I spent several years in the Appalachian mountain range capturing ferals and my conclusion became that for many of those bees, their ability to survive is in their isolation. I had many, that as soon as they were put into a managed apiaries, they became over run with mites and died. The key to their survival was that they were existing as isolated populations and just hadn't met varroa yet. Unless you have been to the areas I speak of that is hard to understand..How would you characterise the difference between treatment-dependent and health self-sufficient stocks?
I disagree; any experienced TF beekeeper can take a package of bees from a commercial operation and successfully switch them to TF. And any inexperience beekeeper can take a treatment free hive from a successful TF beekeeper and have them die. There are commercial operations here who went from chemical dependent to treatment free without changing out their stock. The way you describe it that would not be possible. They simply weaned their hives off of chemicals over several years and now are treatment free.Unlike wild bees these stocks need human help to survive. Randy is right: that has to be viewed as a significant step toward domestication - for those stocks.