Ann, that food for thought was some interesting stuff. Yes, my first year of beekeeping I got packages imported from Australia. They went gangbusters the first year, overwintered wonderfully. I never treated for varroa the next season with them and then in the fall they all died because of hundreds and hundreds of varroa mites that weakened them so terribly before I even knew what had happened. In those days I was still learning (well, I still am), but I was totally kniave to how bad the varroa mite affected colonies.
I even saw all the warning signs of the colony collapse that summer, but just didn't understand the warning signs. We were taught very minimally about the varroa mite destructor. All summer long I had seen bees crawling on the ground with kind of frayed wings. My lessons learned so hard.
I thought all these bees that I saw crawling around were simply old bees that had frayed wings from flying their 800 km that they do in their lifetime, before their wings wear out. That is what I honestly thought. Until, I was talking to someone and they said that more than likely I had a severe varroa issue. Correct that statement was.
When I got my nucs and packages bees last season (4 packages, 4 nucs, year 2007), these were locally raised bees. The nucs and packages were made and installed with queens that had been imported from Hawaii, Kona Italian queens). Now not to say that the genetics are there that these bees may not be mite resistant. I don't think that they are mite resistant one little bit, nope, not at all.
I know this because of the mite counts that I had performed throughout summer, sugar shakes and the eventual numbers of mite death after the oxalic acid vapourizing. I know that I have taken my bees into this coming winter season with pretty close to a zero mite count. I know that for a fact. The oxalic acid fumigation kills all mites outside of the cells. There was zero brood present when I vapourized so there would have been no hidden mites in the cells, zero mites.
This will be an interesting season coming up. I will still monitor with sticky boards now and then to examine mite numbers. I am also going to be performing tests to (listening to Old Timer's advice) for hygienic behaviour with my bees. This will be a long arduous process to perform this, this is my understanding, but I am going to attempt to see if these bees are hygienic or not.
This is another year of experimentation for me, I love to experiment and keep records. I just hope that I can find the appropriate amount of time to do all that I want to accomplish. Right now, I think I am feeling a little overwhelmed with my aspirations of the upcoming season, but that is OK, it gives me lots to think about. Eeeks, and yes, I am finding it a little difficult to get to sleep as easily as a short time ago, I have to keep my focused on relaxing and going to sleep, saying "han say" over and over, focusing on that wonder and peaceful time when our bodies heal and we think over the events of the day, waking up with that new and fresh mind. Oh no!!!! Man do I get off wandering in my thoughts......
Where was I? Yes, you had a good thought Ann, probably those Australian colonies had zero tolerance to mites and it killed them in the second season. I don't doubt that one little bit. But yes, I learned some extremely valuable lessons that year. And I know the biggest thing that I know now is, I don't like the Varroa Mite Destructor one little bit. And yes, it is the ugliest thing I have ever seen in my life. Other than that sea leachy thing that used to grab onto my Brother's and Sister's clothes and skin when they swam and played on the beach as young children. Have a beautiful and wonderful day, Cindi