How long have you been treatment free?

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Bob Wilson:
I am impatiently watching the front of my hives as spring approaches. Will they all make it into this 4th year?
I have been treatment free since I first began. I don't even bother to check mite numbers. I never have.
I have to admit, that the strong and persistent pro-treatment opinion of the majority of beekeepers does somewhat intimidate me. But I remain resolute to my original idea. If I have to treat, then I'm not going to beekeep at all.
I keep waiting for mites to decimate my tiny apiary, and for the long timers to say, "We told you, so." It's not like I have a very long track record.
Why do my bees continue to live? I'm not sure. Perhaps one or more of these reasons, or none at all.
1. Resistant local/feral bees instead of chemically dependent stock?
2. Acclimated local/feral stock instead of shipped in purchased queens?
3. Long Langstroths instead of standard langstroths?
4. Foundationless, so the bees build smaller cell size?
5. Foundationless, so bees arrange their comb as they want?
6. No chemicals (not even "natural" treatment compounds) to weaken the colony?
7. Swarming the first 3 years, so more brood breaks?
8. No sugar (I leave enough honey) or artificial pollen feeding?
9. Just dumb, blind luck.

Many bee colonies will survive treatment free. The strategy's they seem to adopt over time are small numbers of bees,  frequent swarming and low honey yields.

Bob, I lasted 6 years with standard Lang hives up north.  The fact that you lasted 4 so far make me believe your hives are in a good area.  My hives were anything but small and I had to sell honey because I didn't need what I got.

I think we all wish we knew the answers to those questions, Bob.  Then everyone could be treatment free.  I've tried, but with little success.  I lost a hive to mites my first year, and after that I've kept a closer eye on my mites counts, and the numbers just are not sustainable.  I'm thinking about trying to integrate some new genetics to see if that helps.  I'd be interested to know what your mite counts are, Bob, just to see whether the bees are doing well in the presence of a lot of mites, or if they are doing well because they have few. 

Bob Wilson:
That, 15, would be an interesting piece of information.


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