Re: Mites and winter
No slaughter necessary. Great comment. I would disagree because my experience has been that a colony with varroa tolerance is tolerant in a wide range of climates, BUT other traits come into play such as winter hardiness. Most beekeepers can relate to southern produced queens that have problems with overwintering in northern climates. I would expect similar issues with bees that are adapted to my local climate which is less winter stressful than what you get in Kentucky. What I see happening in my bees is that they overwinter with relatively small clusters in the softball to soccer ball size range. The smaller clusters would be in trouble in a northern climate. Do I think this could be addressed by selecting for larger winter clusters? Maybe. I am not sure if there is a relationship between cluster size and varroa tolerance. I have some plans for this spring that include raising queens from the colony that exhibits high varroa tolerance and currently has the largest cluster of overwintering bees. If I am correct, that should provide me with some colonies next winter that would be viable at higher latitudes. The bees I have are derived from races that typically have very good winter survival.
I suspect that if I take a TF colony and move it or a queen, package etc. far enough out of the zone they were bred in, the odds of them succumbing to mites are greater than survival. just a theory I have absolutely NO supporting data/ evidence. (stated before I get slaughtered here)
NW Alabama, 47 years, 22 colonies and growing, sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 14 frame square Dadant broodnest