Welcome to UK Treatment Free Beekeepers

Welcome to the home of treatment free beekeeping in the UK.

What is treatment free beekeeping?

Over the past few years evidence has been mounting that the conventional ways of managing hives, in particular chemical treatments attempting to control varroa mites, have not been working. Mites rapidly develop resistances to the drugs being used, and hives still die anyway. The chemicals being used have been shown to directly weaken the bees themselves and until recently there was no end in sight for the treadmill of treatments.

On the other hand, some beekeepers have not treated their bees and over a number of years their bees have developed tolerances to the mites and the diseases they carry. The traits that confer resistance already exist in the bee population, but by artificially supporting weak hives with miticides natural selection has not had a chance to do its work. When beekeepers cease treating they often find that, after heavy losses in the first few years, their losses stabilise to comparable or better than those experienced by people who have treated.

These traits are usually behavioural, but are controlled by the genetics of the bees. With the right approach we can exploit this in our beekeeping to raise fitter and stronger bees.

At its core treatment free beekeepers let weak hives die and breed from the strongest colonies. We view losing colonies as a good thing, as it removes weaker genes from the gene pool and takes us a step closer to truly tolerant honey bees. We can let nature decide, or we can speed up the process by deliberately selecting and breeding from hives with the traits we want.

The ultimate goal is to breed for a widespread population of bees that can live in harmony with the mites without the need for treatments. The work us treatment free beekeepers are undertaking is ultimately going to be of benefit to conventional beekeepers as well. The bees we breed will mate and spread their genes through the wider population.

Why do we need our own site?

There are literally hundreds of beekeeping associations in the UK, however the majority of them advocate regular treatments, and instruct new beekeepers to treat their hives. Very often a novice’s first introduction to beekeeping includes recommendation on treatments, without the balancing view of TF and bee breeding as alternatives being discussed.

The purpose of this site to allow TF beekeepers in the UK to collaborate, share breeding stock, help each other, and also to raise the profile and voice of TF beekeeping to the wider UK beekeeping community.

Happy beekeeping to you all

Mike Cox