Bee colonies, like many living creatures, experience times in their lives ranging from “thriving” to “distressed”. Far too often, our bee colonies are near or in a “distressed” condition these days.
I think of it this way, bees are getting dogpiled by the number of stress vectors assaulting them. They face parasites, predators, pathogens and even poison. It’s kind of like a person being jumped in an alley by 20 ruffians at once. I don’t care how tough you are because of surviving Natural Selection, 20:1 odds means your getting it handed to you.
I don’t subscribe to the notion of “all or none” beekeeping, especially where treatment is concerned. If one of my buddies gets dogpiled, I go start pulling attackers off and busting heads to help out. It doesn’t stop there for me though. I hang around and help my buddy out. Get him a few bandages, maybe some stitches. Get some medicine in him, even if it’s a shot of brandy to help settle him down.
The point is, what I don’t do is just pick him up, dust him off, then leave him hanging. “Ok pal, I’m gonna take off now, you got this? Cool, See ya later.”
That’s not cool in my book, where I come from. But that is the attitude of a lot of no-treatment or organic beekeepers. No treatment, no how, no when. You’re on your own bees.
I help a buddy while he’s down. I help him get his strength back up. I help him get back on track. All the while, I test and check him to see when he says, “it’s ok, I’m good, I got this.” When he tells me that and I see it happening with my own eyes, I stop helping out. Then I can walk away after weaning him off my assistance and taking care of business on his own.
I do the same for my bee colonies. I check them when I “rescue” them from a wall or roof or fallen tree, etc… how bad did they get banged up? Mite checks, SHB population, diseases, who knows what could have been beating them up. Then I get them moving on a plan and path to self sustainability. I let them tell me when they are ready for no more treatment. That’s the goal of course.
Our bees are getting dogpiled. It’s not cool to just pick them up, dust them off, sit them in a chair, put a drink in their hand and tell them you’re out of there and they’re on their own.
I won’t leave my bee buddies hanging.