Re: Something needs to change - looking for suggestions
jmgi - the only treatments I do are timed splits/breaks, a little spearmint and vinegar in the syrup, and occasionally some creosote bush smoke (a little known Mexican soft treatment). That's really all I do. My bees are basically all "survivor" bees or outright ferals. I run foundationless broodnests too, and leave at least one box of honey for them to winter on. They need about 13-14 frames of bees/brood here to make it. I have 20 hives going into winter this year, and at last check (today) they are all doing just fine. I winter my langs with a single 8 frame deep and a medium full of honey (or syrup). If they are light I give them some dry sugar too.
My oldest hives are on their 4th season at this point. I no longer have any hives from the packages I used to buy. None of them survived the bears or anything else that came their way. My goal is self sufficiency, and I seem to have reached it. Not sure why it works, but it does for me so far. I am pretty sure my methods are not conducive to large scale operations. I have placed a 25 hive limit on myself, because I can't keep up and work my day job too (which makes me more money). I still collect bees, but am very picky about the removals I do. I run swarm traps in the surrounding national forests to catch bees with the mountain survival traits that I seek.
As far as the splits go - I usually split in Spring and again after the main flow ends (around Summer Solstice). Sometimes I have to split again in late Summer if the bees are doing really well and get overcrowded. I tend to break up my oldest hives into splits when their production drops. I have a couple I have left running because they just haven't quit yet. I want to see how far they will go.
NM desert/mountain beekeeper - Black Mesa Honeybees.