———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Peter Brezny <email@example.com>
Date: Fri, Sep 1, 2017 at 3:49 PM
Subject: Re: Varroa Mite-A-Thon resources
To: “firstname.lastname@example.org” <email@example.com>
While I applaud your efforts for ‘big data’ collection to help better understand and guide the resolutions of problems affecting the Honey Bee, I would suggest your asking the wrong question, and providing advice contrary to what is becoming the accepted practice–chemical free (not management free) bee keeping.
But to my primary complaint, statements on your website regarding treatment presented as fact are unreferenced, and much of the current literature contradicts them.
Like it or not, varroa mites are part of the global landscape (save Australia for now) and their chemical control is making them stronger, as evidenced by their resistance to chemical treatments, without significantly impacting their population, as evidenced by their ubiquitous presence around the globe.
No treatment is 100% effective, and evolution works. By providing environmental factors that kill off the weakest mites, mites with a dramatically shorter time frame between reproductive events that allows for genetic recombination, those who treat their bees are doing exactly the wrong thing for bees, but a great service to the mites by rapidly pushing their evolution to a stronger state (again as clearly evidenced by the now many synthetic chemicals that mites are resistant to and their continued success in our apiaries).
This is a complex problem due to the introduced species, yet feral colonies exist with resistance to varroa, and many queen breeders across the globe in varied climates have demonstrated the ability to select for genetic traits that confers tolerance to mites.
Appropriate hive manipulations or queen exclusion to reduce mite loads until the colony can be re-queened with a mite tolerant queen are just a few examples.
Treatment free apiaries are not a fring group ‘infecting’ the world with their mites. Rather, as Kefuss observes, when robbers or drones bring mites into his treatment free colonies, the mites don’t come back out. Varroa are a problem because of their introduced nature. Apis Melifera never had the chance to co-evolve with them like Apis Cerana.
Coombs, LeCont, Webster, Harrell, Kefus, Crowdeer, Brother Adam, and so many more scientists and backyard keepers alike are not wrong in this. We keep apiaries, without the hazardous (to ourselvs and the bees) chemicals you advocate. Please adjust your rhetoric to align more fully with what the science is clearly bearing out and what is obviously the optimal path for long term survival of the species.
Psycho Chicken Eco Farm
NCSBA Journeyman Certified Beekeeper