You know I love the concept of natural and organic, but I really don't get the "let 'em die" philosophy. What is the logical argument against requeening instead? What we really need is for some of these people who claim to have varroa resistant hygenic strains to raise and distribute queens for that purpose. Interesting discussion though.
well, a couple of thoughts:
1. in order to know what hives must be "requeened", one must measure something. mite counts, removal of frozen brood, etc are things that are easy (and cheap) to measure...but are these metrics that we actually care about? personally, i'm worried first about survival (which is easy to measure...dead bees didn't survive), and productivity (which is also easy to measure). mite counts and frozen brood removal are _assumed_ to represent survival, but are flawed. if you use dna analysis to look at pathogens in a hive, you will near 100% of the time find dwv, sacbrood, efb, and if you look closely enough, probably afb. is the presence of these pathogens what you want to use as selection criteria? i don't, i want bees that survive and perform...and i don't care if they are carrying dwv or not.
2. the idea that treatments can be eliminated merely by buying "magic queens" is flawed. in fact, i don't know of anyone that has gone cold turkey from treatments simply by purchasing "proven resistant queens". approach (ie, "success in beekeeping is based on not losing any hives") and managment practices also must be changed.
3. feral populations of bees that show resistance to varroa (including ahb) are not terribly "hygienic"....indicating that "hygienic behavior" is not the mechanism of resistance used by bees when left to their own devices. of all these lines of hygienic bees that are touted, i know of no one who has purchased them and stopped treating. basically, you can get some resistance from selecting for hygienic bees, but no one buying them has demonstrated the ability to use these bees to get off of treatments. yet, there are lots of beekeepers that started with all kinds of different stock who changed their management practices, started selecting for survivor stock, were willing to lose those that didn't cut the mustard, and who don't treat. this seems like a "transferable" way to get off treatments..the pure selective breeding has failed for 20 years in this regard.