Small cell and other "organic" methods

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Hey All,
Sure, I'm a first year beekeeper, but I really want to do things as organically as possible. I've started already this season moving my girls to small cell, and used essential oils in their feed. They have screened bottom boards, and I used drone comb to check for and destroy mites (I found only 5 in a whole frame of drone comb).

A couple of powered sugar shakes resulted in no mites at all, so by and large, I think the numbers were very low.  Next year, I'd like to either buy small cell packages, or organically raised bees, or similar.

I'm curious if anyone else is trying this path.

I'm planning on regressing my bees too.  I don't like chemicals in my hives, and I'm sure the bees don't either.  Reading the results the Lusbys are getting is pretty encouraging.

There is some indication that feral bee populations in the Ithaca, NY area are making a comeback. To me, that says that honey bees have the ability to fight varroa etc. on their own--but many beekeepers don't want to risk the loss of hives (and for the commerical beeks, their livlihodd). I get that.

But as someone for whom this isn't bread and butter, I really want to find the most chem free ways.

I wish I knew a bit more about the cycle the mites live on.  I can understand the feral bees dieing off, the mites subsequently dieing, and then the expansion of the mites following the bees by a year or two.  I hope it is resistance or tolerance instead of a natural cycle.  My brother is trying to design and build a small cell mill for me, and I have the oxalic at the ready, but my counts are very low like yours.  Just a mile away from me, there used to be a yard of 30 colonys.  It was inside the boundaries of the culinary water resevoir, so I don't know if the old boy passed away, the mites wiped him out, or they required him to move as part of the homeland security act.  No matter now.  We're taking up the slack and picked up 10 new boxes last week.

Interruption of the mites reproductive cycle is what Small Cell is all about.  By retrogression of our bees back to a smaller size we also allow them to mature faster, hatching out as much as three days earlier.  Why do you think the varroa prefer drone cells?


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