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  1. #61
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    I'm considering keeping track now of colonies that pack the broodnest so the colony becomes pollen bound. I'm trying to determing whether or not the trait is genetic or induced by some outside influence. Tarpy believes it's genetic. Hackenburg/Mendes believe it's caused by neonics. I haven't a clue.
    I'm thinking genetic as I first noticed it when I went to 3 deeps and neonics weren't on the market yet and I find it to bee less of a problem now as I never breed from any that did it.
    mike syracuse ny
    I went to bed mean, and woke up meaner. Marshal Dillon

  2. #62
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    Jan 2005
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    Hamilton, Alabama
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    I've seen such packing of the broodnest with pollen in late summer and early fall. This was always with bees derived from Apis Mellifera Mellifera genetics. These bees will attempt to move the broodnest down into empty comb if any is available while cramming the existing broodnest so full of pollen that there is no room for anything else. You can cross check to see if I am correct that we are talking about the same issue by verifying whether or not these colonies overwinter with few losses and if they tend to be very early to develop swarm cells. Also from the description, these bees are not very well adapted to your climate.
    DarJones - 44 years, 10 colonies (max 40), sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 11 frame broodnest, small cell

  3. #63
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    I don't keep track of much, only the things that matter to me in my operation, and only traits that I can measure in some way.

    I use two lines on my yard sheet for the ability of a colony to winter properly.

    1. Population in early spring.
    2. Population and Brood quantity at Dandelion bloom.
    You make alot of sense as far as simplifying things substantially, Michael, but I'm still a little confused . . . You mention you only look for two things, population in early spring, and population and brood quantity at dandelion bloom. But then you go on to list a number of other things:

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    Propensity to swarm ...
    Disease resistance..
    Varroa...
    Temper...
    Longevity of queen, or stock.
    So, you only track two things, but you will eliminate breeding stock based on five additional criteria? So, you will eliminate a colony as a potential breeder if varoa is too high, but you don't measure it? What is "too high"?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    ...read what Guzman says about temper.
    I'm not familiar with that writing, can you clarify where it is found?

    But generally, your process makes sense for an individual that is bent on honey production. The same would make sense for someone who is a comb producer, or a pollen producer. If the hives affect your bottom dollar, breed the ones that have the best impact on that bottom dollar and forget about the other traits.

    But for the small time breeder or hobby beekeeper, the goals are alittle bit different. We can spend the time breeding for varroa resistance, disease resistance, or something else that will affect our ability to calmly, and satisfactorily keep bees. We have no bottom dollar (and usually, any dollars, lol) to affect. So in a sense, I can't remove hives that have the highest varroa count only. The queen may possess VSH genetics, and her drones will as well, while the workers do not. This may require more record keeping. Or, if I'm trying to breed the bee that lays the most, I can't just measure twice a year the size of the brood, as brood size will vary and I need a better understanding of when the queen starts to slow down. Or do you disagree with my assessment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    Food for thought...

    "Sometimes, breeder selection comes down to a gut feeling. You just have some feeling that the queen is special". Marla Spivak
    An interesting, and good quote. I find it of particular interest that it comes from someone who selected for such a very specific gene. I'm uncertain what context she made this quote, but my guess is it wasn't in reference to how she came up with the MH line.

  4. #64
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    Dec 2006
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    St. Albans, Vermont
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    Sorry, bad wording. I meant to say I use 2 fields on my yard sheet to measure wintering. I also have other fields that I also listed.

    I keep track of how my bees winter. spring population and amount of brood at dandelion are the two fields I use. If a colony doesn't winter properly, it is eliminated from the program. those still in the selection process are further selected using the fields I mentioned.

    I consider a mite count too high when I see dwv bees crawling around on the ground and the brood looks unhealthy. Colonies that can go through the honey producing season with no obvious varroa/virus issues remain in the pool.

    Elemental genetics and breeding for the honeybee Ernesto Guzman-Novoa, Pub. Ontario Beekeepers Association, ISBN:978-0-9782166-1-0

    I agree with your assessment. But it's not just about honey production. It's more about total performance. The top producers in an apiary can be eliminated due to other factors. Honey production is only one way to measure performance. It's also a way to measure performance in other areas..like wintering and brood rearing. I didn't mean to say that I only measure strength in the spring. We look at the bees all summer long, note production and relative strength. It's only colonies remaining in the pool of possible breeders that I keep closer track of. I let the rest make honey, do my re-queening, raise queens and nucs. Not a lot of time to spend on each colony. I also don't eliminate a colony from the apiary because their queen isn't breeder quality. Who am I to say which genes get eliminated, and by eliminating something I think I don't want in my bees, what am I eliminating that should remain?

    Marla was in Vermont last summer and we had a nice meeting at Mare's house over pizza and beer with our VBA queen rearing group. We were talking selection of stock and what traits can be selected for. She was just trying to say that with all the record keeping, analyzing, yard sheets, etc, sometimes it comes down to a gut feeling you have.

    Kinda like love, eh Special-K?

  5. #65
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Lincolnton, NC
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    This is a great thread. More the art if beekeeping than the science. Please keep going.

  6. #66
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post

    I consider a mite count too high when I see dwv bees crawling around on the ground and the brood looks unhealthy. Colonies that can go through the honey producing season with no obvious varroa/virus issues remain in the pool.
    I'm assuming that you are referring in large part to the presence of DWV, correct? Or are you also looking at other factors?

    Usually the presence of DWV is the indicator I use that mites may be high. But in a recent post by Mr. Bush (can't remember where it was) he said the occasional DWV bee isn't that big of a deal, and that DWV was around before mites. Thoughts on that?

  7. #67
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    Elemental genetics and breeding for the honeybee Ernesto Guzman-Novoa, Pub. Ontario Beekeepers Association, ISBN:978-0-9782166-1-0
    Very interesting. I haven't heard of the book before, and a search on Amazon, Abebooks.com, Half.com, and Google Books didn't reveal anything. You wouldn't know a direction to look that I haven't already, would you?

  8. #68
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    I didn't mean to say that I only measure strength in the spring. We look at the bees all summer long, note production and relative strength. It's only colonies remaining in the pool of possible breeders that I keep closer track of.
    So, you MEASURE strength twice a year, but you OBSERVE strength throughout the season, is that accurate?

    So, how do you OBSERVE something like queen laying ability, hive population, or gentleness, objectively throughout the summer, without actually writing it down and without doing it based on objective standards? Or yet again, am I making it too complicated.

  9. #69
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    I also don't eliminate a colony from the apiary because their queen isn't breeder quality. Who am I to say which genes get eliminated, and by eliminating something I think I don't want in my bees, what am I eliminating that should remain?
    But by doing that, aren't you prolonging the possibility of changing your outcome? If you have hive A and hive B. Hive A is a great producer, and you determine it's breeder quality. Hive B is decent. Not breeder quality, nothing special, but not necessarily something that needs to be requeened right away.

    In a sense, if you don't requeen her, hive B will spread mediocre drones into DCAs. Your hive A grafted virgins, when they go on mating flights, will be mating (at least in part) with drones from hive B. This would drag down the overall productive nature of your hives, and defeat the point of selecting a certain breeder.

    Or am I misunderstanding what you are saying. Do you breed from the best, keep the mediocre, and scrap the un-performers?

  10. #70
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    She was just trying to say that with all the record keeping, analyzing, yard sheets, etc, sometimes it comes down to a gut feeling you have.

    Kinda like love, eh Special-K?
    And that led me astray a few times in high school . . . and college . . . although it eventually got me in the right place, lol.

    I see the point, and I appreciate the mentality behind it. Not being there, and not talking to her directly I can't know for certain, but based on what you said the key was SOMETIMES it comes down to a gut feeling. I'd agree with that, but I'm reluctant to rely SOLELY on a gut feeling. I would much rather have a record system kept on a series of hives, in which I've narrowed it down significantly based on objective and measurable standards. From there, if I need further elimination, and I don't have an objective standard to go by because they all appear equally viable, I don't have a problem going on a gut feeling. I just don't want to start off that way.

    But, at least at the moment, I don't have a record keeping system, and I don't have ANY objective standards to compare one hive with another. So until I get that in place, looks like I really am just relying on gut feelings, lol.

  11. #71
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    Quote Originally Posted by Specialkayme View Post
    Usually the presence of DWV is the indicator I use that mites may be high. But in a recent post by Mr. Bush (can't remember where it was) he said the occasional DWV bee isn't that big of a deal, and that DWV was around before mites. Thoughts on that?
    That's a vexed question. Because sometimes, when you see a bee with DWV in a hive, it won't be long till there's more, and eventually a major mite problem.

    However DWV is a bee disease that's been with bees probably for thousands of years. Before we had mites I would VERY occasionally see a bee with it. In those days nobody gave it a second thought it would be one bee out of hundreds of hives, and was of no consequence.

    Now that mites spread it, it's an excellent indicator of mites, if there's a lot of DWV you have a lot of mites.

    But in my own hives, I've some times seen one bee with DVW, start to worry, but then the hive will go 6 months with no more DWV, that I saw. I put that down, to there being a low level of mites in all colonies, so there may be an occassional bee with DWV even with mites at low levels.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  12. #72
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    Quote Originally Posted by Specialkayme View Post
    But in a recent post by Mr. Bush (can't remember where it was) he said the occasional DWV bee isn't that big of a deal, and that DWV was around before mites. Thoughts on that?
    I agree. An occasional dwv bees is no big deal. It's when it gets out of control and there are numerous crawlers on the ground.

  13. #73
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    Quote Originally Posted by Specialkayme View Post
    Very interesting. I haven't heard of the book before, and a search on Amazon, Abebooks.com, Half.com, and Google Books didn't reveal anything. You wouldn't know a direction to look that I haven't already, would you?
    The Ontario Beekeepers Association

  14. #74
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    Been to their website . . . still can't find it . . .

  15. #75
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    Quote Originally Posted by Specialkayme View Post
    So, you MEASURE strength twice a year, but you OBSERVE strength throughout the season, is that accurate?

    So, how do you OBSERVE something like queen laying ability, hive population, or gentleness, objectively throughout the summer, without actually writing it down and without doing it based on objective standards? Or yet again, am I making it too complicated.

    Accurate enough for my needs. Nothing is perfect.

    Laying ability...number of frames of brood and pattern
    Hive population...frames or boxes of bees. When cold, is the cluster at the top of the hive. Bend down, blow in bottom entrance. Is the cluster right there? Did they sting your nose? That's the cluster I look for in the Fall and Spring. Or...in the fall after clustering...kick the hive...do they come out the top and bottom and every hole??
    Temper? Don't you knpow which colony stings you the most every time you open it? Can't you see nervous bees running in wild circles on the comb and maybe dripping off the frames? Don't you know which colonies head butt you and which don't?

    As Marla, it isn't always emperical. For instance, I don't judge temper with a number..1-5 say. If they're ever mean..not just a sting or two but repeated stings...they get a red X. Viscious they get two. A red x eliminates them from the pool.
    But things like population can get a number, and frames of brood, and brood pattern. Disease - Chalkbrood eliminates a colony...no need for a number.

    It really is rather easy to find candidates without getting too fancy.

  16. #76
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    Quote Originally Posted by Specialkayme View Post
    But by doing that, aren't you prolonging the possibility of changing your outcome? If you have hive A and hive B. Hive A is a great producer, and you determine it's breeder quality. Hive B is decent. Not breeder quality, nothing special, but not necessarily something that needs to be requeened right away.

    In a sense, if you don't requeen her, hive B will spread mediocre drones into DCAs. Your hive A grafted virgins, when they go on mating flights, will be mating (at least in part) with drones from hive B. This would drag down the overall productive nature of your hives, and defeat the point of selecting a certain breeder.

    Or am I misunderstanding what you are saying. Do you breed from the best, keep the mediocre, and scrap the un-performers?
    Understand I have 35 yards in two stated. My mating yard is located in the middle of four of them. At least 30 yards are out of flying range. I do stock those four yards with the best I can find. If the yard average is 100 and a number of the colonies in a yard make 75 but are healthy and winter well, then I leave them. I certainly wouldn't requeen the whold yard with daughters of one breeder. There's more than honey production involved.

  17. #77
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    Quote Originally Posted by Specialkayme View Post
    Been to their website . . . still can't find it . . .
    You need to contact someone there, or at U of Guelph, or the Ontario Tech Transfer Team. I bought it from them at a bee meeting.

  18. #78
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    Dec 2010
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    Fusion Power, rrussell6870, or anybody -
    Could anyone direct me to a source of standard or generally-accepted test procedures for measuring the quantitative (and qualitative) traits that we're talking about tracking? My yard sheets are continually expanding in scope, but I would like to know if my criteria are "apples plus apples" or "apples plus oranges" with other breeders' data.

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