Re: 15 year layoff
welcome to the forum cantrell, and welcome back to beekeeping.
have to agree with vance on the mites. they are really a sleeping giant in that you really can't see them well with standard hive inpections, and they usually don't crash your colony until it's too late in the season to do anything about it.
working toward getting bees with resistance is a good goal, but even then, having resistant bees isn't going to stop 100% of colony deaths from mites. and if one crashes, your other strong hives can rob it out, take the mites home with them, and end up dying out as well.
i spent most of last winter reading all of the articles on scientificbeekeeping.com, and i would recommend that as a good place to start.
once up to speed on what you're dealing with, you'll have the challenging task of deciding how you want to approach it, based on your philosophy and what suits your needs the best.
you'll find all kinds of approaches espoused on the forum here, with lot's of spirited debate about why each one thinks their way is better.
in the end, you get to decide what to try with your bees and see how it works for you.
bottom line: we are all still on a big learning curve.
journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives