My only question here would be---How long and how severe are winters in your area?
interesting point of view latebee, could be something to long cold winters!! what are the winters like in the area where they got the russian bee's from? I think it was a mountain regend but not sure if it was north or south russia but think it was the northern part.
If it were a matter of breeding, natural selection by mother nature would have accomplished a super bee long before this.
could it be that the bee's here in the USA just haven't had the time to evolve to deal with the mites, they say russian bee's in russia have lived with the mites for 100 years, and how long have the USA bee's been with the mites, 15-20 years? not saying we didnt have some survivers already. but most of us have been buying from commercial bee sellers that still have to treat there hives to stay in business, they can't afford to lose 100's or 1000's of hives (to find there survivers , if any) and keep there sales up, they have to make a living to, some have just in the last few years started raising bee's for survival or mite tollerance.
Sometimes I overthink problems and your "scientific neglect" approach interests me.
we need some people that think about things more in depth, keeps the ball rolling and more points of view. but sometimes the simple approach is the hardest to see.
When I first started to keep bees,I lost every colony-every winter. Always had ample food stores in each hive. This was when I used no treatments whatsoever. Now I can say that at least 60%(not too bad when compared to others near me) of my hives survive the upstate new york winters.
see I never thought about how or if anyone with cold and long winters might effect the no treatment question. could a long winter stress effect mite tollerance?
question: what would yall think if a hive that was mite resistant in the south and then you brought it up north with the longer, and colder winters,, do you think they should suvive or would the long winter stress effect the resistance, what I mean to say would the temp effect a hives mite resistance or the stress? has there ever been a study on this, the wild russian bee's over sea's deal with it but they have for a long time, dont know how there winters compair to northern states. might bee because there on natural cell? dont know.
I will say that I have not tried small cell foundation until this year.
might be the trick, but you would have to try and see when you get them going. keep use updated