On another thread about mites adapting to hard treatments, there are some comments about bees ability to adapt also. So I thought I would comment about my own bees and the changes I see in them. A few observations....
1)When I used fgmo with cords a few years back, I would notice over and over again three types of hives that responded to the cords. One hive would ignore the cords. The second would propoilze the cords. And the third would be to shred the cords and discard them out the front of the hives. There were very different responses between the hives. I select from the third example.
2)For bees never having exposed to SHB, the bees have adapted very quickly. I see hives that ignore the SHB. I see hives that will propolize them into a corner. And I see hives that are ruthless in tracking down and eliminating SHB. I also do not see SHB populations directly related to hive strength or population. I see some hives very strong have the SHB and being stress or ready to crash meaning nothing. I see side by side hives, both strong, with one having SHB, and the next, without one beetle. So there must be traits that allow one hive to deal better with SHB.
3)I see a difference between my hives when doing mite counts between hives with sticky boards. I will see many more alive mites with my more hygienic (grooming)hives. And I see more immature mites with my smr/vhs hives. You should know that there are differences in the kind of mites you are counting.
4)I can see distinct differences by just observing the bottom board. Some hives allow debris to accumulate. Other hives keep a very clean bottom board.
5) 5 years ago, I started keeping bees with no treatments. The first year, my losses were near 60%. Since then, my losses have steadily decreased to less than 30% last year. And I must say, that up till this year, my hives were very neglected from working for the state till the end of October every year. Some went into winter light on stores and some with no queens. So some of those killed had nothing to do with mites. This year, my bees are in much better shape to go into winter.
6) I used to see high mite counts and DWV as the season progressed. In the past 5 years, I have slowly culled out most of my Italians and have been selecting and breeding Russians and carni's. On 9/18/07, the state inspected my main yard and inspected over 100 hives. Not one hive OR BEE was found to have DWV. Certainly by mid September you should see DWV in problem hives. Overall, I see many less mites and associated problems.
7) I can see my SMR/VHS bees (comb) being cleaned out much more than my non SMR/VHS bees. And although I see a lot of hype and over marketing, I also see very distinct traits that are worth pursuing.
I am sure other people could add to the list.
I don't treat my bees. My overwintered colonies number from 180 to 420 in the past 5 years. So its not "Just a couple". And although I don't in any way claim to have super bees or the answer to any bee problem, I can say that I have seen a lot of positive traits over the past 5 years.
I find it interesting that some think that resistance will take "more than a lifetime". I think bees can be selected for built in abilities and resistance to mites and other associated problems. Resistance does not mean having bees with the ability of never getting bit by a mite, it means being able to exist on some level. Resistance does not mean never being affected by a virus. It may mean controlling the trigger mechanism to begin with. I won't get caught up in the definition of "resistant" is.
I am at a loss as to why some think that resistance to mites is some way off in the future goal. If we would quit throwing a new pest on top of the pile every ten years or so, I think our genetics can be improved a lot faster than that. Selection speeds up what mother nature does more slowly. Of course, she would never of done what we did to bees to begin with.