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  • Guidelines

    Group Objectives

    Treatment Free Beekeepers exists for the promotion, study, and discussion of treatment-free (TF) beekeeping, or promotion, study, and discussion of beekeeping without broaching the topic of treatments. The basic philosophy behind a TF approach is that treating bees for diseases prevents the bees from developing the various genetic adaptations they need to be able to cope on their own. Treatment-free lets diseases run their course in a hive, such that weak colonies die out, and stronger well adapted colonies survive to be multiplied both naturally and as part of normal beekeeping practice. Ultimately varroa and other issues cease to be a problem, and the general population of managed bees become disease tolerant in the same way feral bees are.
    Definition of Treatment

    Treatment: Anything done in or around the hive, or introduced by the beekeeper into the hive with the intent of killing, repelling, or inhibiting a pest or disease afflicting the bees, or in any way "helping" the bees to survive when they ought to be surviving on their own.

    This definition is intentionally very broad and covers mechanical methods, chemicals, herbs, etc.. If you have to ask “Is X a treatment?” then it probably is. Also, don’t ask, check the guidelines. We quite literally do not want to talk about treatments. We are “post-treatment.” Asking if a something is a treatment is talking about treatments, and we don’t like to talk about treatments. We’ve had enough, that’s why this group exists. Any mention of treatments may be deleted. If you really cannot make a good faith adult determination of your own, please ask a moderator directly. Do not post about treatments in the group. If we have been unclear in any way, please send a message to a moderator.

    Specific treatments that we do not want to hear about include but are not limited to:

    Apiguard (thymol)

    Mite-away II (formic acid)

    Apistan (fluvalinate)

    Sucrocide (sucrose octanoate esters)

    Mite-A-Thol (menthol)

    Terramycin/Tetra-B (antibiotic)

    Tylan (antibiotic)

    Gardstar (permethrin)

    Fumagilin (antibiotic)

    Paramoth (p-dichlorobenzene)

    Checkmite (coumaphos)

    Oxalic Acid (dicarboxylic acid)

    Formic Acid (carboxylic acid)

    Mineral Oil (food grade mineral oil, FGMO)

    Sugar Dusting (sucrose)

    HBH (essential oils of any sort)

    MegaBee (diet formula)

    Honey Bee Healthy (feeding stimulant)

    Bt Aizawai (bacteria)

    Thymol (crystals, feed, or fogging)

    Essential oils (in general)

    Grease patties (Crisco etc.)


    Manipulations or equipment that are done/introduced with the intent to "help" the bees survive when they ought to be surviving on their own are considered treatments. However, it may be necessary for freshman beekeepers to perform some of these manipulations as a stop-gap measure in order to have bees to multiply. Therefore these topics are allowed on a limited basis. It is imperative that these only be stop-gap measures though. Every opportunity should be afforded for the bees to survive on their own and to become adapted to the local conditions.

    Manipulations and equipment include the following:

    Frequent queen replacement

    Systematic splitting

    Artificial brood breaks (these can be very effective along with splitting for the freshman beekeeper, but the thrust should be splitting, not varroa control)

    Drone brood killing (Bee Informed Survey shows this to be ineffective)

    Screened Bottom Boards (Bee Informed Survey shows this to be ineffective)
    Small Cell Foundation (Foundation is to encourage straight comb for the beekeeper’s benefit)


    We generally consider feeding to be "treating against starvation." However, since many freshman beekeepers will be working with bees that are not yet adapted to their area, and may not have sufficient stores due to conditions outside their control, we do occasionally talk about feeding and those conversations are acceptable on a limited basis. Bees are not caged, it is their task in life to store up honey for themselves, they should not need to be fed under normal circumstances.

    Feeding includes the following:

    Sugar syrup

    Dry granulated sugar

    High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

    Pollen substitutes

    The equipment that makes up the hive is not a treatment, it is simply the cavity we supply for the bees to occupy.


    Hive bodies, wooden, plastic, or otherwise which it is assumed have no direct effect on the pests of the hive

    Frames, wooden, plastic or otherwise

    Foundation, wax, plastic, or otherwise

    Small cell foundation (this is simply an attempt by some beekeepers to return the bees to a more natural cell size, all foundation is by nature unnatural)

    Foundationless methods (foundationless methods are also technically unnatural as they happen in a man-made hive)

    Frequent replacement of comb/foundation (may be necessary in some chemically saturated areas)

    The equipment that makes up the hive is not a treatment unless it does something to kill a pest, like a hive that kills varroa using heat.

    All other equipment and manipulations including breeding, inspections, moving hives, catching swarms, requeening, harvesting honey, are simply part of the beekeeping paradigm. That is what beekeeping is. We keep bees, we are beekeepers. Calling someone a “bee haver” is untrue and disrespectful. We as treatment-free beekeepers keep bees as beekeepers, only without treating. That’s what this group is about. All beekeeping topics are welcome, just not treatment topics.

    Group Expectations

    We have been having a lot of people asking about treatments and then getting their feelings hurt. While to most of us the group title seems pretty self explanatory, it is not necessarily so for everybody.

    This is a group for treatment-free beekeepers. Please do not ask how best to treat your bees, if something is a treatment, or in any way quibble about the definition of what a treatment is.

    This is not a space to debate treatments.

    We will not be talking about treatments except to mention in passing the damage they cause.This includes so-called "soft treatments" and "natural treatments." The group title is “Treatment-Free Beekeepers” and that means that the group is wholly devoted to beekeeping without treatments. This group was created to get away from pro/con debates about treatments. It is for TF beekeepers who wish to promote, study, and discuss beekeeping wholly in a context where they do not encounter a barrage of pro-treating propaganda.

    Ultimately, we want this group to be a safe and encouraging place for beekeepers of all backgrounds and levels of experience to feel comfortable asking genuine questions to help them on their path towards TF beekeeping. To that end, do consider how your comments could be construed and follow the general rule “Be Nice”.
    100% Treatment-Free, 16 years.
    Medford, Oregon, USA

  • #2
    Group Rules

    • Discuss and promote Treatment-Free Beekeeping in positive terms and in a winsome manner.
    • Posts that recommend, encourage, mention, or promote treating will be deleted and the poster removed from the group.
    • Discussions that touch on the topics of treating will generally only be tolerated if it is framed in such a way as it is clear the treatment is not being promoted.
    • Always only be completely civil, kind, and courteous. Language is strictly G rated as generally defined by the MPAA. If it’s not the kind of language you’d hear in The Lion King, don’t use it.
    • Trust that if any administrator has to perform any moderation that they are doing the right thing. You may question decisions made, but only in private messages.
    • If you have an issue with moderation, please contact the administrator (Solomon Parker) through Facebook first. He will investigate the issue and form a decision. You may appeal the decision and present your case, but ultimately the decision lies with him. The buck stops there. He sets the tone for the group. That is his responsibility. The Vice-Administrator is Michael Cox.
    • We also ask that you report questionable posts and behaviors by tagging us in comments. This can be done by typing out our name and allowing Facebook to send us the notification. If you report to Facebook, we will not be able to ban the user from the group to prevent future posting. This is especially important with spam and pornography.
    • Do not attempt to redefine what is, and is not considered a treatment. Any such post will be deleted and the poster booted.
    • We occasionally have people attempt to incite arguments in this group by posting provocative statements. This is known as “trolling” and is an attempt to get a reaction from people. The general rule on the internet in this case is “Don’t Feed The Trolls”. If you react you give them what they want. Instead, ignore them and let their posts sink into obscurity, or report them to us so we can consider booting or banning them. Tagging one of the moderators is the best plan for dealing with a problem, NOT replying to the troll.
      There is also a form of trolling we call Library Trolling. The idea is that someone would enter a library and then yell at the librarian for not reading the books to them. Do not expect any member of the group to write you a dissertation on their methods simply because you ask. We all have jobs and lives, we do not have time to explain everything to the nth detail on Facebook. The Group has a YouTube page with more than a hundred videos, as well as many years of back posts and topics you can peruse at your leisure. When you have done your own research, then come and ask specific questions about specific topics. Do not get upset because someone will not take hours to “tell me how to be treatment-free.”
    • No advertising or self-promotion. If you think you have a proposition that will be valuable to the members of this group you must first seek prior permission from Solomon Parker. Posting without permission will result in your post being closed. Offers of treatment-free bees, products, and education are generally allowed.
    • We have a lot of spammers trying to join the group. As moderators we try to check each account and decide if they are legitimate or not. Sometimes we get this wrong for one reason or another. If you want to join and have not been accepted please message one of the moderators and explain the situation. Typical reasons we might reject an account include if they are under one year old (most spam accounts are new to Facebook), if they are clearly not representing an individual, or the account appears misleading in some way (eg joined facebook three days ago but have 1200 friends). If we get it wrong for you please message us.
    • We are focused on scientific concepts in this group. That means things that have empirical backing, are supported or refuted by rigorous scientific study and evidence. However, there has been much research done on treatment methods and very little done on treatment-free beekeeping. So don’t demand published research to try to prove your point. Accept the experience of an experienced beekeeper as valuable and assume they are telling you the truth.
    • Please stay on the topic of bees and beekeeping. There are plenty of other places to discuss religion, politics, GMO, chemtrails, vaccinations, Bayer and Monsanto, etc… and these threads can quickly become contentious resulting in hot tempers hurt feelings. They will at a minimum have comments closed, or the post shall be deleted.
    • You may not “block” an administrator. If you do, you will be booted.
    • As the group has gotten bigger, more and more posts have appeared in languages other than English. However, since all the moderators speak only English at this time, we need to be able to do our job. There are plenty of online translators available. Please translate your post into English.
    • We do not welcome posts that comment on discussions in other groups. Too often these turn towards unpleasantness and ridicule. They reflect poorly on us as a group, and open us up to hostility. In general, they also tend to fall foul of our “Be Nice” rule.
    • There are a couple type of posts that are generally deleted on site, they include but are not limited to:
      • “Naked links.” Links that someone posts without comment to a third party site or page. If you want to post a link, tell us what it is, why we might want to read/watch it.
      • Memes: They’re cute and funny and whatnot, but remember the purpose of the group, to promote treatment-free beekeeping.
    Useful Links

    Frequently Moderated Topics

    We generally aim for a “light touch” approach to moderating, and where possible will usually let posts sink in the feed rather than intervene. However, we have some recurring topic themes that cause problems each time they appear in the group.

    Postings along the following lines are likely to be moderated in some way. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list, just an indication of how we make some moderation decisions.

    Rules Lawyering
    • The rules are the domain of the moderators.
    • Enforcement is the domain of the moderators.
    • Pointing out the rules is the domain of the moderators.
    • The definition of treatment and list of treatments is the domain of the moderators.
    • Any quibbling about the rules or address of the rules or question about the rules SHALL BE addressed to a moderator in direct messages and SHALL NOT BE aired in public forums. Any such post will be deleted immediately and the poster booted from the group.

    Questioning a moderator’s action.
    • All posts pertaining in any way to moderation shall be deleted and the user booted.
    • If you have a question or complaint about moderation, please address it to an administrator in a direct message. Your post will be given all due consideration and taken seriously.
    • Do not post about moderation or the rules or the definition of treatment in public. Ever.
    100% Treatment-Free, 16 years.
    Medford, Oregon, USA


    • #3

      “I’ve heard that “X” repels mites. Can I plant it around my hive to help them?” (and all variations on that theme)
      • Planting plants is gardening. This group is about beekeeping.
      • This starts from a position that is effectively a treatment in disguise. “Rhubarb has oxalic acid in it so I can plant it to give them oxalic acid to treat without treating”. This is in direct conflict with the aims of the group. Specifically: “Anything done in the hive, or introduced by the beekeeper into the hive with the intent of killing, repelling, or inhibiting a pest or disease afflicting the bees, or in any way "helping" the bees to survive when they ought to be surviving on their own.”
      • It is based on a serious misunderstanding about how essential oils and oxalic acid treatments work. To be effective the active ingredients are chemically concentrated into a pure form then applied to the interior of the hive in high doses and high concentrations - these strengths of doses are simply not available to the bees from plants directly. There is no evidence at all that bees collect and concentrate medicinal compounds (with the exception of propolis) from plants, despite it being asserted frequently across the internet.
      • The position of the moderators on this board is that anyone is welcome to plant what they like around their apiaries - this is simply gardening which is not on topic for the forums.
      • There are other planting topics which are absolutely fine for a beekeeping forum such as: “What should I plant to provide forage in my summer dearth?”, “I have a few acres of meadow to plant, what would be good for my bees?”. The distinction is that these do not claim to be treating for an ailment of the hive, or repeating unfounded suppositions about bees self-medicating.

      “Your definition of treatment free is too strong, it means I can’t do anything!” (or too weak, or just plain wrong)
      • We have settled on these rules after many years of adjustment because they work and they are clear cut. You may not fully agree with them but while you participate in this group these are the rules you agree to uphold in conversation (if not in practice in your own apiary).
      • We are all beekeepers here, and these rules are not intended to restrict the routine practices of beekeeping. We make splits, inspect our hives, use conventional boxes, take honey harvests and rear queens. Treatment-free does not mean hands free.
      • The only place we diverge is in how we manage diseases. As a treatment free beekeeper we allow diseases to run their course without interference, knowing that a hive that dies out is removing weak combinations of genes from the local genepool. These are exactly the same practices that were used by our predecessors 100+ years ago.
      • As a corollary to that, we regularly see comments like “but putting bees in a box is already a treatment”. According to the definition we use here it is not - the equipment we use is just part of our beekeeping, as it has been for centuries before treatments were even dreamed of. This is not a point for debate in this group - it just leads to frustrating circular arguments. If you post something like this, it will be deleted and you will be booted from the group.

      “Is feeding a treatment?”
      • Feeding could be considered a “treatment against starvation”. Colonies that are poorly adapted to their local conditions may build up too early in spring, try to raise huge amounts of brood through a ferocious summer dearth, or not pack away enough stores for winter. Feeding colonies can mask these genetic deficiencies.
      • Sometimes, through no fault of their own, colonies can end up short of food. For example if the beekeeper makes a lot of summer splits while there is no nectar flow it would be appropriate to feed the splits.
      • In general, therefore, it would be good to avoid feeding bees where possible, but it is sometimes necessary and desirable to do so.
      • The beekeeper can take steps to reduce the need to feed, such as making splits during a nectar flow and leaving adequate winter stores on the hives.
      • Ultimately the goal should be bees that feed themselves and require no intervention from humans to survive and reproduce.

      “Have you heard about….?” (Flow hives, honey from cannabis, a lorry crash containing bees, etc… )
      • Generally the answer is yes we have. There are 30,000 members in the group now, all keen to share their interesting discoveries. Sometimes a topic becomes suddenly popular and it seems like every second post is on the same thing. In general it is good to keep the same material in a single thread so the group doesn’t get too cluttered. Before posting it is considerate to check and see if it has been posted recently. You can scroll through the list or search the group for keywords.
      • If we have multiple postings of the same material we will usually close some of them to comments,while leaving a popular thread open. This is just to stop the group getting too cluttered.
      • Some of these topics consistently cause problems. The “honey from cannabis” posts are a good example. He isn’t really making honey from cannabis plants - he is spraying sugar water onto the plants which the bees then feed from. It is basically a deceptive gimmick that the “inventor” uses to self promote. We tend to delete three or four of these per week.

      Contentious topics, conspiracy theories, etc… outside the realm of beekeeping.
      • In this group we try to focus on the concrete steps we can do within our own apiaries to improve the health of our bees. Many people consider this an open invitation to discuss any hot environmental or political topic, no matter how tenuous the connection to beekeeping.
      • For example, we quite regularly get general anti-Monsanto meme type posts. You may personally believe that Bayer and Monsanto are to blame for all the problems in the world and that may be, however threads of this type are generally considered off topic for this forum.
      • Obvious exceptions might be cases of pesticide usage directly linked to problems with bees - but even then connections can be very tenuous, and don’t help anyone make progress in their own bee yard.
      • Similarly we don’t want to hear about how cannabis cured your depression, chemtrails made you impotent, or how vaccinations (in humans) are causing illnesses. Regardless of whether or not these things are factual, they are off topic for this group and will be deleted. There are plenty of other places where discussions of that form are appropriate - please take them there.

      “By your definition, small cell foundation is a treatment.”
      • The stated purpose for the first hundred years of the existence of foundation was to get the bees to build straight comb on frames so the beekeeper need not expend energy straightening freeform comb. We see no need to adjust that view.
      • Over time, the size of cells on foundation has grown larger than it originally was. Small cell foundation is simply a return to something more like the original size, a “more natural” size for bees. True “natural” size is not a single size but a variation.
      • No scientific study of small cell foundation has found it to be an effective treatment against varroa mites. It is neither a treatment chemical nor a method for treating a disease. Furthermore, experts in small cell beekeeping do not claim that small cell foundation will eliminate or even reduce mite numbers.
      • If small cell is a treatment against mites, then conventional foundation is a treatment in favor of mites. Rather than quibble over it, we default to the orthodox position that foundation is as it has always been, a tool to help us force the bees make straight combs so we can manage them on removable frames.
      • Foundation of any size is considered part of the hive, like a frame, a box, or a lid, and not a treatment. It is as optional as any other piece of equipment and affects the hive just like other pieces of equipment do.
      100% Treatment-Free, 16 years.
      Medford, Oregon, USA


      • #4
        Am i able to talk about AFB and how to find it with a AFB detector dog? we cant use any treatments for afb so early detection is a must. that where our dog comes in


        • Solomon
          Solomon commented
          Editing a comment
          Sure. Long as you don't talk about treating for it.