Kempf - thanks for the update, and welcome.
Part of the trick to having cerana hives survive – is to leave plenty of honey for them to use. I try to leave at least 50% or so of the honey no matter when I harvest, and if I find that I would only be harvesting one or two frames, I will generally leave it all for them to use. This means that I generally only harvest from just over a half of the hives.
The most important lesson for me to learn was when to inspect and clean, and when to leave them alone. If you open and inspect weekly, as you might with mellifera – the cerana bee will abscond for sure. If you do not open and clean, then the wax moth will gain and the hive will be ruined. So I do an early spring, and a late fall cleaning. Then during the summer, I do a monthly inspection which includes a cleaning if it looks like it needs it, but might just end with just a peak inside if it looks like they are doing their own cleaning. At the same time I will add one or two frames of foundation if they are mostly filling out the existing frames.
For hornet control – it is important to slow down the access by the hornet – so that only one gains access at any time. I cut a wire cage rat-trap in half and then have two metal wire cages that I place directly over the entrance in late summer. This cage allows the bees to exit at any place within the cage, and avoid the waiting hornet. As a second barrier, I use nylon netting that has been woven with the right size holes to allow the cerana bee to crawl thru (but not a hornet). The net should be loosely draped over the hive, and not drawn tight. If it is tight, then the hornet can use its strength to pull itself thru the net, and into the hive.
A special trick you can do on the large hornet is to catch them on the sticky rat catch paper. Once one hornet has been stuck onto the paper by you, then many more will get stuck there naturally by themselves.
Also - like you, I try to catch or kill the hornet queen in the spring. This year I believe I got five of them.
By controling the hornet, I believe that you can reduce the loss to below 80%. In the late autumn (after the hornets have died), I still have more than 80% cerana in their hives.
With all of this, I still lose maybe half of the hives over the winter, but in the spring a fourth or so will repopulate from swarms, and by late summer most hives will have bees.
This next Saturday, I will do my final pre-winter cleaning, and I will remove the cages and nets.