As we battled the mites with chemical miticides, two growing trends emerged. One trend was the "soft" chemicals, otherwise known as "natural" methods of defeating mites.
Do these work? Well, yes...and no. These natural methods are no magic bullet, no quick cure and they work best in a preventative mode rather than a reactive mode.
In other words, you need expose your bees to these methods for a longer period of time, before you have a real problem, or the problem will overtake your bees.
As the "natural" methods work best in synergy with other soft methods (no one method works alone), an integrated system of management was devised from other disciplines and the name "Integrated Pest Management," or IPM, was brought into beekeeping.
One of the IPM methods involved using the genetic and/or behavioral responses of the honeybees. This is the second growing trend. From this we found hygienic behavior and SMR or suppressive mite resistance.
And we noticed how feral swarms were beginning to make their presence known. Perhaps the mites didn't kill off every feral colony, or were managed colonies sending out swarms?
This we cannot say with certainty. Feral swarms, unmanaged and untreated, were surviving in certain locales without miticides and chemical treatments. It would appear that natural selection, apart from human intervention, raised a mite-resistant honeybee.
Do feral swarms hold the key to a resistance against the mites? Can we capture the biodiversity in the feral honeybee colony by catching swarms?
The proposed answer was "Yes." And so we set out to capture swarms using pheremone-baited swarm traps.