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What do we mean by 'treatment-free'?

 
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biobee
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2016 7:11 pm    Post subject: What do we mean by 'treatment-free'? Reply with quote

I have created this section to discuss the subject of what is widely referred to as 'treatment-free' beekeeping, which many of us aspire to and some practice, without necessarily having a clear idea of what we mean by 'treatment-free'.

For some, it simply means not using any synthetic chemicals, while for others, the term may encompass a wider meaning, perhaps heading towards the absolutist, 'Darwinian' approach of providing a hollow tree and letting the bees take care of themselves, with no input from a 'keeper' at all.

What do you think?
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catchercradle
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 9:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For me, treatment free means not using chemicals in the hive to control varroa, nosema etc but hopefully by stressing the bees as little as possible helping them to be able to deal with it themselves better. This includes letting them swarm when they want to give a brood break and not artificially feeding them to build up the numbers quickly in spring etc.

I haven't treated any of my hives for about four or five years now but knowing things might go base over apex with the mites don't say I will never treat so even though I haven't treated for a while, I am not absolutist about it. Though I am planning to put some bees in a Willow skep this spring which will be a completely wild colony and also remove the Thornes observation hive from it's enclosure in the community orchard and put two larger glass panels in behind the wooden covers that will then give enough space for a completely natural colony that is big enough to survive winters. This will mean two more sources of swarms.

Actually my experience is that my fellow bee keepers who do splits in the spring etc who live close to me get just as high a swarming rate as I do without trying to control it!
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Mike Cox
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 9:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For me going treatment free is about recognising that the treatments we have undertaken as beekeepers to try to assist our colonies in coping with the varroa mites have actually been counter productive.

In nature all host-parasite relationships reach a stable equilibrium. The host develops strategies to cope with the parasite. The parasite becomes less virulent over time, as virulent parasites wipe out the host that they need to live on. Both host and parasite are subject to natural selection.

In the case of the varroa mite, this is a "new" parasite having recently jumped species and we are still in the stages where they are forming a new stable equilibrium. The early stages of such relationships often see short term population collapse and extreme virulence of the parasite.

The treatments we beekeepers have been using have applied perverse selection pressures to both bees and mites, so while some individual hives are saved by treatments, we are worsening the problem as a whole, and delaying the formation of an equilibrium.

In hives which are treated:

Mites are under pressure to breed faster and to be more virulent. In these circumstances rapid population growth is critical as your population is regularly nuked. Rapid growth, to the point of collapsing the whole colony, is desirable for the mites as they can then spread to other hives as the colony is robbed out. The mites are also being selected for resistance to the various chemical treatments that are being used.

Mites breeding cycle is on the order of 3 weeks from when the mother mite first enters a brood cell. As a result mites can adapt very rapidly to the circumstances in their hive.

Bees, on the other hand, are not facing the usual natural selection pressure of survival of the fittest. Bees that would otherwise be unable to tolerate mite presence are propped up by treatments. They send out swarms and drones each year which similarly are not facing selection pressure for varroa tolerance. The traits bees need to cope with varroa already exist in the wider gene pool, but they are perpetually diluted by mating with bees that are not resistant.

As far as the debate about "what is treatment free" goes, my personal position is that you should carefully consider what you are consciously or unconsciously selecting for in your bees and mites. If you goal is to have hives that have reached an equilibrium with the mites, then any action you take in your own hives has to be compatible with that goal.

Rather than argue "does X count as a treatment", ask yourself what pressure is it applying to bees and mites?


If this means that some colonies die out, then so be it. That is nature showing you that they didn't have the right mix of genes. An appropriate response to being worried about losing hives is to prepare for it in advance. Expansion Model Beekeeping is an approach any beekeeper can use, with any hive type, to ensure that hive losses do not affect them excessively.

I'm not allowed to post live links yet, but here is a longer description of EM:

http://www.treatmentfreebeekeepers.co.uk/index.php/expansion-beekeeping/

The short version is you make more splits/catch more swarms than you think you will need in advance. Then when some hives die in winter you already have some waiting. Nucleus hives are a great resource for a beekeeper to have on hand, and open up so many potential management options.

Mike[/i]
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biobee
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 10:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hadn't come across the term 'Expansion Model' before, but that is exactly what I do, including this winter using a combination of poly nucs and double-deck Apidea mini hives.

Making more colonies each year also has the effect of increasing the number of genetic variations in your stocks, thereby improving the chances of a beneficial mutation.

I am working on a new and highly hive design that I hope will make this process easier to accomplish. Meanwhile, I must say I am impressed with the poly nucs, albeit with some reservations about their durability. My biggest surprise last season was that liquid feed actually soaks through the hive, causing wasps and hornets to form work parties to bore holes in the side where the feeder is located. The feeder tank itself needs to be proofed with wax or maybe shellac - haven't tried either yet.
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Mike Cox
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 10:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You just reminded me of a disasterous lab day when I was at Uni. I had some samples that I needed to keep on ice for a few hours. I filled a poly cooler box with ice water and packed my samples in it. Previously the box had been used for dry ice cooling.

Little did I know that the poly was slightly porous. When I came back the ice water had leaked from the box, through an incubator used for making biological cultures, then out across the floor trailing brown water contaminated from the incubator.

The lab had to be closed and sterilised for 3 days, and the incubator binned!

Moral of the story - poly is not necessarily water proof! Swienty sells some paint for sealing their poly feeders which works well. As far as general longevity goes, I've had no complaints so far. You have to handle your hive tool a little more carefully; I was used to levering against the woodwork to move frames. If you do that with poly you will dig in to the box. A few coast of paint also keep the outside in good condition. UV can degrade it over time otherwise.
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trekmate
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 11:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

biobee wrote:
I hadn't come across the term 'Expansion Model' before......
I first heard that term on http://forum.tfbees.net/viewforum.php?f=32, the TF forum created by Soloman Parker in USA. He's been TF for around 12 years.

Ideally, TF should include no artificial feeding IMHO, although that's nearly impossible in my local climate..... Confused
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biobee
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 11:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's learning the hard way, for sure!

The paint I used last year was not up to the job, so re-coating with tougher stuff as soon as it is warm enough. Thinking of pouring melted paraffin wax into the feeder, swilling it around and pouring out again to leave an impermeable skin.

I edited your link to make it clickable.

Sound explanation of VSH. I visited Ron a few years ago - good to know he is still going strong.

The danger with gong down that road of selecting for a single trait is that - according to some accounts - you can go too far and end up with kamikaze bees, which throw out ALL pupae, not just infested ones. Also, you have to be careful not to lose other useful (or even vital) traits along the way. Biodiversity is essential in this, which again is why making extra colonies may well be the way forward.
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Mike Cox
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 11:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, Solomon coined the phrase. I think it is really helpful, as it gives framework through which to view your apiary activities. When I've been explaining to novices or the uninitiated having a name for it has really helped.

Regarding getting kamikaze bees, I can't imagine that anyone would be able to select more intensively than Ron has been without specialist resources (Instrumental Insemination of queens, single drone insemination etc...). Ron still feels his bees can be improved and is always looking to get a percentage point or two more expression of the VSH/Biting traits.
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hsilgnede
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 1:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it means not interfering with the Bees in anyway. Once you get into manipulating combs, creating brood breaks, feeding or spraying, you're treating them. If left to their own devices bees would be doing just fine in hollow trees and there wouldn't be V mite problem on the European Honey bee. Essentially all the problems bees are having are as a result of human intervention, now or in the past.

If we're going to interfere with the hives by manipulation and extraction of honey its not fair to the bees in the hive to give them the supports to deal with it by feeding them, when necessary. I don't view treatment for V mites the same way because that may prop up the hive in the short term, it does nothing to help the long term survival of all bees.

Of course the reality is that we must intervene in the hives, especially if we want to get some honey out of them. So its a matter of degree. I plan to avoid chemicals in the hive. I will manipulate and I will feed, at least when I'm starting out while my hives establish themselves.

All that said, if I get my hives and they start crashing its going to be hard for me to let it take its course and not intervene. I'm sure my resolve will be tested.
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Barbara
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 3:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I use the phrase "treatment free" and read of others use of it, I have until now assumed it related solely to varroa and probably only chemical intervention, excluding the use of sucrose powder, since it has a mechanical effect rather than a biological, although I don't personally sugar dust.

I think the discussion of the term's meaning is important and I am now thinking more deeply about it and can see that, physical management techniques like doing a shook swarm or drone brood culling or sugar dusting for that matter could all easily be classed as treatment.

Like catchercradle, I'm not sure that I am totally committed to being treatment free. I never set out to be in the first place, it just happened, although I confess to doing a shook swarm a year and a half ago to deal with a suspected varroa problem.... and it is something that I will not countenance again..... although the colony survived (JUST), I am now confident that they would have survived far more easily without my intervention and in fact it turned out, varroa wasn't the heart of the problem anyway.

That said, my original colony is coming up 18 years old and I know that if I had not treated it when varroa first became a problem, I would without doubt have lost it. It is now over 7 years since it was last treated (in any way) but if they started to become overrun with varroa again, I confess that I would be very tempted to intervene. There is nothing to say that one treatment would prevent it from being able to go another 7+ years without treatment again afterwards.

I think there is a place for "medicine" in all walks of life. The important thing is to use it wisely and only when necessary.
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hsilgnede
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 3:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe that's the way to think of it. As medicine to be used when illness symptoms warrant it, but not to be used prophetically in a "just in case" fashion.

That said, Solomon Parker mentioned above, and others, would argue that there's no benefit to treating a sick hive. All we're doing it allowing weak genes to persist in the gene pool.

I can see both sides of it. Logically Solomon makes sense but emotionally a difficult thing to do if you're attached to the bees, which I guess we shouldn't be, they aren't pets after all. And if you're starting out, its cheaper to treat a sick hive and keep them going than buy in a new one if they die.

So clear as mud then... Rolling Eyes Laughing
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biobee
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 4:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barbara describes exactly the problem I have always had with the term 'treatment-free': the ambiguity around what constitutes a 'treatment', as well as what malady is being 'treated for'.

Is artificial swarming a 'treatment', as a bi-product may be a drastic reduction on the mite population , at least in one half of the colony?

Is 'shook swarm' a 'treatment', even though no 'medicine' is involved?

Is simply hiving a swarm a 'treatment', given that the bees may have chosen a different location, left to themselves?

If it turns out that everything we do to bees could be labeled a 'treatment', then the term becomes effectively meaningless. Call me pedantic, but I prefer to use more precise terminology, such as 'powdered-sugar treatment' or 'oxalic acid treatment' to describe specific procedures and would not use the term 'treatment-free' shorn of any qualifying description.
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Barbara
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 4:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
That said, Solomon Parker mentioned above, and others, would argue that there's no benefit to treating a sick hive.


It all depends on your perception of sick.

The colony I did a shook swarm on were exhibiting quite a high degree of deformed wing virus, which I assumed was down to a high varroa infestation, as I had previously only experienced DWV with high varroa levels.

After I did the shook swarm, I uncapped and checked the brood and varroa wasn't the problem, so the DWV had been vectored by some other means.
I had two more colonies show significant levels of DWV shortly after I did that shook swarm and I did not intervene with them. This was late summer. Both of those colonies survived the winter without problems and swarmed multiple times the following season. The shook swarm more or less refused to build any comb and took very little syrup. I gave them a few combs that I had and they went into winter with maybe four pounds of syrup. They survived but failed to thrive last year although they picked up a little bit however they needed feeding again for winter, whereas the other two didn't. They are coming out of winter now and looking in reasonable shape and I will be surprised if they don't swarm this season, but I bitterly regret doing that shook swarm and I think taking their comb and brood set them back a year and a half.

I made an ill advised "treatment" because I perceived that colony was terminally sick when in reality they were just ailing and the "treatment" I used turned out to be more destructive than the ailment. I actually feel that the colony would have suffered less if I had used a miticide instead of doing a shook swarm, although I still think they would have been better with no treatment at all.

What is concerning is that I have a reasonable amount of experience and plenty of colonies, none of which cost me anything as they were all started from swarms ie no financial investment to protect and yet I was still tempted to intervene.

I do have an emotional attachment to my bees, as I do with any creature under my care and particularly one that I have had for such a long time. I think I have a responsibility to care for them, particularly if I harvest honey from them, so I don't think it is the same as a wild colony in a tree.


Last edited by Barbara on Thu Feb 25, 2016 4:57 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Mike Cox
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 4:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

biobee wrote:
If it turns out that everything we do to bees could be labeled a 'treatment', then the term becomes effectively meaningless. Call me pedantic, but I prefer to use more precise terminology, such as 'powdered-sugar treatment' or 'oxalic acid treatment' to describe specific procedures and would not use the term 'treatment-free' shorn of any qualifying description.


I prefer to view it as a spectrum - some things clearly belong in the "treatment" category, some do not.

I find "Natural Beekeeping" equally troublesome - does "Natural beekeeping" prohibit making splits for increase? What about inspecting mite fall and using it to select queens for breeding?

More helpful is to consider if the name itself is helpful to people? Does it help them to identify a philosophy or approach to follow?

The name Expansion Model Beekeeping, for example, is useful - it gives you a hook to latch on to. Many people find the name "treatment free beekeeping" to be similarly helpful, as it gives them a focus for their own thinking.
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biobee
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 6:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I prefer to view it as a spectrum - some things clearly belong in the "treatment" category, some do not.


A spectrum is an analogue concept: a sliding scale, not a digital yes/no, so anything can be accommodated that falls within the chosen category.

I postulated such a scale for beekeepers, ranging from the totally commercial at one end to the hands-off, bees-in-a-tree, do-nothing 'conservation' beekeepers at the other. Everyone is somewhere on that spectrum and they can find their own place. There is no need to make rules or definitions, other than those that make it possible to discuss a particular procedure or management technique.

That's why we have a forum - to discuss such matters and discover where we stand in relation to others. We don't necessarily feel the need to judge others for their differences.

Quote:
I find "Natural Beekeeping" equally troublesome - does "Natural beekeeping" prohibit making splits for increase? What about inspecting mite fall and using it to select queens for breeding?


As there is no Book of Rules, 'natural beekeeping' is merely a loose concept that people interpret as they choose. I have elsewhere offered a somewhat more precise definition of what I call 'balanced beekeeping', which I feel more able to define as I came up with the idea.

You have similarly defined 'Expansion Model Beekeeping', which means we can talk about it with little room for ambiguity.

'Treatment-free' will continue to be a loose term, unless it can be pinned to definition that is widely agreed upon, which, judging by the many conversations I have seen and heard - including this one - may prove elusive.
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zaunreiter
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 7:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

biobee wrote:
We don't necessarily feel the need to judge others for their differences.


Exactly so. Couldn't agree more.

In the end we all love our bees and should do, what our bees do: sharing.
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Adam Rose
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 11:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think treatment-free has a relatively obvious and well understood meaning. It's a meaning defined as much defined by the polemic directed at beekeepers who identify as treatment free as anything.

Treatment free beekeeping is when you don't put chemicals in your hive.

So Barbara's dilemma is an interesting one, but not directly related to whether she is treatment free.

Some treatment free beekeepers are not treatment free in principle, but have kind of evolved towards that practice over a period of time. It's quite like vegetarians that I know. Some are vegetarian on principle. Some have kind of drifted into it. I more or less did that myself some years ago when I lived with two vegetarians. Some people I know would probably say "yes" when asked if they were vegetarians but actually from time to time eat meat. The actual complexity of people's lives and practices is not entirely reflected by the simple word, but the word "vegetarian" has a precise and easily understood meaning, just like the phrase treatment free.

Does the meaning of the phrase "treatment-free" literally mean "chemical free" ? No, of course not. And if we're really being pedantic, everything is a chemical anyway. But this is irrelevant. Plenty of words have precise meanings defined by everyday discourse that don't quite tally with the literal meaning. Anti-semite has come to mean someone who is prejudiced against Jews, even though Arabs are also semites. Islamophobia means prejudice against Muslims, even though literally it means fear of Muslims. Treatment free means that you don't put chemicals in your hives.

On the subject of the expansion model : I don't particularly like it as a way of beekeeping. I find it too industrialised, too interventionist and too focused on honey production. I am slightly concerned that this is seen as the only way to be treatment free. In other words, it's not natural enough for my personal preferences. But I am pleased the phrase "treatment-free" has become popularized, and when people attack treatment-free beekeepers I will always say I am treatment free and defend the idea, even though I might not want to keep bees in exactly the same way that Solomon Parker does.

Adam.
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BBC
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 27, 2017 7:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

biobee wrote:
'Treatment-free' will continue to be a loose term, unless it can be pinned to definition that is widely agreed upon, which, judging by the many conversations I have seen and heard - including this one - may prove elusive.


I think Phil has raised a very important topic, my own opinion regarding which is that the basic problem here lies within our usage of words, period.


If we take ourselves back to a pre-language scenario, say - a 'Flintstones'-type set-up, where a sabre-tooth tiger is approaching the cave ... a scream would warn that danger is approaching, whereas a series of grunts might be interpreted as 'Meals on Wheels' is about to deliver a month's supply of groceries. Over time, such utterances would no doubt have gradually morphed into specific recognisable sounds - and that distinct words were thus formed to convey various meanings.

This then is a key point - that Meanings have always preceded Words. BUT - because we are born into a society which has a pre-existing lexicon as youngsters we are required to learn the existing words of our language, together with their generally accepted meanings ... a process which creates the illusion that Words somehow 'own' those Meanings. Whereas in fact, at some time in history it will have been Meanings which have caused the genesis of those particular Words.

We often talk about a Word having lost it's Meaning, whereas a more careful consideration reveals the reverse: that it is the Meaning which has lost it's Word. I know that sounds clumsy, but that's only because we have come to view language with this kind of hindsight, using dictionaries which list the Words we use ... which, in many cases indicate that multiple Meanings have been assigned to exactly the same Word. Confusing, or what ?

Hence we have adopted the habit of 'looking-up' a Word in a dictionary in an attempt to define it's Meaning, only find that our Word may have multiple Meanings, and that the dictionary page field known as the 'Definitions' doesn't even attempt to 'define' a Word ... but rather to describe, along with the Word's assumed etymology, it's current usage (and past usage, where appropriate) - often with multiple diverse examples.

So - how does any of the above help with this thread ?

Well, it seems we're starting off here by asking "what does the Word treatment-free mean ?", whereas a more useful starting point might be to establish the Meaning first, and THEN go about finding an appropriate Word for that Meaning.

This will require careful consideration, and tighter definition perhaps, of the underlying ethos upon which the Natural Beekeeping 'Movement' (assuming it is such) is based. Then, having established that, a specific Word may then be chosen to describe it.

It may be necessary to look outside of the English language for such a Word - James Lovelock for example looked to Greek mythology to name his 'Gaia' (the ancestral mother of all life) Hypothesis. Ancient Greece is probably a good a place to start as any.

But - that's what I'd suggest: carefully define the ethos first, and only then let the word used to describe it follow-on from that, rather than to employ existing Words, the use of which tends to both confuse and cause dissent - precisely because of this 'multiple Meanings assigned to one Word' issue.
Colin
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 27, 2017 8:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Treatments" fall into one of three categories, in my thinking:

1. "Chemical" treatments, including miticides, powdered sugar, or any other substance not brought in by bees.

2. "Bio-mechanical" treatments, including splits, brood breaks, heaters, and other gadgets or manipulations that are intended to reduce mite loads.

3. "Genetic" treatments, such as selective breeding for specific traits, including so-called Varroa-Sensitive Hygiene, or breeding from strains known to have "Varroa-resistant" behaviours.

It seems to me that "doing nothing" really falls into caregory 3, as you are, in effect, handing over the responsibility to natural selection, by allowing those colonies that do not possess "the right stuff" to die out and take their maladaptive genes with them.

If we call ourselves "bee keepers", then it seems to me that this title carries with it certain responsibilities, just as the terms "shepherd" or "farmer" do.

So does "treatment-free", if it excludes all of the above, really boil down to neglect?
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Adam Rose
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2017 6:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Meanings may precede words, but society defines those meanings during the activities of our everyday life.

When conventional beekeepers talk about treating their bees, they mean something very specific. If a conventional beekeeper says "I always treat my bees because my bees won't survive varroa if I don't", they do not mean anything bio-mechanical or genetic. And it strikes me that dusting sugar has the same relationship to what is ordinarily understood as treatment as eating cheese with animal rennet in it has to vegetarianism.

Defining treatment to mean a whole load of things not ordinarily meant by treatment and then saying that treatment-free means neglect does not seem to me to be a fair argument, particularly since it mirrors the unreasonable attacks on treatment free beekeepers such as Solomon Parker from conventional beekeepers.
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biobee
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2017 10:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I tend to agree with you, Adam.

My motivation for posting was largely based on the discussions that have ensued elsewhere online, especially on certain FaceBook pages, about definitions of "treatment-free" and noticing hw some people seem intent on making "rules" for such things.

I think that it is important to be able to discuss such things so as to clarify my own thinking, as other people's points of view often shed light on areas that otherwise remain shadowy.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 31, 2017 8:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Phil. In your reply of 27 Aug., you appear to be focussing on the 'contents of the jar', so to speak, whereas I had been rather more focussing on 'the label on the jar'.


With regard to whether the treatment-free approach could actually or potentially constitute neglect - I would say that can only be established with hindsight.

Two days ago I conducted my annual late-August inspection of the half-dozen or so 'leave-alone' hives I have here. They're not part of any master-plan - just simply colonies which have been deemed unsuitable for breeding from, or experimenting with.

Two of them were found to be in very different states, despite being headed by sister-queens and located only some 30 feet from each other.

One was in trouble, with only two or three hundred bees spread over three (of eleven) 14"x9" frames. There was a wax-moth infestation, and robbing had virtually eliminated all stores. There was even one very large spider inside the box with her webs spread around half of the combs. Without human intervention, that colony was destined for winter extinction. [With the remnants inside a Nuc-Box, being fed and multi-dosed with Oxalic Acid, maybe they now have a 50/50 chance of survival]

In marked contrast, the other was found to be overflowing with bees. Housed in 2 boxes, the lower with eleven 14"x12" frames, and the upper with eleven 14"x9" frames, there were bees, honey and pollen in abundance. As such, it's possibly one of the strongest colonies on site.

The first is the result of neglect, certainly. The second could be described as resulting from an enlightened beekeeping approach (perhaps). And yet both hives were subjected to exactly the same localised conditions and absence of interference (including 'treatments', however defined).

It seems to me that this is yet another aspect for consideration: that such judgements can only ever be made retrospectively - thus muddying the waters even further ...

Colin
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 31, 2017 9:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Adam Rose wrote:
Meanings may precede words, but society defines those meanings during the activities of our everyday life.


It IS possible to effectively pre-define a meaning for society by coining a new, unique word, which cannot then be confused with any other meaning(s).

Take 'Kodak' for example. The word has come to be synonymous with 'photography', and not with anything else. It was invented by George Eastman who wanted a snappy, unique word - a word which wouldn't possess or develop associations with any other meaning in the world other than that of his new company. Inspired thinking.

There are many other similar examples of course, like 'Rolls-Royce', a unique name which equates to engineering excellence.

That's really what I was suggesting: the coining of a new word to name a particular style of beekeeping, rather than struggle with the ambiguous meanings of existing words.

Do a Google for 'Twix': "a chocolate bar made by Mars". No confusion whatsoever - the word becomes the thing itself.

But the word chosen HAS to be unique: "Twix-Beekeeping" would sound very silly indeed, precisely because of the prior and established association.
Colin
BBC
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Adam Rose
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Joined: 09 Oct 2011
Posts: 584
Location: Manchester, UK

PostPosted: Thu Aug 31, 2017 10:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Apologies for getting all philosophical at this point ...

BBC wrote:
Adam Rose wrote:
Meanings may precede words, but society defines those meanings during the activities of our everyday life.


It IS possible to effectively pre-define a meaning for society by coining a new, unique word, which cannot then be confused with any other meaning(s).


True. I was being somewhat undialectical Smile. Of course new words are created to describe new activities, and language changes as a result, in turn enabling us to create further new activities and relationships.

In this particular case though, I think "treatment-free beekeeping" has a very particular meaning, defined as much by polemic between the two groups, and nothing much is going to change that. It's a phrase whose meaning has been defined in beekeeping practice and discussion, often online, about beekeeping practice. I don't think much is going to change in relation to that particular phrase anytime soon.

Whether it is possible or even advisable to come up with new terms for an overall beekeeping style, I don't know. Phil attempted this with "Balanced Beekeeping", a term I dislike, precisely because no-one can disagree with it. "Balanced beekeeping" to me is a retreat from the necessary polemic about the state of conventional beekeeping, and the general dysfunctional relationship between humans and nature that it comes from and typifies. I was thinking of making a T-shirt with "warning : unbalanced beekeeper" on it Smile.

"Natural Beekeeping" to me is better, not because it is a term that makes too much sense, but because it contrasts nicely with "Unnatural". It implies that there is something wrong with the status quo. I think that's a good thing.

Adam.
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