Re: Why is my beekeeping experience so different?
Here's my two cents on this list:
I live close to Sol and have a similar climate, but I treat for v. mites (with either Thymol or Hopguard) and also use fumigillin going into winter. (I know this is the treatment free forum, and I'm not advocating treating. I'm just giving context to my list of observations.)
Wax moths destroy my comb in the blink of an eye if it's off the hive and had any pollen or brood in it. I HATE WAX MOTHS!!!!! When I extract, I can't seem to rotate it into the freezer fast enough to save it all. There's a turkey in there that I need to cook to make more room for frames. We have the same problem. Also, I had some real experts (Jim Tew and Kim Flottum) tell me that wax moths won't bother frames if they are left exposed to light. That may work in Ohio, but it does not work in Oklahoma. I think it depends on temperature -- if its hot enough, they will eat frames in full sun.
However, if I've got an active hive to put come on, the comb is safe, even if the hive is relatively small. So that's similar too. If a hive gets really weak, then I have seen moths work on the outside frames.
I have upper entrance holes on some hives. I don't think it makes any difference to anything at all, one way or the other, so far as I can tell.
Haven't seen any CCD.
No varroa crashes, but I've had some that I'm really sure were about to crash before I treated. Lots of deformed bees. Other hives seem to keep the population of mites down on their own and those are also my best hives.
Never seen AFB, but had one isolated case of EFB that cleared up on its own.
Have a few SHB but not many and I do not use traps or need to. I think the soil type and sunlight to the hive make a big difference. I've got extremely heavy clay soil where I keep my hives. I could make bricks out of the soil at my house. A person I mentor has a hive in a garden area with amended loamy soil and shade who lives about 4 miles from me. She has beetles galore. Right now, the clay at my house is so hard that no beetle larvae could possibly dig into the soil.
Nosema -- I dont' have it when I treat. I have had signs of it in some hives when I did not treat.
Swarming: I checkerboard, and that usually prevents swarms and creates huge brood areas with hives that make lots of honey. This year, the warm winter caused me to checkerboard too late, and I had issues with swarming that cost me some honey. I also had a hive that, with hindsight, may have been trying to supersede the queen, which I mistakenly thought was swarming and I cut out queen cells on an experimental basis and screwed up the hive. (This year has not been my best, but I managed to harvest some honey.)
Drought and heat: Although not on Sol's list, the overwhelming factor for the last two years has been living in one of the levels of Hell, also known as Oklahoma, and, ironically, the part that tries to call itself "Green Country" (Ha-Ha-Ha). If this keeps up another year, I'm not sure we will have any feral bees at all.