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  1. #21
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    If I may say, your ‘quibbling’ about the defining of ‘population’ and ‘colony level’, is understood by me as nit picking, because what you have stated is essentially what I was saying. -naturebee
    Sorry, Joe, I'm not trying to quibble or nit pick. From your more recent post, I see that you have an understanding of a "population" from an ecological perspective. That's important, and absolutely vital to this discussion.

    Strange,,,, on one hand, this fact is recognized by beekeepers when they recommend to “move resistant colonies to an isolated beeyard to escape mite pressures“, and yet, it is ignored on almost all other levels. -naturebee
    Exactly. And this sort of comment is a wonderful argument against genetics. Think about it for a minute: we have a "super bee," a bee that shows resistance to "whatever," but when those bees are actually exposed to "whatever," that "resistance" disappears?

    Clearly, that resistance cannot be genetic, or, if it is, that resistance is overcome almost immediately (meaning that the genetic resistance has failed).

    Can you imagine if a farmer purchased Roundup Ready crops, but was told, "Don't actually expose them to Roundup -- they have to be kept away from Roundup to keep them alive?" That is what is effectively being said about the genetics in "resistant" bees.

    All of which suggests to me that genetics play far less into any observed resistance than do other aspects of management.

    WE need to keep the facts we choose to present within the realm of realness, therefore I might propose that your suggestion that a population refers to ‘most honeybees across the united states’ as ‘not accurate‘. -naturebee
    Typically, "populations" refer to groups that interbreed. Not that are capable of interbreeeding, or groups that could theoretically interbreed, but groups that actually interbreed. With shipments of queens across the country, beekeepers effectively increase the size of that group -- that is, genes get shared among the "group" just by having queens that mated in California getting mailed to New York. Or some bees from South Dakota going to Florida where they interbreed with some bees from Maine, and other bees from South Dakota going to California where they interbreed with bees from Utah, and still other bees from South Dakota going to Texas where they interbreed with bees from Texas. Bring those three groups of bees back to South Dakota, and you've now linked what might otherwise have been gradients among honey bees from Maine and Florida and Utah and California and Texas and everywhere in between.

    From a genetic standpoint, places where bees remain in isolation from the rest of the population in North America are pretty scarce. I'm not saying you can't have such places, or that you might not have such a place, but realistically, such places are few and far between, I think.

    So, for most beekeepers, when you talk about the "population," you're talking about the vast majority of managed honey bees in the United States. Trying to discern traits or "health" at that population level is difficult and requires a great deal of extrapolation. Maybe too much extrapolation to be meaningful.

    But all of that gets us off topic from the "genetics/environmental effects."

    Rinderer told me in no uncertain terms ’in the Russian colonies in his research facility, over several years, the mite levels in these colonies stayed very low, and he had not needed to treat, and he assured me that he did not foresee the need for me to treat the stock for mites‘. -naturebee
    First, that comment surprises me, especially considering everything published by Rinderer and collaborators in the primary literature. All of their publications that I've read state something along the lines of, "Russian bees show promise as another tool in combination with managment techniques to help control Varroa mites." They seem to have been very, very reluctant to ever state that Russian honey bees would withstand mites just on their genetic resistance or tolerance.

    Secondly, how does responding with a small-scale example (subpopulation) show that management for a large-scale example (full population) has worked? What I'm really looking for is a case where a breeder chose to deal with a large group (ideally, the whole population), rather than with a smaller subgroup.

    . . . thus the basis for my ’sustainable bee population’ hypothesis. -naturebee
    I detest the word "sustainable." What does it mean? What does it really say? In agriculture, "sustainable" is usually used to connote "better practices," practices that can be used over a longer time period without as great a risk of damage or peril. But what does that even really mean? "Sustainable" has become a buzz word, jargon, one of those terms that gets used without real understanding.

    To use a negative example, killing off bees in hives for the winter to take all of the honey (such practices have been claimed by some beekeepers) seems to be not "sustainable" to me. Yet, if those beekeepers can continue to practice such methods, such practices must have an element of sustainability. If they didn't, those beekeepers wouldn't be able to continue to do such things.

    Is attempting to "breed resistance" sustainable? All evidence from every other organism in a breeding program suggests that resistance is overcome very quickly, and cannot be maintained as resistance in that form for very long. So is that "sustainable?"

    Pinning down "sustainable" and what is and is not "sustainable" becomes almost impossible.

    Resistant bees are not being distributed very well into domestic bee yards because the management style commercial operations and bee breeders often promote bees that are dependant on treatments for mite resistance. -naturebee
    But to say, then, that Seeley just "got lucky" and managed by some slim chance to obtain nothing but resistant bees from a breeding program when most of the managed bees are not really resistant (bear in mind that he used more than one hive for this experiment) violates Occam's razor.

    Why were the ferals inside of trees not harmed by the bear? -naturebee
    We don't know that they weren't. You're assuming that all unmanaged colonies avoided predation by bears. I doubt it.

    was this due to the ’luck’ that you promote? -naturebee
    Luck. Chance. Stochasticity. Fortune. Fate. Whatever you wish to term, some of these events seem to occur without regard to other factors. Bears don't assess the relative mite resistance of bees before knocking apart hives. Ice storms don't only fall on hives that failed to collect adequate amounts of pollen. Dearths don't only impact hives that suffer from foulbrood.

    Hives weakened by other factors may be more likely to fail from some events than hives that are otherwise healthy, but a hive than withstands one form of selective pressure may not be able to withstand a different form.

  2. #22
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    Hello Kieck,

    First, I’d like to start with a definition by Phillips:

    “The environmental factor may be inside or outside the hive, or even inside or outside the individual bee. For example, pathogenic micro- organisms or irritating foods are inside but not part of the animal and are therefore environmental factors.” (Phillips 1918)

    So mites ARE an environmental factor.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kieck View Post
    Exactly. And this sort of comment is a wonderful argument against genetics. Think about it for a minute: we have a "super bee," a bee that shows resistance to "whatever," but when those bees are actually exposed to "whatever," that "resistance" disappears? Clearly, that resistance cannot be genetic, or, if it is, that resistance is overcome almost immediately (meaning that the genetic resistance has failed).
    If I may repeat part of what you said:
    “…but when those bees are actually exposed to "whatever," that "resistance" disappears?” -Kieck

    Disappears? The resistance did not disappear. BUT, lets look at what DID disappear.
    I’m assuming that when you say “actually exposed” you are meaning when a resistant colony is <<<<moved to a new location and placed in an apiary >>>> where they are exposed to what ever, the resistance disappears.

    The only thing that I see that disappeared was the environment the bees were located in, and had developed resistance to cope with the pressures located in ‘that place’ before they were moved to ‘another place’ NOT of their adaptation and with different mite pressures as well. So what really disappeared was the environment, being replaced with a new set of enviornmential factors, and not the resistance, and this is a key point.

    Conversely, when Seeley moved domestic colonies into an environment where the feral population had developed a resistance to the environmental pressures unique to that place, the domestic colonies seemed to have gained a resistance to mites similar to that found in the feral population.

    Both instances have less to do with resistance at the colony level, and everything to do with adaptation of the population to the environmental factors found in a particular location.

    Colonies are not dealing with mites, they are dealing with the bigger picture, -‘environmental factors’, which mites are only a part of. When a colony is moved much distance, the environmental factors change also.

    When I was trying to recover from the varroa crashes of 95-96, I knew that I would not succeed until the ferals developed in population as well as sufficient resistance. What I have been doing since that time, was bringing in bee trees and letting them swarm off year after year. They may have succumbed after a year or two in the wild, but not before their drones spread genetics amongst the local population some of their resistant qualities. Now ferals doing fine the past few years, and resistance improved in my bees as well.

    Best Wishes,
    Joe

  3. #23
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    Disappears? The resistance did not disappear. BUT, lets look at what DID disappear.
    I’m assuming that when you say “actually exposed” you are meaning when a resistant colony is <<<<moved to a new location and placed in an apiary >>>> where they are exposed to what ever, the resistance disappears. -naturebee
    Maybe I was too nice in the way I worded it. Here, in essence, is what I've read on several threads here on Beesource.

    Someone has some bees that they are claiming are "mite resistant." Located where those bees are, they show very little or no evidence of mites in the hives. So the beekeeper(s) claim that the bees must be "mite resistant" since few/no mites are present.

    Someone else wishes to see just how resistant those bees are. They start with some stock of the "resistant bees" and put those hives among bees that have high mite populations. The "resistant bees" become host to just as many mites as the "susceptible bees."

    The second person reports that those "resistant bees" were host to mites just as much as "susceptible bees." The first person responds along the lines of, "You can't mix the two types in one yard, or the resistance won't work!"

    Effectively, the "resistance" is not genetic, then, to my way of thinking, and is most likely more a reflection of the situation where the bees were located ("avirulent" mites? better foraging conditions? something else around that cuts down mite reproduction? something as of yet unknown?) than any other single factor, including genetics.

    I used the phrase "resistance disappears." I should probably have more correctly stated that "no genetic resistance ever existed in those bees."

    Conversely, when Seeley moved domestic colonies into an environment where the feral population had developed a resistance to the environmental pressures unique to that place, the domestic colonies seemed to have gained a resistance to mites similar to that found in the feral population. -naturebee
    That would be "environmental effects," then, and not "genetics," would it not?

    Some of the details in the Seeley study are getting distorted in this thread at this point. Seeley did not move bees into Arnot Forest; he moved bees from Arnot Forest stock out of the forest. He found no real difference in mite populations between New World Carniolan stock and "Arnot Forest" stock when both were exposed to mites.

    Both instances have less to do with resistance at the colony level, and everything to do with adaptation of the population to the environmental factors found in a particular location. -naturebee
    To me, this suggests "environmental effects" rather than "genetics" in dealing with survival.

    Oh, and going through the paper again: Seeley states in the paper than of the eight colonies found in Arnot Forest in 2002, two died in the winter of 2002-2003 ("cause of deaths is unknown"), and one died in October 2003 when winds toppled the tree containing the colony.

    When a colony is moved much distance, the environmental factors change also. -naturebee
    Right. Sometimes, even over short distances, environmental factors change significantly.

    But the point here, I think, is that genetics do not change because of a move. Crops that are RoundUp Ready, for example, in Pennsylvania may not be adapted to the climate in South Dakota, but they will still be RoundUp Ready if they get planted in South Dakota. Similarly, bees that might be genetically "mite resistant" in one environment should still be "mite resistant" in another location. If resistance fails to be expressed simply because of a move, I question the genetic component of that "resistance."

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kieck View Post
    I used the phrase "resistance disappears." I should probably have more correctly stated that "no genetic resistance ever existed in those bees."

    That would be "environmental effects," then, and not "genetics," would it not?
    I will again submit the quote by Phillips, because its relevance is key to this discussion.

    “The environmental factor may be inside or outside the hive, or even inside or outside the individual bee. For example, pathogenic micro- organisms or irritating foods are inside but not part of the animal and are therefore environmental factors.” (Phillips 1918)

    The answer to your statement;
    <<<that would be “environmental effects," then, and not "genetics," >>>
    Is no.
    Because genetics in part determines the level of the this environmental factor known as mite pressure.

    It is very clear that Phillips defines environmental factors as anything “not part of the bee”, and ‘mites are therefore an environmental factor’. Thus, any resistance mechanism, or lack of resistance mechanism, weather it be at the colony level, or at the population level, which impacts the fecundity of varroa in that particular environment, is a perfect example of genetics directly influencing an environmental factor of mite pressure on other colonies.

    If you have one area with a population of resistant bees that keep varroa pressures drifting to other colonies at minimal levels (think arnot ferals here), and another area with a population of less resistant bees that can cause a very high influx of mites drifting to other colonies causing them great stress (think commercial pollinators here). This would be an example of genetics having a direct environmental influence on other colonies. This environmental factor can cause other colonies to fail, and not because of any fault of their own deficiency, but because of the fault of the other colonies in that particular environment. It is my position that the ’the degree of resistance found at the population level, together with the degree of resistance found at the colony level (think genetics), determines the level of this environmental factor’ known as mite pressure.

    Best Wishes,
    Joe

  5. #25
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    I see now what you're saying, Joe (naturebee), and that makes sense to me. I am coming at it from a little different angle: I was contrasting "genetics" versus "environmental effects" as a factor contributing to survival or lack thereof.

    For example, while mites can also be considered an "environmental effect," is a low mite population in a colony indicative of genetic mechanisms, or environmental factors? Is genetic tolerance or resistance the explanation for the low mite population in that colony? Or did other environmental effects limit the mite population? Which would be more significant?

    Same goes for other factors, such as winter survival. Did the colony have a genetic component responsible for winter survival, or did the colony live in a habitat (or even microhabitat) where environmental effects aided that colony over the winter? Which would be more significant?

    In my opinion, genetics are important, but the "solution," if you will, to many of these survival problems may better lie in improving the habitat within and around bee hives.

  6. #26

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    This has been an interesting discussion, although highly technical and not easy to follow, at least for me. I am trying to determine what the best management practices for my hives are and there is so much conflicting information it is hard to determine.
    Try to learn something new every day and give thanks for all your blessings.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by gingerbee View Post
    This has been an interesting discussion, although highly technical and not easy to follow, at least for me. I am trying to determine what the best management practices for my hives are and there is so much conflicting information it is hard to determine.
    Hi Ginger,
    If you need to ask a question, feel free.

    Yes, there are allot of management styles and conflicting information out there and I can see how this can be confusing to someone trying to find the information they need.

    Joe

  8. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kieck View Post
    In my opinion, genetics are important, but the "solution," if you will, to many of these survival problems may better lie in improving the habitat within and around bee hives.
    After reading your posts, for management purposes, it would seem that genetics and habitat need to be considered when developing a management plan for apiaries, applied to the area in which one lives. If I follow what you are saying, as you are defining it, habitat would mean the environment outside/inside the hive. Outside environment may include excessive rain, dearth, unusually cool summer temperatures, unusual winter weather patterns (warm or cold), low nutritional value honey flows, high sustained winds, pesticide use, and presence of skunks/mice. The habitat within would include possible disease, varroa, tracheal mites, small hive beetles, etc.

    Managing the outside environment could include things like watering, planting for your bees; discontinue use of chemical pesticides if you are using them on crops, etc. Improving the habitat within might also mean things such as treating for disease, determining when to requeen, what kind of queen to buy, etc.

    Managing the inside environment, for me, is the more difficult. I don't want to lose hives by not treating for pests and diseases, but I don't want to use chemicals in my hives either, due to buildup in the comb and I believe, perhaps weakening whatever natural resistance the bees might have (bad management also?) So the question becomes for me- do I use 'natural' treatments, essential oils, grease patties, powdered sugar and the like? Do they really help? Or is it best not to treat and have (does it really develop) survivor stock?

    Is it healthy for the bees to feed early in the spring for brood building or best let them build brood as they would do naturally? What about swarming? Heavily manage for that, manage some for it or let the bees do their own thing and contribute to the population, diversity of feral bees. Then there's genetics as it applies to queen choice. How does one choose the right queen for the right area and do the queens offered actually have the traits they are said to have?

    These are some of the questions regarding management I have. I don't want to take this thread too much off topic so maybe it's best to start another one in this regard, or pm me if you like. Thanks for inviting me into the conversation.
    Try to learn something new every day and give thanks for all your blessings.

  9. #29
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    After reading your posts, for management purposes, it would seem that genetics and habitat need to be considered when developing a management plan for apiaries, applied to the area in which one lives. -gingerbee
    Yes. I tend to put it in a little different order (management and/or habitat, then genetics), but both should be considered.

    I've tried quite a few different "races" or types or lines of bees. "Italians" and Russians and Minnesota Hygienics and VSH/SMR and Carniolans and general "mutt bees." I see as much difference within many of the races/types/lines as among them. What that says to me is 1) despite the names, most honey bees in North America are interbreeding and are effectively "mutts" (that is to say, "pure races" or "pure strains" are difficult to find), and, 2) genetics therefore play less of a role in survival for bees that I've had than do environmental effects or conditions.

    I lump "management techniques" into "environmental effects" or "habitat." Most of "management" is modifying the bees' environment at some level.

    Managing the outside environment. . . . -gingerbee
    For me, management of an exterior environment (outside the hive) is largely hive placement. I try to find locations that I deem suitable for hives. Put hives in the middle of nothing by brome grass, and those hives are likely to perform miserably. Locations with diversity of floral sources is important to me. I try to scout locations long before I put bees there. And I mentally ask myself things like, "What is blooming in this location after dandelions are done? What blooms after sweetclover here? Is enough goldenrod growing around here to provide a late nectar source for bees? Is a reliable source of water available?" and, maybe most importantly, "How much competition/interaction with other bees is likely in this location?"

    I'm a firm believer that very few locations can support hundreds of hives in a restricted area. I think fewer strong hives are better than more weak hives.

    Managing the inside environment. . . . -gingerbee
    This is the routine stuff for me. I don't move hives seasonally. So once a location is set, the bees tend to stay there.

    Managing the hives' interior environments means things as simple as how much honey to leave, how stores are distributed within the hives, if/when to employ techniques to control mite populations, disease management, brood manipulation, requeening, and so on.

    Is it healthy for the bees to feed early in the spring for brood building[?] -gingerbee
    If you need them for some purpose, sure. I don't feed in the spring. I try not to feed at all. I think that if I've done my legwork in selecting a location, I don't need to feed. If I find a hive that needs feeding, chances are high that I don't want those bees anyway (and that gets back to the "genetics" aspect, I realize). The exception is if I've tried something unusual, and my management (mismanagement?) produces hives that are too light on stores to be likely to survive without my intervention.

    . . .or best let them build brood as they would do naturally? -gingerbee
    That's what I do. But I'm not a commercial beekeeper. I don't make a living from pollination contracts and/or honey production.

    How does one choose the right queen for the right area and do the queens offered actually have the traits they are said to have? -gingerbee
    Opinions differ on what races/lines/breeds are best for particular areas. This is part of why I disagree with some others on the "importance of genetics." I have "Italians" that overwinter well here. I have bees from Minnesota Hygienic stock that overwinter well here. I have "Carniolans" that overwinter well here. Different hives show different traits, but I tend to have to evaluate each on its own merits/demerits. An "Italian" hive that overwinters with a small cluster may have a smaller winter population than a "Carniolan" hive that overwinters with a large cluster. Certainly the individual genetics play a role here, but the conditions around that hive may play a huge role, too. If you want a huge population from spring feeding for pollination contracts, certain forms may be more desirable. If you don't want to feed over the winter, others may be more desirable.

  10. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by gingerbee View Post
    Is it healthy for the bees to feed early in the spring for brood building or best let them build brood as they would do naturally?
    I ask this after reading this thread http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?t=225986

    If in early spring temps vary from warm to cold and you are feeding to increase brood production, would it not affect the bees in a cold snap if there were insufficent population to cover the brood nest? These studies and discussion seem to indicate that would affect the viability of bees learning and memory.
    Try to learn something new every day and give thanks for all your blessings.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gingerbee View Post
    Is it healthy for the bees to feed early in the spring for brood building or best let them build brood as they would do naturally?

    If in early spring temps vary from warm to cold and you are feeding to increase brood production, would it not affect the bees in a cold snap if there were insufficent population to cover the brood nest? These studies and discussion seem to indicate that would affect the viability of bees learning and memory.
    For the promotion of, as well as the ability to identify and select from the best stock, am usually against any type of supplemental feeding that gives a colony an artificial advantage. The exceptions are, to keep a colony from starving, and supplemental feeding for brood rearing stimuli prior to the Locust and Tulip bloom, which it is essential to have a strong colony to maximize the early harvest of these two most excellent honeys.

    Although, cold snaps do occur in the spring, and these may cause the cluster to abandon brood, this usually is a rather rare event, and the benefits out weigh the risk.

    I do tend to see allot of overly concern out there about over feeding in spring and clusters getting too large too early and worries about cold snaps, but I see it as something not to worry about, this from experience. Same with the memory thing, those are two things to forget, and one thing I remember how to do, is how to forget.

    But when a lengthy cold wet spring does occur, it will affect colonies whether they are fed or not, history shows cold wet springs can be devastating to honeybees in a region experiencing such conditions.

    I have a collection of these events in the Historical Honeybee Articles site:
    Files > 13) Honeybee Mortality and Hardship

    Joe

  12. #32

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    Joe,

    Our flow is early here- tulip poplar, and feeding the bees early is something I had to do because of low honey stores. I am trying not to treat, or if I have to treat, do it with 'organic' methods, having healthy bees that are genetically and developmentally strong is important.

    I appreciate your advice on not worrying about the variations in temp affecting the hives and am looking forward to discussing ways to manage the colony without treatments.
    Try to learn something new every day and give thanks for all your blessings.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kieck View Post
    For example, while mites can also be considered an "environmental effect," is a low mite population in a colony indicative of genetic mechanisms, or environmental factors?
    I believe it is both! And perhaps, also why it is so very difficult to determine the resistant qualities of a colony. The environmental stresses, the health of other colonies in the population, influx of mites disease etc, cause ‘stress’, which when compounded with other stresses are known to suppress the expression of some traits in healthy colonies, including those related to mite resistance.

    The theories on CCD are mostly centered around ‘acumination of stress factors‘, with the last stress being (according to Dennis Van,,,) the final straw ‘that causes colony collapse‘. So does one blame the last stress as “the cause”? or the half dozen or so contributing stresses as the cause?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kieck View Post
    Is genetic tolerance or resistance the explanation for the low mite population in that colony? Or did other environmental effects limit the mite population? Which would be more significant?
    IMO, We need not look further back than the great varroa crashes of 95-96 here in the north east to see an example of the great pressures from the environmental factor of mites, caused by collapsing ferals and domestic colonies drifting to otherwise healthy and abundantly treated domestic colonies to cause great devastation, in spite of massive efforts by beekeepers to prevent such by treating with pesticides.

    Then, after the feral collapse of 95-96, and the subsequent reduction of the environmental factor of mites from drifting colonies, domestic beekeepers for many years still experienced great losses from failure of resistance at the colony level. So this perhaps shows, both factors are of great significance.

    But to choose the greater, I would select a recovery of the feral or local population of colonies with resistant qualities that has the greater significance to my success, also because of the essentials of the key ingredient in colony health by way of increased successful matings.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kieck View Post
    Same goes for other factors, such as winter survival. Did the colony have a genetic component responsible for winter survival, or did the colony live in a habitat (or even microhabitat) where environmental effects aided that colony over the winter? Which would be more significant?
    These are great questions! I will explain my philosophy on the key to wintering bees successfully.
    Although, I believe strongly in genetic components that contribute to successful wintering, ie: northern beekeepers should buy winter hardy northern queens. I have found this not of the greatest significance in successful wintering.

    In my experience, a colony NEVER fails from a “single cause”. Like plane crashes, there will always be found several events contributing to the cause of the colony collapse, even varroa is not a cause, as there are always factors that contributed to the collapse, ie: lack of resistance, environmental factors, etc.

    Accumulating stresses and the ability of a colony to defend against stresses are of greater importance to wintering successfully. Reduce the accumulation of stresses to a manageable level by breeding essential traits and good management and this would be of great significance to successful wintering, ie: “bee heath is a greater predictor of the chances of surviving winter”

    More beekeepers should be using a Colony Condition Assessment and Survival Prediction Analysis (CCA/SPA)
    to determine chances survivability, and to explain losses by way of ‘accumulating stresses’ and not so much blame single factors. Read the following:

    =====
    Richard E. Rogers, 53 Blossom Dr, Wildwood Labs Inc, Kentville, NS, B4N 3Z1

    When honey bee colonies die in large numbers the cause is often considered mysterious and this leads to various allegations and theories as to what caused the bee losses. Using a Colony Condition Assessment and Survival Prediction Analysis (CCA/SPA) approach it has been possible to define the status of bee health in individual colonies and to predict the chances of surviving winter. What has become clear from using CCA/SPA is that honey bees are suffering from what is being referred to as Multiple and Various Causative Agents Syndrome (MVCAS). This syndrome is caused by additive or synergistic combinations of more than one factor that affects bee health. The combinations may vary among hives, apiaries, regions and countries. The factors most frequently associated with MVCAS are parasitic mites, diseases (including viruses), management, and nutrition. It is possible, using CCA/SPA, to determine the specific various factors that are contributing to bee mortality. As well, the system has been found to be a good predictor of the chances of colony survival over winter. Assessing all of the factors that affect bee health at the correct time, and interpreting the results in relation to provisional thresholds and interactions, takes the mystery out of why honey bees are dying.
    =====

    So perhaps, recording what stresses are present in the season prior to winter will give you a good idea as to the causes of failure. Notice, I said “causes of failure”.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kieck View Post
    In my opinion, genetics are important, but the "solution," if you will, to many of these survival problems may better lie in improving the habitat within and around bee hives.
    Agree! Or take the bees to the habitat.
    I keep two apiaries in lowland farm areas for reduction of total risk exposure. Here in the ridge (which is 3 miles from this farmland) after the tree bloom, things are sparse as far as forage is concerned, and bees need to fly to lowlands or near streams to find forage. So while I continue to select here on the ridge for bees that forage greater distances and ability to locate minor sources of nectar (Seeley did a study on this aspect of woodland bees), this is not of great importance in the lowlands where forage is more abundant.

    Joe
    http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/H...eybeeArticles/

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    I think we're pretty much on the same page here, Joe.

    I believe it is both! And perhaps, also why it is so very difficult to determine the resistant qualities of a colony. -naturebee
    I agree. This is part of the reason that claims that we can simply "breed our way out of problems" rub me the wrong way, and that claims that "small cell" (or whatever other single factor) can singly eliminate all problems.

    Teasing out one from another is not easy.

    But very poor resistance to mites or very poor disease tolerance or poor genetics for other traits can be propped up by exceptional habitat (management). The very best genetics cannot overcome very poor habitat (management) to survive.

    Having said that, I want the "best genetics" I can get, too. I think we all do. But if the amount of resources devoted to finding or breeding the right genetics were devoted to improving management or habitat (even within hives), I suspect that we'd see far greater results.

    I have found this not of the greatest significance in successful wintering. -naturebee
    Well stated! Beginners should read your explanation and bear it in mind.

    "Causes," rather than cause is significant here. Too often, we think in terms of trying to pinpoint a single cause of loss, rather than considering a number of causes acting in concert.

  15. #35
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    Mar 2009
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    Vanderbilt, PA, USA
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    Default definition of sustainability & some philosophical thoughts on beekeeping

    What an intense discussion - I wish I was following it as it went along instead of trying to read all 4 pages at once.

    Just a couple of things I would like to chime in on...

    Sustainability - Kieck, you said you didn't like the word and weren't sure what it really meant.... recently a master beekeeper enlightened me about its definition:

    Sustainability is: Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations.

    He was saying if you try to define much more specifically than that, we come to differences of opinion, because it is really discussion of how to be sustainable vs. what is sustainable. And thus we have confusion or lack of clarity....or dilution in the meaning....

    On beekeeping in general, I am wondering if we are needing to have a more holistic approach. We all seem to be too much focusing on one cure all, and we often seem in our diagnosis of problems be so focused on symptoms and their cure that we overlook the underlying reasons for illness -

    I see there is no one answer - as it was said in the beginning of this thread, genetics is not the end all be all answer -- it's much more complicated than that. Environment certainly is a big factor. A colony is so complex, and our human intervention has been so extensive.....

    I would like to add something to the list of environmental factors that I don't believe genetics would serve as the end all be all cure...
    I wonder about the effect of GM crops on bees. Some of you may think it has no effect on humans; there is plenty of research to the contrary. I believe bees are equally sensitive to GM as human beings or animals. Instead of eliminating GM crops, I guess we need to GM humans, animals and insects?

    I see the real question boil down to the continual struggle between what humans want from bees and what the bees' own desires, psychology, attitude, needs and agenda.

    As long as great human intervention exists in bees natural behavior, natural setting, bees' instincts and bees' natural collaboration in colony building and survival, etc., bees will continue to be plagued and threatened by disease and weakness. To me that is the key - and reducing that intervention means viewing it all in a holistic manner.

    Somebody also brought up local... local I think is another important aspect to the future of bees. Most of us get bees like we are buying them off a shelf in the grocery store. We get them from far off places. Far off places are not the answer - many of these far off places have their own threats and environmental factors - places like Texas, Alabama, Louisiana, and such are dealing with africanized bees. This threat keeps moving further north.
    I believe that if we truly wish to change the paradigm that we need to reinvent our beekeeping practices to focus on local. We need more beekeepers to offer nucs and queens locally for local markets. This would help local beekeepers keep healthier bees. Sure you can cross breed and all that locally, this is an important thing to do.

    Marika

  16. #36
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by beegarden View Post
    I would like to add something to the list of environmental factors that I don't believe genetics would serve as the end all be all cure...
    I wonder about the effect of GM crops on bees.
    Enjoyed your letter Marika!

    Perhaps, the importance of genetics should be seen in its proper place. IMO, it should be seen as a part of the entire program, i.e. Genetics (breeding), nutrition (nutritional forage), habitat (environment), a deficit in any one of these areas might effect the colonies ability to function properly. The effects of GM crops on honeybees are perhaps not yet understood, but a colony of bees is not in deficit of the aforementioned, would be better able to withstand stresses, such as those that may be associated with GM

    I will be responding to Keick sometime soon with a vigorous attack.
    I was in basic agreement with him until he put “habitat (management).” together like that.

    Joe
    http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/FeralBeeProject/
    http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/H...eybeeArticles/

  17. #37
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    Dec 2004
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    Default

    I‘m busy with many projects right now, don’t know when I can post, but I will get back later to post my comments on Keicks “habitat (management).” comment. Still thinking over how I will reply.

    In the mean time, I saved this file a while back.
    It is germane to the environmental influence topic.
    IMO, it suggests that it can be very difficult to assess a colony on its merits.

    Due to the degree of drifting that can occur, you may actually be looking at
    another colony all together when you inspect a colony.

    This is why I have often stated that when you look into a colony, you are
    also looking at a reflection of the characteristics of the population in that vicinity.

    http://www.actahort.org/books/288/288_12.htm

    Joe
    http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/FeralBeeProject/
    http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/H...eybeeArticles/

  18. #38
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    Dec 2005
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    Volga, SD
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    Default

    Kieck, you said you didn't like the word and weren't sure what it really meant.... recently a master beekeeper enlightened me about its definition: -beegarden
    I know the dictionary definition. The problem with "sustainable" as used in agriculture or food production is that every group claims the word as their own. Organic producers claim organic production is the only "sustainable" form of production. One of the big biotechnology corporations has taken to using "sustainable" in their advertisements. "Sustainable" is claimed by each and every side in whatever capacity they select. Because of that, it means very little.

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