>Old Timer, in theory, your way would be best, but members have lost all their bees to mites and attendant diseases. that's not very cost effective and quite discouraging.
tell me about it. in the spring of 96 i only had four hives left out of about thirty. it took me awhile to build back up. the state was giving away apistan the next fall to registered beekeepers. i had never even heard of a mite before. wanting to keep my bees through the winter, i started reading all i could about the varoa. i have been selecting queens to rear from from my survivor hives almost ever since. after a few years of this and after some studies came out on the effects of using the miticides, i decided to quit using them. i have had losses every year. so i suffer too. but the weak hives are gone and the survivors that are more resistant and hygienic get scrutinized the following year to raise queens out of the best to replace the sorrier ones. i really feel sorry for newer beekeepers coming in to beekeeping and having to worry about disease and parasites they have no idea about before they start beekeeping. much less without even knowing how to properly handle it.
> i also note that some members have no mite problems, while others are over run with them regardless of treatment. perhaps it has something to do with where we live, or other beekeepers in the area?
true. imo, the ones without the problems are probably the more diligent in their management. any beekeeper can be blamed if they have poor management skills, and of course it's easiest to blame someone else. by not keeping good hygienic queens they promote the propagation of varoa. relying on treatments against mites should be a last defense. hygienic bees first, ipm practices second, then treatments as an absolute last resort if you want your nonresistant bees to survive. after the mite loads get heavy enough, don't you think your bees might carry some mites to flowers to be picked up by other people's bees or vice versa? a lot beekeepers, especially new inexperienced ones, have no idea what kind of queen they really have, other than just saying it's italian, russian, nwc, etc... there are good and bad of each strain but they never investigate to see which they have. climate may play a role, but if it does, why haven't i experienced losses like i did in 95/96? i believe it is because of my efforts to raise better queens for myself. i hope the best for us all and our bees the upcoming winter.