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  1. #21
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    Thanks Dar for reposting this. It captured my attention all the way thru, and I have a short attention span. There is so much info that is hard to find in one place. I think it goes to show how little has changed over the last several years. Change comes slowly to the bee world. Lots of people can't understand that. While I'm very inexperienced that is one of the things that I have learned. I would venture to say that when some of the wise posters that were the original commenters on this thread there was not as many irrelevant, close to nonsense post on this forum. I think this has driven away several wise participants. I'm not wise but it has discouraged me. There are too many on here that are just bloggers and not serious about helping the bees.
    OT,
    If they are going to swarm excessivly then production is going to be down, not just honey , but brood, drawn comb, and everything else. It seems to me that the excessive swarmers are also the ones that are the least gentle. I would like to hear other comments about that.
    So much to learn, so little time!!

  2. #22
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    Lamarkii was brought into the south by southern bee breeders before the ban in the 1920's for one reason, to be crossed with Italian bees. The Egyption bees have a nice golden color that breeders wanted to incorporate into their Italian lineages.....The bee that is being resurrected that will be of great use to the industry, is the Mountain Gray Caucasian. They do not overpropolize, and are winter hardy, do not swarm much, are mite resistant because of too much body hair. And are good honey producers. I have Lamarkii genetics in my bees along the Lower Tallapoosa. It is not a bad bee but has some quirky traits that set it apart from mainline Italian stock in the operation. TED
    ALABAMA BEE COMPANY-A member of the Sioux Honey association -*Sweetening a golden tommorrow*

  3. #23
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    Quote Originally Posted by valleyman View Post
    If they are going to swarm excessivly then production is going to be down, not just honey , but brood, drawn comb, and everything else. It seems to me that the excessive swarmers are also the ones that are the least gentle. I would like to hear other comments about that.
    Yes that's part of the selection dilema, bees that are more vigorous will sometimes be more vigorous at everything, including reproduction, defence, and swarming. So you don't want to get fooled by a hive that didn't try to swarm, but the real reason was it wasn't as strong as the ones that did. However there are some bees, that when all other factors are equal, will swarm more, or less, than others. Gentle, and productive, and lessor swarming bees do exist. But aggression, swarming, plus higher honey production if you don't let them swarm, often go together.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  4. #24
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    The Egyptian bee A.M. Lamarckii has three traits that make it highly interesting from a breeding perspective.
    1. Hygienic behavior is most developed compared to all other geographic races, 30% of unselected colonies rate highly hygienic, 70% are moderately hygienic.
    2. They have a very highly developed sense of orientation which significantly reduces drifting
    3. They are the only race that does not collect propolis.

    The Egyptians also have some very bad traits:
    1. They do not form a winter cluster
    2. They are significantly aggressive
    3. They are very poor honey producers because their brood development is not in sync with a temperate climate.

    The Saharan bee A.M. Saharensis has three traits as well that we could badly use.
    1. They forage over a very wide region
    2. They have an extremely high egg laying potential
    3. They have a natural tendency to produce very few drones. Did you ever see worker combs chewed out and replaced with drone cells? Well, Saharans don't do it.

    Cyprians are interesting for some other traits.
    1. They produce very high numbers of queen cells for swarming, this would be an advantage for queen breeders
    2. They are extremely calm in winter resulting in very low use of winter stores
    3. They are very intent when foraging with a highly developed level of hoarding behavior.

    One note that Brother Adam made re Carniolans is that they have very little brood disease in their native environment. This is probably not based on hygienic behavior. Unselected Carniolans test out at 1 colony in 10 having some hygienic behavior. Only 1 in 100 has highly developed hygienic behavior. The advantages and disadvantages of hygienic traits can be debated, but generally are desirable. New World Carniolans are being selected to increase hygienic traits which will lead to long term improvement in brood disease resistance.

    Apis Mellifera Mellifera which we used to have in such abundance in this area have the most incredible spring brood rearing buildup. You can talk about Carniolans building up fast in the spring but there is no comparison to a good strain of Mellifera. I split a colony of Mellifera several years ago in early march. They had 3 frames of brood and enough bees to barely cover it at the time of the split. I gave a queen to each of the three splits and within 6 weeks had three powerhouse colonies that made a huge crop of honey. This could not have been done with Italians or Carniolans.

    DarJones
    DarJones - 45 years, 10 colonies (max 40), sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 11 frame broodnest, small cell

  5. #25
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    You do seem to have a nice pocket of AMM still surviving up in your area. I went to the dismals park a few years back and was surpised to see a colony of AMM thriving in a hollow tree along the nature trail....One other quirky trait that Lamarkii has. They do not mate in DCA's. Rather the virgin queen will leave and small swarm of bees will go with her. Drones then are attracted to the mating swarm. Mating takes place in the swarm. When the job is done the whole mass returns to the hive... This is one of a handfull of races that do this. Quirky yes, but it works well for Lamarkii and Lamarkii derived stock. Most races, the virgin queen goes to the DCA's and mate where the boys have gathered and then returns to the colony to do her matriarchial duties. So Dar, how do you propose we get these "new" genetics. Have you contacted Baton Rouge for permitting the collection of semen of these bees in their native countries for importation??? TED
    ALABAMA BEE COMPANY-A member of the Sioux Honey association -*Sweetening a golden tommorrow*

  6. #26
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    There is still quite a bit of AMM all across North Alabama.

    I emailed Tom Rinderer to ask about importing semen and/or eggs. I probably won't get a reply until sometime next week.

    Not to say that I have everything in line to import, but I would like to know the process.

    DarJones
    DarJones - 45 years, 10 colonies (max 40), sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 11 frame broodnest, small cell

  7. #27
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    The bees will have to stay out on the "island" off the Louisanna coast for a couple of years before you can bring them ashore to work with them. TED
    ALABAMA BEE COMPANY-A member of the Sioux Honey association -*Sweetening a golden tommorrow*

  8. #28
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    Can you guys give us a footnote on who/what you're talking about? Just for the sake of interest?

    Tom Rinderer/importing/"the island"?

    Adam

  9. #29
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    Importing honeybees for any reason into the U.S. requires an isolation protocol to ensure no unwanted hitchhikers come with them. The only time I know that this was skipped was in 1990 when a group of Buckfast queens were imported to help curb the tracheal mite invasion.

    The bees/semen/eggs you want to import require a permit. Live bees are virtually guaranteed to be rejected unless they come from an approved supplier such as New Zealand. Once you have a permit, the stock has to be placed on an island in the Gulf of Mexico where it can be observed for 2 years to see if any significant diseases or pests came along for the ride. After the isolation period, the bees can bee brought to the mainland for breeding work. Note that after 2 years most of the original imported stock will have died so you will likely get descendants. Tom Rinderer is manager of the Bee Lab at Baton Rouge, LA. Any import request ultimately will wind up on his desk.

    Here is a nice article about Lamarckii that makes for very interesting reading.

    http://www.apidologie.org/articles/a...3/02/M3214.pdf

    DarJones
    DarJones - 45 years, 10 colonies (max 40), sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 11 frame broodnest, small cell

  10. #30
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    Here is an article about the egyptian bees.

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/...1/fulltext.pdf


    and here is a nice article about africanization in the southern U.S. including some data on residual Lamarckii genetics.

    http://repository.tamu.edu/bitstream...pdf?sequence=1

    DarJones
    Last edited by Fusion_power; 11-13-2011 at 11:05 PM.
    DarJones - 45 years, 10 colonies (max 40), sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 11 frame broodnest, small cell

  11. #31
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    Quote Originally Posted by Fusion_power View Post
    1. EGG LAYING RATE
    2. EGG VIABILITY RATE
    3. BROOD CYCLE TIME
    4. BROOD NURTURING
    5. FORAGING AGGRESSIVENESS
    6. TIME OF FORAGING
    7. DISEASE RESISTANCE
    8. PEST RESISTANCE
    9. DEFENSIVE BEHAVIOR
    10. SWARMING TENDENCY
    11. WINTER HARDINESS
    12. LIFE SPAN
    13. BODY SIZE
    14. SENSE OF SMELL
    15. HYGIENIC CLEANING BEHAVIOR
    16. TIME OF BROOD DEVELOPMENT
    17. THRIFT
    18. HONEY ARRANGEMENT
    19. POLLEN COLLECTION
    20. TYPE OF HONEY COLLECTED
    21. COMB BUILDING
    22. CAPPING STRUCTURE
    23. PROPOLIS COLLECTION
    24. BRACE COMB CONSTRUCTION
    25. ABDOMINAL COLOR
    26. ANTENNAE STRUCTURE
    There are a few of these criteria that have to be broken down into multiple specific mechanics or traits before they can properly be identified and selected for. It's a very broad list and there are several things listed that can effect each other, thus again requiring a full breakdown of the mechanics that cause a colony to perform well or poorly within each category...

    Disease resistance for example is also dependant upon Pest resistance (in its many forms), Foraging behavior, Distance of foraging, Build up timing, nest arrangement, cluster sizing, speed of development, propolis production, etc...

    We identify and select for over 200 specific mechanics or traits and grade each colony after considering the effects of the particular situation... those that score high enough are bred in multiple crosses, then the daughters are re-evaluated the following season and the choice performers from that group are then graduated to the breeding pool for the following season... then traits that are specifically maternal as opposed to paternal are considered and promoted accordingly... hope this helps.
    Last edited by Barry; 11-15-2011 at 07:52 AM. Reason: added quotes to clarify

  12. #32
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    Are those listed in order of importance?

  13. #33
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    Some good food for thought in that list.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  14. #34
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    Guess I should point out, that this is not my list... its a cut-and-paste from the first post of this thread...

  15. #35
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    Order of importance is where most either get confused or overwhelmed... thanks for bringing that up because hopefully I can save some frustration for those that are trying to done tune their selection program...

    The first thing to keep in mind is that you want to look at each colony for specific traits, not so much for a compilation of those traits... this trips up a lot of people, so its important to keep reminding yourself that you are STUDYING the colony to identify its characteristics, not looking for a mother colony...

    Reason being, one colony may not score the highest in a brood freeze/timed removal test, but scores high on swarm testing, and high in forage distance testing... the hygienic trait is recessive, so that will be addressed during the next cycle and can be re-evaluated in the next level of testing... the swarm triggering is a maternal trait so grafting this colony could promote that trait evenly across the board at 47-50%... the foraging distance is a paternal trait, so this says that THIS generation has can promote that trait and so again grafting this colony can promote this trait at 47-50% across the board... so a hive that would have been passed up simply because it was not the highest scoring in hygiene, could be used to promote very useful traits in the long run, by first producing daughters and mating them in accordance with what you deem need more attention, then re-evaluate the colonies of the daughters over the following season...

    So by simply identifying the strengths and weaknesses of each colony by identifying the levels each mechanic or trait within each one... then do your calculations from the results after you have a completed analysis on each colony...

    To simply this process, you first need to set up your priorities... are you looking to promote resistances, promote better overwintering rates, promote better honey production, less defensiveness, etc... pretty much any bee will have some good points, and if you cannot find Any, its time to scrap the stock and start fresh with a diverse group, then try to promote the key benefits of each strain... but in most cases, there are some good qualities somewhere that you can start with... once you have learned to identify those qualities and promote them, you can remove the unwanted qualities while promoting the desirable ones...

    For example... Your bees may be very productive, but somewhat more defensive than your friends, and you may not have quite the overwintering success that he has, even though your management practices and climates are very similar... so you may decide to focus on boasting resistances to lessen the stresses of varroa that could lead to the defensiveness and poorer overwintering... to do so, you first need to select a breeding pool...

    start by finding the highlights out of your operation... the most productive hives in each yard, the ones that seem to always be healthy come spring, etc... then you find the pitfalls of your operation... the hives that produced the least, sting the most, etc...

    Remove every bit of the drone comb that you can find in the poor colonies and requeen them with queens produced by the better colonies, but not the ones that build up super early... this is usually best done in early spring, just when you are pushing the envelope on drone availability... the drones that will be present during this period will usually be from the colonies that boomed perfectly to meet the first flow... thus you now have a deeper pool to play with... spend that full year recording the characteristics of each hive and continue to requeen aggressive hives, but this time use queens from the early boomers... in the next spring, you should have a really good idea of the attributes of your hives and you should have removed enough of the poor qualities that you will not have such a hard time finding stock to select from... so this season you will be able to select the top hives from each characteristic that you are after...

    Now you want to use produce drones from both your highest producing hives, and your resistant hives, while producing queens from your heavy layers that built up perfectly on the spring... these queens will be used in splits and the identification and selection process should be continued...

    So starting from scratch, you can spend four years developing your stocks across the board while developing your own ability to identify, promote, and remove traits... on that fourth year, you will want to compare you reports next to each of the previous years... you will be very surprised at how far a stock can come in that short of a time by following these practices...

    I worked with a gentleman that had been noticing his stock getting more and more aggressive and his production dwindling more and more, as well as his winter successes... after four years, he had gone from 34% winter losses to 2% winter losses... he said that he actually enjoyed working his bees again instead of just rushing through his tasks so he could get away from the stinging... and his average production had risen from 47#s to 119#s... I call that a job well done... this man had been working bees for fifty years and said that he felt like he had fallen in a rut until he stopped looking at only the "hive" as if it were the trait, and started promoting the traits... he stopped promoting inbreeding, started promoting exactly what he was selecting for in the first place, and found himself learning from and enjoying his bees again.

    Hope this helps.

  16. #36
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    When reading through the above, you will see that good records are a crucial part of any selection program. I have a nearly photographic memory. It allows me to do a huge amount of work in my head. But when it comes to colony selection, you must be able to maintain records and refer to them regularly. This is why it is crucial to get in the habit of rating each and every colony consistently and based on the same standard.

    Another concern is complementarity. You can see hints of it in RRussell's advice. So as an example, if one colony has outstanding production and another colony has highly developed non-swarming traits, you might want to raise queens from the non-swarming colony and provide drones from colonies that have high production. The important thought is that they are complementary to each other.

    As noted, the above are complex traits. You have to break down a complex trait to more manageable and scoreable traits. Take as an example Longevity. This trait in and of itself would seem to be an absolute positive for the colony, but you will find that as longevity goes up, foraging behavior often goes down. An increase in lifespan is associated with reduced production which is not really a positive when you consider that the objective was to increase lifespan while also increasing production.

    What about tongue length? It is a selectable trait. With just 4 generations of selection, you can produce a bee that has a tongue 2 mm longer than average. Is it highly desirable? That depends on the forage plants available. All else being equal, longer tongues would be a nice enhancement but most of the time will not be a primary trait to select.

    DarJones
    DarJones - 45 years, 10 colonies (max 40), sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 11 frame broodnest, small cell

  17. #37
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    This link is a long read and is not about bees. But for those interested it is a fantastic study in what is involved in an effective breeding and selection program.
    It concerns the production of Genetic Hackle, more commonly known as the feathers used in making flies for fly fishing. This artical is written about a person that has made amazing progress in this field over the past 20 years or so. Has actually accomplished what was considered impossible. Think about things like a bee immune to mites. And a detail explanation of the process he uses to achieve it.
    Pay particular attention to the importance of selection pressure. Selection pressure has a direct effect on progress toward the chosen trait.

    I think it is a very effective tool to help those considering breeding get a clearer idea on many issues. What is selection? what is a healthy genetic pool? what benefits are there to in breeding, line breeding, and exactly how do you isolate a specific trait?

    It is written in more of a casual form but is on a complicated subject. I think it will have several "oh wow" moments for anyone that gives it a careful reading. One of the best articals I have ever read on breeding and what it really involves. Not all of it translates to bees but many of the underlying principals will.

    http://www.uncleginkscave.com/GC-Whi...ckleFarms.html

  18. #38
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    Here is an article about the native desert adapted bee of Saudi Arabia, Apis Mellifera Jemenitica.
    http://www.pensoft.net/inc/journals/...able=J_GALLEYS

    These bees are significantly smaller than European bees and they are adapted to an extremely hot dry climate. One caution about the taxonomy in the article, it does not agree in some respects with current accepted structure. This article seems to use info from Ruttner about 30 years ago. Work by Engel refined the taxonomy significantly and moved the species around a bit in the four groups.

    DarJones
    DarJones - 45 years, 10 colonies (max 40), sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 11 frame broodnest, small cell

  19. #39
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Kretschmann View Post
    Mountain Gray Caucasian...do not overpropolize, and are winter hardy, do not swarm much, are mite resistant because of too much body hair.
    Hi Ted, I believe you mentioned this in another thread regarding the Mountain Grays...specifically that the tracheal mite resistance isn't due to exposure for selection, but other selection factors that led to increased body hair...I believe you even referenced Danka on this.

    In contrast:http://www.beeculture.com/storycms/i...y&recordID=411
    According to Dr. Robert Danka, the mechanism for tolerance (he uses the term resistance ) is that populations of tracheal mites are reduced by honey bees grooming themselves (autogrooming).3 He concludes: It does not appear that differences in cuticle chemistry, the presence of hairs surrounding the prothoracic spiracles, or grooming among nest mates are major determinants of resistance. Perhaps, but there has been evidence that the transfer of mites from bee to bee may be affected by these
    Is there more recent data on this?
    deknow

  20. #40
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    Default Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies

    Contact Dr. Shepard at Washington state. He and Spivak are working on the Mountain Gray project. I am part of the group that will hopefully be recieving stock for breeding. The excess hair is a cold adaptation but makes it hard for mites to feed. Sadly Bill Gafford, who, along with myself had written letters to USDA for Shepard in support of bringing this bee back into the USA, did not live to see the bee brought back into the USA. TED
    ALABAMA BEE COMPANY-A member of the Sioux Honey association -*Sweetening a golden tommorrow*

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