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  1. #1
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    Default Resistant bees, productive or not

    I post this thread because I had developed a bee that was varroa mite resistant. This line was later incorporated for the genetics into other resistant lines that have been developed. The problem was the bee that was developed lost the ability to produce the really big crops of honey that honey producers so depend on to make a living. The bees maintained smallish colonies and produced crops in proportion. It turns out that a lot of the resistant lines of bees (russians) do not produce as good a crop of honey as some more susceptable bees. This has been documented and studied. So is it better to have a bee that requires some treatment but produces big crops and stays alive because of the treatment. Or is it better to have a totally resistant colony that produces smaller crops and the cost of the treatments remain in the beeks wallet. Keep this civil, I did not post this to start world war 3 TED

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Resistant bees, productive or not

    This is the same thing that happened back in the 1950s when Walter Rothenbuler, then of Iowa and later Ohio, developed a strain of bees that was as totally resistant to AFB as it could be. They didn't produce much honey.

    What we need is a strain in the middle, I guess.

    Is it possible to start w/ the varroa resistant stock and develope it into a more productive strain?
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Resistant bees, productive or not

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Kretschmann View Post
    I post this thread because I had developed a bee that was varroa mite resistant.
    Ted... How was your bee able to resist the varroa mite. Did it pick it off itself or others? Or was it just not attractive to the mite... some how. Just curious...

    Herb

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Resistant bees, productive or not

    Ted, my best producing hive last year was a B. Weaver strain, and it produced 60 pounds of surplus. It had swarmed, and wasn't a very good season. My total production from 16 colonies was only 500 pounds. I've been expanding colony numbers, and not as concerned as I should be for honey production. Weavers say their bee is a good producer. I certainly hope to find out this year.

    Sounds like we're talking about the Holy Grail of beekeeping: A bee not needing any kind of treatment for mites, vast honey production, and (shall we throw in) gentle enough to be worked in a t-shirt (veil optional)?
    Regards,
    Steven
    "If all you have is a hammer, the whole world is a nail." - A.H. Maslow

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Resistant bees, productive or not

    AHB is varroa resistant and produces huge crops from what I hear/read so it must be possible to have the best of both worlds unless that means mean bees.

    Maybe it is just that we have not found the right resistant trait yet. If we could get bees that would actually pick off the mites and chew off their legs we would not need genetics that waste brood, and keep small winter clusters, breaks in brood cycles, etc. I actually find it strange that the bees tolerate the presence of varroa on their sisters. You would think they would be persistent in harassing and chewing on them. It must be that once the pest is on the bee they dont see it as a threat. They keep a constant guard on shb so why not varroa?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Resistant bees, productive or not

    According to Dr. Danka of Baton Rouge. The bees that we bred were SMR type bees. They have something in their saliva that retards the Varoaa mites growth. So when the adult bees feed their larvae. The substance gets into the brood food and makes the larvae unattactive. This is a recessive gene. We acheived it by a closed population of fifty colonies over seven years. Hives that did not die in the winter were split in the spring to replace the loses. They were allowed to raise their own queens and back breed in among themselves. While we bred a resistant bee, it was worthless for honey production. The crops were too small and the colonies were too small in numbers. So there is a trade off. You sacrifice something to get something. In this case, resistance for honey production. The very best of the colonies we had went south donated to Baton Rouge. They were used along with other Beekeepers bees to develope some of the resistant lines that are in use today and soon will be in use at a later date. So we go full circle- a resistant bee or one that produces good crop that need some treatment?? TK

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Resistant bees, productive or not

    Wi, I know that there have been studies on this...The researchers did mite count drops. They looked at the mites. Many of the mites HAD BITE marks on their shells. So our EHBs do try to pick them off. It is a dangerous place for a hitch hiking mite on the back of a bee. It is much safer to stay in the capped brood cells. TK

  8. #8
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    Re: Resistant bees, productive or not

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Kretschmann View Post
    It is a dangerous place for a hitch hiking mite on the back of a bee. It is much safer to stay in the capped brood cells. TK
    Exactly... That is where the heart of the issue lies...

    I know of a few studies that are going on to test the theory of causing sterility and other issues within the mites themselves... may be a winner, may be another disaster waiting to happen... who knows... It may end up causing varroa to mutate enough to start living on humans. lol.

    I think that varroa are soon to be a pest of the past, and production and SHB will be the next big hurdles...

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Resistant bees, productive or not

    Ted, you are hitting the nail directly on the head! There are 3 different ways to develop resistances in your stock...

    1. Let everything die and breed from whatever makes it... losing nearly everything and running a life-long risk of inbreeding...

    2. Cross breed with a strain (ie.. russians) that are far from acclimated to your environment and if you make it past the first 5 gens of angry bees, you then have to face the late buildup and tiny clusters that kill production in most of the US...

    3. Take care of the stock that you have, continuing the countless generations that have been selectively bred for production in your climate, and wait for the bees to build their resistances...

    They are already doing it... if they were not, there would be NONE left in those operations chose option #1 above.

    I keep hearing people talking about 50-70 lbs per hive... They must have no idea what the average was like before mites... I have been concerned that a mixture of poor breeding practices, and an over use of "breeder" queens from too few suppliers may have a lot to do with the drop in average production across the board.... But then I started to consider a different issue... As the years progress, every strain of bee is building more and more resistant to varroa... that means that each strain of bees is developing VSH traits and possibly higher swarming tendencies... this could very well be a big part of the average production rates decrease...

    Now on to the issue with VSH... As I have said before, "Too much is Too much"... a 100% VSH colony is not nearly as productive as a good old italian or even the AMM...

    Russians are so resistant for several reasons... the most obvious is VSH behavior, the second is multiple swarms per season... breaking the brood cycle often, and then in winter for a prolonged period of time...

    VSH is a very useful trait... but it has to be balanced within the population of the colony... VSH is a recessive trait, so both the queen and the drone must carry it for the worker to express it... each VSH drone that a VSH queen mates with will produce a certain percentage of VSH workers within the colony... Too many, and you lose production... Too few, and you lose resistance... Now for this to be controlled within a major operation is very hard...

    Thoughts?

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Resistant bees, productive or not

    Robert, I had hoped you would chime on in. I finally chose method number three, many years ago on the advice of Dr.Shimanukii. Keep treating until the bees as a general population caught up with the problem. The problem is by doing that with a commercial operation. You reproduce the bees using their own genetics aka splitting and letting them raise queens. You eventually have to bring in new blood periodically to reduce the chances of inbreeding. If you do not then you end up with my closed population experiment BUT on a GRAND scale--a whole outfit of non productive bees. Before mites we had, correct me Russell if I am wrong, 850 matriachal lines that breeders could breed from. Now, I have been told it is something along the line of 39. The mites wiped out vast pools of genetic material. So with that in mind, it has been a little over two years since I brought in several hundred Aussie queens. Those bees were two years out from Europe. Thus it is time for some more new genetics to sprinkle around the outfit. So Robert, I have no Mississippi genetics, that is one of the 39 remaining american lineages that I have no genetics from. So you know what that means.--WHEN CAN I PLACE AN ORDER<<< TK

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Resistant bees, productive or not

    You have the right idea... Thats why it has been so important to teach people to NOT use the "let em all die and breed from the few that remain" method... all this does is wipe out lineages that we cant get back... sure they may not have progressed in resistances as quickly as the others, but they were light years ahead of the resistant lines in production and gentleness.

    I work terribly hard to bring in new lineages from outside of the US each season... but its a heck of a process... we quarantine them for years, and study, study, study, before we ever expose them to the mainland... this is a cycle that has to be fed each year, otherwise you end up with a few years of an empty island and a ton of money wasted...

    NZ has got some great production lines and seriously gentle stock...

    As a nation, we have to "reboot" so to speak... lots of folks have great bees... but just how long will it stay that way...

    I will say that one method for keeping the lines more productive is to select your worst 10% of colonies from each yard each season, and requeen with outside stock... One supplier each year, but rotate the out each year... this will add more lines back to your operation and limit expenses stop this process after 6 years... wait 6 years, then repeat this process again... this will cut the costs, keep your own lines going and keep a diverse enough mix that you wont get stuck back-breeding.

    PS, Dont worry about ordering, I already have you down for some SunKists, English Buckfasts, and some of Bill's old Mountain Grey Caucasians...

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Resistant bees, productive or not

    TK how good was the honey production in the foundation stock you developed your resistant line from?

    The degree of physical genetic linkage between traits for honey production and mite tolerance should be possible to determine. With the honeybee genome now sequenced this would be an interesting study. I would bet the traits are not as tightly linked as some suggest.

    Did you find it possible to select for production amongst your most tolerant lines?
    John B Jacob www.oldsolbees.com

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Resistant bees, productive or not

    Hey Ted: I experimented with B-Weaver queens myself I purchased the Taylormade queen I had a real good outcome with that queen. That queen produced a entire hive body full of of honey and 3 shallow supers. I never treated these bees the entire summer or winter. I was going to raise queens from her this year and a sow bear and cubs ate well. These bees were bred in australia and they can't send due to sickness on that continent. I was going to outfit all my hives with that strain. Currently I have been removing colonies from homes I hope to monitor them to see production of honey etc. Maybe hit a home run one hive collected last year produced 90lbs of honey and started from foundation. Later

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