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  1. #1
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    Default pure breeds, breeds, hybrids, etc.

    I wanted to post a few random thoughts and see where this goes based on what people see as possible, what pure is, etc.

    I see several levels of possible breeders and areas of effort, and what you would consider strains, etc. I'll group them as follows.

    1)Pure stock as nature had them selected. One person I spoke to recently was Malcolm Sanford. One of the things he wishes to achieve with GBBA (Global Bee Breeders Assoc.) is to do genetic testing to isolate the purist breeds. At the moment, what is an Italian, a carni, or a Russian? And where is the pure stock to save, breed, and maintain? Certainly as much as the strains have been moved around, many have commented that there is no pure lines of this or that, especially in the states. But where are the pure strains, if there are any left, around the world? And certainly, whatever the purist strains we have, they should be maintained to continue the lines for future use. Since genetic testing and isolation has not been done in the past, we really do not even know what a pure strain is, how many alleles there was from the start, etc.

    2) Pure lines, or at least as pure as we have now. Efforts such as the Russian breeders program have Russians that they will attempt to keep isolated, and maintain pure lines. Questions are raised about what "pure" is, as we have no past level or quality standard to use as a guideline. But to maintain as pure as we can at this time may be as a good as it gets. Bringing in outside stock to boost alleles numbers, maintain as pure line as possible, and benefit from genetics, is a long task. It seems that getting a plane loaded with bees from Australia is easier to pass customs than a few vials of drone semen. Maintaining the lines that we have is a big step and will be helpful as we move into the future. No sense bringing in new stock if the mechanics are not in place to maintain them once we have them. Some have suggested that a breeding program for carni, Italian, and other strains should be considered.

    3)Standard breeders as we know them. Many open mate, use multiple breeders brought in from various sources, call the queen hybrids, and have a loose breeding program. There are certainly benefits of genetic diversity. The more alleles, the more possibilities exist for selection and maintaining quality. For the average breeder, this is where most are. Something less than pure, but perhaps a better suited queen for overall performance. But the problems within this breeding model has been growing for some time now. A "leveling out" of the pure strains has caused a loss of alleles, and a decline of quality. And certainly, the continued loss of alleles will cause a decrease in quality. Inbreeding will continue to be a potential problem.

    Brother Adam was able to travel around the world and pick the best of the best, and come up with a line called buckfast. That's the great thing about genetic diversity. You get a hybrid that has all the good things you select for. But that was sometime ago. We also had the starline and midnite lines. But over time, these strains have changed, and are being watered down. And currently we do not have the ability as Brother Adam did to collect stock from around the world. Those days have passed being able to fly in new queens at ones choosing. And even if we could, without such vision and future efforts as what Malcolm Sanford speaks, we really don't even know what pure lines are out there, and if those lines have changed themselves over the years. Certainly, Italians have been spread around Europe and other places as they have been here in the states.

    So where are we today? I see us grasping at pure lines as the best we can, and using the tools we know to maintain them. But how long will that last? Can we expect the lines we have, such as NWC, the Russians being used in the Russian breeders association, and other lines just to continue towards a middle ground? Some mention feral. But from a genetic standpoint, how can they be any better genetically than the pool we already have here? They did not come from an outside source.

    I'm hoping my random thoughts make sense. I hope people can understand the larger picture of what needs to be done in protecting any pockets of pure lines we have left around the world. I hope people see how maintaining a breeding pool from what we have here already is also needed. And by how having these tools allows us all to be a little like Brother Adam in selecting the best of different lines, so a diversity and quality bee industry can continue in the future.

    We need various programs at the different levels to benefit each other in the long run. Understanding how each feeds off each other, and what the benefits are of each, is in everyone's interest. They are connected.

    Comments?
    Last edited by BjornBee; 01-28-2008 at 06:46 AM.

  2. #2
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    A couple of thoughts that come to mind.

    1) How are we going to determine what is pure, are we going to develop an AKC type registry for bees.

    2) When you do isolate "pure stock" Where does the future stock come from over years of breeding to keep the stock from inbreeding? (reference buckfast bees from England vs Buckfast bees from Texas)

    3) What is the value of maintaining a pure line? All of the lines seem to have advantages and disavantages, wouldn't we want to continue to breed "hybrids" aimed at continually improving any line of bees.

    4) With the advances in mechancially conducting genetic engineering vs continued cross breeding (which is a form of genetic engineering) how long until someone comes out with a bee which has most or all of the traits the industry is working towards and would you buy queens raised from mechanically engineered stock?

  3. #3
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    Joel,
    #1. This is what Malcolm is hoping to do in the future. Working with the bee genome, and having geneticists isolate the purist of strains. I'm not suggesting AKC type registration. But as it stands now, what exactly is a russian, an italian, etc. Having the knowledge of the differences and groups set up (such as the russian bee breeders) would help maintain the lines for further selection and breeding.

    #2. Having enough within the gene pools would be the goal. Did buckfast have enough lines to maintain long term? Or did the line slightly change over time with no real evidence from the lack of genetic testing? Certainly finding enough russians to maintain lines would be easier than finding the same buckfast. Buckfast was the combination of alot of lines. Not something you can go get samples of in nature.

    #3. By having pure lines, genetic diversity, a higher level of alleles, and other factors then can be options. Brother Adam, made a good hybrid line by using the best of the pure lines he found.
    Its kind of like a goodenoodle dog. Something of a trend dog lately. but if you take all golden retrievers and all poodles and made only goodenoodles, what would you breed from in the future? You would always need the original lines.
    And of course, mutts have always shown to be better for many animals. mutt dogs outlive pure breeds. But it only allows you to do this for a certain period of time. Certainly cattle/cow breeders know that taking two breeds and crossing, makes some great stock. Continue it another generation, and the stock starts degrading. You need the pure lines to accomplish and continue quality as what brother Adam did. It does not stop, and maintain quality on its own. That's not how it works.

    My own goal is to breed hybrids. And that what 99% do, including Brother Adam. Its just some do it better. But you certainly have those possibilities of the advantages of the pure lines, only if they are protected and available for future use. As it is now, we have seen a watering down of the lines, through mass production, using closed lines, and resulting in a poor quality queen with less alleles.

    If everyone just bred hybrids and they continued to be bred inwards to a more similar genetic make-up, that is the wrong direction. We need genetic diversity, and pure lines to continue that process. And certainly that means diversity inside each line (russians, carni, etc. ) as well as the overall gene pool to include hybrid stock, feral, etc.

    #4. Certainly a discussion that could get deep. But with individual beekeepers breeding, the cost of those techniques in the future (Look at AI queens...how many want to requeen at that price?) being potentially prohibitive, all make this something "down the road'. But certainly any discussions today, will change as the times change and new technology becomes available. But what about the next 20 years? We have documentation that shows a lessening of alleles, queen quality problems, and potential problems looming.

    Beekeeping has seen benefits to the many selection and breeding efforts over the years. But those same benefits are certainly much harder to do with a watered down gene pool.
    Last edited by BjornBee; 01-28-2008 at 08:26 AM.

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    Intriguing idea, BjornBee; hopefully this thread will generate a good deal of discussion.

    A few thoughts leap to mind for me:

    Pure stock as nature had them selected. -BjornBee
    I believe this is valuable and justified in a natural sense. "Wild" honey bees, if you will, have adapted to specific localities to segregate into "races." This, to my way of thinking, is not as similar to human-selected breeds of dogs or cattle or pigeons or whatever as it appears at first glance. The traits that fit best with their individual habitats were perpetuated in the greatest proportions, eventually creating "races." With dogs, for example, a greyhound has no greater evolutionary fitness in a city home than does a bloodhound, unless the human owner eliminates or reduces the evolutionary fitness of one or the other.

    That's off on a bit of a tangent. What I believe is worth preserving, in the sense of preserving races of bees, are the original races in their original places. To me, this means identifying specific races and avoiding importing bees of other races to "water down" the local races.

    Here in North America, we don't have a native race of honey bee. So, while I see some merit in maintaining distinct lines for breeding, trying to "preserve" races here is far less important, in my opinion.

    Pure lines, or at least as pure as we have now. Efforts such as the Russian breeders program have Russians that they will attempt to keep isolated, and maintain pure lines. -BjornBee
    From what I've read, "Russians" are not a distinct race of bees like "Italians" or "Carniolans," but are simply bees from one of the other races or hybrids of bees of other races that live fairly far east in Eurasia. It may be that the "purity" desired in "Russians" is actually a hybridization in the first place.

    Standard breeders as we know them. Many open mate, use multiple breeders brought in from various sources, call the queen hybrids, and have a loose breeding program. There are certainly benefits of genetic diversity. The more alleles, the more possibilities exist for selection and maintaining quality. For the average breeder, this is where most are. Something less than pure, but perhaps a better suited queen for overall performance. But the problems within this breeding model has been growing for some time now. A "leveling out" of the pure strains has caused a loss of alleles, and a decline of quality. And certainly, the continued loss of alleles will cause a decrease in quality. Inbreeding will continue to be a potential problem. -BjornBee
    The problem that I see here is a fundamental contradiction. The very aspect that creates the "purity" and "distinction" of a race is reduction and fixation of alleles. Variability is lost.

    Greater alleles in a population should translate into greater variability, or less "fixedness." A hive with greater variability in alleles will appear to have a greater variability in workers. Same goes for a breeding operation. In fact, the very human tendency to selectively breed from only the "best" queens may be reducing the number of alleles effectively reaching the next generations of bees.

    Beekeeping has seen benefits to the many selection and breeding efforts over the years. But those same benefits are certainly much harder to do with a watered down gene pool. -BjornBee
    I'm curious -- where or how do you see the "gene pool" in honey bees diminishing? While I agree with the principle, and I commend efforts to protect some of the remaining natural populations of honey bees, I wonder how much variability has been lost among honey bees in North America.

  5. #5
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    Smile Pure Breeds

    The Russian strain geographicaly manay miles away from the land of Carniola.
    The Russians are from far eastern Russia. We found out about then after the trans-Serbian rail way was constructed.
    Regards,
    Ernie
    Lucas Apiaries

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    The Russian strain geographicaly manay miles away from the land of Carniola. -BEES4U
    Sure, but "American" bees are far away from Carniola, and some of our bees are still Apis mellifera carnica.

    The Russians are from far eastern Russia. We found out about then after the trans-Serbian rail way was constructed. -BEES4U
    Well, not exactly.

    Apis mellifera is not native to the Primorsky Territory on Russia's Pacific coast, but was first moved there in the last century. At that time, pioneers from western Russia took advantage of the completion of the Trans-Siberian Railway and moved bees from European western Russia to the Primorsky Territory in Asian far-eastern Russia. This far-eastern area of Russia is within the natural range of Apis cerana, the original host of Varroa jacobsoni. Thus A. mellifera was brought into the likely range of V. jacobsoni even before the parasite was scientifically described in 1904. This probable long association of V. jacobsoni and A. mellifera in the region has engendered one of the best opportunities in the world for A. mellifera to develop genetic resistance to V. jacobsoni. -from http://www.ars.usda.gov/Services/doc...id=2744&page=2
    So, if those Russian pioneering beekeepers took A. mellifera ligustica, wouldn't those Russian bees still be "Italians?"

    (Just for clarification, the Trans-Siberian Railway was largely completed in 1897.)

    As I understand it, the race of honey bee that occurs naturally farthest east in Asia is Apis mellifera pomonella, and that race was only "discovered" in 2003. While it may hold promise as another race with some adaptation to surviving with Varroa, it is clearly not the race of the "Russian" bees imported by the USDA.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kieck View Post
    Intriguing idea, BjornBee; hopefully this thread will generate a good deal of discussion.

    I'm curious -- where or how do you see the "gene pool" in honey bees diminishing? While I agree with the principle, and I commend efforts to protect some of the remaining natural populations of honey bees, I wonder how much variability has been lost among honey bees in North America.
    Kieck,
    Please forgive for this one fault I have, I do not keep an extensive flagged data base at my disposal. I just simply do not have the time. So many things I read I just make mental notes. I'm not sure if it was articles on queen promiscuity, or another that actually gave the decreasing number of alleles as compared to a few years back. But I have read about the loss of alleles in a couple different articles, thats for sure.

    For those not familiar with alleles, Malcolm Sanford does a good job detailing the basics and functions in Bee Culture, Jan 2008 in an article entitled "Better Stock for Beekeepers.

    The debate about the origins of Russians are the reason that Malcolm potential efforts may be worthy for future research. What exactly is a Russian. And for that matter, what is an Italian or anything else. Without that knowledge of the differing combinations of alleles and genes, are we not just shooting in the dark, with some potentially misapplied labeling as a guidepost?

    I also wonder Keith how much genetic diversity has been lost in North America. The large propagation of limiting lines over the years by commercial operations, the collapse of feral (and even if they are coming back, what genetic diversity is left from a slim line of survivors), the inbreeding from breeders of every size, and other factors make this questionable.

    In nature, one hive perhaps mates with several other colonies and the diversity within those colonies. (each being a sub-family of differing stock). But take a breeder that raises hundreds if not thousands of queens from the same area, and the genetic diversity can be effected. Many factors could be listed as factors of this bottleneck of genetics we have here in the states.

    I'm not trying to discuss the finer points of where Russians came from. Its a bigger picture of isolating genetic pools, understanding the relationship that bees need in regards to diversity, and the loss thus far of alleles within the closed stock we have here in the states.
    Last edited by BjornBee; 01-29-2008 at 07:43 PM.

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    I'm not sure if it was articles on queen promiscuity, or another that actually gave the decreasing number of alleles as compared to a few years back. But I have read about the loss of alleles in a couple different articles, thats for sure. -BjornBee
    I understand that you can't pull up references from a databank. No problem.

    I have seen statements along the lines of, "Diversity in honey bees in North America is decreasing," and "Alleles are being lost in North American honey bees." However, none of the statements are backed up by actual data, as far as I've seen.

    In fact, just the opposite seems to be happening. Alleles from African honey bees seem to be spreading into and around the country, from the reports I've read. And the USDA imported what, theoretically, should be genetically distinct stock from Russia a few years ago. I've also read that some beekeepers suspect the old Apis mellifera mellifera persists in "feral" populations. Other than those, the only other races that I'm aware of that have historically been brought into this country are A. m. liguistica (still here), A. m. carnica (still here), A. m. caucasica (still here, although in lower numbers perhaps) and "Buckfast" -- and who knows how many genes from how many races went into "Buckfast," or if those genes are still present.

    So I see the diversity as somewhat greater than it was, say, 15 years ago. Distinctions among races may not be as great, but overall diversity seems fairly strong.

    The large propagation of limiting lines over the years by commercial operations, the collapse of feral (and even if they are coming back, what genetic diversity is left from a slim line of survivors), the inbreeding from breeders of every size, and other factors make this questionable. -BjornBee
    OK. I agree in principle. I believe I pointed out that even something as seemingly inocuous as selecting the "best" queens as breeders could inadvertently be hurting diversity.

    Many factors could be listed as factors of this bottleneck of genetics we have here in the states. -BjornBee
    Sure, but that presumes that we in fact do have a bottleneck. I haven't seen any evidence of that, yet.

    Its a bigger picture of isolating genetic pools, understanding the relationship that bees need in regards to diversity, and the loss thus far of alleles within the closed stock we have here in the states. -BjornBee
    HUGE project, so far as I would estimate. Worthwhile, but huge. First, I'd like to know if variability has been lost, then what variability in the U.S. has been lost (if it has), then where some of that variability might still exist.

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    Keick, I'll see what I can find on alleles. I know for sure I read a report detailing the loss of alleles over a period of I think 20 years.

    But lets be real on both sides. You simply equate the fact that Russians were brought in a few years ago, mix in some casual observations about what some think of feral, and then list what lines we have had over the years...and use all that to make this statement ...

    "So I see the diversity as somewhat greater than it was, say, 15 years ago. Distinctions among races may not be as great, but overall diversity seems fairly strong."

    It does not matter how many "kinds" of bees are here. Its what we have done with the breeds once they are here.

    And to simply imply that by labeling a few groups of bees with different names, that somehow this equates into diversity may not be correct. I'll ask again...what is a Russian, what is an Italian, and what is a carni? Thus far, we have no data bank to gauge against, and no basis of what the differences are. So until we know what distinguishes the lines, and pinpoint the alleles and other dna, we can not assume genetic diversity, can we?

    One of the premises of this discussion was based on the fact we DO NOT know what the original alleles combination factors are, how are they distinguished between the races, and how many are needed to allow quality breeding programs, not just for now, but into the future. A starting point would be to find as true breeds as possible and analyze the differences.

    If you read the article above, it mentions that the Russians brought in were a step in the right direction. But its one step. A step that will only go so far, and a first step of possible many more to come to solidify the ability to provide diverse, quality queens in the future.

    I'll look for the research about alleles.

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    It does not matter how many "kinds" of bees are here. Its what we have done with the breeds once they are here. -BjornBee
    I see I'd better back up to try to explain my logic here a little more fully.

    Back before humans began breeding and moving different types of honey bees around, the single species, Apis mellifera, was headed down an evolutionary path to diverge into several species. Each of these subpopulations was isolated geographically or behaviorally. Over time, each of these isolates adapted to fit into their particular locales. And this adaptation led to "fixation" in many of the genes; specifically, many alleles were lost so that the bees in one particular isolate resemble other bees from that isolate more closely than they do bees from other isolates.

    The isolates have been given trinomial scientific names. They're not different enough to constitute distinct species, but they are distinct. Apis mellifera mellifera is one of those isolates. The alleles in A. m. mellifera lack the variability that is contained across the species. The alleles in another isolate, A. m. liguistica, similarly lack the variability that is contained across the species, but, because they differ significantly enough from other isolates that the isolate or race or subspecies can be distinguished, they lend some variability to the species. If the alleles in A. m. liguistica were not different than the alleles in A. m. carnica or A. m. mellifera or A. m. caucasica or A. m. scutellata or any of the other races, then A. m. liguistica would be indistinguishable from that other race, and those two races would simply be one.

    So, we start with A. m. mellifera being introduced to North America. We add to it A. m. caucasica, A. m. carnica and A. m. liguistica. And possibly, from evidence on the west coast, A. m. lamarckii. And there the diversity stands in North America, from the earliest introductions up until about the 1980s, maybe? No bees were being imported for years, but alleles could be and theoretically were lost during that time. So, diversity in alleles of honey bees on North America was likely decreasing.

    Then we inject some African genes (AHB, anyone?), beginning in the 1950s in South America and possibly to a limited extent in North America, and these genes really seemed to reach North America in a noticeable way in, what, the 1980s and 1990s? Since these bees contained alleles from a different race, they should have added to the diversity of bees in North America.

    And we add the Russian bees in the 1990s/early 2000s, of whatever heritage they may be.

    And packages of bees (same races, presumably) from Australia for almond pollination.

    And that still ignores any contribution that may have come from Buckfast bees.

    While distinct races of bees may no longer exist in honey bees in North America, at least not in their "pure" forms, that does not mean that those alleles were lost. By combining them, we are not "destroying" alleles, but simply remixing alleles.

    And to simply imply that by labeling a few groups of bees with different names, that somehow this equates into diversity may not be correct. -BjornBee
    For lay names or common names, I believe you're correct. For scientific names (the trinomials mentioned above), you're incorrect. The designation of a subspecies by a trinomial name means that the bees are distinct morphologically from other subsets of bees. Morphological differences tend to be reflections of genetic differences. And there lies the "diversity."

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    Keick,
    Your inclusion of AHB's in regards to genetic diversity is wrong. Injection and distribution of AHB genes will not diversify anything. It will further diminish the genetic pool. You should be smart enough to figure that one out....

    This perhaps is the argument for breeding programs (russian program, etc.) to insure genetic diversity, and to allow future use of these pure lines, uninfluenced by AHB's. Think about it.

  12. #12

    Smile breeding

    hello
    I don't want to start a big fuss but I only breed for 3 main things gentlesness/over wintering/ honey production.
    now I don't pretend to be any expert but I apply all farm boy skills to breeding.
    I think you breed for color/pure race/ honey production and loose all natrual immune the ferral bees have after what good is a pure breed if it dies don't over winter.
    unless you have a breeder/pure then mate in large screened area where no other bees mating with your pure stock how you difine pure then?
    I will always open with larva from my ferrals then open mate with other stock in my case about 80% russian. I will not ever sell pure breeds. been there/done that.
    sorry to put in my old ways to this post. only one question I have any one want a pure breed or a bee that will over winter

    Don

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    Your inclusion of AHB's in regards to genetic diversity is wrong. Injection and distribution of AHB genes will not diversify anything. It will further diminish the genetic pool. You should be smart enough to figure that one out.... -BjornBee
    Sorry, I'm not getting it. Explain please? AHB have genes that are not present in EHB, so we add AHB to EHB and we end up with fewer alleles how?

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    Keick,
    As an example...you have a yard of Russian, a yard of carni, and a yard of ferals. You have drone yards and a breeding program in place to select and cross the desired traits to produce your desired results or lines.

    Now, do you think that by adding a AHB yard or the AHB genetics into the local environment, that your now going to increase alleles for the long road? Yes, AHB's may have combination of alleles not seen with the other lines. And so yes, an increase in alleles is seen if counting numbers.

    From my information, maintaining these diverse alleles and lines, something possible with russian, carni, etc., is near impossible with AHB. The nature of the breeding of the drones, insurptation, recessive/dominant genes of AHB, make maintaining diversity almost impossible.

    I guess one could try. But from all indications, certain traits are well ingrained in AHB, thus making what alleles they would add, a non-issue for breeding efforts. Perhaps down the road with hi-tech procedures, gene isolation, and AI, some AHB genetics could be seen as possible useful.

    But to somehow equate an increase in alleles from AHB, and translate that into practical terms really is not achievable at this time. You have already equated the arrival of the AHB's with an increase in alleles. And this has not been proven, or practical at this time. AHB's dominate an area, choke out other lines, dominate drone breeding, and an entire area will become AHB territory. And that ain't genetic diversity is it...

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    Don, no arguments from me.

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    Kieck,
    Interesting stuff,

    I've started to scratch the surface, and have found several items for discussion.

    I did a simple google search "Loss of alleles in bees" and of course hit on hundreds of sites and articles.

    Two points of interest was an article in Sciencedirect entitled "The influence of paternity on virgin queen success in hybrid colonies of European and africanized honeybees'.
    It states the loss of European stock alleles and the replacement by a more dominant African alleles due to competitive advantages of breeding by africanized bees. So at least on this point, loss of alleles is occurring as we speak as we lose areas to africanized bees.

    The second point comes from research based on the population size and how alleles are impacted by restrictions or increases in overall pool size, and by the increase in combination events. (Just do a google search...some of the stuff was protected against copying or downloading due to "subscription" and membership crap. I'm not paying for downloads. And I lost the cut and paste addresses. Anyone - I copy a second site, and I lose the first...how do you copy more than one address and have them all saved for later download or pasting?) But it has to do with the loss of the overall genetic pool base on several areas. One, the massive die-offs over the past 20 years due to mites and other problems, the propagation of several lines from large suppliers, the loss of 50% of beekeepers from years ago making breeding within areas of restricted gene pools more likely, and the problems associated with the loss of genetic diversity by areas being taken over by AHB's.

    I have yet to see any reference in actual numbers of alleles in samples taken from one year over the next, as was my thoughts. I may be wrong on this, but I'm not sure. I'll continue to look.

    But there is information in regards to the loss of the pool size (geographic area) of EHB's and the effects of dominating breeding aspects of AHB's and the loss of EHB's alleles once an area is flooded with AHB's, which is what happens.

    Another point that I found was that Italians in the states had a higher count of separate alleles than their Italian counterparts from Italy. They both carried the same number, but the American Italian bees had a much more diverse combination. Thus suggesting a hybridizing of the stock over the years. And I would suppose the same could be true about carni and other lines. The old saying "there are no pure lines" in the states is probably more true than realized. Of course one could say that this variation of alleles is good. Of course there is a point where everything is hybridized too much and less variation becomes a problem.

    And so we have a huge amount of mixed breeds in the states. But at the same time, a decreasing genetic pool due to die-off, a smaller and smaller area unaffected by AHB's that could be translate (assumed) into lost feral or alleles specific to a particular area, and other problems added in.

    I did find M. T. Sanford's original article "complexities of bee breeding" at http://apis.ifas.ufl.edu/apis92/apsep92.htm

    Well worth the read.
    Last edited by BjornBee; 01-29-2008 at 07:44 PM.

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    So at least on this point, loss of alleles is occurring as we speak as we lose areas to africanized bees. -BjornBee
    Well, yes and no. Yes, in those specific instances, European alleles are being replaced (lost) by Africanized alleles. No, this is not an overall "loss of diversity." Diversity comes from the sheer number of different alleles. If we start, for simplicity's sake, with two alleles at one locus in European honey bees, our number of alleles is "two." Now, we throw in Africanized honey bees with one different allele and one allele that's identical to one of the alleles in European honey bees at that same locus; our number of alleles is "three," which suggests an increase in diversity. Over time, that allele that differs in Africanized honey bees "replaces" the allele that differs in European honey bees -- the other allele at that locus is identical, so ancestry makes no difference on that allele -- and that one allele is lost for all practical purposes; our number of alleles is "two," which suggests a loss in diversity over the peak, but no net loss in diversity over the initial state. The difference is that one of the alleles is novel, one has effectively been lost in the population, but the index of diversity remains the same.

    One, the massive die-offs over the past 20 years due to mites and other problems, the propagation of several lines from large suppliers, the loss of 50% of beekeepers from years ago making breeding within areas of restricted gene pools more likely, and the problems associated with the loss of genetic diversity by areas being taken over by AHB's. -BjornBee
    Understood. The problem, though, is that these selective forces remain in place. Any bees that would happen to have the alleles that caused bees in the past to succumb to mites or possibly be usurped by AHB would likely cause bees in the future to fail from the same pressures.

    If the alleles (genetic diversity) play no role in these selective pressures, then bees with "uncommon" alleles are just as likely to have survived as bees with "common" alleles, and no loss would be likely.

    And so we have a huge amount of mixed breeds in the states. -BjornBee
    From your more detailed explanations, I believe what you desire is not "increased diversity within honey bees" but "increased diversity among races of honey bees." What you really seem to view as a problem is not the loss of alleles within honey bee populations, but the loss of specific combinations of alleles within honey bee populations.

  18. #18
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    Kieck,
    Your counting explanation of alleles in the first part is true if your talking about a set number of alleles in the EHB pool versus the AHB pool. To replace one with another, of course keeps the number constant.

    But what is probably happening, is that a great number of distinct combinations of alleles are being replaced by a few dominate ones associated with AHB's, once an area becomes AHB teritory. Of course we don't know what is being lost, due to lack of research in the past.
    Having AHB's completely dominate an area and replace all the differing alleles across the board from italians, carni's, and even undocumented feral lines, etc., is what I am looking at. I see the loss of alleles by this take over of alleles from one line, and completely wiping out or changing many lines in the process. Is this wrong in what I am thinking? Thats what I thought the article suggested. The wholesale loss of many lines or combination of alleles and replaced with a few dominate ones.

  19. #19
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    But what is probably happening, is that a great number of distinct combinations of alleles are being replaced by a few dominate ones associated with AHB's, once an area becomes AHB teritory. Of course we don't know what is being lost, due to lack of research in the past. -BjornBee
    I didn't think this was the main thrust of this thread. To some extent, I agree. We may not know fully what "alleles" may or will be lost in the future. Of course, the same principles apply to all open mating systems: we don't know whether, over time, "Italian" alleles will eliminate certain "Carniolan" alleles, or vice versa; we don't know whether our selection of the queens that head colonies that produce the greatest honey crops will eliminate other alleles that may enhance diversity; etcetera. But I thought this thread was concerned only with "diversity."

    There are certainly benefits of genetic diversity. The more alleles, the more possibilities exist for selection and maintaining quality. For the average breeder, this is where most are. Something less than pure, but perhaps a better suited queen for overall performance. But the problems within this breeding model has been growing for some time now. A "leveling out" of the pure strains has caused a loss of alleles, and a decline of quality. And certainly, the continued loss of alleles will cause a decrease in quality. -BjornBee
    As you've suggested, we need some baseline data on what diversity is contained in the different races of bees, and what distinctions exist between "pure" races.

    To me, the problem lies in Eurasia and Africa. There, comingling of races may have set back the evolutionary process. Isolates of species, with enough distinction to warrant trinomial designations, are on paths toward speciation. Given enough time, these isolates will likely diverge enough to become separate species. Mix them together, and that evolutionary timeline is reset.

    In North America, we have no natural isolates of bees that warrant trinomial names (aside from some perhaps that were brought from other parts of the world). If we wish to maintain those lines here, so be it. If not, given enough time, one or more distinctly North American subspecies will likely evolve.

  20. #20
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    Best geuss is that the North American feral race will be the Brazilian scutella. This race seems to displace all others and out competes even native species in all but the coldest high altitude regions. If not for our intervention I don't think other strains will survive in the Americas, except maybe as isolate pockets in the Andes and Canadian Rockies. Just my opinion, not a lot of real evidence here.

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