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Thread: SMR Bees

  1. #21
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    David,

    While I raise queens in a pretty crude manner, the most mite resistant queen I've encountered was a purebred SMR artificially inseminated with russsian drones (this is the reciprocal cross of what most breeders sell). This hive maintained NO detectable mites for most of its first season, even though the entire apairy had quite heavey mite loads, as did my nearest neighbor. Unfortunately she was not a very good honey producer, but I feel that the daughter queens will have the best of both lines.

  2. #22
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    Aspera, Bjorn, Bob, Frank and all:

    Thanks for comments. Bjorn or Aspera i am wondering if either of you experienced shotgun brood pattern from SMR queen? I am thinking the shotgun pattern described by Bob could be from in-breeding instead of a sign of hygenic behaviour.

  3. #23
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    I would also be interested in Aspera or other list members which have used SMR breeder queens thoughts on the shotgun pattern.

    I use inbreeding quite a bit as does Dr. Harbo so I find it interesting Dr. Harbo has said he now believes the empty cells are the result of pulled pupa.

    I am a big fan of Dr. Harbo and only a beekeeper so will take those with better knowledge at their word on the subject or at least until I can get my OB hives full of SMR queens with entrances closed ( as before) and see if pulled *pupa/larva* are being ate or placed in piles. I saw neither being done the last time I had SMR queens in hives.
    I do believe the queens were laying in all cells and the bees were eating the diploid eggs/brood (done in the cell and done quickly which I did notice) caused by inbreeding (as did Dr. Harbo /Harris and the bee lab at the time).

    To Aspera I say simply that when half your eggs being laid are being ate you will never get a field force to make a big honey crop or at times even an average honey crop.

    I have used inbreeding on my best honey production lines several times to prove to myself the point. Now when out crossed to create a hybrid with another hybrid line you get hybrid vigor which produces an amazing honey producer (which was done with the Midnight and Starline Dadant bees.)
    In my opinion when Dr. Larry Conners left the project the people running the Midnight & starline project did not keep control of the hybrids so the resulting queens produced did not carry the hybrid vigor resulting in average performance and commercial beekeepers saw the lines as a waste of money instead of a sound investment.
    When right the Midnight & Starline queens produced superior honey crops. Without the hybrid vigor they were about the same as other similar lines.
    Bob Harrison

  4. #24
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    david,
    I did not see shotgun patterns from SMR queens. 50 of my hives were used this past year for experiments with Penn State and the Pa Ag dept. Some of those hives have daughters from my russian/smr breeder queens. Those hives had been inspected by numerous inspectors including myself, and bee industry leaders, all summer long. Brood pattern, bee population, and queen viability were all very closely watched and recorded as experiments were conducted. Shotgun patterns were not seen.

    Rob, you commented "never talk about the shortcomings"
    I have talked to a few russian sellers and have always had questions answered honestly concerning those areas you point out. As a seller of russians myself, I can say that small winter cluster, queens shutting down, and the other comments have been mentioned many times just on this forum alone. I do not see some of those qualities you mention as shortcomings. Of course I am not typically discussing January pollination in California.

    Unless you ask about those features, and someone has refused, than I can see that. But as I said, I have spoke to a few and they were more than willing to tell me what they knew. If your suggesting that breeders do not openly comment on shortcomings of russian in advertisements, thats self-explainable. Most advertisements promote the positives, and leave out the negative. Its called marketing.

  5. #25
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    BjornBee,
    I guess Rinderer in his articles still needs to present the Russian bee as he did the Yugo bee to keep interest up. He he. He did a wonderful job of marketing the Yugo bee.

    Many times researchers are like receivers in football. They want to run with the football before they catch the ball! Bee-L would never run a post with the above kidding of researchers! Why I like Beesource!

    I can only speak about my experience with SMR II breeder queens (as released by the Baton Rouge Bee lab several years ago). Both the F1 & F2 were doing shotgun patterns with mine and every beekeeper I spoke with which got the SMR Glenn Apiaires II breeder queens first release.

    Perhaps the situation has been corrected by now?

    Certainly a cross with the Russian would bring back brood viability if inbreeding was the original problem.

    How varroa tolerant are these new SMR crosses? I bet not as much as the originals which after a whole season had zero to a single varroa in natural fall. Those F1 & F2 carried the lowest varroa count of any bee I ever tested.

    Which brings us back to the revelation of Marla that SMR is a form of hygienic behavior and the bees are pulling and eating the pupa leaving the holes ( Baton Rouge bee lab web site information).

    No holes but yet varroa tolerant with the new release. Interesting!

    I guess I will have to revisit the SMR issue with this years SMR release and see for myself.
    Bob Harrison

  6. #26
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    NoviceBee:

    I recommend finding some local beekeepers (maybe some of you reading this thread are from NC?) and talking to them about their success with different races of bees. One of more of them may even be able to provide you with bees well suited to the local conditions.

    You might want to explore the use of small/natural cell sizes. Michael Bush offers a lot of good advice on that topic (a lot of that advice can be found on other threads).

    No matter what you choose, your best bet to avoid losses from Varroa mites is regular monitoring through sticky boards or ether or powdered-sugar rolls. If mite numbers are increasing, be prepared to treat. Again beekeepers in your area will be able to offer the best advice on treatment options. If monitored and treated properly, bees from strains that lack genetic resistance mechanisms for mites can be just as successfull as bees that have the genes.

    No matter what, be ready for some losses as you start out. Like any other endeavor, the learning curve is the steepest at the beginning. I know I lost hives when I started out to stupid mistakes as well as diseases and parasites. Don't give up because a few hives of bees die out on you.

    Best of luck!

  7. #27
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    Rob,
    >Which brings us back to the revelation of Marla that SMR is a form of hygienic behavior and the bees are pulling and eating the pupa leaving the holes ( Baton Rouge bee lab web site information).

    >No holes but yet varroa tolerant with the new release. Interesting!

    How many holes are you assuming should there be? You say none or one on a mite drop when you looked at smr queens, and then suggest that with a shotgun pattern, there is what?..hundreds or thousands of mites within the comb being cleaned out by the bees??? Where were they (you) getting these mites? Were you introducing them?

    Are you suggesting that to have a varroa tolerant bee you must have holes in the brood pattern? What if you had no mites to begin with on a level to equate into shotgun patterns? I would suggest that a low mite level would be seen also in a good brood pattern void of shotgun patterns. Having no mite drop as you suggest, and having shotgun patterns, would raise questions as to where these mites are coming from within the cells. Certainly they would be on the bees to complete the cycle and continue on a timeline worth noting by research standards.

    Varroa tolerant bees and no holes. Yes I can see it. Mite tolerant bees and shotgun patterns with no mite drop as you suggest???? I'll have to think about that.

  8. #28
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    BjornBee
    We are clearly not on the same page. Not unusual but makes things hard to cover. I will try a bit tomorrow to answer some of your questions. Glenn Davis (Bell Hill Honey) will be here any minute for a discussion and I have got a Christmas get together tonight.

    Do you understand about brood viability? Alleles and inbreeding?

    About the new hygienic SMR information?
    if not go to the Baton Rouge Bee lab SMR page and review the new information Dr. Harbo Posted Oct. 5th. of this year.

    I think then you will better understand what I have written & why.

    News flash!
    Dr. Harbo is retiring the last of this month. What a loss to beekeeping!

    Many of my posts confuse people which is normal. The reason why they are long most of the time. We are all on here to learn. Right?
    Bob Harrison

  9. #29
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    I'll wait......

  10. #30
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    The shotgun pattern is related to the laying of diploid drones. This only occurs with highly inbred crosses (e.g. SMR queen mated to SMR drones), and is related to bee lines that only possess a few sex alleles. Open mated queens almost never have this problem. SMR queens inseminated with non-SMR drones should be OK, although their daughters might shoot some blanks (if they are backcrossed to SMR drones). I did notice that for the first few days, some cells had multiple eggs present. This may have been due to a laying worker. The problem went away on its own.

  11. #31
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    I'm really sorry to hear about Harbo's retirement. Hopefully he will continue to keep bees and be active in the beek community.

  12. #32
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    Aspera, I understand alleles and in-breeding. I am just curious as to the comment Rob made about finding it interesting about the possibility of a varroa tolerate bee and no shotgun pattern. He gives the indication that this can not happen or that he has never seen it before.
    My point has to do with maintaining bees with natural controls, having varroa tolerant bees, and through a very low or no mite count, this translating into a hive with no shotgun pattern. At some point mites would be at a level that just common sense would indicate that not enough mites would be present to cause shotgun patterns. If he finds that concept interesting, than I await the concept that this is unachievable. Tying in alleles, in-breeding, and brood viability to answer and provide a concept against this will be very interesting.

    [size="1"][ December 14, 2005, 09:23 AM: Message edited by: BjornBee ][/size]

  13. #33
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    BjornBee & Aspera,
    cannibalism in honey bees:
    I only asked about the inbreeding to make sure I did not need to cover the complex world of inbreeding. Aspera did a good job of explaining the diploid drones. The one point left out was the fact that as soon as the bees see the brood is diploid drone they EAT the eggs/larva.Thw way they know the eggs are diploid drone is unknown. All the books say so and I have observed the behavior myself in OB hives.
    The next case of cannibalism the beekeeper might observe is in a starving hive. When not starving most dead late stage brood is simply discarded either out the entrance or flown out 20 feet and dropped. A weak hive you might find the dead simply on the bottom board.
    I set up experiments twice to see the amount of pressure needed to force the OB hives into cannibalism. In both cases the bees were in fact starving before they resorted to cannibalism. One case only a few bees were involved and in the other they all joined in or so it seemed.
    In both cases when a frame of honey was placed in the observation hive the cannibalism stopped.
    Other researchers on the list may have observed different and would be interesting to hear their observations but those are mine.
    I have never seen a cannibalism experiment published or heard about done so I did two myself.
    Bob Harrison

  14. #34
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    I had edited my previous comment and did not realize Rob had already posted. I have returned my last post to its original for as to keep the information flowing uninterrupted without back changes.

  15. #35
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    BjornBee & Aspera,
    The question we are looking at is why the shotgun pattern with the SMR bees which was consistant (at first) in every hive. It is true the SMR II breeder queens were only a method to transport the SMR trait genetics (still not completely understood)to the beekeepers apiairies.
    We put over a 100 hives headed by F1 queens and over 50 headed by F2 queens. All had shotgun brood patterns and produced little if any honey due to in my opinion the lack of bees.
    The books will say inbreeding is always cured by the F1 outcross. I would say a reasonable statement but there are exceptions with severe inbreeding.
    The problem with outcrossing with say the Russian is you lose varroa tolerance with each outcross. The closer to RUssian/Russian the most varroa tolerance . the farther away from Russian/ Russian a marked loss of varroa tolerance.( Bob Harrison 2002)
    Bob Harrison

  16. #36
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    I have got to stop for about thirty minutes for business reasons but will continue shortly. Sorry.
    Will take about three more posts to finnish. I want Aspera & BjornBee to fully understand the issue so they can explain to others that hygienic behavior and SMR are not the same and why the *holes* issue is important.
    Talk later
    Bob Harrison

  17. #37
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    Saying that SMR and AFB resistance have some mechanistic similarites doesn't seem like such a stretch to me. They are similar, but not the same.

    Bob,

    I'm geussing that your F1 shotgun pattern queens were open mated daughters of a SMR homozygote X SMR drones. Even if the F1 mated with a single drone from her own hive, it could cause the problem that you mention. This problem is exactly 1/2 as severe with SMR X Russian hybrids open mated to a small percentage of SMR drones. I do not worry about diluting the Russian genetics, but rather maintaining the SMR trait. I primarily wish to maintain Italian buildup and brood rearing characteristics. I have taken it on faith that the carnie or russian characteristics are always superior in the paternal cross. If given a choice of "purebred" race, it would be hard to surpass the Italian in my apiary. Its temperment, comb building, honey production and low inclination to swarming are very endearing to me.

  18. #38
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    Is it fair to say, then, that there are really two different genetic sources/ descriptors for Varroa suppression:

    1. SMR
    2. Hygenic (Bob will explain how this differs from SMR in a subsequent post)

    The value of the Russian, by contrast, is that the Russian trait is to be tolerant of high mite loads. So with the Russians, by contrast, you are not really suppressing mite load but simply tolerating it.

  19. #39
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    Aspera,
    I certainly agree on the Italian line. Many of my crosses and failures have been trying to introduce varroa tolerance into the Italian bee.
    I was never very successful but Dann Purvis was so why reinvent the wheel? I am only two years into testing his line but I like what I see so far.
    The best varroa tolerant bees I have came up with are from the dark races.
    I agree with the things you said with one exception which is what the original subject is about.
    The bee lab and Dr. Harbo has done an about face and is now saying those first SMR queens did not have a brood viability problem but the shotgun brood pattern was from the removal and cannibalism of pupae. I will give direct quotes from Dr. Harbo in the next post.
    Dr. Harbo sent us all an information sheet explaining the brood viability issue (in 2002 I think) and also explained to me the inbred problem in converstation we had in person (2001 or 2002).
    Every time I visit the Baton Rouge Bee Lab web site I print updates. All the information has been updated on 12-13-05. The original SMR report I quoted from on BEE-L has been changed again. Strange.
    Bob Harrison

  20. #40
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    David,
    Correct!
    I believe the Russian bee tolerates varroa by handling both varroa load and the PMS. I have seen some high varroa loads in untreated Russian bees but no brood PMS signs. I have seen some Russian outcrosses with bees with DWV but no signs of PMS. I suspect if I took the time to look I would find a very mild form of PMS in the Russian outcross. It is possible they clean up PMS brood fast and remove from the hive. Don't know as I have never looked closely.It is my opinion you lose varroa tolerance with each outcross of the Russian bee.
    Which brings me to the real issue which is why SMR is so important to Aspera & myself. The SMR trait seems to be additive (Harbo 2005) and Rothenbuler's hygienic behavior was recessive( Harbo 2005).
    In other words if you could fix the trait in a line of bees the trait should stay clear into F3 or F4. I am not saying you would not need to use a SMR breeder queen every few years to help keep the trait fixed if you were migratory and picking up outside genetics from almond or blueberry pollination when your hives were close to other hives. 10-20 % of queens can be lost in the movement into pollination from movement from Florida to Maine or Florida to California. If your hives were strong and eggs present then bringing in outside genetics is real. A beekeeper on permanant locations would be able to fix the SMR trait easier.
    Bob Harrison

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