Imagine, for a moment, if all of the energy, time, thought, money, and words that have been spent on this question,
"How do we control Varroa mites in our apiaries?"
had been spent on this question,
"What do the honey bees that we are stewarding need in order to reach symbiosis with Varroa mites?"
As I imagine the difference it would have made if we had been pursuing an answer to the second question instead of the first, I also wonder this:
Was, perhaps, the invention of the Langstroth hive with its removable frames, and everything that subsequently led to, the worst thing that ever happened to honey bees?
In the March, 2017, issue of American Bee Journal, Dr. Thomas Seeley lists 20 differences between how honey bee colonies live in the wild and what we subject them to [my words] with our Langstroth or National hives and our conventional/commercial beekeeping practices. For specifics, see:
Many of those differences (and the differences are major, not minor) relate directly to the hive cavity. But those are just the surface differences, the gross differences... the differences we can see. What we don't know is how those gross differences affect the colony's ability to control the micro-climate and micro-ecology of the hive.
By putting honey bee colonies in Langstroth hives have we made it much more difficult for them to control the micro-climate of their hive, i.e., the amount of ventilation and its route, the temperature, relative humidity, pH level, anti-microbial qualities, and on and on?
By putting honey bee colonies in Langstroth hives have we made it much more difficult for them to control the micro-ecology of the hive as they strive to live in symbiotic relationship with thousands of other organisms including Varroa mites?
Perhaps this is our reality:
We've put frogs in a bird cage...
And we can't figure out why they don't thrive...
And so we have to intervene... and intervene... and intervene.
Maybe we just need to put the frogs back in the pond.
If we're going to keep bees in man-made hives, maybe we need to create a hive cavity that gives back to the bees the ability to control the micro-climate and micro-ecology of their hive.
If we're going to keep bees in man-made hives, maybe we need to create a hive cavity that addresses the differences Dr. Seeley has listed for us.
Maybe that's the first step toward holistic colony health in managed hives, especially in a world, now, where honey bees are facing so many additional challenges.