefuss responded to this question with, "aren't my colonies 'mite black holes' removing your mites from the environment?"
    • The better question to ask is, "are chemical treatments pushing mite genetics to a stronger condition, creating more aggressive 'super mites' and stagnating honey bee genetics?" We know the answer to this question--a definitive YES. See the 'reading' page for scientific articles that back up this statement.
    • Mites are here to stay. Eradicating them is like attempting to eradicate cockroaches. Because no mite treatment is 100% effective, the strongest mites survive and go on to reproduce. Any treatment focused on 'killing mites' breeds stronger mites. As Crowder, Webster, Kefuss and the many other bee scientists and professional bee keepers who have abandoned mite treatments in their practice have demonstrated, we would be well served to focus our methods on strengthening honey bee genetics by encouraging the spread of bees who can naturally tolerate mites, and actively stopping the spread of weak honey bee genetics by re-queening hives that don't show mite and disease resistance while also stopping the practice of breeding stronger and stronger mites through 'treatment'.

The European Honey Bee is an introduced species in North America (just like the varroa mite!). Aren't you just causing problems for native pollinators by keeping bees?

    • The short answer is 'probably' and why a lot of smart scientists say, if you want to help 'save the bees' till up your lawn and plant flowers!
    • Finding balance between supporting the honey bee population, and the native pollinator population can be a challenge. In my opinion, given the greater understanding of the importance of all pollinators that comes from practicing apiculture, supporting improved honey bee genetics, and the subsequent reduced reliance on pesticides that results is an easy thing to get behind.

Who designed your amazing logo?

Checking for American Foul Brood (in France of all places), Spring 2017