Thanks for the thorough responses. Very interesting.
I still am not hearing successful chemical free results. Is it even possible? Is the closest thing to chemical free only, as chemical free as feasible? What I mean is, where is the apiary or stock of bee that exists that has proved itself feasibly chemical free? Does it not exist, period, anywhere? I have gotten the impression that Michael Bush runs a "CHEMICAL FREE APIARY", or is it chemical free as possible. I have read most of his website, but have read so much other stuff lately so I can not remember/say with certainty what is or is not his exact method of practice and do not wish to claim any, I just want to know what is possible. I just want to be a better beekeeper that's part of the solution, not the problem.
As difficult as this issue is and the achievement may be to develop a strain or strains of bees that can live without constant and/or any intervention for survival is, a person must wonder: Have humans pushed the honey bees beyond even chemical intervention for survival on there own. Has the combination and number of pests and disease's honey bees are subject to now, because of man, a domed battle with only one result? This result being either extinction or a unhealthy, sick, diseased, miserable existence dependant on chemicals and the development of even more chemicals, and more chemicals as mites, and diseases get resistant to the treatments and evolve and of course more are introduced..
Can we help the honeybee help itself by truly letting the survival of the fitest survive? And by us helping, I mean by keeping enough colonies in existence for them to re-evolve and be able to survive the loses and still have enough viable genetic variation to finally one day witness a tough, healthy, gentle, chemical or mostly chemical free, honeybee. Was this not the way it was once before we screwed everything up?
So if anyone has read this far and is not wondering if I am sane, let me see if I have a reasonable grip on the situation.
All I can do is monitor hives for disease and pests, treat only when they have to have them or they will die, breed from best stock, always bring in new genetics to find new quality traits, and draw a line when treating hives and just let them go and move on.
I swear I'm not nuts.