Re: Breeding the good mite
I agree the mites should be considered as partners of a co-evolving pair. But I don't think its our business to help out - to do so will just breed bees that need us to help out. The bees must manage their own mites, and in my own understanding that's just what happens in uncapping behaviour. Bees leave less fecund females and their young alone - presumably because they can't detect them - while uncapping and killing more fecund females and their offspring. This is effectively breeding less fecund mites - mites that are unable to build large populations rapidly.
Originally Posted by Saltybee
Other behaviours and perhaps specialised chemical/hormonal defences also mess with the ability of mites to reproduce.
We must remember - this is an ongoing 'arms race'. Anything we do to 'help' will simply make the bees more dependent on our help. That's the opposite of what is wanted.
Countryman's Rule #1: Never help a wild animal. Honeybees, because they mate openly, come under that rule. To help the individual is to sabatage the population.
The best thing to do is increase the rapidity of turnover in the host population, giving more chances of effective genetic responses to come out; and to mimic the natural selection process to promote the best ones. Leave the rest to the bees. Meddling will be counterproductive.
(A possible noteworthy exception: John Kefus' approach of loading up hives with the worst mites he could find, to rapidly sort the strong mite-managers from the rest.)
The race isn't always to the swift, nor the fight to the strong, but that's the way to bet