Just to add a couple pennies to the pot and get my feet wet in the thread...
To start with definitions of the terms in question:
Domestic: kept by people. One can talk about varying degrees of domestication ranging from merely providing a home similar to preferred in the wild and not influencing behavior, to the other extreme of influencing nearly all aspects of behavior. You can also differentiate between domestic by virtue of keeping practices versus an actual change in the genetic behavior and form of the species (domestic ferrets are closer to native varieties than domestic dogs). Maybe it would be better to combine the definitions: domestication is the degree of adaptation (and dependency?) of a species to management by humans, or management practices that require or induce adaptation.
Natural, then, I take to be essentially the opposite: similarity in keeping practices or animal characteristics to wild-type, as they exist without the intervention of man. With regards to beekeeping practices, this would be departure from the maximal intervention in the bees' lives, to the extreme of claiming ownership and "keeping" bees that build their own colonies where and how they want and you just appreciate them buzzing around and pollinating your fruits and vegetables.
Feral refers to animals that returned to (completely) natural practices from a domesticated state. I, too, feel that a colony needs to be surviving on its own for a couple generations before stray bees originating from a domestic hive could be considered feral.
Native bees are only an issue in Europe, as the native bees in the Americas are non-Apis mellifera. I'm guessing that the high levels of imported bees are going to reduce truly native strains. However, it might be appropriate to refer to "wild-type": bees with characteristics minimally influenced by humans.
Where we're running into trouble these days is the extent to which we've domesticated the bees -- we take away their adaptation to the environment by devising various means and practices enabling the unfit to survive. This fosters their dependence on us and decreases their ability to cope on their own. The more domesticated we make the bees, the more costly becomes the task of allowing the bees to face their challenges without our help once we fail to provide adequate control of those challenges -- this is essentially what we do when we withdraw aracide or antimicrobial treatments and rebuild from the decimated survivors. The more dependent on people they've become, the higher proportion will succumb to find a few that haven't lost what it takes to get by.
There are some things that we can do to ease the reversal of domestication (in these areas). One is to not unleash the full selective pressure at once. With resistance of microbes to antibiotics, using high doses of antibiotics for an adequate time doesn't foster resistance - it kills the microbes. The conditions that foster resistance are non-lethal levels and durations of the antibiotics such that degrees of resistance are rewarded with degrees of flourishing. What this translates to in beekeeping, is that once we clue in that humans ultimately aren't going to be able to control the mite problems, we need to do just enough to allow more resistant bees to survive better than less resistant ones. If we pull out all our supports at once, we run the risk of lethal doses of mites with insufficient surviving bees to rebuild from. As we apply this selective pressure to subsequent generations, the levels of resistance in the general population becomes higher and better able to withstand pressures from less-restrained challenges, until we reach the point that we can withdraw all support and have an adequate survival rate from which to breed resistant survivors. The key is we have to be willing to accept some losses, and even encourage it. As long as we're trying to minimize losses, we're doing our best to foster domestication rather than resilience.
Fortunately, bees are less domesticated than some other animals. Humans have largely taken advantage of existing traits rather than shaping traits, at least until the last few centuries. Apart from the recent dependence on our aracides, bees would do well on their own, thus the supply of feral hives prior to the mite problems. Once we become willing to allow the bees to adapt rather than encouraging dependence, the bees should be successful in adapting to these challenges with time.
Ok, that's enough rambling on that. In reply to the issue about genetic differences between feral versus hived colonies: Unfortunately I haven't read the article but that conclusion doesn't surprise me. In many apiaries, the bees may come from some particular breeder(s). If there are truly feral bees in the area, they probably do not come from those suppliers and if there is a substantial interbreeding feral presence, they may have homogenized their traits somewhat except for the influx of escaped hive swarms. Wild colonies, since they don't have artificial feedings and aren't in uniform hives, will probably have different build-up and swarming/breeding schedules from domestic hives, thus helping to decrease intermingling. Thus, I don't find it surprising to find significant genetic differences between feral and hived bees, without invoking substantial genetic drift.
Feel free to ask for clarification if any of my ideas aren't clear. Additional specific responses as the muse hits me.
Now Im going to jump in and muddy the water with a few general opinions that may or may not be relevant!
1.There has always been a belief among some that North America had a native honeybee.Maybe DNA testing could prove it once and for all.
2.Local Pit River Indians told me they have always had honey at their feasts(I couldnt determine how far back is 'always')
3.Honey producers often go 'way out' into the most isolated back country chasing wildflower nectar flows.Ive seen many swarms issue from these isolated bee yards,even the best keepers lose swarms.
4.Before varroa,wild colonies existed in many hollow trees in this heavily timbered area.I do not now have any knowledge that such colonies exist that are not recent swarms from kept hives.I do have faith that such colonies do exist and will carry the survival genes that will ensure honeybees survival.Meanwhile it seems that we are keeping our bees alive(and perpetuating the non-survival genes)by chemical means just to meet pollenation contracts and have a crop to sell.Hey,we gotta survive too!But its getting harder and harder to balance the various treatments,and in the long run they may do us in.So we have all got to get better at looking for survivors.One way or another it will happen.
This is in reply to Paul B's post of 8 Nov 2000, at 09:11 AM
Paul B wrote:
Now for my question...Wouldn't Barry be correct in questioning the effect that neighbors/his hives would have on feral colonies as drones from several colones will compete to mate with virgin queens in the spring?
I don't think that the effect that Barry's/neighbors hives would have on feral colonies is as great as you would think. In fact, I believe that the drones from feral colonies in the area would have a greater effect upon Barry's and his neighbors colones, then drones from their colonies effecting the feral bees in the area.
Paul B then next wrote:
As these new feral colones expand and split naturally, wouldn't breeding with local drones provide a mix of bee strains which would explain the reason why everyones colonies have dark and light, small and large bees?
Aaah, now we get into a different chain of thought. Now it's not Barry's/neighbors hives actually effecting local feral bees with their drones, but swarms ensuing from same, effecting change. This is a different
scenario and yes it would.
Now we are talking about virgin queens going forth to be mated with drones in the local area, of which the feral side would have the breeding advantage, by right of retrogression off of enlarged artificial combs, in varing stages of downsizing, that could account for the size variances talked about.
Paul B also wrote:
If a colony travels 15 miles away to settle, how far will drones travel in order to mate?
Since most mating flights by drones take anywhere from 25 to 60 minutes and are dependent upon drone congregation areas being near, most drones only travel about 3 kilometers from home, but 5-8 kilometers is not too unheard of, and there have even been reports (reference the Varroa Handbook by Mobus and Connor) of drones and virgin queens being shown to fly over 15 km to accomplish a mating.
I myself would imagine that size would be a factor here, relative to flight speed and time available to mate, with bigger bodies flying less distance and at less speed; and smaller, lighter more trim bodies flying faster and greater distances to accomplish the act of mating.
I hope I have answered your questions. If not please let me know why not and I will try to explain further.
Dee A. Lusby
This post is in reply to a post by Juandefuca 8 Nov 2000 at 10:53 PM
But I like to bring another item to the attention... This infor is of second hand nature and allegedly derives from the academic researchers.
Trachael mites: A 60% (Don't hold me to that number, it could be 40, I forgot)infestaton is not fatal.
Varroa: "Our" bees are able to carry 2 mites without grave results. That means: If a colony has, let's say, 50,000 workers, that gives 100,000 mites in the hive on the bees.
Going past this number per bee is fatal.
Reply: I am going to interject some information here now, Juandefuca, for you and others.
In the second edition of "Honey Bee Pathology" by Bailey and Ball, concerning Acarapis Woodi (trachael mites) it is written: "When colonies are severely infested, most of their adult bees will die slightly earlier than usual, and this many not be sufficiently counterbalanced by the production of new bees. Thus, severely infested colonies dwindle more than usual; and colonies with more than about 30% of their individuals infested are more likely to die in spring than the rest.
In Biology, Detection and Control of Varroa Jacobsoni: A Parasitic Mite on Honey Bees, by Dietz and Hermann, it is written: Honey bees being parasitized by the Varroa mite suffer in two ways. They are "robbed" of their hemolymph, and the puncture made by the mite's chelicerae represents an entrance point for secondary microbial "invaders."
With an infestation of less than 6 mites, honey bees usually succeed in reaching maturity. The developing mites, therefore, also reach maturity. Higher infestations may result in the death of the bee.
Now Juandefuca, here is something to watch: It is said that the longevity of female mites during the brood-rearing periods is perhaps similar to those of adult bees, roughly 4-8 weeks.Shabanov et al(1978) reported that female mites that have hatched during the summer period live 2-3 months. During the fall, or broodless period, females may live for 5 to 8 months. The life span of mites during the winter is 6-8 months(Needham, 1988). Females overwinter on adult bees, periodically feeding through the soft intersegmental membranes of the first two gastral segments.
Under experimental situations, and in the absence of adult bees and brood, mites are unable to live for more than 5 days. In comb with sealed brood kept at rooom temperature (20 degrees C), mites were able to live up to 30 days.
Now, Juandefuca for European bees, it has been observed that colonies in temperate zones seriously suffer from infestation. Without treatment, there may be a 10-15% mortality during the first year, a 20-30% mortality the second year, and the third or fourth year may show a colony mortality rate of 100%.From the outset of an infestation to the death of a colony, a period of 3-5 yars is necessary.
IMHO, I believe the above is dependent upon cell size, most being, between 5.4mm and 5.6/7mm for brood combs.
Now take these bees and retrogress the cell size back down towards more natural sizing, and I have found out by personal experience that bees will live on 5.0-5.1 brood comb size,with drugs being necessary to control secondary diseases, but the bees only make a living surviving, but giving no surplus.
Now take these bees and retrogress the brood cell size down again towards 4.9mm, within the natural size range for feral honeybees (4.6mm - 5.0), and secondary diseases practically stop; and the bees not only make a living, but also start giving a surplus for profitability.
Juandefuca wrote towards the end of his post: Furthermore, has the reduction of cell size an additional role to play?
Yes. Cell size reduction initiates a whole series of events that better the life of our honeybees.
More comments...ideas...posts for discussion, Anyone?
Dee A. Lusby
Reference your post of 13 Nov 2000 09:19 PM
Sounds good to me. Keep going and believing like you are.
By the way I posted on 3Nov2000 12:43 AM my thoughts on Native bees too.
We not only have to get better at looking for survivors, we have to learn how to keep them also.
Got more comments loggermike?????
Dee A. Lusby
Hi Dee,Just read your essays for the first time and have to admit they sure make one think!So Im going to have to digest that info for a while.I have been very skeptical of the idea of using smaller cell foundation,but now I see the logic behind it.
Then I re -read Andy Nachbauers SAD BEES(which I can relate to).We beekeepers are all in the same boat as to our troubles and really need to listen to new ideas that have potential rather than taking pot shots at each other.So we are going to take a good hard look at the size of the natural comb around here ,especially in any feral hives we can find.Then we should have a better idea about what size our bees should be.
This post is in reply to Don's post of 11-9-2000, 11:47 PM
Native bees are only an issue in Europe, as the native bees in the Americas
are non-Apis mellifera.
This has never be qualitatively proven in scientific writings and archival evidence in fact points to the opposite assumption from many sources.
Don further writes:
One is to not unleash the full selective pressure at once.
With resistance of microbes to antibiotics, using high doses of antibiotics
for an adequate time doesn't foster resistance - it kills the microbes. The
conditions that foster resistance are non-lethal levels and durations of the
antibiotics such that degrees of resistance are rewarded with degrees of
flourishing. What this translates to in beekeeping, is that once we clue in
that humans ultimately aren't going to be able to control the mite problems,
we need to do just enough to allow more resistant bees to survive better
than less resistant ones. If we pull out all our supports at once, we run
the risk of lethal doses of mites with insufficient surviving bees to
rebuild from. As we apply this selective pressure to subsequent generations,
the levels of resistance in the general population becomes higher and better
able to withstand pressures from less-restrained challenges, until we reach
the point that we can withdraw all support and have an adequate survival
rate from which to breed resistant survivors. The key is we have to be
willing to accept some losses, and even encourage it.
One cannot put enough treatment chemicals into a colony to kill parasitic mites outright like in human medicine, without wholesale slaughter of colonies so treated, which forces sublethal dosages to kill as many mites as possible while still leaving honeybees in theory unharmed. Unfortunately, residues accumulate in the beeswax and more so in the propolis, that over a period of 3-5 years becomes itself, a lethal dosage in its own right akin to physical treatments, as many beekeepers do not practice comb recycling to keep residues down to below lethal residue killing levels.
Once the bees are weakened by chemical interaction, true, you cannot pull out the chemical supports of routine physical treatments, because the mites would breed uncontrollably against the already weaken honeybees still subject to residue chemicals in the wax and propolis, which by now would really have no effect on the mites, even with the routine higher treatments taken away.
We are in a situation that more resistant bees cannot survive relative to less resistant ones, because when the combs release residues after 3-5 years of residue buildup, the mites can already survive the higher treatment dosages and have responded faster to evolutionary changes, their breeding cycles being so much faster through the generations in mating i.e. days vs 1-2 years for queens. For the bees to be populous enough to fight off the mites at this point would be hard because they are still reacting to the chemicals now contained in the wax and propolis while the mites have adjusted to it. Therefore to help the bees would then take a comb replacement to alleviate the stress of the chemical residues still effecting the bees.
But, would it still solve the problem at hand? Namely the uncontrolled reproduction of the varroa mites in the broodcombs and breathing tubes of the bees themselves.If we supply selective pressure to help the bees overcome the problem, should not we practice cause and effect and try to eliminate the cause brought on by man's artificial change of the bees environment bringing on the mite problems in the first place? Should not a century of cause and effect be looked at in the increasing of today's bee problems? Once found should not the artificial causes be eliminated and reversed if we have the way and the means to do so? Is not cause and effect practiced in medicine and then cause eliminated to cure the patient effecting cure?
Don then wrote:
I don't find it surprising to find significant genetic
differences between feral and hived bees, without invoking substantial
Any ideas as to how the so-called imported apis mellifera bees became so different from their feral counterparts? Again what is natural? What is feral? and what is domestic? How does natural and feral relate to possible Native?
If bees truly revert as you say in one to two years to more feral rather than natural why do we want to keep them so domestically different? Have we now so domesticated today's bees that they cannot survive without man's help in the wild and yet now with man's help we are killing them faster than the wild could ever hope to do so?
Very best regards
I really don't see what all the stink is about. feral,domestic,wild, Who cares. If my bees make it through the winter and don't die from mites and make honey in the summer, then I don't really care wether they are feral,domestic or whatever. As far as feeding them sugar syrup or using apistan I will do what ever it take to keep them going. If someone thinks they can keep bees today without these aids then more power to them. I recently contacted a person who was trying to raise queens and package bees in the cold north and his theory was that they would be more acclimized to this climate and do better than bees from the deep south. I have done both and it makes no difference, they all do the same, some make it and some don't. Just some of my own thoughts. Bobby
Feral, domestic, or wild? All bees that a beekeeper owns are domestic. As soon as bees are placed in man's care they are now domestic no matter what the source. To be a beekeeper man must interact with bees to harvest a crop or the keeper part of beekeeping isn't true. I think the issue is what man's interaction with bees that have knocked them out of whack with their natural tendencies. You mentioned sugar syrup. When is the last time your bees mixed up a batch or pollen supplement for that matter. They don't. Bees eat honey(nector) and pollen which keeps them healthy. Sugar syrup isn't natural for them however they will eat it. Would I feed sugar syrup, Yes, if no honey was available or it meant the death of my bees. Apistan will not last forever. Why not try Dee's way of doing things? Look at the Lusby's bees they live everyone elses are being chewed up and spit out! I for one cannot argue with results. As for differences between bees from the north or the south how long do you think it takes for bees to acclimatize to your area? I think if you look there will be subtle differences in their vigor. These are my thoughts. Clayton.
This is written in reply to Bobby Field's post of 12-11-2000, 07:10 PM
I see you care greatly for your bees, or you would not be trying so hard to keep them alive. I can also see from what you have written that it has been a very troubling experience that you have been going through.
I sincerely hope that I may help put you onto the right path to take for your bees, but unfortunately I cannot do so unless you yourself want to make the effort to try.
You must try first to understand the problem and then you must make up your mind to rectify the cause and effect circumstances, that are taking a heavy toll upon your bees.
I know it can be very frustrating. Life is hard at times, but I can see behind the words you write and in fact, you seem to care very much, or you would not have taken the step in writing here.
I'm going to ask you to do a few things to start your thought processes, so you can begin to rationalize what has happened, and what needs to be done.
First I need you to read through the Natural/Feral/Domestic postings here.
Second I need you to read through the SAGA posted on another part of this website beginning at
You will need to read through at least the history given and retrogression and decontamination parts.
Also there is much historical documentation posted in support of the SAGA along with chemical treadmill information.
Bobby, I know this is a lot to ask you to do, to read so much, but you cannot understand a problem, if you do not know how it got that way in life, and you need to understand, so you can be talked thru, how to resize your bees back onto a natural system, to make beekeeping enjoyable again for you, as it really should be.
Please read and then get back with me and I will do all I can to help you on the proper path for healthy bees, without the use of chemicals and drugs, so your hive products will be healthy for you and your family, the way they were meant to be.
I look forward to hearing again from you.
Please take care of yourself and your bees.
Dee A. Lusby
This is in reply to your post 12-11-2000 08:05 PM that you were writing while I was writing mine.
Thank you so very much for your kind words of understanding to Bobby.
You are so right that the issue is "What is man's interactions with bees over the course of this past century, that have knocked them out of wack with their natural tendencies.
You are so right to understand that diet is an important part of the problem. Equally so is relatively to the environment in the field and the matings (breeding) they go thru.
How unfortunate it is we as an industry have so artificialized our bees that they are truly domestic for survival in the realworld.
We have artificially sized them up to be out of tune with the plants they need to forage forage for food.
We have artificially sized them up so they no longer breed true and now feral and domestic bees can no longer breed back and forth in many areas.
We put them in a white box, and move them around to pollinate chemically treated hives and them we dump more chemicals upon them.
And yet, Clayton like you said, bees moved around adapt so quickly if left alone. But will and can man do that? Experience so far says no I'am afraid.
We must learn to correct that and the rest written above here.
Thanks again for your comments. Please make more.
I would also like to tell you and others reading here, that there is a new discussion group via email that biologically minded beekeepers are joining to help each other out, and talk back and forth amongst ourselves, rather than fight with others that do not seem inclined to want to make the necessary changes for their bees and a health life style.
I think you will find this a very forward thinking group of beekeepers wanting to do
right by their bees without the use of chemicals and drugs, and willing to help each other out.
Very Best Regards,
Dee A. Lusby
Thanks Dee. You mentioned that feral and domestic bees cannot breed true. What do you mean by this? That they cannot breed at all? Please clear this up for me. Also I never thought about the large size bees being out of sink with flowers. Good point. At the present 95% of my hives are on 5.2 cell size. Planning to convert 10 hives to 4.9 this spring. Will qeens reared on smaller cell size breed with my drones raised on 5.2 cell size? Depending on your answer what should be done since I raise many of my own queens. When converting cell size what percent of ones colonies should they expect to lose to varroa? I must produce honey, too so I have to make up my initial loses. I think another point to keep in mind is that in order to keep bees man must interact with their bees so no matter what size the bee they will still be domestic. But this doesn't that man hasn't altered the honeybees size over the last century. Comments. Ineed more info on the actual management of smaller sized bees as it pertains to mites. Thanks.
I'm replying rather tardily to Juandefuca's query about the 'disappearance' of the native British bee due to tracheal mite. I'm happy to report that its death was somewhat exaggerated. what happened was that someone did some research in the southeast, where the disease (probably due to viruses vectored by TM) was worst, and then extrapolated across the country.
In fact, bees apparently identical or nearly so to the old British black bee are still to be found in many highland areas, and there is a significant group of beekeepers over here dedicated to breeding these bees.
The imported Italian bee, being Southern European, tends to do well in the lowland areas, while the British bee, which flies in worse weather, does better in the north and in the hills. Most people have hybrids, but after a bad experience with a bad-tempered hive, I'm planning to requeen with native stock next year.
Coming back to the issue of genetic differences between domestic and feral bees, does anyone have any idea what mechanism could be preventing interbreeding between the two populations? Could it be something as simple as the American beekeeping culture, which appears to favour bought queens, or is it something else?
This is in reply to Robert Brenchley's post of 12-13-2000 at 07:19 PM
Coming back to the issue of genetic differences between domestic and feral bees, does anyone have any idea what mechanism could be preventing interbreeding between the two populations? Could it be something as simple as the American beekeeping culture, which appears to favour bought queens, or is it something else?
It's a little of American beekeeping culture, which apprears to favour bought queens, many of which are inbred and inseminated with poor resulting brood patterns these days as part of the problem.
It's a little of Chemical problems of toxins put into a colony and then having consequences detrimental to queen and drone proper matings.
It's a large part usage of the wrong size brood combs for rearing of worker bees, that set the stage for mating of queens and drones out of tune by size with naturally occuring races/strains of honeybees, so much so, that they no longer interact together in many areas. Example: Big fat domestically bred drones cannnot catch smaller faster queens that are trim and fit, for they (drones) aerodynamically fly much slower to accomplish the acts required in mating.
While smaller, trim drones will have first access to slower flying queens of domestic origin, please note, that with the high usage of aerial chemical sprayings of crops and in forests, plus todays eridication efforts of feral bees where they supposedly don't belong (some would say genocide), these numbers (trim feral drones) have been reduced in some areas to below minimual levels for proper mating of any type of honeybee queen, be it domestic or feral.
I think one could say we are becoming a society of designed land usage, for plants and animals, that includes insects. There are those plants and animals designed by man, and those plants and animals designed by nature.
Further, as man keeps redesigning what he wants, things seem to get progressively worse for interaction between the two, and bees of course are well within this scenario.
All one has to do to verify, is read back thru the last 100 years of man kept beekeeping history.
Mr. Lusby, I have been reading the post but I have some problems with the statments you and others make. For instance, in your answer to Paul's post of10-24-00 you state, Also,several diseases of bees are known to only exist within domesticated colonies and not true feral. Why? It would seem feral bees would definitely have the edge for survival. My question is, How do you know how many feral or wild bee colonies have died of the same diseases that our domestic bees have. I don't know what part of the country you live in but where I live there are no feral or wild bees left to make a comparision. I was shocked and amazed this past summer, while doing some yard word to spot a honey bee on a dandilion so I stoped what I was doing and watched. I counted no less than six bees working the flowers in my yard. I was excited.Bees in my yard again, after so many years without them. Well I found out later by asking around the neighbor hood that there was a beekeeper who had bees about a mile from my house. This is what got me interested in keeping bees again after so many years of not having them. I looked the man up and ending up purchasing two hives from him and walla, I started keeping bees again. Have been reading and studying ever since. I was asked to remove a hive from a building not far from my home that was slated to be razed by fire this spring and the owner didn't want the bees to be destroyed with it. I could see that as I opened the wall that this had been the home to several hives. on the very top were fresh combs and lower older ones. At the bottom were combs that turned to powder when touched and at the very bottom was a pile of bee remains about four inches deep. I think these bees probable died from mites and new bees moved in several times over the years. I use to find bee trees and swarms every summer a few years ago then it was like they all disappeared. I think it would be safe to say that mites and diseases have all but wipe out our wild or feral, if you please, bee population. I therefore am gratful for any reasearch being done to develope a resistant bee. Please don't misunderstand me, I find no fault with you or anyone else that are trying to develop a means for our bees to survive. I think I have an open mind and am willing to learn as long as that learning is based on scientific proof. What I was refering to in my last post was the fact it seemed to me that there was ongoing argument as to what was domestic and what wasn't and to me that seems irrevolent. Bobby
Hi Clayton :> ) This response is in reply to your post of 12-12-2000 at 07:17 PM
Clayton, you wrote:
You mentioned that feral and domestic bees cannot breed true.What do you mean by this? That they cannot breed at all?
No, Clayton, I do not mean that they cannot breed at all. However, when you look at the bees you currently keep, you will notice a mixture of large and small subcaste worker bees of different sizes and different colours. Each colour variation you will notice is somewhat size related.
Since you live in New York, a more northern latitude, you should notice that the smaller, subcastes are with more darker brownish/black varying coloration, while the larger subcastes are with more lighter coloration towards light brownish, orangish/yellow. Please let me know how this compares to your bees.
Clayton, you wrote:
Also I never thought about the large size bees being out of sink with flowers. Good point.
Yes Clayton, several times I have told beekeepers over the years that if man should ever seek to change honeybees so that they no longer relate to Nature's and God's law, they would likely intervene in such a way as to preserve the necessary balance originally created. For there is some reason to believe that in the plan of Nature, the honeybee was not only created by adaptation to conform to the necessity of its mission as a pollinating agent, but that the plants and their bloom may have been also fashioned and adapted over time to conform to the convience of the bee also in one large masterful plan.
There is a barrier we seem to have crossed as an industry worldwide that we now need to retreat from, that seems to have been deliberately placed there by God and Nature to prevent any wide deviation of the honeybee in size and action from what was originally designed/adapted for; this being accomplished by limiting the size of the bee to that of the cell in which it is developed, as set down in the true feral bee, beyond which it cannot be altered too far in size either upwards or downwards, without being forced back by natural evolution.
Diseases and parasitic mites are now forcing our industry back from it's path of making overly artificially enlarged honeybees, to now make us again conform and come into balance with native regional floras to keep our bees alive.
Clayton, you then wrote:
At the present 95% of my hives are on 5.2 cellsize. Planning to convert 10 hives to 4.9 this spring. Will qeens reared on smaller cell size breed with my drones raised on 5.2 cell size?
Depending upon how many smaller truer feral are in your area you will have a mixture breeding your queens, as the queen needs to mate an average of 10-17 times. So, some will be from the bigger size you talk about and some will be from smaller truer feral drones in your area in more locally acclimitized feral colonies.
Clayton, then continues,
Depending on your answer what should be done since I raise many of my own queens.
Continue doing what you are doing. You are doing fine. As you progress smaller so will your queens relative to cell size used. Just don't pick overly large queens to introduce. Pick from the small to average size to help speed things up within the line you have choosen to use.
When converting cell size what percent of ones colonies should they expect to
lose to varroa?
Many have lost none, yet many have lost upwards of halves. It depends upon the work you are willing to put into doing it. But I will tell you, you will have a higher success rate coming off of 5.2mm to 4.9mm, rather than coming off of 5.4mm or bigger combs, as the worker bees themselves can only retrogress so far each downsizing.
For more information, suggest you read through the various postings under Making Cell Calls for more information on retrogressing smaller.
I think another point to keep in mind, is that in order to keep bees man must interact with their bees, so no matter what size the bee, they will still be domestic.
Yes!! and this is what most people seem to forget. Man has kept a relationship with bees for centuries and yet only in this past one have we tried to redesign them to our will, instead of leaving them in a harmonious state with the various plants they need to pollenate. But then too when we hybridized the plants first bigger, and that probably helped to lead to animals, to go along with the scenario started. All we are now doing is coming full circle back to where we started, but unfortunately at a great cost for many, not only our own industry.
Thanks so much for writing Clayton. I look forward to your continuing comments. I hope I have been of some help to you or maybe someone else reading this.
Very best regards:
Hi Bobby, this is in reply to your post of 12-14-2000 at 10:30 PM
While I will be writing another post to your reply, right now I would like to reply to the very end of your current post only in which you wrote:
What I was refering to in my last post was the fact it seemed to me that there was ongoing argument as to what was domestic and what wasn't and to me that seems irrevolent.
Bobby, not to sound disrespectful to you, but this is the subject matter of this thread you are posting here to!
However, from what you are writing about, perhaps you should visit the heading "Making Cell Calls" and read through the various threads started there, or perhaps start one of your own so that we may communicate better.
I'll review the above and possibly may therefore move it to another topic already started or simply reply to it here.
Very best regards to you!
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Dee A. Lusby:
Man has kept a relationship with bees for centuries and yet only in this past one have we tried to redesign them to our will, ...... I hope I have been of some help to you or maybe someone else reading this.
It's Millenia Dee, We have harvested honey from homes we've given bees (albeit clay pots) since at least 2000BC. I think that's domesticated? You have certainly helped put my feet on the right track.
Now please be patient with this furry newbee...I said I gave up on genetics, but I didn't, I carried on looking and learning and now I'm much more confused than I was.
Could you please explain to me (reasonably simply)what's the difference between the bee races? Ironically this is something I've been asking from day one, what makes ligustica different from capensis? They all look like honeybees to me. It appears that if they can interbreed, then the genetic information is common to both, and OTHER FACTORS must determine the apparent characteristics of the individual. These are not horses and donkeys here.
I looked at the other threads, and this seems to be the most relevant one. I'd appreciate any input here.
Robert Brenchly if you ever come to Reading come and see my bees! ph 0118 9623281.
Johnsewell asks about bee races. In biological terms, these are subspecies; that is, identifiably distinct populations, which have consistent physical characteristics (ie stable genetically determined differences) which don't add up to enough to justify ptting them in separate species.
Obviously this is a bt wooly; one expert's species sometimes turns out to be another's subspecies. The old idea that species couldn't interbreed was too simple; there is no hard and fast boundary. So, for instance, Apis mellifera ligustica, the Italian bee, originates with a Mediterranean population, adapted for conditions there. A. m. mellifera, the British bee, is obviously adapted for British conditions, so it forms smaller colonies, cuts down egglaying when there's no flow on, and will fly in worse conditions. The two hybridise freely, but left to themselves, darker bees will come to predominate in time, over much of the country. Ligustica probably produces more honey when mamaged by beekeepers, in favourable summers, but mellifera is better adapted for conditions here. Hope that helps.
I haven't been in Reading for many years, but if I'm passing I'd love to see your bees. You can contact me by Email if you want.
What Robert said.
Here's a link that mentions some of the differences (largely behavioral) between some of the more familiar races and hybrids: http://www.cybertours.com/~midnitebe...ce_strain.html
On the scientific side of telling the strains apart, you look at the ratio of lengths of 2 specific wing veins (how they came up with such a measure I've no idea), coloration, widths of bands, and I'm sure a whole host of other stuff.
Hope this sheds a small bit more light on the issue.