My first decade here in the Tucson/Marana area, I started my colonies with a cutout and increased my colonies with walk-away splits. Since then I have managed to requeen all colonies that exhibit traits that might indicate they have AHB genetics. Because I once kept them and am in their occupied territory, others have assumed that I am continuing to keep AHB, but I am not. I import queens and I constantly requeen any colony that exhibits behavior I deem unacceptable.
I do not now, nor have I ever, used any mite treatments.
It was, after keeping about a dozen colonies, for my first decade, that I heard, I should expect my colonies to succumb to Varroa, after their second or at most, third year. Thank goodness neither my bees, nor the Varroa, can read.
I began this thread, because it is difficult for me to believe all the hype being promulgated about Varroa - especially how devastating they are, since they have yet to show any of that devastation to my own colonies.
I believe that those who are reporting Varroa devastation, are sincere. However, after my own experience, it is difficult to believe that those beliefs are entirely justified.
Even some fellow beekeepers, in my own area, are treating for Varroa. Either they are mistaken, or somehow my bees, in my area, are immune from this dreaded curse, while colonies in nearby areas, are being devastated by them.
There is only one factor, that is entirely different in my location, than almost any other location I am familiar with: I am on the edge of a national park, and my rural area has virtually no gardening or landscaping that would warrant the use of any pesticide, at all. Additionally, the nearest agriculture is several miles beyond normal flight range.
Belief can be a very strong influence. But, no matter how many times people tell me my hives will die if I do not treat them for Varroa. Not treating them, now, for more than 20 years, seems to make that prediction, obviously false.