...queens or packages have already been developed that are mite and brood disease resistant and are available (Varroa Hygene Sensitive, Minnesota Hygenics, New World Carniolans and Russians). They may cost a little more than the average Italian, but the additional cost is not nearly as much as a year's cost of most beekeeper's treatments.
it's a nice idea, but ask around. despite 20+ years of such breeding programs, and despite the spiffy names, most breeders, and near 100% of people who purchase such bees treat. i know a lot of beekeepers that don't treat. not a one of them simply bought name brand queens and were able to stop treating.
Maybe beginners should be encouraged to treat only for the first 2 years and be taught how to look for varroa resistance with the goal of ending treatments ASAP.
this is more of the same error that the breeders are making. you can count mites. you can freeze brood and see how fast the bees remove them. you can weigh hives. you can do dna analysis to determine what viruses are present. you can do all of these things, but none of them tell us anything really important. it would be like a venture capatalist going into a compnay and looking at one or two departments to determine the worth of the company...while not looking at where the company and its products fit into the market, or the actual overall performance of the company.
using these metrics to decide what is a good hive and what is a bad hive is near useless. what we care about first is survivablity...will the bees survive. you cannot determine survival by counting mites or freezing brood. breeding for such traits with the goal of producing a bee that doesn't need treatments is an attempt to micromanage the bees in one or two aspects, and assuming that all the other traits will fall into line.
the only way to measure survivability is to let the bees survive or not.
after we have bees that can take care of themselves (by not breeding from the bees that die), we can then select for production. all this other stuff is just noise, and an excuse for funding dollars.
the idea that one can gradually get off treatments is flawed in the extreme. for one, you end up with contaminated equipement and a hive with a damaged microbial ecosystem.
secondly, if you assume that you will lose some bees when you stop treating (in most cases, i think this is a fair assumption), you can do it now and start breeding from the survivors next year, or you can treat for 2 more years, lose the same percentage of hives then when you stop treating, and you are now 2 years behind.
fyi, we also found that after regressing to small cell, mite problems went away completely. we are running about 50 colonies, and i haven't seen more than 2 mites all season. our state inpsector can't find mites either. last year he claimed to see one mite in 20 colonies. this year, he didn't find any on the 3 colonies he inspected so far.
Yes experts, teach us how to make our hives naturally healthy enough to not need treatments. I think most beekeepers love for the natural world makes us want to be responsibly organic.
if you insist on using treatments until bees can be kept without treatments, you are in a catch 22. you will have to wait for others in your area to do what you are unwilling to do...take some short term losses for long term gains. if no one is currently doing this in your area, and you are not planning to be the one, you will probably have at least a 5 year wait before you can buy such bees from someone else.