Last edited by Ravenseye; 05-24-2010 at 06:11 AM. Reason: Off topic
Anti-husbandry: Medication + Reproduction = Continuing Sickness
Peter began this thead by indicating the existence of the EU Coloss projects, as follows:
"In an ideal beekeepers' world, honeybees should not require any treatment against diseases at all, which would prevent the contamination of colonies with in-hive chemicals used in apicultural management. EU research therefore focuses on the identification of genes that regulate resistance. The transfer from science into application is typically a major problem. In Europe this transfer is greatly facilitated through one of the largest programs in history.
COLOSS Prevention of Honeybee Colony Losses, http://www.coloss.org "
In the hope of revive this conversation I have extracted a few examples of the aims and methods of the COLOSS EU project, from their February Athens 'workshop':
Standardized protocols for honey bee vitality and diversity
Various activities have been allocated to different countries. All underlining is mine, and is intended to indicate points of special interest.
This first bit is from the short description of an Italian breeding project, and demonstrates that breeding toward 'vitality' must become part of standard breeding protocols:
"The Italian bee research unit CRA-API is responsible for coordination of breeding activities inside the National queen breeders registry, which was set up by Ministerial Decree in 1997. The aim of the registry is to protect and improve the native Italian races Apis mellifera ligustica and A. m. sicula. The research unit organizes performance testing, anonymous distribution of queens, courses for testers, data collection, biometric and genetic analysis. The traits currently screened in routine performance testing are honey production, docility, swarming tendency and, to a lesser extent hygienic behaviour. However a project is underway to introduce vitality traits in routine testing of the registry queens, and to include these in the breeding values, which are calculated according to the modified BLUP method by the Hohen Neuendorf Institute (Germany).
In the EU Rural development policies framework, several beekeepersC Associations, in collaboration with CRA-API, are planning to set up specific A. m. ligustica conservation programmes, in which vitality traits will be given priority. Furthermore, besides ongoing efforts for A. m. sicula conservation in Sicily, a new reintroduction project is underway.
It is therefore important to have reliable protocols to plan and coordinate vitality testing methods and conservation techniques. Discussion among international breeding experts and comparisons of similar breeding and re-introduction schemes established in different countries will contribute to this aim."
This contribution below (Turkey) shows that varroa is currently understood to be the key cause of poor 'vitality', and that evaluation of stock for varrao resistance must form the basis of stock evaluation:
Varroa infestation as colony health assessment and vitality indicator in
"The ectoparasite mite, Varroa destructor is the most destructive parasite of honey bees, Apis mellifera. Varroa infestations cause weight loss, reduced longevity in adult bees which result in low productivity or colony mortality. Varroa destructor also shows that it is a vector of various viruses. Thus it is the key component of the vitality evaluation of the GxE experiment to be followed. The parameters related to Varroa infestation measures are
the infestation level as percent infested brood or adults and the intensity of infestation as number of mites per pupal cell. The threshold infestation level is usually considered as 10%, and the intensity of infestation is considered as moderate in case of 1-4 mites per
pupal cell, high infestation if 5-6 mites per pupal cell is encountered. The Varroa infestation and intensity levels are related to colony sizes and production.
On the other hand, other factors such as genetic differences between the honey bee races being tested will be affecting the Varroa infestation levels since they are found to differ in hygienic behavior, biting, and grooming behaviors. Remaining differences will be attributed to the environmental conditions the colonies are maintained and comparisons will be made between the races and the locations. Standardization of the method, timing, and intervals of assessment of Varroa infestations as well as other parameters will be finalized during the workshop. Those methods and
protocols will be applied to the vitality tests of the three races at three different climatic regions that are started as part of the GxE experiment of COLOSS Working Group 4. "
An extract from a contribution from Denmark emphasises good use of the key terms 'fitness' and 'vitality':
Comparing genetic diversity for European population
"Fitness and vitality are not synonyms. Fitness is define in the sense of Darwin and relates to the reproductive output of individuals or colonies. In contrast WG4 has chosen the term vitality to describes bees health in general and in particular the capacity to withstand environmental challenges, like climatic changes, parasite and pest pressure, with minimal assistance from the beekeeper.
The importance of genetic diversity has been noted at the individual, the colony, the population, subspecies and species level in honey bees. There are examples of reduced fitness at the individual and colony level, due to reduced genetic diversity. At the higher levels, the capacity to adapt to changes in the environment demands for genetic diversity.
Therefore, genetic diversity at those levels is important too, and of course in closely connected to that of the lower levels. Breeding often leads to a reduction of genetic diversity and as a result could be as detrimental to honey bee population vitality. Comparison of genetic diversity for various populations of bred honey bees from Europe and wild bees of Africa seem to support this view, however there are additional factors to consider. "
Last, the German contribution shows that it is of central importance to include evaluation to resistance to varroa in the evaluation criteria for selection purposes:
Sustainable breeding strategies and the conservation of honey bee biodiversity in Europe
Meixner Marina D., Büchler Ralph
"The existing subspecies and ecotypes of honey bees in Europe represent an important resource for breeding of disease resistant strains. Several methods are being used to characterize European honey bee populations and much information has been collected over the years, however, it is only partly accessible in reference data bases. One of our aims is to create a published and accessible reference data base that will be of use to scientists and apiculturists working in the field of European honey bee biodiversity and
To include criteria relevant to vitality into honey bee breeding and enable sustainable breeding strategies based on regional populations, standard methods to assess the status of colonies, including their health condition will be developed. This includes parameters of colony strength, brood area and food status, and especially the level of infestation with Varroa destructor and other relevant diseases. Methods will be adapted and validated according to regional conditions of climate and environment in Europe. International breeding recommendations including characters related to colony vitality will be designed, consisting of both the theoretical framework and technical and methodological aspects. "
All this seems to me to demonstrate clearly the root nature of the problem as understood by this large EU research organisation. The sort of work undertaken by Marla Spivak in the US is to be replicated on a grand scale in Europe, and used to form the foundations of future strategy against varroa and other threats to bee health.
Anti-husbandry: Medication + Reproduction = Continuing Sickness
>The problem with this whole plan is that it refuses to acknowledge that in many cases it just doesn't work. I have been trying this exact thing for ten years. The bees always die, if not treated. All of them. Nothing to breed from.
Exactly my problem until I went to small cell...
Maybe it was because you dip your hives in rosin and wax?Exactly my problem until I went to small cell...