Comment: You make a very good point.

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In reply to comment: "Organic" beekeeping... (see in situ)

You make a very good point.

Setting aside the legal requirements for "organic" certification, in the absolute sense, few things are really "organic," whether bees or agriculture in general. Weather patterns constantly shift pollen and chemical pesticides from field to field. Bees can travel in a 2.5 - 3 mile radius from the hive and even infect other hives. That's why farming areas often regulate the distance that one hive can be from another(~5 miles).

I think it's all matter of degree. While nothing can be 100% organic, one can often use an integrative approach by using both organic and chemical methods. After all, what good is a "organic" or "natural" bee if it's dead. lol. The whole goal is to have a healthier bee. In the same way, to maintain a healthy state, humans require a nutritious diet of a wide variety of foods free of toxins, but in certain situations antibiotics are necessary to fight infection where alternatives are either unavailable or unknown.

In the end, I guess it boils down to how one can keep their bees alive and healthy both for the short and long term. The answers will probably vary from place to place as the environmental stresses are never exactly the same. All we can do is to look into both sides of the issue and try to find successful examples we can learn from. As you have said, it may be best to start with the standard approach presented by Dr. Delaplane and move forward from there.

I'm not sure how many hives you will need, but I read somewhere that beekeepers typically set out one hive per acre of orchard or crop. Top Bar hives may be cheaper to start with. Personal preference I guess...

In the TBH link, Michael Bush summarized the issue by saying that "the TBH requires more frequent intervention and less actual labor. Less actual labor because you won't be having to move boxes out of the way to get to the brood nest. More frequent interventions to prevent swarming and to make room for the harvest."

Bee Source forum discussions
First Equipment and Supplies
Which beekeeping starter kit is the best?
Advantages of Top Bar Hives? - pros & cons
Build It Yourself - Standard hive plans (for the handy)