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Thread: Good Stock

  1. #21
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    A couple thoughts on the main topic of this thread:

    First, I suspect that maintaining a so-called "good stock" of bees with a relatively limited number of hives would be very difficult if not impossible, short of using instrument insemination (II) extensively.

    Using II, I believe you could maintain lines for breeding purposes much more effectively, especially with a limited number of hives. Without relying on II, any queens would be open mated, and open mating would leave you at the mercy of fortune or luck or whatever you wish to call it, in terms of genetics.

    Secondly, I wonder how much real difference lies between the stock of any two breeders at this point. (I'm sure, after typing it and thinking about what I just typed, that any number of beekeepers will jump in here and describe examples of "good stock" and "poor stock," but I'll run with it for now.) See, if queen producer Adam has queens of line "Excella" and queen producer Zane has queens of line "Shoddy" and the two produce queens from apiaries located two miles apart, the queens are likely mating with drones from the same pool of available drones. Since the workers will get 1/2 of their genes from the drones, any resulting "stock" may differ less than the original "Excella" and "Shoddy" lines differ from one another, and any subsequent queens will only have 1/2 the genes of the original lines.

    Like others have suggested, if you intend to produce (hypothetically) Carniolan queens, and some of your neighbors are migratory beekeepers, those Carniolan genes are likely to get watered down by Italian (or whatever stock the migratory 'keepers are using) pretty quickly.

  2. #22
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    Thats the great thing about honeybees, the diversity is great!
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  3. #23
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    We have to differentiate between Q breeders and Q producers.Many producers buy from the same breeders.The gene pool may not be as large as we think.

  4. #24
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    Right. I think most serious queen breeders rely heavily on II. Queen producers mostly use open mating. Right?

    And the price difference is pretty great, from what I've seen.

    If you're interested in becoming a queen breeder, I think some experience with II is essential. Then you need a number of hives of various ancestry so you can identify traits you'd like to incorporate into "your line," and a number of hives to maintain that line without inbreeding too heavily.

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kieck View Post
    Right. I think most serious queen breeders rely heavily on II. Queen producers mostly use open mating. Right?

    And the price difference is pretty great, from what I've seen.

    If you're interested in becoming a queen breeder, I think some experience with II is essential. Then you need a number of hives of various ancestry so you can identify traits you'd like to incorporate into "your line," and a number of hives to maintain that line without inbreeding too heavily.
    I think he only wants to produce queens for his own use.
    "I reject your reality, and substitute my own." Adam Savage

  6. #26
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    Default Queens

    Having a big gene pool and lots of good drones is a key to
    producing good Queens. It's operator error in most cases,
    if the Queens don't come out good. In some places mother nature of
    course is a factor.

  7. #27
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    I agree mobee. I just don't consider myself a producer, but also a breeder. I have played around with insemination for selected breeder stock, but personally do not want to carry that over into my queens for sale.

    Being a good breeder takes into account apiary location, drone colonies with drone saturation strategies, selection criteria, control of lines, and a host of other things.

    Now, the fact is some who breed bees or produce them, actually do very little in the efforts that most queen breeding books suggest.

    Two years ago, I was critiqued by a very well respected member of the beekeeping community, and a beesource member. His comment that caught my attention the most was his information about possible problems with drone saturation and not enough viable matings. (He has not openly mentioned his evaluation, and I respect him immensely for that) I have taken his suggestions seriously and made corrective actions based on that.

    This was also one of the key areas in considering the foundation or core principle of what NSQBA should be about. A queen swap with critique, shared knowledge, and one beekeeper helping another, with confidence of privacy. One gains feedback, and the other gains diversified genetics.

    I think you can be a queen "breeder" without producing inseminated queens. Its just that a lot of effort goes into it.

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by BjornBee View Post
    Being a good breeder takes into account apiary location, drone colonies with drone saturation strategies, selection criteria, control of lines, and a host of other things.
    Yes, exactly. Selection criteria translated into easily implemented
    standardized performance tests. Another extremely important aspect in
    producing good stock is STOCK TESTING.
    Both pre-program inclusiont testing and post cross testing.

    This takes tons of time and resources. Results are great though



    Adam Finkelstein
    adamf7@gmail.com

  9. #29
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    Default

    ...reply to myself...uh oh....


    Evaluate new stock. If the stock is suitable (it tests and performs well), make crosses. Then evaluate the crosses.
    Adam
    adamf7@gmail.com

  10. #30
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    How does the concept of "survivor" colonies fit into this discussion? My purpose for raising my own queens would be to continue the line which has survived in my climate, against the level of mites in this location, etc.

    Seems like bringing queens from other parts of the world every year or two would keep me on square one forever.

  11. #31
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    Thats assuming the queens comming in are not selected for mite tolerances, or any of the traits your looking for.

    Your on the right line of thought, your survivor colonies dont mean a thing if you continually requeen those colonies with outside queens. If your looking for some specific characteristic within your operation, selecting and breeding within your operation is essential to achive your needs.
    But you can also achieve those needs by working with your suppliers.

    Jon, you should try rearing some queens yourself. Sounds like you have the ambiton, I think you will have a blast at it!
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  12. #32
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    >Seems like bringing queens from other parts of the world every year or two would keep me on square one forever.

    And continue to limit the gene pool. Breeding with the local ferals will help continue a broader gene pool.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  13. #33
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    I think there are many assumptions going on in this thread. And for the subject matter at hand, that being "good stock", assumptions don't belong.

    Don't assume that there are enough feral drones around your apiaries. There is or there is not. I don't assume that there is based on my observations. And to assume that amount is there every year is risking much.

    Don't assume that the feral quality is anything better than what a good solid breeding program can give you. I think that way too much credit is given solely on the fact that a colony lives in a tree instead of a managed hive. There are good feral bees, and bad feral bees.

    I guess the comment I have a problem with is MB's last statement that to bring in stock every year limits one's gene pool but by breeding every year with the local feral stock, assumes that a broader genetics pool will be gained and continued.

    Most breeders open mate. And its when these same breeders continue to mate the same lines in the same places, assuming with a certain amount of feral colonies close by, that such things such as hybrid vigor is lost, bad patterns increase, viable eggs are limited, and downfalls of inbreeding occurs.

    Most breeders probably influence the feral population just as much as the feral population effects them. (swarms, etc.)

    And if ten breeders are selecting quality queens with a solid program, and even if they were benefiting from feral bees, they would have separate lines from one another, if one thinks such vast genetic pools are in fact at each local area. How could small or even medium size operations propogate the needed or suggested lines of genes to keep such lines going without outside sources? Impossible for most. Thus making adding outside queen sources beneficial.

    I don't agree that by having one breeder get queens from another breeder, that would somehow equate into "continue the same gene pool", and thus the only way to have a broader pool is to rely on the same local ferals, year after year. I assume that most breeders, those are not artificial inseminating, are already benefiting from local ferals to some degree. After-all, even the best drone saturation and best control measures are not 100%. But that feral stock should not be assumed, in quality or quantity.

    If one breeder was exchanging with other breeders, that in its very act, broadens the gene pool. Of course we can hope and/or assume that by proper breeding programs that these same lines may or may not be as good as feral lines. I can not see how that limits a gene pool. Unless of course every breeder was getting their breeders from the same place.

    I think there are many good breeders out there that may have tapped into gene pools beyond the limited lines that we have mass produced as an industry over the years. One only needs to read the latest articles on queen viability, inbreeding, and the loss of alleles, to know that broader genetic diversity is needed.

    While other associations have focused it seems on promoting lines that are from a narrow selected gene pool, with many of the membership buying primarily from one source, I am promoting an association that at its core, promotes a quality exchange program between breeders to diversify their genetics.

    It has been shown that many lines may be needed to achieve a high level of queen viability. I want to add genetics from other breeders, if they in fact pass the grade. And if the local population helps in my breeding yard's, then fine, but will not be assumed.

    Some areas have been shown to have little feral populations. And it may be questionable whether these ferals shown to be making a comeback from a few survivors, actually have a broader gene pool. Other areas that may be true or not.

    Don't assume. Know.
    Last edited by BjornBee; 01-14-2008 at 08:36 AM.

  14. #34
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    peletier writes:
    My purpose for raising my own queens would be to continue the line which has survived in my climate, against the level of mites in this location, etc.

    Seems like bringing queens from other parts of the world every year or two would keep me on square one forever.


    tecumseh suggest:
    the thinking that the local population contain any genetic material that actually lends itself to the local climate or capacity to defend againist mites is thinking typically not back up by any hard data. would have NOT bringing in russians or brother adam's bees have kept you on square one?

  15. #35
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    And continue to limit the gene pool. Breeding with the local ferals will help continue a broader gene pool. -Michael Bush
    Explain, please?

    In general terms, localized populations will tend to be more similar to each other (i. e. less genetic diversity) and less similar to organisms outside of that locality (i. e. fewer shared genes). So immigration or importation would actually increase the genetic diversity in localized situations.

    I think Bjorn's comments are valuable to this discussion. If I assumed I had feral drones around here, I'd be badly mistaken. I have yet to find any "feral" colonies anywhere close enough to mate with any queens my hives produce.

    I think, too, we need to evaluate the word "gene pool" here. The gene pool for honey bees in North America seems to me to be just that -- one gene pool. Genes are exchanged throughout the continent pretty easily.

  16. #36
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    I think it is very important to maintain diverity with in my operations stock, for the many of reasons stated within this topic. Buying in stock from many sources gets you best of both worlds in my mind. The introduction of diversity from different breeders, along with the different selected traits they are breeding for. How can you go wrong?

    That leads me to a point of buying queens offshore. Different breeding groups, different breeding programs. Doesnt the incorpetation of off shore queens diversity only add to the overall benifet to our industry? Like they say in the cattle business, "add new blood".
    We are big cattle breeders here in our area, and continual incorperation of new genetics and "new blood" is important to any well maintained breeding program. You cant maintain a breeding herd strictly from local stock. Not to even consider from feral stock, if there were such a thing in the cattle business. Feral stock in my mind is selected for survival, not performance. And in this business we must not overlook performance.

    As goes with the beekeeping industry. We need to bring in new bees. I hear alot of lobbing in the US, and echoed here in this fourm to keep the importation of bees out. I hear its bad for the industry, in terms of compititon between package operators, for pollination contracts, and disease controls, ect. But at the same time your sheltering the industry of a chance to incorperate outside stock, to add diversity.

    If your neighbours are all buying stock originated from one breeder, they are possibly going to be at a disadvantage as compaired to the same neighbours all buying stock from many breeders, some local, some regional, some off shore. Thats what it is like here.

    I dont know, just some rambleing thoughts,

    You know I am in the process of possibly bring in some queens from Chile. Our beekeeping association had been invited to Chile, on an apicultural trade mission to work with the government and university to provide a strong resource infrastructure to help develope a prosperous beekeeping industry. Bringing in knowledege and inovations to help encourage a successful commercial honey producing industry.
    There has been some work on the development of export queen operations, which our operators could benifet from hugely. Their bees have been discribed as so called "dimond in the rough", showing great tolerances to mites and other related diseases. The first importation of queens happened late last season, so things are lining up to work out smoothly.

    So I am going to try some out!
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  17. #37
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    Default Too few hives?

    I live in an area where the Italian is king. Almost everyone here uses Italians. Most of the beekeepers get them from the same place.

    Each winter, the commercial guys go to GA, or NC or somewhere down south to pick up several hundred packages for themselves and to sell to the local bee clubs.

    If there were any feral colonies, they were most certainly Italians.
    Where is the diversity in that?

    Here is what I used to do when I had only 10 colonies. It may be contradictory to much of standard practice, but with diversity in mind I felt that some drastic measures were necessary.

    1) Replace your deadouts with known stock from a reputable source. Not the same stock or vendor everyone else buys from. (This increases diversity in your apiary)

    2) Become one of those people that purchases bees for others. Not from the same place as those other guys. (This increases diversity in other local apiaries and your pocket book)

    3) Buy different stocks from different sources. (This increases diversity in everyone's apiary)

    4) Do not practice swarm prevention! Catch them if you can, but letting some go is good! (You just added diversity to the feral population, or a nearby beekeepers apiary)

    5) Breed from the bees which survive 2 years with NO treatments, which are gentle and still produce a good honey crop.
    (This *helps* to maintain the traits you are looking for)

    All of the above relates to saturating the area with drones of different family lines. These drones will mate with the queens you produce.


    Yes the results will be limited and variable. As a small beekeeper the goal should be to do what you can to diversify the geen pool in you apiary and local area. Diversity is the key to good stock. Dog breeders bring in new family lines all the time.

    What else could you do with less than 10 hives.

  18. #38
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    "Survival" does not equal "diversity."

    "Feral" bees that "survive" are not necessarily any more or less "diverse" than any other bees. In fact, the ability to survive might be linked to such a limited suite of traits that most of the diversity is lost.

    Same goes for bees in managed situations. The bees that survive extreme selective pressures (such as Varroa mites) may be less different from each other (or, less "diverse") than the bees that succumbed to the selective forces.

  19. #39
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    Default Feral Bees

    Survival Do not = Diversity (Necessarily)

    Not if their all of the "survivors are of the same breed

    This is why in my earlier post I suggest that buying bees from multiple and respectable sources helps to increase diversity.


    Example:
    If you have 5 hives of 5 different breeds, from 5 different producers. Lets say all of them swarm on you and take up residence in trees. They are now part of the feral geen pool. If they make it through the winter then they could be called surivors. (How could they be anything but diverse) Their drones will mate with the virgin queens which you are raising.

    Survivors do however contain at least some of the qualities you are looking for. Survivability under the pressures of your climate. So do not count them out of the equasion.

    It is through the combination of many tools that diversity can be achieved. Each of the tools are only 1 part of the puzzle.

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