A different view on treatment-free beekeeping. That you may not have heard. Kirk Webster of Middlebury Vermont.
I don't know if your post is addressed to myself, but Kirk Webster and his philosophies are very well known to me.
But the question remains - if non-treating is so successful, then why haven't Varroa-resistant genes already spread to neighbouring apiaries, rendering treatment there unnecessary ?
There is a guy living in Swindon, in central southern England, who claimed to have developed a Varroa-resistant bee decades ago. So where are these bees now ? Why haven't they flooded the country and made that guy a fortune ?
My suggestion is that what is probably being experienced is not a genetic mutation at all (some of which can take centuries to develop), but rather an epigenetic 'tag' which, by switching on or off certain genes gives the illusion that a mutation has occurred. But - unlike a true genetic mutation, the inheritance of a 'tag' can be both temporary and random. It may be passed from one generation to the next a few times, or it may not - there are no guarantees with tags ... and this is pretty-much the story I'm hearing from people who have purchased queens allegedly with Varroa-related genetic mutations.
BTW, there is a very interesting paper on the Web, entitled "Survivor Stock - A Protocol for Small-Scale Beekeepers" by M.E.A. McNeil.
In that paper - which is largely about Sue Cobey's strategies - there are a couple of quotes which I think are worth making:
?Programmes and especially gene selection programmes can never adequately keep up with the changing environment, certainly not to the extent that a ?live-and-let-die? approach can. Allowing natural selection to determine who the winners are will always be the most sensible strategy.?
"That is how Danny Weaver of 'BeeWeaver' developed 5000 untreated hives kept between Texas and North Dakota; but Weaver sacrificed thousands of colonies to that goal."
Now this may indeed have been a close approximation to Natural Selection, but who can afford to sacrifice thousands of colonies to achieve such a result (especially if the result may not be long-lasting) ?
And as we continue to read this paper, any attempt at an emulation of Natural Selection soon runs into farce.
Sue Cobey: ?The ideal is for an II (instrumental insemination) lab to inseminate the breeder stock ..."; ?it is ideal for beekeepers to control mating areas using resistant drone saturation; it will make the process much faster. Every time a queen open mates (with unknown drones), the colony goes back into the random gene pool. But if you must and are near beekeepers who treat, give them some free queen cells.? So much for Natural
Why not let your resistant drones compete with non-resistant drones - isn't such competition between drones at the very heart of Natural Selection in Honey Bees, where drones and not females are responsible for fecundity ?
But of course, this is NOT Natural Selection at all - it is Beekeeper-Selection, where human beings think they can outwit Mother Nature. Indeed, I think we need to remind ourselves from time to time that although Queens ARE the carriers of DNA in the sense of being the repository, it is the drones which spread that DNA far and wide and thus determine the larger gene-pool. Which of course is precisely WHY honeybee colonies produce so many drones, much to the displeasure of honey-farmers.