"Since we are faced with honeybee extinction"
Nah, not even close, in fact bees are so far flung now thanks to man and his movable hives that it would take a global catastoprhy to kill them all. And I mean catastrophy.
"I think we should consider letting the bees do what they need to do."
They can be allowed to do that and still be managed effectively for the benefit of bee and beekeeper alike as many ahve alluded to.
"A swarm makes a new colony, after all."
SO does a split, and because the s[plit gets stores and brood and pollen when made correctly, it stadns a far greater chance of survival.
"Just try to catch it,"
Easier said than done. Caught one yesterday though. It is fun. I will supplement it with a few frames of capped brood and a frame of pollen to give then a boost early on.
"if you can, and let them thrive as best you can. With your help, feed and treatment."
Feed 'em and get them off to a good start by all means, but skip the treatments if you can at all (and you can).
"I support the theory that bees have been weakened by decades of manipulative beekeeping,"
I think this is overblown. I hear it a lot, but there is little data to support this in such a sweeping way.
"aimed at high production above all else."
It is certainly one of the important factors. At the same time I kow of no breeding program that isn't working on a half dozen other traits.
"Why weed out the drones?"
Who does that? Who can do that?
"We don't know all their function yet, but they are there for some reason."
Well we knopw at least one of their functions . . . nudge, nudge, wink, wink . . . know what I mean, know what I mean?
The same goes for queen rearing. Maybe in the wild, the mating occurs with a selection we haven't been able to match artificially.
Indeed, but there will always be regression to the mean, so unless you want average bees, on average, there is a reason to hedge you bets and try to control some of the factors. At the same time, who uses anything but open mated queens in production hives? I wouldn't pay 300 bucks for an AI queen only to pop her in a honey producing hive, and I don't know wnyone who would. If you raise queens from her (which is why their are created in the first place), there will be some genetic mixing as there is no real control over open mated queens.
"Lets all focus on healthier hives instead of high production for a few years, until this crisis abates!!!
I think nearly everyone is doing that based on the simple dictum: Healthy hives = more honey. I don't think everyone is that cynical at all, and most want their bees to be healthy for more reasons than that, but even the beekeeper with the hardest of hearts wants healthy colonies. To be crass - it is just good business.
Keith "I love catching swarms and get to do entirely too little of it" Benson