I am a new beek, I built a TBH and installed a swarm this spring, which has done very well (although very little honey - we've had strange weather this year in New Zealand and the intire industry has taken a honey production hit). However, the girls do have some varroa (15-20 a day on the sticky board focussed under the drone combs, but I haven't spotted any sign of deformed wings).
I have been been doing lots of reading trying to work out how best to approach the problem, and the more I read (particularly on Michael Bush's website) about treatment free beekeeping, the more right it feels. But the issue I'm running up against and that I just can't find any answers to is whether treatment-free is really an option with only one hive?
In the eyes of this community, should a hobbyist:
a. Go treatment free and hope the hive survives?
b. Use "crutches" such as sugar dusting to knock excessive varroa numbers down, and otherwise hope for the best?
c. Accept that treatment free is not possible with only one hive and to hit it with formic/oxylic/some other treatment?
Looking at the bigger picture, I feel that option c. is selfish - I'm propping up weak bee genetics and selectively breeding strong varroa in the hope of keeping my hive going because I like them. At the same time I really don't want my hive to fail.
I really am stuck for space so splitting to more hives is going to be tricky. I may be able to find space for some nucs, but they won't be as well situated as the single hive I have - which I placed in the only spot on my property with sun and some wind shelter.
We've just come into autumn here in NZ so now is the time that the treaters are treating, trying to ensure their hives are strong enough to get through winter. By the way winter here in Wellington will mean temperatures down to about 5 degrees, rain, and a LOT of wind. But also some sunny days where the hive gets about 6 hours of direct sun, and no snow.