In defense of Buckfast bees...
Originally Posted by Joel
They saved my operation, and a number of others I know of. Back in the 80's, when tracheal mites invaded our apiaries, 50% losses were common...even higher in some apiaries. Buckfasts were one of the first strains to be shown to have TM resistance. Their bad traits aside...it was better to have live colonies that might be a bit defensive, than dead or weak colonies with their bees in a pile on the ground.
At an EAS back then, Gene Robinson...Is he at Illinois now?...gave a great report on Tracheal mite resistance. He showed that Buckfast bees were 80+% resistant to TM...as were Kirk Webster's bees. Run of the mill Italians to which these two strains were compared, had almost no resistance at all.
It figures. Brother Adam bred the Buckfast bee to be resistant to TM many years ago. Kirk was new on the scene. He showed us just how easy it is to select for TM resistance...by breeding from your best winter survivors. Not that the mite is gone, and you don't have to continue the work on selection, but the improvement is striking.
Think TM is a thing of the past?
This photo was taken in February of 2006