I most certainly am. I won't keep bees that won't survive on their own.
I just got done rereading Randy Oliver's article on MAQS. I am now second guessing my decision on purchasing a VSH breeder and requeening my hives with resistant (hopefully) queens. Besides the difference in cost of 1 treatment per year vs 2/year. Is it still worth it as an industry to breed for resistance when we have the so called "magic bullet"? I hope this will spark all kinds of debate and opinions.
MAQS would only be considered a "magic bullet" by folks who are willing to treat, I at this juncture, and many others, are not willing to do so.
Red Dirt Apiaries
Interesting, I never looked at it from the drone angle.But, once the bees in the neighborhood have a high enough VSH, their drones will be mating with your virgins.
Red Dirt Apiaries
I would be interested in these daughters when you get them hatched out, if you will be selling a few. From what I have read here you need to hatch all you can from these queens this summer. I would love to watch you graft this year if that is your intent.
No problem, she is coming in on Tuesday and I will give her a couple of weeks to get going before I graft. I am going to graft a number of times throughout the next couple of months but I will definitely let you know. I hope spending the cash on her will be worth is with these new MAQS coming out. Time will tell...
We use VSH daughters to graft from. They also through drones. our drone stock is MN Hygienic, Goldline, and VSH. If you get breeder queens from glenn..dont just use them for drones! Too expensive! I would graft a mess of daughters for next year...those would be your drone mothers. Then get some other stocks right now to through drones for next year. Or vice versa.
I am curious to hear from people who have tried Russians and VSH and their thoughts on which they prefer and why.
This is an interesting discussion! The following is simply my opinion based on my experience... VSH is a complex behavioral trait that has been studied for a good number of years now. I think there is a good understanding of what the trait does on a basic level, but I have a difficult time from a practical and theoretical level endorsing such a trait. The whole premise of VSH is that bees identify and remove "Varroa Infested" brood. However, there is a good deal of evidence that suggests VSH is not all that Varrao sensitive, but rather more hyper sensitive as they uncap and remove a good deal of healthy brood as well. That is to say a percentage of healtly brood becomes an unintended target. Here are my questions.... What is a healthy balance for VSH and can it actually be achieved in a population? I do not believe such a trait can achieve a balance or state of equilibrium in a population, which is why research has been unable to determine what the appropriate level of VSH should be in a population. There are only so many resources to go around in a colony. Is devoting energy and resources to a trait that cannibalizes brood a good idea from a practical standpoint? Again, if we look at the long term survivability of VSH colonies, I do not believe that such a trait is justifiable or beneficial towards controlling mite populations. To me, it would be analogous to selecting bees that express a high level of chalkbrood. One could argue that by reducing the amount of brood available to the mites, that would result in Varroa control. A bit farfetched, but there are very few examples of traits that occur in natural populations that require such an energy cost to an organism. Beekeepers have also argued that the VSH breeder queens are solely for breeding purposes, but what happens when your population becomes like the VSH breeders? In addition, a point that is not widely discussed is that VSH with increased uncapping and recapping may actually promote the distribution of brood diseases such as EFB. This is a point addressed by Harbo and Spivak in which they suggest that extra contact and care may increase the probability of spreading a disease such as EFB within the colony. But, it is quickly noted that the use of antibiotics will quickly rectify the problem…This is a really tough trait to think about because there are so many different aspects that must go into its use.
My personal experience with the VSH lines over the years is that cost of any perceived Varroa control is not worth the cost in terms of colony productivity and survivability.
Just my 2 cents,
Great insight Joe, do you agree that the breeder queens may need to be babied along but her daughters mated with local, non VSH, drones may spark that balance between resistence and needless uncapping? Or do you think that it is just to hard to measure? In the long term do you see us as an industry moving away from VSH and continuing down the path of using MAQS or other treatments? Just curious, thanks for your insight.
The open mated daughters kick most every line out there as far as production...the better ones went into the winter with 10-12 frames of brood....
Only thing better is the Buckfast..... However, MN hygienic does make more brood and comb than most of them...
Which color do you have? Is there a difference in temperament between them?
Mike, so I just want to make sure I am clear, you are saying that you have been very happy with the open mated daughters of VSH breeders right? If so it is encouraging to hear. Strange how opinions are all across the board on these bees. I suppose it is like anything else in beekeeping. Thanks for the clarification.
In the discussion on VSH and other genetic traits in bees I've seen it mentioned that VSH is only one, small trait and so it will not have a big effect on bees as they compete against varroa. Let's not forgot what Charles Darwin said about genetic traits and the effect they have on populations. "For as all the inhabitants of each country are struggling together with nicely balanced forces, extremely slight modifications in the structure or habits of one inhabitant would often give it an advantage over others..." This is not to say that VSH is either beneficial or harmful to bees, but it does change the game and it will likely affect them one way or the other. How will we know if VSH is effective or not? By observing the performance of VSH hives and comparing it to those without the trait. Hope for moving away from the use of medicines and poisons to hives that survive with less treatment and beekeeper intervention comes from genetic traits that will give the bees an upper hand against varroa and disease. It is exciting and fascinating to see the range of ideas and methods people are using to raise a better bee. To those experimenting with VSH, collecting wild survivors, using non-treatment and allowing weak hives to die and the many other efforts to strengthen the honeybee population I say keep up the good work!
What color do you have? ...Is there a difference in temperament between them?
A few thoughts:
VSH is a separate (although related) set of traits to HYG (hygienic behavior). Marla Spivak is a proponent of HYG, but is of the opinion that VSH is "metabolically expensive" (I agree, but I also think HYG is expensive).
Both of these traits exist in all bees. When we talk about VSH or HYG bees, we are talking about lines that exhibit a high degree of these traits. We can make some arbitrary line that we define "more than this is VSH, less is not", but it's all based on degrees, not wheter or not the bees remove dead (or varroa infested) brood...they all do to some extent.
I've done more research on HYG than VSH...but I think the same issues are at hand. In any naturally resistant population you care to measure that has not been bred specifically for these traits, you see a range of expression of VSH and HYG....that is to say, that in a naturally resistant population, the resistance does not seem to be due to VSH or HYG traits...nature is very efficient in such matters, and if this is not the route to resistance that we can see in nature, than it is probably not the way to encourage resistance.
Read Joe's post through a couple of times...it is very important!
When Michael and others talk about grafting from your breeder queens, listen to him! Those breeder queens are expensive, and to pay all that $$$ only to see if she will overwinter is risking a lot. What I think is being missed is that if these grafted queens are used for drone production, those drones don't have a father...they are full blooded haploid drones of the original breeder queen. _This_ is how you get your money's worth from these breeders.
I believe if you look at Marla's protocol for breeding for HYG traits, you will see that it requires constant testing and selection...because these traits do not stay fixed in the population (which should be a clue that they are not traits that the bees need). If the plan is to bring in a breeder queen that exhibits HYG or VSH to a high degree to improve your stock, and you do not do the followup testing and selection (not based on survival or production, but based on brood removal), you will lose the trait quickly.
I have a darker VSH....coloring every color between a russian or carny and a black bee...I have some black queens actually.
Friday, May 20, 2011
The VSH trait consists of two traits which are recessive.
One is to detect the conditions within the cell and one for removing the cell contents.
Your maintenance of the VSH trait depends on your local drone population carrying the desired VSH traits.
Try to flood the DCA's, drone congreation areas, with plenty of desired stock.
I have observed that all of their breeder queens produce gentle bees.
I purchased the black strain of VSH from Tom and Suki Glenn.
Bees4u, have you been happy with what you have seen so far? I purchased a black VSH from them also this year but have not grafted yet.
So it sounds like you are saying that if VSH is a desirable trait from the perspective of the bees then we will see this eventually in the survivor feral colonies. If not they will develop some other way of defending themselves like swarming, shutting down brood rearing at certain times of the year, absconding with drone brood capped etc.
Last edited by Barry; 05-22-2011 at 06:16 PM. Reason: spelling