This will be my last President’s Message to you. I am sorry that it has to be so serious, but sometimes things just need said. The following is the state of our industry as I see it.
We are losing the battle with Varroa mites. If we don’t get serious and make major changes, I believe we will have an industrywide, total collapse within the next few years.
Where will package and bulk bees come from when our entire industry has suffered a devastating, nationwide crash? The bees may simply not be available. What then?
Often, we reflect upon the miticides that have come and gone. The mites developed resistance in very short order to those products. At present, many very talented beekeepers are in a state of continuous treatments, yet still unsatisfied with the level of control regardless of products used.
It appears that Varroa mites are now not just resistant to the few miticides that they have been exposed to but also stronger, more virulent, and more persistent in the face of any treatment(s).
In addition, it appears that the larger, stronger, and healthier hives in the late season are the first to vacuum up mites from crashing hives in the area. How fast can a strong, healthy “mite free” hive reach a lethal level of mite infestation in the late season from robbing activity? A week? Ten days? Nobody knows.
We are operating in the dark. Most of the information available is outdated and incomplete. Our mite sampling methods are highly flawed, based on an incomplete equation. The mite population charts completely ignore the post honey flow, robbing-based, ingress rates of mites into strong, heathy hives. We need MUCH MORE information about our fight with Varroa, and we need it soon or we are facing imminent disaster.
We are in no position to be wasting time. It’s time to get serious, get organized, and get to work finding answers. The questions that need to be answered are very basic, but they are time consuming to evaluate. I spent a lot of time on Varroa research this summer. I was and am rather shocked at how many basic questions arose that need to be answered in order to proceed to the next step.
Every battle has its beginning and its end. How hard are we willing to work in order to win the battle with Varroa? Time is running out. Not a pretty picture, but that’s how it appears to me from all reports.
Thank you for allowing me to serve as OSBA President for the past three years. It has been a wonderful experience to represent such a fine agricultural association and fine group of people. I am very excited about and confident in our new officers. Please join me in offering them our utmost support!