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  1. #1
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    Evening fellows!

    How do those of you that have move to captured feral swarms manage them? What are the culling procedures? How ruthless is the cull? Do you ever use commercial bloodlines or is there an 'Underground Feral Railroad' to exchange bloodlines?

    Kinda curious...

    One of my earlier incarnations was as a microbiologist with an interest in genetics. And my aquisition of bees has sparked a resurgence in that field and a specific interest in the adaptation to a specific enviroment.

    Thanks,
    Albert
    September 8th 2007 is National Beekeeping Day
    American Agriculture, its as close as the nearest Honeybee!

  2. #2
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    I would think with ferals nature is the culling mechanism.

    given the problems here with ahb, varroa and the more tradional brood disease my current policy is to limit picking up feral (I do pick up a swarm from time to time) and always place them in a seperate temporary holding yard. for all the swarms I do retrieve a sample (about 50 workers) is sent to the state bee lab to determine ahb.

  3. #3
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    Once feral bees are placed into managed hives do they remain feral?
    Are managed bees with an older queen that swarm, leave the hive and set up in the woods, feral?
    Why does the chicken cross the road?
    What came first the chicken or the egg?
    Questions????

  4. #4
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    --How do those of you that have move to captured feral swarms manage them? What are the culling procedures? How ruthless is the cull? --(Albert)

    Hello Albert!

    I’ve been all feral honeybees for several years. This was achieved not as a goal, but simply by culling of the worst performers which resulted in all commercial stock getting culled due to poor performance against the ferals

    I have found out quite by accident a great way to assess and cull out the dud feral swarms (for there are many). I restrict my swarms to single deeps and place them in my poorest location for the initial 18 weeks of assessment. In such poor forage locations are tough of bees and the best genetics will stand out above the rest. In this poor location, the nearest forage location is more than 1.5 miles away, and this helps me to select for specific traits. If placed in a good location, even the poor stock will tend to do better making it a bit more difficult to tell apart, but it can be done with careful observation skills.

    I assess for the three stages listed below.
    I usually have 40 to 50% culled by the end of the first stage 18 weeks. But if remote type ferals are targeted, the level of culling will be reduced to about 10 maybe 20 percent.

    (1) Colony initiation and growth
    This assessment phase lasts from colony initiation on thru till the end of the first active season, a total of approximately 18 weeks after the colonies are established.

    (2) winter survival and hardiness.
    This assessment phase lasts from the end of the first active season thru winter until first pollen.

    (3) spring reproduction.
    This assessment phase lasts from first pollen up until swarming season begins

    --Do you ever use commercial bloodlines or is there an 'Underground Feral Railroad' to exchange bloodlines?--(Albert)

    Never will I ever use commercial stock, they just do not perform well against the ferals. I may be willing to provide feral stock to people, but I will not accept stock from others just yet unless strict requirements are met.


    --One of my earlier incarnations was as a microbiologist with an interest in genetics. And my aquisition of bees has sparked a resurgence in that field and a specific interest in the adaptation to a specific enviroment.--(Albert)

    This adaptation is key to ferals! I was worried for years how remote ferals need to be to be able to develop varroa resistance and recover on their own with all the commercial stock scattered about. Most experts say remoteness is needed in any breeding operation. But what I am seeing here with the woodland ferals, is that they have already recovered in semi remote areas and I am also seeing some divergence away from traits normally associated in resistance in commercial stock.

  5. #5
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    WG,
    Feral is domestic gone wild. Enviromental pressures usually result in either new traits that adapt to a local, or more likely a regression to pre-domestication traits.
    I would guess that if they are managed intensivly you might say they are once again livestock. If you leave them to their own devises then I would define them as feral. As long as the breeding is for the most part performed with limited human influence, then I don't have any issue with calling them feral.

    Joe,
    The greater the enviromental pressure, the more likely that a change will occur in the genome. I suppose given enough time any domestic bees will isolate whatever genetic trait allows it to survive. The usual Darwinian method!

    The bees I recently ended up with have been living on their own for some time now and where there where approx 10 or 11 hives at one time, only eight have survived over time. Now I don't know if maybe at one time only one hive survived and repopulated the other seven. But all of the bee's combs cells are small, there is little evidence of any disease, and the supers, though glued completly together, in addition to lotsa bur-comb, are chuck full of honey. They seem to be doing something right.

    I think I like your straight forwaed method and intend to follow a simular one.

    Thanks
    Albert
    September 8th 2007 is National Beekeeping Day
    American Agriculture, its as close as the nearest Honeybee!

  6. #6
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    albert sezs:
    But all of the bee's combs cells are small

    tecumseh adds:
    this 'can' be an indicator of africanization.

    years back a old bee keeper with whom I worked suggested that unattended bees most of the time thrived better than their often attended sisters. along these same lines I have in the past suggested that new beekers limit the number and/or frequency of hive manipulation.

    as I think you fully understand 'culling' is often time the forgotten (and in my mind most important) aspect of selection (either natural or not).

  7. #7
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    Albert
    I did not expect a response as I was making fun of the play on words that occures when beekeepers talk.
    Webster Dictionary defines "feral" as :
    1. untamed; wild 2.savage; brutal.
    By this definition all honey bees whether hived and managed in brood boxes or collected from the wild are ferals. the honey bee is a wild insect creature that has not been domesticated, like the cow. We use this wild insect only because we have learned to manage and manipulate them for our benefit. They are not "tamed".
    Frank

    [size="1"][ December 01, 2006, 07:00 AM: Message edited by: WG Bee Farm ][/size]

  8. #8
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    Frank,
    No offence intended. I don't know y'all yet, please forgive any misunderstanding as I didn't mean any harm.

    Oh and I'm sorry for all the misspelled word it was late!!

    Thanks,
    Albert
    September 8th 2007 is National Beekeeping Day
    American Agriculture, its as close as the nearest Honeybee!

  9. #9
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    Hello all. This is an interesting and important topic. We have been incorporating "ferals" into our program for years. By any measurement honeybees are not truly completely domesticated. That aside, what fascinates me is the two-way gene flow between managed and unmanaged (feral) populations. Drones from both groups will breed with queens from both groups. These gene pools are not usually separate distinct entities; except for in the case of barriers to reproduction: natural geographic barriers to reproduction or biological barriers (flight times of drones and queens, speciation, etc). For instance I have noticed in remote areas here in Southern Oregon where we began our breeding program, there now seems to be more feral colonies. We pulled out of that area six ears ago and when we started it was extremely rare to see honeybees, now despite few to no beekeepers in that area it is not uncommon to see bees in very remote areas, even at higher elevations. Could these be descendants from my initial Russians and SMRs? I know there were many swarms that escaped and contributed to the unmanaged gene pool. I would expect that as survivor stocks are propagated and shipped around the country the numbers of feral colonies would increase. I see feral populations as a gene pool that we can both draw on and contribute to.
    JBJ
    John B Jacob www.oldsolbees.com

  10. #10
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    [I see feral populations as a gene pool that we can both draw on and contribute to.]

    This seriously demonstrates that we have a responsibility to assure that the genetics we are contributing aren't garbage else we'll be polluting rather than contributing to.
    There is always more than one way to skin a cat, that's of course if you're into eating cats.

  11. #11
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    Nature culls the garbage in the absence of human intervention. I believe the ecological term would be natural selection. What would worry me would be transgenic genes artificially introduced to the bee genome getting out there to never be isolated again.
    JBJ
    John B Jacob www.oldsolbees.com

  12. #12
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    Hello JBJ!

    At least in my area, I have not been able to see any evidence that suggests commercial stock are contributing to the feral recovery. It appears recovery is occurring fastest in remote areas and gradually migrating closer to domestic beekeeping areas (my observations since I began collecting and assessing ferals after the varroa crashes of 1995).

    Although, ferals and domestics are no doubt exchanging some genetics (beneficial or not). I am still seeing a rather remarkable distinction between remote type ferals and domestics. That is, associated traits and queen body markings are generally different, and sometimes (as I am beginning to see in ferals collected) special traits associated to a breeding population of honeybees in one particular micro habitat, intrestingally enough may not be apparent in another, or at the least, expressed at different levels.

    So this seems to suggest to me that there is ‘a race‘, a rapid evolution of varroa resistant genetics occurring in all feral honeybee populations. BUT each breeding population in the race to evolve this resistance, are sometimes employing different combinations of strategies to win this evolutionary race. It appears each population has it’s own unique combination of varroa resistant traits as a method of varroa suppression, developed from the most prominent traits present within that particular breeding population.

    A striking example of this separate evolution is a trait of extremely intense allogrooming behavior present in a remote population of feral honeybees that I discovered, which I have NEVER observed as of yet in any other ferals collected else ware. This line of allogrooming bees are my top performers and grooming (I suppose) is the main mode of resistance in combination with other traits, and location of this population for now will remain a secret. Other ferals are doing almost as well, but seemingly employ other modes of varroa resistance, some as yet undetermined.

    [size="1"][ December 02, 2006, 11:35 AM: Message edited by: Pcolar ][/size]

  13. #13
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    "It appears recovery is occurring fastest in remote areas.."

    What do you see with these bees when they are moved to a "non-remote" area?

    Could they be thriving in remote areas because their habitat is beyond the radius of the undesirable influence?

    Will they retain these traits when moved to a more diverse genetic environment?
    To everything there is a season....

  14. #14
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    --What do you see with these bees when they are moved to a "non-remote" area?--(Mike)

    Hello Mike!

    When I move these remote bees to my assessment yard and compare them to others in the same yard is when I assess and record the performance. When they are moved to the farmland, the colonies that assessed well in the poor forage location do remarkably better. I’m happy to see that when I make splits of my top performing ferals, the daughter colonies do equally well also.

    --Could they be thriving in remote areas because their habitat is beyond the radius of the undesirable influence?--(Mike)

    This is a great question, and one that has fascinated and perplexed me since my interest in ferals began. From what I am observing in my area and how the feral recovery is developing. It appears that it is not as important that the ferals be beyond the radius of influence from domestic honeybees, as it is that there be ‘superb habitat‘ necessary for them to thrive in. The quality and quantity of voids are an extremely important part of any feral bee habitat, and these abundant void areas seem to be the places where ferals are recovering the fastest. Think about it, what is important for a breeder in dominating the breeding sphere is to have many many hives, well the same must apply to the ferals. But yes, I agree that semi- remoteness is probably necessary.

    For instance, I found my allogrooming strain in prime farmland back in 2001, very early in the feral recovery process at a time when I was getting no referrals for honeybees due to the collapse of the ferals. I wondered for weeks in amazement about what made this particular area so special that they recover here first? It was farmland like any other, but the ferals were recovering here first, but the habitat or isolation seemed not that much different! Then it dawned on me, this farm land was from years back, old construction with abundant voids in abandoned farms and silos, farmhouses, sheds, 100 year old growth fence row tree lines, containing many many large prime type voids over a vast area of prime forage.

    --Will they retain these traits when moved to a more diverse genetic environment?--(Mike)

    Thank goodness, YES!

    So much so that I plan on capturing more allogrooming ferals from the first recovery location and also using my own allogrooming stock to introduce to a woodland enviornment that has ferals of astounding brood viability and colony fecundity. I do not know the mode of resistance in these woodland ferals just yet, but they do not exhibit grooming behavior. I believe if combined with the all grooming trait, I may be able to aid in the creation of a much more resistant and more productive feral bee a bit closer to home.

  15. #15
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    Your post raises a few interesting questions. Are you able to quantify the actual mite pressure in these remote areas? Left to their own devices bees from areas with the heaviest mite pressure are the ones most likely to be forced to develop resistance mechanisms. Strong selection pressure will yield some evolutionary response. What kind and how much selection pressure do these bees face? I would suspect there are ecological pockets with varying degrees of selection pressure and some remote areas may face less mite pressure due to lower exposure rates.

    What is the reproductive barrier between the ferals you refer to and commercial stocks? We sold a lot of queens in PA over the last two years. I will bet at least a few swarmed and will be putting out plenty of drones this spring; and some will have quasi-feral ancestry.
    JBJ
    John B Jacob www.oldsolbees.com

  16. #16
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    --Are you able to quantify the actual mite pressure in these remote areas?--(JBJ)

    Hello JBJ!

    Thanks for the great conversation!
    How would one quantify actual mite pressure in a particular area? Mites have infested every area in the lower 48. There is no area once having varroa that managed to eliminate it. A reproducing female varroa mite will kill a colony in 3 years, even if no mites are quantified in the area other than that found inside that colony.

    --Left to their own devices bees from areas with the heaviest mite pressure are the ones most likely to be forced to develop resistance mechanisms.-(JBJ)

    Please clarify what you mean by “bees from areas with the heaviest mite pressure are the ones most likely to be forced to develop resistance mechanisms”

    For example: Lets go ahead and look in detail at the ‘heaviest mite pressure’ my area ever experienced.

    It was during the years around 95 - 96 when losses ranged from 50 to 100% from varroa pressure. Heavy mite pressure of this magnitude was caused by the “stampede effect” from absconding bees fleeing non resistant colonies, and was reflective of the lack of resistance found in that population of honeybees. Often, it is the cause of a total collapse of the population of bees which every colony located in that area is a part of, resistant or not. So heavy mite pressure in an area is not reflective of a population of resistant honeybees, but suggests instead, a population of less resistant honeybees.

    My belief is that a colony that is placed in an area takes on the ALL stresses found in that area, the two are inseparable,,, a colony is part of the environment and to a degree also a part of the neighboring colonies. This is observed often in my area during the varroa crashes of the 90’s when it was not uncommon for one apiary to suffer more than 50% loss, and the next apiary none.

    From observing the ferals, it seems a highly resistant feral colony is part of it’s environment(as all colonies are), the two are inseparable. The resistant colonies found in a woodland environment have already experienced their varroa collapses and ebb and flow in varroa levels finding a balance in the breeding population to a varroa level that is compatible with it’s resistance and subsequent survival. Removing these ferals and placing them in highly infested yards destroys this equilibrium with the varroa that the colony as adapted to which may cause even resistant colonies to collapse under the pressure, or stampede effect.

    --Strong selection pressure will yield some evolutionary response. What kind and how much selection pressure do these bees face? I would suspect there are ecological pockets with varying degrees of selection pressure and some remote areas may face less mite pressure due to lower exposure rates..--(JBJ)

    I don’t understand what you mean by exposure rates? As a routine, all areas have been exposed to varroa, and continue to be exposed to varroa, and non resistant colonies will continue die if untreated causing heavy selective pressure, and the cycle continues. A sudden influx of varroa is not natural and will cause any colony to collapse.

    --What is the reproductive barrier between the ferals you refer to and commercial stocks?--(JBJ)

    Semi isolation and isolation by genetic dominance. Same as you as a breeder would tell others that you dominate the breeding with your stock, creating a barrier of sorts, so do the ferals. There is also the heating effect where ferals from the slightly higher elevation woodlands may reach drone flying conditions at a different time than lowlands, causing more woodland drones to be flying times woodland queens are flying. Also, recent evidence shows most queen mating occurring in the near vicinity and drones not flying as far as once suggested also.


    --We sold a lot of queens in PA over the last two years. I will bet at least a few swarmed and will be putting out plenty of drones this spring; and some will have quasi-feral ancestry.
    --JBJ

    Most breeders love to take credit for the feral recovery, but I just don’t see evidence of this claim in the ferals in my area. Feral swarms captured near to commercial beekeeping areas routinely die off for me, or get culled due to lack of growth, or end up non starters or as I call duds.

    [size="1"][ December 02, 2006, 04:34 PM: Message edited by: Pcolar ][/size]

  17. #17
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    Wow, lots of stuff there to respond to. Never intended to take credit for feral recovery, but I am convinced as we identify survivor stocks and propagate them there will be some that establish themselves in a variety of conditions. Are you asserting that all escape swarms from survivor stock from breeders and their clients actually make no beneficial contribution towards feral recovery?

    'Please clarify what you mean by “bees from areas with the heaviest mite pressure are the ones most likely to be forced to develop resistance mechanisms”'

    I guess what I am suggesting here is that there are some managed populations of bees that through pollination and other migratory/commercial activities may be exposed to extremely high mite levels. There are situations such as almond pollination where it may be reasonable to expect your hives to be exposed to large numbers of the most virulent mites. This would represent additional selection pressure. Did the pockets that survived the 95-96 crash you refer to survive due to resistant genetics or where there small isolated areas that were not exposed to mites or only to less virulent mites? I would bet all three situations occurred. To make a definite statement here, one would have to examine the matrilineal DNA of sampled mites.

    "So heavy mite pressure in an area is not reflective of a population of resistant honeybees, but suggests instead, a population of less resistant honeybees."

    This seems statement seems obvious. What I am suggesting is that it is an opportunity to test your bees to see if they can survive the onslaught and strong selection pressure that occurs in non-isolated commercial type environments.

    Parasite host equilibrium is a fascinating area of ecology to explore. Left to their own devises many parasite host relationships developed a non-lethal model of coexistence. Parasites would go extinct if they were 100% lethal to their hosts. There are situations where newly introduced species (Varroa) are way out of this type of equilibrium and may force their host to the brink of extinction. It is well documented that there are several strains of Varroa with varying degrees of virulence. Any idea what type is in your area?

    "Semi isolation and isolation by genetic dominance."

    I am not convinced that either of these two conditions represents a barrier to reproduction. As long as drone congregation areas and flight radii overlap there will be interbreeding. Genetic dominance in and of its self does not prevent mating between this closely related of organisms, unless you are suggesting sympatric speciation has occurred. I agree that nest location may influence mating flight times, however what is to prevent one of these escape swarms from a managed hive from setting up shop in the same location thus producing coincidental mating times?

    Don't get me wrong, I think the work you are doing is great and necessary. I just think we may have different views about the exchange of genetic material between feral and managed colonies. The terms feral and managed are often relative terms when it comes to bees. If one wanted to make some definitive statements one way or the other we would have to look at the DNA in these feral populations over time. Some of the best bees we have in our program have been from feral stock, but do they become less valuable over time? Only if we make poor selection choices; and in which case there will hopefully be a great feral gene pool to draw on from time to time. I see it as a give and take relationship.

    Apis mellifera is an introduced species to this hemisphere and Steve Sheppard and some of his students have done some interesting work looking at the genome of ferals and commercial lines. They are definitely more alike than not and share only a relative few common ancestors which established the honeybees in this country that we know and love today. Dr Sheppard has mentioned many times the extreme lack of genetic diversity in our bee gene pool is a real problem. I agree. Diversity is key to long-term sustainability. If all of our bees are too alike they will all be vulnerable to the same diseases, pathogens, and pests. It would be interesting to know the genetic ancestry of the ferals you are working with. It is possible to trace their DNA all the way back to their initial ancestors that came over with the settlers. The German black bee seems to be the only one that I recall still turning up outside commercial lines very rarely in assays of feral bee genomes. I think Dr Sheppard traced all feral and commercial DNA samples to only 8 of the 26 Old World sub-species. That fact coupled with mass die offs represent very large genetic bottleneck.

    Your feral bees ancestors were once managed, thus illustrating how human interaction can influence the spread of genes. This still occurs today as we mail bees all over the world.
    JBJ
    John B Jacob www.oldsolbees.com

  18. #18
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    [...during the years around 95 - 96 when losses ranged from 50 to 100% from varroa pressure. ]

    Mite infestations are cyclical (some say about 7 years.)

    [...areas with the heaviest mite pressure are the ones most likely to be forced to develop resistance mechanisms. ]

    Labratories (Spivak and Colby both I think) have said that a trigger must be present to initiate a response. However, I don't think anyone has said that a heavier trigger level necessarily relates to a better or faster adaptation. Just that a pressure must be present on some scale.

    I think these points are the reason some folks are not seeing the results that they expected from Russian lines. Russians maybe adapted to their micro-climate (and tolerate (not resist) mites very well). But put into our variable micro-climates throughout the US, we can not expect them to react the same. Seasonal changes, environmental fluctuations in temperature and humidity all impact the life cycle of mites. This can mean more mites at different seasons unlike those of Russia, and therefore performance can not be expected to be the same.

    I feel that even very genetically strong strains of bees still require a degree of acclimation to the specific region they are expected to perform.

    Besides an endless year in migratory beekeeping, these changes in micro-climates maybe what diminish the life of queen to months rather than years (among other stresses such as moving, etc.)

    This only further supports the need to raise local stocks of bees rather then depending on bulk bee producers to give us an ideal local stock. I think bulk bee producers do have a place in beekeeping (we have all had a time when we just needed more bee bodies). But my opinion is they are a band-aid, not a fix, and that a truely good fix has to be the product of good local beekeeping practices (feeding/rearing/wintering/etc.). Fortunately nature provides us a good source of her opinion of locally ideal bees in the for of ferals. And so I have to ask why not take advantage of that? And granted this thread can morph into "Are all ferals Equal?" but by concensus we already agree they are not. So we ask "How are they different?" And the answer to this answers the orignal thread question "What characteristics do you judge and cull swarms?" It depends on what the beekeeper values as important. If its a cyclical year and half his bees are dying from mites, his focus might be mites. If the weather is terrible and the honey crop is weak, it might be production. If the beekeeper is expanding then maybe a strong brood pattern becomes a focus. Everything eventually muttles to a shades of grey, because these expectations are likely to change year to year and efforts towards one result may undo the efforts towards a different result.

    [How ruthless is the cull?]

    If a beekeeper is smart he doesn't cull very often. For if he is a good beekeeper he realizes that every colony and queen has specific characteristics that are purposeful for a specific task (some for nucs and brood raising, others for comb honey, others for other tasks). He then puts the bees to work at that task. {Sailing his boat by the guiding stars}

    Else if he is lazy or narrow focused, then he will cull the queen and replace her with one aligned with his present or even whimsical goal. {ruddlessly sailing about the habor with new landmarks at every bend}

    Which kind beekeeper are any you? are you sure? [smile]

    -Jeff
    There is always more than one way to skin a cat, that's of course if you're into eating cats.

  19. #19
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    Jeff, some vary good points there. I know I was not wild about Russians in 99/2000. Through seclection, acclimatization and hybridization over many years we ended up with a bee I liked very much. Perhaps that is the one main of the advantages of ferals. With joe beek pressing them for cartain traits they can work on fitness for their specific microclimate.

    "I don't think anyone has said that a heavier trigger level necessarily relates to a better or faster adaptation. Just that a pressure must be present on some scale. "

    As far as selection pressure gos I feel that it must be consistant and heavy. Look at what the plant breeders have done. I have read about trials where nearly all plants in a study are wiped out due to heavy selection pressure. It may be only .02% of the overall population that has the targeted traits initially. If the selection pressure is not uniform it would be difficult to make informed decisions. Perhaps this is part of the problem with progress in bee breeding?
    JBJ
    John B Jacob www.oldsolbees.com

  20. #20
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    --Are you asserting that all escape swarms from survivor stock from breeders and their clients actually make no beneficial contribution towards feral recovery?--(JBJ)

    Hello JBJ!

    I am asserting that I have not seen evidence that domestics are contributing to the feral recovery in my area, the pattern of recovery and some traits observed in the ferals suggest otherwise or at least, very little exchange. My opinion is that most of the contribution may be more harmful than good, by spreading genetics not fit to our northern environment, or spreading genetics that cannot survive without treatments and support from the beekeeper.

    --I guess what I am suggesting here is that there are some managed populations of bees that through pollination and other migratory/commercial activities may be exposed to extremely high mite levels. There are situations such as almond pollination where it may be reasonable to expect your hives to be exposed to large numbers of the most virulent mites. This would represent additional selection pressure.--(JBJ)

    Why would these mites be any more virulent that others? If there are high numbers of mites in these migratory colonies, then in simply suggests that they are non resistant stock, or under stress due to management practices.

    --Did the pockets that survived the 95-96 crash you refer to survive due to resistant genetics or where there small isolated areas that were not exposed to mites or only to less virulent mites?--(JBJ)

    I would say the honeybees survived as a result of being more virulent honeybees! All the ferals must have been exposed because when I place them in my apiaries, most remote ferals maintain very low mite populations, so they must have evolved resistant traits. I don’t by the “less virulent mite” loophole, I mean ‘hypothesis‘. [img]smile.gif[/img]

    --What I am suggesting is that it is an opportunity to test your bees to see if they can survive the onslaught and strong selection pressure that occurs in non-isolated commercial type environments.--(JBJ)

    I doubt any resistant colony can survive a rapid onslaught of varroa. What I see in the ferals here is that resistance mechanisms work over time and are simply not evolved to handle an onslaught in a short period.

    --Parasite host equilibrium is a fascinating area of ecology to explore. Left to their own devises many parasite host relationships developed a non-lethal model of coexistence.
    Parasites would go extinct if they were 100% lethal to their hosts. There are situations where newly introduced species (Varroa) are way out of this type of equilibrium and may force their host to the brink of extinction.--(JBJ)

    There will be an equilibrium, but I don’t see it stopping there. There is also the continuing competition between honeybee genetics to dominate. Some survivor colonies may “coexist” keeping high mite loads and not be productive, but others will thrive, reduce mites to a minimum, out compete and dominate the genetic pool.

    --It is well documented that there are several strains of Varroa with varying degrees of virulence. Any idea what type is in your area?--(JBJ)

    Well, according to our experts here in Pa, we had 85,000 commercial honey bee colonies. By 1995, the number had plummeted to less than 27,000 colonies. Many beekeepers lost 50 to 75 percent of their colonies and some beekeepers were wiped out. I lost 100 percent several times during the 90’s. Today, wild honey bees are still practically nonexistent in many areas. Homeowners have reported a near-absence of honey bees in their gardens. Estimates vary, but the Northeast may have lost 80 to 90 percent of its wild honey bees since 1990. Of the 13 wild colonies Penn State researchers located in the fall of 1995, 11 died during the winter of 1995-96.

    Seems quite virulent to me! [img]smile.gif[/img]

    Best Wishes,

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