This is something that's been in my head for a while and have posted occassionally but figured I'd like to start a thread to get others' opinions. A recent thread on pollen substitute had some posting that feeding sub. really helped and someone who didn't feed then asked if those who didn't feed were just "lucky". The answer seemed to be that location was a driving factor, that there were certainly areas of good pollen diversity such that feeding a sub was unnecessary so the only luck involved was really the location.
Having heard the same sort of luck comment regarding being mite-treatment free, that since there are those who say you must treat for mites then those who don't treat for mites are just lucky, I'd like to get some feedback on this. Every bee pest in the country seems to have hotspots and then areas where it's almost no problem at all, and this seems to be a common knowledge type of fact. Some areas have issues with AFB while others do not, some have issues with hive beetle while others do not, some may have tracheal mite issues while others do not. It seems to make perfect sense that mites would be the same way, but I really never hear or read about mites in this way. While not put bluntly, the connotation seems to be that "North America has mites", and that's the end of it. This leads to the perception that there is just a single, uniform density of mites over the entire continent. Upon closer inspection, I believe this makes no sense and leads me to the idea that location, just like for all the other pests mentioned as well as for forage, is a key determining factor as to the effect mites can impose on any particular hive. Of course internal genetics will play a role in the ability of any one colony to cope with mites. But I think that treatment free beekeepers saying, "I successfully keep bees without treating so anyone can," as well as those who treat saying, "You better treat or you'll lose a lot of bees," are both wrong, at least on a national level. Like just about anything else in beekeeping, it's all about locale, and mites are no exception, but again, we seem to deal with the topic of mites as if they were the same everywhere. The correlation between mite load and location may be poorly understood simply because I think it would be difficult to research, but I think it's possible that it may be a bigger factor than anyone believes.