I teach Sustainable living Classes …and… took up Bee keeping in 2013 and bought Italians from Portland and tried to run a top Bar hive with no Beekeeping experience, I lost all my bees the year to a severe Varroa Mite infestation, I then had to find and pay a beekeeping teacher and started on the basic fundamentals using a Langstroth hive, IN short Not being plugged into a community is hard and there are so many variations of Beekeeping that make being a beginner very difficult.
RESPONSE: I agree that a mentor can make the starting and success with bees much better. Good luck this season.
I treated only 1 hive with oxalic acid. They absconded 2 weeks later. The others had very high mite levels and lots of DWV. 2 queens from — heading splits died with their colonies during cold snap in Dec. with lots of food on the next bar (both TBH). Langstroth hive from a nuc from —– died between Jan and Feb. The only hive that survived well was headed by a swarm queen from another beekeeper. The other surviving hive is alive but puny.
RESPONSE: I am unsure that the Oxalic acid or the high mite numbers caused the bees to abscond in your hive. Oxalic acid ONLY kills mites on the adult bee bodies – if there was a lot of brood when you used the oxalic, all those mites would have survived since it does not penetrate cell cappings. Splits (see report from last year) have heavy losses – depends on the time of year the splits were taken and what was done to try to get them up to speed to survive winter. It is a good idea to try different stocks. You may have had a colony that was a “mite bomb,” a colony with lots of mites and they spread to your other colonies and thus you did not have good survival, despite the different stocks. I hope you small survivor colony is progressing well.