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I went to a beekeeping class/small scale beekeeping conference yesterday. It was put on by our county beekeeping association. One of the discussion "activities" we had at this conference was to talk about what we understand "sustainable beekeeping" to mean.

When I think of sustainable beekeeping, I think of people like Dr. John Kefuss, BeeWeaver Apiaries and others who deliberately breed bees that survive without medications or miticides, and who re-queen colonies with their own queens, raised and mated locally. It eliminates dependence on purchased queens and on chemicals, which is not only financially but also environmentally more sustainable. Also, if the bees are hardy and their survival rate is high enough that beekeepers are able to replace winter losses and make increases from the bees they already own, that seems to me more sustainable than replacing bees every year by buying packages or nucs.

What do you think "sustainable beekeeping" entails?
 

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Sustainable to me Larus means you have to be willing to accept loses until you find the hive that can withstand the onslaught of mites. When you find that one out of 10 or 20, then you make splits and try to multiply the success. Since mites are not a pathogen, the bees can't develop a resistance to them. The successful bees will develop ways to deal with them and still survive. At least that's the way I see it.
 

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a very difficult term to get a handle on I would guess... the time horizon is really the issue here.... very short term, intermediated term, long term or extremely long term.

in a long enough time frame I suspect NOTHING is sustainable <eventually everything does go extinct.
 

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Sustainable beekeeping, in my opinion, means bees that pay for themselves, in one way or another. They can pay me back with experiences, education, or economically and I could be quite happy.
 

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The meaning differs depending on what your perception of sustainable is. Some people use the term to refer to "natural" beekeeping or beekeeping in such a way that the bees take care of themselves for the most part. Others refer to the term with a profit and loss mindset. It's another one of those "up to you" sort of beekeeping terms. It's an interesting question to ask because you can kind of get a glimpse of some other perspectives of beekeeping which, usually, broadens your own ideas.
 
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