How long have you been treatment free?

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I feel for you guys that have to deal with varroa. It must make treatment free beekeeping a difficult challenge.

Looking at your list, I am thinking 1, 7, and 9 are what have given you a longer run.
The typical lifespan of an untreated hive goes along and looks something like;
1st year; minimal to no problems. Good population growth and honey production. Happy beekeeper.
2nd year; no obvious sign of problems but may notice population is slower to build and honey production is down somewhat. Which are usually blamed on the weather or supercedure / swarms. Hive may crash or abscond late in season.  Perplexed beekeeper. 
3rd year; hive bees are visibly sick. Small bees, deformed wings, waxy hairless, shaky, patchy shot brood, chalk mummies, etc. Very low population growth that stagnates or dwindles, little to no honey production, absconding, collapse.  Discouraged devastated beekeeper. 
That is the typical track of TF.  Factors that change outcomes and timelines are things like;  managing for or against swarms, environmental conditions (warm/cool dry/humid sun/shade), genetics, background viral loads, types of forage available, age and prolific of queen(s), age and hygiene of combs, health and mite levels of neighbouring apiaries. ..
Those are some thoughts that may or may not be helpful .  Barring any groundbreaking revelation class of discovery in your apiary; it may be prudent to be prepared (mentally) that this could be your toughest year coming up .. or maybe not. Crossing fingers.  It depends ;)

Ben Framed:
NATURAL & ORGANIC BEEKEEPING METHODS 'The title section this topic is posted under'. I realize some are not interested in the organic part but strictly the natural part. HoneyPumps' post was very interesting and revealing. Of course some have had exceptions such as Cao for just one example.
Robo and I were discussing one of the organic aspects of helping our bees just yesterday. Not because of this topic, but stemming from a discussion at his 'local beekeepers association meeting'. We had a couple of topics specifically in mind and briefly talked about each. I will be happy to post those titles under a 'spinoff topic' here in the natural and organic section if anyone is interested, as I do not wish to hi-jack this discussion.

The organic choice mentioned, along with time lines, charts and graphs, mite drops, mite counts, effectiveness of organic treatment etc.  Good stuff along with experimental methods that have been posted here by our 'very own fellow' members through the past 4 years.


Bob Wilson:
Ha! I count #9, dumb, blind luck as a major factor also.
In fact I agree with your other two choices also. I plan on brood breaks again this year, and introducing some more feral stock. This is year 4 for me in your timeline. We shall see what it brings.

Hi Bob, What you're doing is really fascinating. I agree that introducing too much chemistry is not good for bees and their lives. This destroys their natural immunity.


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