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  1. #1
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    Default Friedrich Ruttner on the importance of ruthless selection

    I recently came across a book containing a passage that supplies authorative support for the thesis that failure to select for health is resulting in widespread ill health in bees, and that treatments are very much a feature of that problem. You have to join up the dots yourself, but what the book, published by the top bee breeders association in the UK is saying is: widespread treatment will inevitably result in widespread health failure. I've copied the relevant part, and offer it here for use in any way people see fit.

    Best to All,

    Mike

    Friedrich Ruttner, Breeding Techniques and Selection for Breeding of the Honeybee, translated by Ashleigh and Eric Milner [1]

    Chapter II: Selection for Performance

    1. What is breeding?
    Queen breeding is, in the first place, simply the increase in the number of queens. By regular rejuvenation and keeping a reserve supply of queens the output of an apiary can be very substantially increased. The enhanced productive energy of the young queens is utilized and deficiencies in the working stock, which result in queenlessness, drone laying, or any other kind of failure in a queen, are made good. Queen breeding ranks as the most important activity in the management of an apiary; by it the apiarist, in the words of Professor Shillers of Vienna, advances from being a beekeeper to being a bee breeder.

    Yet breeding is not merely a question of reproduction. Above all, breeding implies improvement in the bee's performance capability. No colony is exactly like another; brood rearing, inclination to swarm, foraging vigour, stinginess, susceptibility to disease, differ from colony to colony. Breeding means the augmentation of the best [the positive variants] and the ELIMINATION OF THE BAD [the negative variants]. [2] The aim is the attainment of an apiary which is uniform and has an above average performance.

    Breeding is by no means a human invention. Nature, which in millions of years has bought forth this immense diversity of wonderfully adapted creatures, is the greatest breeder. It is from her that the present day breeder learnt how it must be done, excessive production and then ruthless selection, permitting only the most suitable to survive and eliminating the inferior. If this harsh rule of nature is either set aside or relaxed the constraints will within a short time be broken through, and a species will disintegrate into a large number of different forms which through divergent colouring and living requirements, through unusual body forms, will depart from the natural pattern. In laboratory animals which are kept only for study and not within a definite breeding objective, these phenomena can be regularly observed. At the same time, reduced fitness for life under natural conditions very quickly results, because in nature this is only preserved by incessant and rigourous selection. If this selection is lacking because the trouble of finding food and warm shelter and taking care of the young has been removed and protection from enemies has been provided, the ability to hold its own in nature gradually but inevitably declines. What has the wolf, the ancestor of our dogs, turned into during the course of millennia under the hand of man? A Dachshund or Poodle would soon be a pitiful wreck if it had to try to exist on its own.

    Nature is also the breeder's greatest instructress as to how to avoid inbreeding:- no mating within the same colony; mating flights to far distant assembly places; multiple mating.
    []

    2. The Breeding of Honeybees
    Our bees have certainly not yet reached the condition of the domestic animals just mentioned since even today they still have to maintain the struggle for existence largely on their own. Nonetheless, we have gone a very long way towards making their lives easier, so that the laziest colony or the latest swarm is not in danger of starving the following winter. Today the majority of beekeepers restrict themselves to protecting their bees, but allow them to increase just as they like. What is the result? Stocks with excessive swarming tendency grow ever more numerous, while the good foragers with weak tendency to increase, which rejuvenate themselves by supercedure, are driven back Wit the Heather bee, and in the Carinthian method of breeding for swarms which produce bees quite useless for a modern beekeeping business, we see the result of these practices quite clearly.

    [1] Published by the British Isles Bee Breeders Association [BIBBA] by Arrangement with Ehrenwirth Verlag, Munich;1988, pages 45-46
    [2] This sentence is italicized in the book.
    Anti-husbandry: Medication + Reproduction = Continuing Sickness
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Friedrich Ruttner on the importance of ruthless selection

    Hi Mike (hello by the way -not heard from you in a while),

    Initially I'm not going to comment on the passage you quote as it's a fair while since I read that paticular book so I'll sit down and digest it before commenting. What does intrigue me is that you refer to BIBBA as the 'top bee breeders group in the UK' without offering any perspective. I would say that if you are refering to membership numbers or the age of the group (almost 50 years?) then yes they may be worthy of such an accolade however if we're talking about physical breeding success then I think it only fair to question whether they've achieved anything in their fourty odd years.

    For those who don't know, BIBBA is a group of beekeepers who originally were intent on breeding/expanding stocks of the so called English Black bee (amm), whether they still chase that Holy Grail or not I'm not sure -I get the impression that they are now content to breed local mongrels which have proven an ability to 'survive' in our rather mild climate!

    Anyway, back in the 80's they did translate the above mentioned book by Ruttner (one thing to be proud of at least).

    All the Best
    Roland
    Last edited by Rolande; 09-18-2011 at 03:47 AM.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Friedrich Ruttner on the importance of ruthless selection

    Hi Roland, good to hear from you! I agree, BIBBA seem a bit of a shower (as far as I know they still pursue the same aim of rescuing and restoring the Black Bee - though that in itself might not be a bad thing), but is there a larger and more influential breeding association or similar organisation in the UK?

    So yes, perspective: for what Ruttger indicates is an imperative activity we have only the oversight and guidance of an organisation that doesn't appear either to recognise, or find interesting, the fact that UK beekeepers perpetuate their main problem by failing in their profession, or that the state-sponsored, academically backed education and guidance ('based on "best science"') heavily promotes the idiotic 'management' that ensures that miserable state of affairs. The members and movers at BIBBA could usefully read their own books.

    Mike
    Last edited by mike bispham; 09-18-2011 at 10:10 AM.
    Anti-husbandry: Medication + Reproduction = Continuing Sickness
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Friedrich Ruttner on the importance of ruthless selection

    The message does have a ring of truth, the messenger notwithstanding...


    If this harsh rule of nature is either set aside or relaxed the constraints will within a short time be broken through, and a species will disintegrate into a large number of different forms which through divergent colouring and living requirements, through unusual body forms, will depart from the natural pattern.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Friedrich Ruttner on the importance of ruthless selection

    Quote Originally Posted by sevenmmm View Post
    The message does have a ring of truth, the messenger notwithstanding...
    Of course. in my previous post I should have distinguished between the 'top bee breeders association' (which after 40 plus years still hasn't managed to produce commercially available amm) and Ruttner who was something else entirely; I have a great respect for his writings and would add that I believe the apimondia Queen Rearing book which he edited to be one of the very best to have been published.

    Best Wishes,
    Roland

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Friedrich Ruttner on the importance of ruthless selection

    Hi Rick,

    As it happens I thought that part was rather bizarre, and I wondered if the translation was at fault - but I think Ruttner is speaking about the sort of thing that happened to the wolf which he comes to next. It is the preceding sentence that carries the essential message:

    "It is from her [Nature] that the present day breeder learnt how it must be done, excessive production and then ruthless selection, permitting only the most suitable to survive and eliminating the inferior. "

    The consequences of failing to select *only* the strongest parents will be swiftly increasing weakness, ill health, winter failures. The population won't have much of a chance to "disintegrate into a large number of different forms..." - it will swiftly dwindle and perish as a result of the failure to follow the rule. It may well be true as well that as this happens unnatural forms occur that can be 'captured' as it were, as the different dog breeds have been.

    Any protection of the weaker (treatments) will send genes into the next generation that will make bees that at best need similar protection, and generally weaken the population. Ruttner is telling us unequivically that "excessive production and then ruthless selection, permitting only the most suitable to survive and eliminating the inferior." is an unbreakable rule - something very well understood in all fields of husbandry, except, it seems, beekeeping. But he does talk about consequences in terms of divergence from the norm, rather than health. Which is annoying.

    Mike
    Last edited by mike bispham; 09-19-2011 at 12:45 AM.
    Anti-husbandry: Medication + Reproduction = Continuing Sickness
    http://www.suttonjoinery.co.uk/CCD/

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