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To treat or not to treat the honey bee? The question so much in discussion.

This topic can trigger fear and judgement and especially cause panic for commercial beekeepers who’s livelihood could be at jeopardy from hives loses due to disease.

However recent research provides powerful insights as to the case for not treating diseases such as varroa.



IBRA (International Bee Research Association) shares:

“This is always a dilemma beekeepers face when deciding whether or how to treat varroa. In parasitology there is a tendency in time for a parasite to become less virulent (because the most virulent strains kill their host so are lost) and for the host to become more resistant. Thus if we all leave all of our honey bee colonies untreated, in time we will have resistant bees. However, in the meantime many colonies will die, and there will be little honey. On the other hand, if we treat all of our colonies all of the time, we won’t lose then to varroa, but will never get resistant bees.”

So what is the best approach?

In the new issue of Bee World are two articles which address this issue.

In the first, Tjeerd Blacquière & Delphine Panziera of Wageningen University & Research, the Netherlands make a plea for letting the bees natural ability to cope to have a place in our beekeeping.

In the second, John McMullan of Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland discusses a study looking at promising results on how honey bee colonies in the Dublin area are coping with varroa.

The article: “A plea for use of honey bees’ natural resilience in beekeeping” can be found here:…/full/10…/0005772X.2018.1430999

The article: “Adaptation in honey bee (Apis mellifera) colonies exhibiting tolerance to Varroa destructor in Ireland” can be found here:…/full/10…/0005772X.2018.1431000

Great research to support the rewilding of the honey bee. Hopefully articles such as these allow commercial beekeepers to consider non treatment possibilities and review their beekeeping practises to allow the honey bee time to return to optimum health.

The question to oneself, beekeepers and the honey and farming industry? Are we prepared to live a life with less honey consumption and less honey profit in order to ensure the bees survival? It is a time of non judgemental conversations around this topic between rewilding, natural and commercial beekeepers. Especially to support the commercial industry with their financial fears in order to ease the transition to more natural ways of beekeeping to ensure our human survival.

Deborah Richmond,

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