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Thread: SMR Bees

  1. #61
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    Aspera
    Dr.Harbo was an invited guest speaker to our New Zealand National Beekeepers conference in 2001 just one year after the varroa incursion here.Those of us on the deliminating survey team seen the effects and non effects in commercial and hobbiest hives to varroa over a considerable time.Simply as commercial beekeepers we want high honey production together with bees resistant to the varroa mite.Dr.Harbo passed his work onto our bee scientist in 2001 and work by our bee scientist's team has been ongoing since.Some of us are willing to share our findings from different approaches and exchange our queens.By request I published 3 short articles in the New Zealand Beekeeper Magazine from mid 2005 in regards to my own selection of bees resistant to varroa in my New Zealand hives.Some may find it interesting that in my own case I was able to select breeders from the most prolific repeatative honey production hives over two consecative years headed by the the same queen,then select for varroa resistance following the varroa incursion several years later.Viable brood pattern and bee numbers are paramont in this selecting.Bob Harrison has covered a number of very important factors in his posts here and I can asure those interested that this work has to be done in the hives that are varroa resistant.Interesting findings over the last 6 years lead me to revisit and research work done by two other researches.I take all findings by others seriously.Aspera, Alois Wallner of Randeg researched and published his findgs over 5 years study in the early 90's called "Varroaresistant" published in German and in that time studied over 1700 damaged mites in his varroa selection and breeding from his resistant hives.Alois has given me permission to reproduce his work and I do have the English translation.Last year I revisited the work of the Swiss Bee research in regards to real time reproduction of varroa under the capped cell.Peter Fluri went to great lengths to put there work onto DVD for my studies and has given me permission to put this DVD into our New Zealand National Beekeepers Technical Library.This original work is in German and French.

    [size="1"][ December 17, 2005, 06:19 PM: Message edited by: Bob Russell ][/size]
    BOB

  2. #62
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    This is the site and information posted by the bee lab on Oct. 5th 2005. Not sure if still around as I could not relocate yesterday but found my printed off copy.
    http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archiv...5/hive1005.htm
    Bob Harrison

  3. #63
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    BjornBee,
    I am glad i found the working link. After you visit the last link I provided I believe all my post will make sense.

    The site refers to bees eating the pupa & the varroa. Not what I saw (3-4 years ago) but what do I know.

    Also you can clearly see the shotgun pattern which looks like a failing queen or an inbred queen.

    Also you can easily understand why Aspera and I had a hard time getting honey production. A large part of the workforce are being removed from the workforce by the hygienic behavior.

    Does NOT happen with cerana (natural host of varroa) because the varroa infest the drone cells and varroa is somewhat controlled by not being able to reproduce during the period the bees are not raising drones.

    Until the problem of a shotgun pattern is solved the usefulness of SMR bees to the commercial beekeeper will remain in question.
    Bob Harrison

  4. #64
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    Here is the link.

    http://www.ars.usda.gov/research/pub..._NO_115=161315


    They specifically state that pure ARS Russian colonies have resistance/fewer mites. This does dot exclud the possibility of tolerance as well.

  5. #65
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    I have held off commenting, and perhaps now some questions can be asked and answered.

    What is the value of smr in the hive? Let me expand....

    Rob has stated that with 100 F1 and 50 F2 queens, a shotgun pattern was seen in every(?) hive. Harbo, although now perhaps not for the same reasoning, suggested that cross breeding and open mating eliminated for the most part this result. I have not seen shotgun patterns with my smr line. And I also understand that the further away from the pure smr queen the more watered down the trait will be. With that said, ....

    If the smr trait can be displayed on a level that produces shotgun patterns, I can assume one or more of the following....

    1)The initial infestation is at such a level that the intial response in cleaning cells will give the shotgun appearance. This has been shown by tests of introducing infested comb.

    2)The continual reinfestation is at a level that continual cleanup is needed on a level to produce a shotgun pattern. Can bees bring in that many mites to continue the shotgun appearance, and if so, is this a contaminated study or more true to actual field application?

    3) The smr bees are missing enough reproducing mites allowing a continual reproduction cycle, at a level that mites can continue the cycle of the shotgun appearance.

    4)The bees are cleaning out much more than just reproducing mites, given the shotgun pattern and yet the continual pattern with no end in sight. Virus infected, bacterial contamination. other???

    5)Researchers have no clue.

    6) Other???

    I originally ask at what point bees would have the mites at a level that shotgun patterns would not be seen. Rob's comment:
    >No holes but yet varroa tolerant with the new release. Interesting!
    indicating that although with 150 hives tested by him, he either does not think hives can be mite tolerant via smr traits and not have shotgun patterns, or he has never seen one himself.

    I will also assume that Robs comment about unproductive hives on a level that honey production was not seen must of occurred with hives given enough time to lower mite level to a point that the hive should of been somewhat healthy. But apparently this never happened. The shotgun pattern continued with no positive end resulting. Although Rob indicated low or no mite drop, the continueing shotgun pattern, and bees only maintained at a level for hive continuation, and no honey production, indicates that something is missing.

    Is smr bees doing more than removing reproducing mites? Is it perhaps on a scale not yet realized? What if smr bees removed not only reproducing mite cells, but viral infected lavae/pupae, cells with bacteria issues, and other cells. Could it be concieved that with a level of lavae/pupae removed, that hives with smr traits could not(ever) be productive? Tests have confirmed that even in healthy colonies, viruses not displayed are there. These same colonies may also be mite load tolerant and very productive. What would be the impact of introducing smr traits, given the fact that others have seen a continual shotgun pattern to the extent that the hives are unproductive?

    I will suggest that if more is in play that we know, and that is probably true, smr traits would have to be isolated down to individual selection. (Ie. removing reproductive mites but leaving other cells with obvious problems.) Or would we almost have to have bees with no bacterial or viral issues before the smr trait of removing reproducing mites be helpful? Is that possible?, selecting for individual removal triggers that possible could not happen or make the bees useless, due to the maintaining of the line and the associated issues and problems.

    Just on the surface, I question a trait that removes enough bees to give shotgun pattern, and yet leaves the hives unproductive. Whether its odor, screaming pupae, or anything else, that triggers removal, I'll let better heads prevail and hopefully answer those questions. It just seems to me that just removing reproductive mites is not adding up.

    Given the fact that enough IPM is out there and with other lines showing promise, what is the value of the smr? Rob's comment of one or none in a drop count, (which I believe many beekeepers would be happy with), and yet a continual shotgun pattern and an unproductive hive makes me wonder about the usefullness of smr at this time. That or alot more is to the story and the dots are just not connected. If they were so good at removing reproducing mites, would you not eventually see this shotgun pattern dissappear?

    Although I have used smr in my apiaries, I do not see shotgun patterns. I also question the level of smr trait with the queens daughters and continued lines. It should be noted that I use russian/smr and not pure smr breeder queens. Is the trait still there? Is it being utilized, but perhaps on a lower scale not seen by classic shotgun patterns?

    Is the smr trait so effective that we need to go in the other direction of it being watered down?

  6. #66
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    BjornBee,
    I wished I had answers for your questions. I have got some hypothesis but those are based on my research of several years ago so are dated.
    Some thoughts:
    I believe I could have came up with a workable SMR bee from my original SMR II stock but as I said in the post I would have to do the work myself. With the F2 showing shotgun brood I could not use in a commercial production queen setting for obvious reasons.
    The SMR/Russian cross seems to be a workable solution from the information posted. Easy for me to create. SMR II breeder queen/Russian drones.
    Daughters raised and then open mated with Russian drones. *Should* produce good brood viability.
    Glenn Apiairies offers both the SMR/SMR and the SMR hybrid queens. I used the red and the yellow line SMR/SMR queens.
    A current test of both lines would involve several queens. Asking might be easier as I am sure others reported back their results. I did not.
    The problem with the above would be if you are a breeder which wants varroa tolerant bees but not Russian genetics. I guess you could order a SMR queen instrumentally inseminated to a carniolan or Italian line. Not what I would do but would perhaps lose the shotgun brood pattern with also the loss of some varroa tolerance.
    I liked the SMR trait better when the bees were simply eating the diploid drone brood and something else was supposedly happening. Controlling varroa by hygienic behavior in late stage pupae is a serious waste of hive resources in my opinion.
    I made the statement years ago that creating a hive which can survive varroa without being able to produce surplus honey or do pollination is a curosity rather than the savior of the commercial beekeeping industries varroa problems.
    BjornBee I think now has an excellent understanding of the issue.
    To sum the varroa tolerant bee scenario up the varroa tolerant bees found by the "live & let die" method *using added varroa pressure* has produced the best varroa tolerant bee in the fastest period of time BUT the method does not provide us with *why* they tolerate varroa.
    Researchers like Harbo, Harris & Spivak are working hard to explain the why and create the same bee Dann Purvis & I have got through research. I believe they will be succesful in the end but both SMR & hygienic behavior as varroa control still needs research.
    Bob Harrison

  7. #67
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    Bjorn:

    Are you assuming that the sole value of the SMR trait is hygenic? If so, look at the recent article cited above. They found that the mites themselves were less productive. They removed sealed brood infested by mites and found that the mites from SMR hives were less productive. So something other than hygenic behavior is in play here.

    I am thinking and hoping that the shotgun patterns id'd by Bob are a result of earlier SMR genetics from inbreeding that have now been flushed out of the system, or at least reduced.

    The main thing, I think, is for us beeks to get ahold of these SMR genetics and work with them in our hives like you and Bob are doing. I admit I am too sloppy to be a good scientist and report back in a way that would have scientific value. But even without reporting back, or reporting back anecdotally, if we get these SMR traits circulating in our hives, and if their daughters are bred to untreated survivors, it has to be for the better.

    This is really exciting stuff and I thank everyone for their comments.

  8. #68
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    >They removed sealed brood infested by mites and found that the mites from SMR hives were less productive. So something other than hygenic behavior is in play here.

    That's been my understanding and that's why I'm assuming that one possible explanation is the immune system of the bees producting something that is interfering with the reproduction of the mites.

    >I am thinking and hoping that the shotgun patterns id'd by Bob are a result of earlier SMR genetics from inbreeding that have now been flushed out of the system, or at least reduced.

    This was also my understanding, that the shotgun brood was merely because of the inbreeding, although seeing an empty cell now and then, could be hygenic behavior, that shouldn't be on a large scale. The small cell beekeepers who have observed chewing out of mites, still don't see large scale shotgun patterns.

    I wonder if anyone bothered to measure the cell size drawn by the SMR's. [img]smile.gif[/img]
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  9. #69
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    Michael,

    I think you missed an important point from the hygenic evaluations. The number of non-reproducing mites was essentially the same for control and SMR colonites. What changed was the number of reproductive mites. In other words, the mite reduction was directly correlated with removal of reproductive mites. This doesn't mean there is no immune response. It does significantly reduce the probable impact.

    Fusion

  10. #70
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    An article "Cleaning HouseÂ* and Hive" published in the October 2005 issue of Agricultural Research Magazine demonstrates the hygienic behavior and resulting shotgun effect of SMR bees encountering varroa mites in capped brood.

    http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archiv...5/hive1005.htm

    To demonstrate Varroa-sensitive hygiene by SMR bees, a highly infested brood comb was cut into halves, and each half was placed in a cage with 2,000 test bees for 24 hours.

    Control bees (non-SMR) placed on the brood comb removed only 12 pupae and uncapped only another 19 pupae (33 percent of uncapped cells were infested with Varroa mites).

    SMR bees placed on the brood comb removed 215 pupae and uncapped another 178 pupae (90 percent of uncapped cells were infested with Varroa mites).

    Perhaps, colonies infested with Varroa mites and exhibiting a shotgun brood pattern should be carefully evaluated before requeening the colony. Thus, the shotgun brood pattern may disappear once the Varroa mites are controlled in the hive.

    Jim Young

  11. #71
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    Fusion and Jim

    I don't think anyone is denying the hygenic aspect of it. But there is apparently more to it that just the ability to detect and remove infested pupae, and I think we are just speculating on the mechanism.

  12. #72
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    I also attended the Queen Breeding workshop in June of 05 with Mr. Bush and Mr. Harrison by Dr. Spivak. Having given this Queen Breeding a lot of thought I did a little digging for what I want. Lately I decided to contact Dr. Spivak about continued improvment in her line of bees. She has not stopped working with her line. The SMR trait is been added to the Minn. Hygenic. Queens were sent to Glenn Apiary this past fall. Wanting to set these traits in my hives I Called Glenn Apiary and ordered a queen for delivery the second week of April.
    Now if I paid attention in class I will be able to replace the queens in my hives by breeding from this Queen.
    Jerry Kern

  13. #73
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    >What changed was the number of reproductive mites.

    Yes, less of them.

    >In other words, the mite reduction was directly correlated with removal of reproductive mites.

    That may be true, but that was not my understanding from what I've seen presented.

    >Perhaps, colonies infested with Varroa mites and exhibiting a shotgun brood pattern should be carefully evaluated before requeening the colony. Thus, the shotgun brood pattern may disappear once the Varroa mites are controlled in the hive.

    I agree. I think we should keep it in mind. This is a dangerous line to draw, though. We don't want to perpetuate queens that are not viable, but we do want to perpetuate queens that are hygenic. How do we know for sure which they are?
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  14. #74
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    >But there is apparently more to it that just the ability to detect and remove infested pupae, and I think we are just speculating on the mechanism.

    I read somewhere that in addition to hygenics, bees with SMR traits have larva that spin their cocoons a bit earlier than other bees.

    After the mite crawls into the brood cell and immerses itself in the brood food and extends its "snorkel", it apparently becomes dormant and actually looks quite dead. The first day or two after capping, the larva consumes all the brood food and the mite "wakes up" and attaches itself to the larva to feed -- all before the larva spins its cocoon.

    If the mite "wakes up" too late, the larva spins its cocoon and traps the mite at the bottom of the cell where it dies. At least according to this article, this "early cocooning" is one of the traits that make SMR bees effective in suppressing mite reproduction.

  15. #75
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    Michael said:
    " We don't want to perpetuate queens that are not viable, but we do want to perpetuate queen that are hygienic"

    I think its fair to say hygienic bees can not control varroa as judged hygienic by the freeze brood test method.

    My partner bought several Marla Spivak hygienic II breeder queens from Glenn Apiaries and said he raised around a thousand queens from those. They were hygienic for sure and the II breeder queens removed the amount of brood in 24 hours to be judged hygienic by Marla( we tested each). When checkmite failed to control varroa in his hives he lost 80% of his hygienic bees to varroa mites.

    Marla's drones were the drone source for the SMR breeder queens we got from Glenn Apiaires. Poor brood viability. I used a survivor drone source for the F2 queens and still had poor brood viability.

    If one accepts the lab's new version of whats happening with the SMR bees then varroa could easily keep numbers up and the bees would spend all their energy removing late stage pupae and uncapping cells looking for varroa. Which would account for the low honey production Aspera, myself and my partner saw.

    I tested SMR/Marla Spivak crosses for three years and even sent many to California. The shotgun pattern stayed.

    Marla bringing in SMR genetics and working out a varroa tolerant cross which does not carry the shotgun brood pattern would be great but if the shotgun brood pattern is a direct result of the pulling of late stage pupae and as Michael says we are selecting for bee with even a higher degree of SMR/hygienic behavior then will not the shotgun brood pattern remain. Perhaps selecting among the SMR/hygienic for bees which pull the varroa out of the pool of royal jelly in the bottom of a cell would be a better idea than waiting for late stage pupae? How about a race of bee which feeds on varroa for protein instead of pollen! (hey I can dream can't I).
    Bob Harrison

  16. #76
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    To try the other way around. What if all these years we've bee breeding for "good brood patterns" and all along were breeding OUT hygenic behavior and causing the AFB outbreaks?

    The problem is there is more than one reason for shotgun brood patterns. It would probably be best if we could tell the cause and not just the symptom.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  17. #77
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    Michael,

    Many times I suspect we humans have been the cause of and not the cure for beekeeping problems.

    I just finished a limited analysis of the available information about hygenic bees vs SMR bees. The bees with SMR characteristics must share at least one of the loci with the brood cleaning hygenic trait. Said another way, brood cleaning hygenic bees (BH) are based on two recessive genes one for uncapping and one for removing diseased larvae. Varroa hygenic SMR bees (VH) have at least two genes, one for uncapping infested larvae, and one for removing infested larvae. The limited data available indicates that at least 2 more genes must be involved in the VH bees. Maybe one for detecting infested larvae? I could only speculate what the fourth does. The basic problem is that these genes occur at very very low frequencies in a bee population. I'm not sure why but there will be a reason.

    Fusion

  18. #78
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    Well, since we've been breeding out any queens where there's spotty brood on the assumption that is awlays a bad thing and maybe sometimes there was a reason, that would explain the low frequency of hygenic behavior.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  19. #79
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    I have seen many drones in front of my russian hive in mid summer and often wondered if the bees were not allowing them in.Even if I try to push them in the won't go.maybe its away to surpress mites?

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