The dangers of anthropomorphism for honey bees

Dr. David Tarpey, who I highly respect, penned a recent article comparing what we’re doing to reduce the spread of COVID-19 to honey bee management practices:

While I appreciate his work and concerns, the establishment, perhaps as a result of corporate pesticide funding (see my previous post: has missed a great opportunity to promote a directed evolution approach to varroa control through queen breeding which is safer, more effective in the long run, and the right thing to do from a natural standpoint.

Here’s my response to his article:

I'm glad you mentioned seeking hygenic bees, but the treatment-first approach to varroa control with the fear mongering 'don't spread to your neighbors' and anthropomorphized comparison of human disease to the honey bee is troubling. Treating for varroa without immediate queen replacement of better genetic stock is a dangerous chemical treadmill that favors only the makers of toxic pesticides. You also didn't happen to mention that keeping genetically weak bees alive with treatments will invariably lead to the spread of weak genetics, resulting in increased varroa spread. These weak genes will not only spread to your neighbors hives, but to the feral bee population which is thriving without treatments on its own. This is a wrong headed, short term, chemical approach to an evolutionary problem--and one that will likely only be solved when everyone stops treating their bees and increases their apiary from the 30% or so hives that have genetic traits which mitigate disease and parasite resistance/tolerance naturally. If we don't allow weak colonies to die, we're exacerbating the problem we created by spreading mites and disease around the globe in the first place. Breeding and/or simply making increase from the strongest most disease free hives in your apiary is a globally proven approach to eliminating varroa management from your workload, and it's well past time we started promoting this directed evolution approach over treatments.