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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Location
    crown point, NY, USA
    Posts
    971

    Post

    Hi all,

    Was looking through beesource.com today to see whats new. I ended up re-reading whats old instead. Read this article (again):
    http://www.beesource.com/pov/usda/varroatolerantbee.htm

    What is your thoughts on this these days? How would you differ in selecting bees? Any other thoughts, ect? Keep in mind small cell and apply it here too!

    Clay
    Clay's Bee Page- http://wave.prohosting.com/clay2720/


  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    michigan
    Posts
    393

    Post

    Clay

    Good conversation starter. I'll just add a couple of thoughts regarding the article and hopefully some others will too.

    (1) I agree that it is not too hard to find varroa tolerant colonies. Look and you shall find. However, I dont agree that you can find 10% of managed colonies to have low levels of infestation----at least not around here....maybe someplace else though.

    (2) What level is low or tolerant? When you start looking, you will find colonies that just seem to attract mites like crazy and others that have virtually no mites. There will be a sampling across the board for you to chose from. I have a fair number of colonies to select from which gives more options. If you only have a few to chose from, life is more complicated. You might want to get together with others and pool your resources. I would also be looking to purchase some local stock or something that has some track record of tolerance to give you a boost at least to start with.

    (3) "Graft only from those colonies with the lowest mite levels." As I said before, thats a good starting point. Read Szabo's latest article in the bee mag. You can see how they have raised colonies with low levels by selecting for that.

    However, I don't fully agree with this as the sole long run strategy. Varroa counts arent the only thing from a disease perspective to look at.....watch all brood diseases, tracheal mite tolerance, hygenic behavior, housekeeping behavior, honey production, overwintering ability, steadiness on comb, wax production. After doing that, I find that only about 2.5% of all colonies make it to a breeding program. And maybe 1 out of 250-500 queens is worthy of using as a breeder.

    I believe that colonies with low mite levels can give you a good starting point. But I would look at the issues above too. I see a very high percentage of low infestation bees that carry lots of poor traits. You can run the risk of breeding varroa resistant bees that dont do anything from a commercial standpoint.

    (4) "Moreover, the strategy needs to be tested in other localities" This article concerns breeding tolerant queens in Arizona. I believe that your location has a strong influence on your outcomes.

    Some areas will have a good local gene pool. I believe that Arizona has that along with many other locales that are less migratory. In those places, I suspect that mating control is not such a concern. If good stock is out there either in a hidden tree or in someone elses colony, you can have good results and need fewer colonies. You can pick some low mite level colonies and let them mate without inbreeding and get some good vigor. Try that in an area that is saturated with non local bees and mating control becomes crucial but most difficult.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Location
    Birmingham, West Midlands, UK
    Posts
    751

    Post

    There are a couple of groups in the UK trying to select for resistant bees. Its early days yet, but what I've picked up so far sounds hopeful. One group I know of is just selecting for low mite counts without asking why they're low; someone else was making good progress selecting specifically for mite damaging behaviour, but I don't know where he is with it now.

    ------------------
    Regards,

    Robert Brenchley

    RSBrenchley@aol.com
    Birmingham UK

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Location
    crown point, NY, USA
    Posts
    971

    Post

    Sorry about taking so long to get back to this topic.

    1) I agree that it is not too hard to find varroa tolerant colonies. Look and you shall find. However, I dont agree that you can find 10% of managed colonies to have low levels of infestation----at least not around here....maybe someplace else though.

    reply:

    I think that the numbers may be more accurate than we realize. Especially using small cell to stabilize survivors probably even better.

    (2) What level is low or tolerant? When you start looking, you will find colonies that just seem to attract mites like crazy and others that have virtually no mites. There will be a sampling across the board for you to chose from. I have a fair number of colonies to select from which gives more options. If you only have a few to chose from, life is more complicated. You might want to get together with others and pool your resources. I would also be looking to purchase some local stock or something that has some track record of tolerance to give you a boost at least to start with.

    reply:

    Well in the article they mention using:
    1. sample selection
    2.natural selection/ survivors

    I personally am of the later thought. What does it mean if one colony has more mites than another? If one colony carries a small load of mites and another carries a larger load. Yet both survive equally well. One uses supression of mites and the other uses mite damaging behavior along with other behaviors( yet does this at a certain seasonal timing). Yet the beekeeper believing he/ she knows best selects from low mite samples they may exclude quite valuable stock. Why not allow the bees to show you? Furthermore how can the beekeeper select (and do a good job of it)without fully understanding all the traits and behaviors of the honeybee that allow a "tolerant" bee?

    WM then writes:

    However, I don't fully agree with this as the sole long run strategy. Varroa counts arent the only thing from a disease perspective to look at.....watch all brood diseases, tracheal mite tolerance, hygenic behavior, housekeeping behavior, honey production, overwintering ability, steadiness on comb, wax production. After doing that, I find that only about 2.5% of all colonies make it to a breeding program. And maybe 1 out of 250-500 queens is worthy of using as a breeder.

    I don't agree here either. See above. Also the idea of choosing a breeder queen doesn't jive well with me here either. At least not in the beggining. But rather propogation of all survivor stock wether good or poor (no hot bees can be toreralted however)via simple splits. This first would get numbers back up also poor stock would be mated back to other survivor stock and would kind of be graded up. I guess my thoughts are to work from the ground up........rather than to work from the top down. Now apply this withsmall cell........survivors will be established from small cell......and many of the principles advocated with its concepts.




    [This message has been edited by Clayton (edited November 11, 2003).]

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,985

    Post

    >>I find that only about 2.5% of all colonies make it to a breeding program
    You can run the risk of breeding varroa resistant bees that dont do anything from a commercial standpoint.

    When breeding queens we must look at the bigger picture. To breed out profitable traits to boost reististant traits will get us nowhere. That is why when picking a breeder queen we must narrow our focus to only the few hives with most all of the characteritics we want. Otherwise we might as well not even bother.

    Ian

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    mountain home, ar, usa
    Posts
    378

    Post

    Ian- In my case profitable and mite-resistant are synonymous. We don't get the 4 super colonies like ya'll up North... so we can't afford to install strips. I'm fortunate to have mite-tolerant bees (Russians + sbb's + 4.9 mm Pierco frames), or else I think I'd have to just give it up. Especially after this last year, where I had a negative honey flow- I had to feed sugar water without getting any honey. I also have a couple of all the other lines of bees, and they did as poor... just a bad year. Gone 4 years now without treating my Russians and they're still going strong with low mite counts even now in the fall. And Russians will rival italians when there's actually a decent flow.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,985

    Post

    Your in a lower honey yeilding area, so that would place a greater emphasis on the profitability traits in your bees. You cant just focus your breeding on your mite resistant traits. You have to exploit your mite resistance along side your honey production, ect.

    Ian

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,079

    Post

    If you have 3000 hives, sure you can pick that 1 out of 500 and get good results, but I have 21 hives and I could get inbred real easy, so I have to just split survivors until I get enough bees to be able to pick breeders.
    I think the standard today of buying queens from breeders is destructive to the overall process, because if you buy any number of queens from one breeder, chances are, they are all sisters and/or first cousins. That doesn't get you anywhere.

    ------------------
    Sol Parker
    Southern Oregon Apiaries
    http://www.allnaturalhoney.com

  9. #9

    Post

    Hi guys...couldn't help but jump in after seeing the previous posts.

    I, too, am a small time operator with only 25 hives plus the 50 or so mating nucs. Several beekeepers and I are esablishing our own breeders association in an attempt to rear chemical free and (hopefully) well mated queens. We each live 100 + miles from each other and plan to share unrelated stock to keep the gene pool diverse.

    Our ultimate goals are to use as much "feral" stock that have been found living "unassisted" in trees, walls, etc...

    We have potential access to I.I. equipment, but are seriously contemplating the negative aspects. Along with that, ethical questions need to be sorted through before we venture down that avenue. I've read Brother Adam used I.I. sparingly, but he focused more on natural selection, I believe. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

    I've tried many times to find some information from the American Bee Breeders Association (ABBA) but to no avail. You've seen their logo on some of the well respected advertisers. After some more checking, I found that the organization is basically defunct...kaput. The past president told me so himself. My question is this: Why do I see the logo still being used?

    Would you buy an appliance or some other item knowing that the UL listing is just a token symbol? Are you really sure your toaster is safe? I don't mean to preach, but seriously folks...where is it all headed?

    I can't remember where I saw the statistics, but it was mentioned that most of our commercial stock is generated from only ten or so breeders. Maybe this isn't the whole truth, but if it is, we all should be concerned.

    I would like to hear more open communication from the big breeders...perhaps some more articles explaining how things are going...etc.

    On the next post, I'll include a link I just found today...I'm sure you'll find it interesting as well.

    Here's the link:
    http://home.earthlink.net/~beeactor/...rnell_2002.htm

    Regards,
    JB
    Michigan Apicultural Stewardship /
    Emerald Ridge Apiary


    ------------------
    http://www.emeraldridgeapiary.net

    [This message has been edited by James Burke (edited November 17, 2003).]

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Location
    crown point, NY, USA
    Posts
    971

    Post

    We have potential access to I.I. equipment, but are seriously contemplating the negative aspects. Along with that, ethical questions need to be sorted through before we venture down that avenue. I've read Brother Adam used I.I. sparingly, but he focused more on natural selection, I believe. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

    reply:

    I believe this is right about Brother Adam. Now what I wrote before was only the very beggining of breeding. From the view point of a small time queenrearing. To follow the methods advocated by the big guns with only a handful of colonies (less than 100)will lead to problems quick. For example lets say we have 20 colonies. And follow current thinking and requeen all these colonies from a single queen mother, you have just narrowed your genetic lines from 20 mothers to one in one swift stroke losing the maximum potential you could have gleaned from those bees.(here only one colony is chosen to be a breeder queen and sampled for low mite numbers). Instead split all 20 colonies each mother yields one daughter. You now have the maximum genetic lines available. (the above is assuming that these 20 colonies are the survivor stock already selected via natural selection, just your base to work with)In the first situation in about five years you will need to bring in new stock the surviveability will be poor as not all colonies were mated back to survivor drones as only one colony was selected. In the second scenerio all colonies are survivors wether mother or drones. One simply starts by culling the worst and making simple splits the first 5 yrs. Looking back in time many successful queen breeders did well because they culled the worst instead of choosing a breeder. This can bring the small beekeeper along ways! But only so far, as I'm sure many here would point out. It would be at this point where "I" would start using of breeder queens. After grading the bees up.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Location
    Birmingham, West Midlands, UK
    Posts
    751

    Post

    If you only have a few colonies and use open mating you probably have nothing to worry about regarding inbreeding, as you have no control over the drones your queens mate with. If you use II occasionally, say one generation in five or so, to strengthen the characteristics you want, that should do no harm, otherwise just cull the worst and requeen from the best. If you start seeing pepperpot brood, that's the time to start being concerned.

    ------------------
    Regards,

    Robert Brenchley

    RSBrenchley@aol.com
    Birmingham UK

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Mobile, Alabama
    Posts
    536

    Post

    "(Russians + sbb's + 4.9 mm Pierco frames), "

    Is Pierco making 4.9 foundation now? If so, where are you getting it?

    ------------------
    Rob Koss

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,212

    Post

    I'm guessing they mean Dadant's 4.9 plastic foundation.

    Pierco deep frames 5.25mm
    Pierco med frames 5.35mm
    Pierco foundation 5.25mm


  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    michigan
    Posts
    393

    Post

    I think everyone no matter how small or large should follow Clayton's advice on culling the "bad ones". Even once you have improved the base quality of your bees you will always have some colonies that are just losers. Getting rid of those is a never ending process.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Drums, PA, USA
    Posts
    331

    Post

    I read about selecting eggs to graft from, but you never know what she will mate with, could be up to 17 drones. That could be 17 mite resistant, or 17 not so resistant, probably somewhere in between.
    II probably would be a good start, but I agree with Jim, stay focused to bees adapted to your area, and work from there. If feral colonies exist, they are doing something right! Further, being adapted, they know how to survive the climate fluctuations of your area. I "import" northern queens only, but even then, they are not used to my area, but have the traits needed for northern survival, and for me, thats how I've been going about it. The next phase of my plan, is to regress all of them, and try to weed out the bad charactoristics they may have. I would also like to a catch a healthy swarm, preferably from a building, tree, ect, and add it to the mix. But this is also a ten year process, maybe longer.
    I have been happy with the queens I have raised so far, but I don't want to mess up what I already have. That is why I have two locations, several miles apart. Kinda like backing up a hard drive, if you know what I mean! But all of the mating takes place here at home.


    ------------------
    Dale Richards
    Dal-Col Apiaries
    Drums, PA

    [This message has been edited by Hook (edited November 26, 2003).]

  16. #16

    Post

    Dale,
    Just checking in to see how the exchanged queens fared throughout last season. I was unable to fully inspect the colony with your queen because they were so incredibly packed with bees...plus they were in three mediums which made matters difficult.
    One of my feral colonies that had been living in a barn is still packing away the syrup although night temps. are in the 30's...I can't seem to get the colony heavy enough but they're consuming syrup. I'll keep a close eye on them and possibly give them a super of honey from an early dead out.
    As posted earlier, we're starting a state queen breeders association primarily designed to work with as much "feral" stock as possible. Just click on the Emerald Ridge Apiary link below and follow the MAS Michigan Apicultural Stewardship link. This link is new and is still under construction.
    I've also been reading as much as I can by Brother Adam. Much of what he says about naturally resistant bees has proven to be true in my apiary so far. This survivor stock, as he points out, is capable of thriving under difficult circumstances but it does not always produce an excessive amount of honey...just enough for it's own survival. Hence, the need for mixing the stock to develop hybrid vigor. I use the term hybrid loosely here since most strains of bees are already some type of hybrid.
    Brother Adam's book "Breeding the Honeybee" is no longer published, but it's full content is posted on the web. I printed it and it totals just over eighty (80) full pages of text. Some parts are a little "heavy" reading (genetics)but it is very, very interesting and should be on everyone's list of things to read this winter...especially those of us who value the importance of rearing our own queens.

    Here's Brother Adam's Link:
    http://www.fundp.ac.be/~jvandyck/hom.../somm85en.html

    Thanksgiving Blessings to All,

    Jim

    ------------------
    http://www.emeraldridgeapiary.net

    [This message has been edited by James Burke (edited November 27, 2003).]

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Location
    crown point, NY, USA
    Posts
    971

    Post

    Jim,

    Thanks for that link. I have not read this book. I will have to tackle it soon. I like alot of Br. Adam's thoughts. I will have to see if I can find a copy of it too.

    Clay


  18. #18
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,898

    Post

    "Beekeeping at Buckfast Abbey" is my bible. I visited Brother Adam in 1978.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany
    Posts
    829

    Smile

    I’m smiling when I see how many beekeepers following the German brother.
    Born August 3 1898 at Mittelbiberach Germany and in 1910 he left Germany and went to the abbey in buckfast.
    The last time he visited his niece Maria Kehrle in Germany during summer 1994, he died September 1 1996. With the age of 98 years he was the oldest monk in the abbey.
    http://www.fundp.ac.be/~jvandyck/hom.../gazett89.html http://www.buckfast.org.uk/

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    michigan
    Posts
    393

    Post

    Hi Jim Burke

    Do you happen to know of anyone in Michigan who might be raising cells for sale next year? I heard of a guy who was selling them this summer to a couple of beekeepers but I havent got all the details yet to track him down.

    Thanks

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