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  1. #1
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    Question Drone Hives / Drone Yards - How Do You Handle Them?

    I am looking forward to getting into rearing queens next season, and am learning what I can in preparation.

    Assuming one is trying to breed for specific traits, and not using instrumental insemination, I've read that people try to flood a given area with drones from their stock in order to "tip the odds" in favor of the genetics they prefer.

    I have heard of people setting up "drone yards" far from their queen-rearing hives. I've heard that it has to be a mile or so away? Is this true?

    I've read that queens will go a long way from their own hive to mate in order to avoid their own drones, and that is the reason given for the drone yards being maintained at a distance.

    I wonder how those of you with experience in bee breeding handle your drone populations. Do you have specific methods that you can share?

    Thanks,

    Adam

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Drone Hives / Drone Yards - How Do You Handle Them?

    I've heard the same as well. All good questions Adam.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Drone Hives / Drone Yards - How Do You Handle Them?

    The two issues for most seem to be:
    1) to maintain diversity (avoid inbreeding)
    2) to control the drone side of the genetics

    My theory is you maintain diversity by breeding from many queen mothers. And I want the genetics of the drones to come from the feral bees.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Drone Hives / Drone Yards - How Do You Handle Them?

    Okay Mike, so does that mean you don't do anything specific in the drone department? Or that you collect feral bees and use them as drone colonies? Or are you isolated enough to be confident that a lot of the drones your queens are mating with are feral?

    Adam

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Drone Hives / Drone Yards - How Do You Handle Them?

    >Okay Mike, so does that mean you don't do anything specific in the drone department?

    Correct.

    > Or that you collect feral bees and use them as drone colonies?

    That too... not as drone colonies per se but as colonies. All colonies are drone colonies...

    > Or are you isolated enough to be confident that a lot of the drones your queens are mating with are feral?

    I'm only confident that I like the queens I get... but I think most of the drones about are mine or feral...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Drone Hives / Drone Yards - How Do You Handle Them?

    So, do you believe yo maintain your diversity because of new feral stock moving into your area?

    If the feral stock is not wanting to breed with their drones then they must be breeding with_____??? I'm thinking after a couple of years there would not be so much diversity????

    Very interesting!!! ohhhhhhh but wait you said you were providing different queen mothers?
    Last edited by oklabizznessman; 07-12-2012 at 02:49 PM. Reason: reread his post

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Drone Hives / Drone Yards - How Do You Handle Them?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    The two issues for most seem to be:
    1) to maintain diversity (avoid inbreeding)
    2) to control the drone side of the genetics

    My theory is you maintain diversity by breeding from many queen mothers. And I want the genetics of the drones to come from the feral bees.
    What's your definition of "feral bees"?

    To me, a feral population is a wild and established population. But unfortunately, look like most part of Europe is lacking of feral bees. From what I know, most of US is in the same situation.
    Bees can survive because of (good) beekeepers nowadays, correctly managed and cared.
    Most of the so called feral colonies are swarms, originated from (frequently badly) managed hives: they survive one/two season than they die, and the same nest is occupied by another swarm.
    Moreover, even if feral bees would be out there... how can I avoid the contribution by drones from managed colonies in the neighborhood?

    I agree about mantaining genetic diversity by using several mother lines, but on the drone side, I can't trust what is already out there.

    Thanks

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Drone Hives / Drone Yards - How Do You Handle Them?

    >What's your definition of "feral bees"?

    I theory, based on the idea that Apis mellifera is not native, all of our "wild" bees are "feral". This is the distinction between "escaped domestic" bees and bees that were always wild. As far as them being a separate genetic group, that seems to be true from the research on the topic.

    D.A. Delaney, M.D. Meixner, N.M. Schiff, W.S. Sheppard "Genetic Characterization of Commercial Honey Bee (Hymenoptera: Apidae) Populations in the United States by Using Mitochondrial and Microsatellite Markers"

    http://aesa.oxfordjournals.org/content/102/4/666

    Schiff, N. M., W. S. Sheppard, G. M. Loper, and H. Shimanuki. 1994. "Genetic diversity of feral honey-bee (Hymenoptera, Apidae) populations in the southern United-States." Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 87: 842848.

    http://aesa.oxfordjournals.org/conte...6/842.abstract
    http://beesource.com/point-of-view/a...es-honey-bees/
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Drone Hives / Drone Yards - How Do You Handle Them?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    >What's your definition of "feral bees"?

    I theory, based on the idea that Apis mellifera is not native, all of our "wild" bees are "feral". This is the distinction between "escaped domestic" bees and bees that were always wild. As far as them being a separate genetic group, that seems to be true from the research on the topic.

    D.A. Delaney, M.D. Meixner, N.M. Schiff, W.S. Sheppard "Genetic Characterization of Commercial Honey Bee (Hymenoptera: Apidae) Populations in the United States by Using Mitochondrial and Microsatellite Markers"

    http://aesa.oxfordjournals.org/content/102/4/666

    Schiff, N. M., W. S. Sheppard, G. M. Loper, and H. Shimanuki. 1994. "Genetic diversity of feral honey-bee (Hymenoptera, Apidae) populations in the southern United-States." Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am. 87: 842848.

    http://aesa.oxfordjournals.org/conte...6/842.abstract
    http://beesource.com/point-of-view/a...es-honey-bees/
    Thanks for the answer,

    In my opinion , those paper do not state "feral" bees are a separated group. Delaney et al, published a time-scale study, on two commercial breeding population , with 10 years span: the evidenced both population lost some allele, but not significantly since they gained new ones (microsatellite are fast evolving markers).

    Schiff et al, is dated 1994: the picture changes pretty quickly when dealing with managed and commercially exploited stocks; allozyme would not be the best tecnique nowadays, and, more important, if there is pretty of everything "out there" (some ligustica, mellifera, lamarkii, ..), how can I trust "feral" drone contribution while i am trying to improve my stocks through selection?

    You might get additional variability, but you basically don't know what you get... isn't it?

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Drone Hives / Drone Yards - How Do You Handle Them?

    The smiley (but true and worthwhile) statement Mr. Bush made above, that he liked his queens, is a great statement of how it is now. Your comments point out that things change, and the consequence would be that when Bush begins to be less happy with his bees, he may not know what changed nor how to restore it. I can understand both positions. But the Bush apiaries are feeding drones into the area around him, so he may be in an adequately stable genetic position. If he were breeding all of his queens from one or two of his most productive queens, then he might be losing diversity fairly strongly. But I think I read him state that he doesn't do grafting much or at all. This would mean that a whole bunch of his queens rear daughter queens, and that he isn't shaving most of the genes from his pool.

    Or so it seems to me.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Drone Hives / Drone Yards - How Do You Handle Them?

    I found this article to be very informative from Larry Conner.
    Drone saturation for small scale queen rearing.

    https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sour...G-DYdSPnhQUuqw

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Drone Hives / Drone Yards - How Do You Handle Them?

    Michael, don't give us theory. Don't give us the feral rubbish. Answer the question from experience in sucessful queen breeding, that you don't have. Remember, you said you don't raise queens anymore be ause you spend all your time giving talks. Your worda, not mine. Getting tired of the same old worn out milarky that is ficticious dreaming. You, The Lazy Beekeeper, who never has time to look at his bees is telling folks how to breed quality stock. Oh please. Feral bees to supply drone mothers? You're spouting theory and not practice. Sorry, but I'm tired of the misleading information the sounds so good, but in practice is empty dogma supporting your lack of experience in running a real, sucessful, breeding program. You want to debate the subject? Then bring it on. Otherwise, what you have to say on the subject is hollow and empty. Sorry to say that and to offend you and your disciples, but as someone who actually does this kind of work and actually does do the work sucessfully, I can't sit by and not say something.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Drone Hives / Drone Yards - How Do You Handle Them?

    Quote Originally Posted by radallo View Post
    What's your definition of "feral bees"?
    I agree about mantaining genetic diversity by using several mother lines, but on the drone side, I can't trust what is already out there.

    Thanks
    Thank you sir.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Drone Hives / Drone Yards - How Do You Handle Them?

    ......
    Last edited by Michael Palmer; 11-06-2016 at 08:41 PM. Reason: Double Post

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Drone Hives / Drone Yards - How Do You Handle Them?

    Michael Palmer, is there anything special you do to aid in the genetics of your stock? As I understand it from your lectures I've seen online, you maintain various bee yards on both sides of Lake Champlain, and with the number of hives you operate, I assume you have quite a few yards. I believe I heard that you periodically buy queens from outside your area to increase genetic diversity. If I'm not mistaken, I think I read that queens will generally fly out 3 or 4 miles for mating, whereas drones will only fly out 1 to 2 miles, which helps alleviate inbreeding. So, do you do anything special in your various yards to ensure you have drones which might affect adjacent yards that have different genetics from the queens in those adjacent yards? Or do you simply rely on the bees to figure it out?

    I admire the work you do, based on what I've seen on YouTube, and your postings on BeeSource. I currently have no plans to try grafting for a few years, but I did make some nucs this year and let them make their own queens. I am quite pleased with the mated queens that resulted from that, and the experience I gained was well worth the effort.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Drone Hives / Drone Yards - How Do You Handle Them?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    but as someone who actually does this kind of work and actually does do the work sucessfully, I can't sit by and not say something.
    Thank you sir.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Drone Hives / Drone Yards - How Do You Handle Them?

    Sorry, double-post.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Drone Hives / Drone Yards - How Do You Handle Them?

    Adam -

    I run mine backwards compared to a lot of folks. I have the drones in the middle, a very short distance from a known DCA, so they don't take too long to go back to refuel and can quickly get back to business. Do feed the drone colonies a pollen substitute patty regularly! Do give the best drone colonies an extra drone comb. If you have 50+ colonies, kill the drone brood from the 10 worst colonies and re-queen them with better stock.

    The virgin queen mating nuc's are in yards about 1/2 to 1 mile away in a circle around the DCA. This ensures more drone density, and should increase the likelihood of well-mated queens, when open mating.

    Once you have a large apiary with many queens' genetics represented, now you may begin selection to aim for a good basic set of traits to start with.


    1. Buy the best you can get from the start!

    2. Breed a LOT OF BEES!

    3. Test for traits and score the colonies.

    4. De-select the colonies with the undesirable traits => kill those drones & drone brood, and re-queen the colony with better, known stock.

    5. Repeat steps 1 through 4 next time around, but add in new stock as well.

    6. In 30 years or so, you should notice an improvement in the stock.

    7. Read Dr. Harry H. Laidlaw, Jr.'s and Dr. Robert Page, Jr.'s book, Queen Rearing and Bee Breeding.

    Good luck! Oh, number your colonies and try to make up a rather thorough colony trait expression sheet to go with each colony.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Drone Hives / Drone Yards - How Do You Handle Them?

    >Michael, don't give us theory. Don't give us the feral rubbish. Answer the question from experience in sucessful queen breeding, that you don't have.

    Hmmm... a self contradictory statement... There is no way to respond to one of those.

    >Remember, you said you don't raise queens anymore be ause you spend all your time giving talks. Your worda, not mine.

    I haven't had time to raise queens to sell in recent times. Not because of talks but because of a full time job, moving, fixing up two houses, family, horses and other issues. So I'd have to say that's not my words...

    >Getting tired of the same old worn out milarky that is ficticious dreaming. You, The Lazy Beekeeper, who never has time to look at his bees is telling folks how to breed quality stock. Oh please. Feral bees to supply drone mothers? You're spouting theory and not practice. Sorry, but I'm tired of the misleading information the sounds so good, but in practice is empty dogma supporting your lack of experience in running a real, sucessful, breeding program.

    I'm breeding my queens and I'm happy with them.

    > You want to debate the subject?

    You've already made it clear that you discount everything I have to say, so what would we debate? That you raise good queens? I'm certain of that. That you raise a lot of queens and recently I have not had time to raise more than my own? I'm also certain of that. That you have a lot more time to spend on beekeeping right now than I do? I'm also certain of that. There is nothing here I want to debate. I'm just stating my opinion. And I certainly respect everyone's opinion. And I certainly respect your opinion.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Drone Hives / Drone Yards - How Do You Handle Them?

    [QUOTE=Michael Bush;1488375 >Remember, you said you don't raise queens anymore because you spend all your time giving talks. Your words, not mine.

    I haven't had time to raise queens to sell in recent times. Not because of talks but because of a full time job, moving, fixing up two houses, family, horses and other issues. So I'd have to say that's not my words... [/QUOTE]

    Yes, they are your words. I've been following what you say to beekeepers. I consider much of it to be dangerous to them. Your Lazy Beekeeper dogma is exactly opposite to what I believe. I believe you say it to sell your books. If I have a bad attitude, then I'm sorry. But not apologetic.

    When I first got high-ish speed internet, I went to YouTube. The first I watched was one of you. A beekeeper in the back of the room, thoroughly impressed that you had 200 colonies, wanted to know how much honey you made with 200 colonies. Your answer was that you hadn't started your extractor in a number of years. That you now raise bees and queens, and not honey. Fair enough. Then two summers ago, someone on this forum wanted to know where he could obtain treatment free queens. The board lit up...Michael Bush is your man. You replied that you no longer raise bees and queens as you spend all your time giving talks. Your words, not mine. I'm sure someone can find it if they search.

    Then in July, 2015, in your post about believing being so crucial in accomplishing anything in life...Wright Brothers, etc., you said Seely's small cell study failed because he didn't believe in small cell. Well, I'm friends with Tom, and Tom doesn't do science like that. I found that insulting. Anyway, you mentioned that you didn't know how many colonies you lost in that winter because you hadn't looked at your bees since the spring. So, you don't make honey anymore, and you don't look at your bees in a timely fashion, and you don't raise bees and queens anymore, because you spend your time on the speaking circuit....and all the other things that you site. And believe me I do know what you are talking about. To do what I do, I spend 100% of my time in the bees. My wife says I'm married to them. I can't help myself, I'm obsessed. Anyway, you're telling the list how to run a breeding program? You don't need to have any control over the drone side of the equation because you, The Lazy Beekeeper, relies on all those feral bees out there to provide the needed drone mother colonies. That is, as I said, malarkey. Anyone who actually does have ample feral drone mother colonies surely does keep bees in a special place.

    And in your presentation, Wintering Nucs, your focus, rather that being about the quality of the bees in the box, is about dumping granulated sugar on them and heating them up with terrarium heaters. Seriously? Terrarium heaters??

    So those are all your words, gleaned from various sources.

    And I receive messages, all the time, like the one that follows.

    Thank you for taking Bush to task for the **** he peddles. As far as I am concerned he does the bee hobbyist far more damage than good due to all the proven wrong stuff he sells as facts.

    Heck, he can not even keep his own bees alive. Not long ago he claimed he had 200 hives and now has 40. I suppose that will be 20 next spring after his winter deaths. His bees have not made enough honey for him to bother extracting now for two or three years according to his own report here on BS. A couple of guys who have visited his place tell me all he has is busted up equipment and dink colonies.

    I can only conclude he is a con artist.


    And I can only conclude that what I am saying is true, and that you don't really manage a successful apiary, and are only interested is spreading your Lazy Beekeeper dogma in order to increase book sales and speaking engagements. As long as you continue to do so, I will try to be a voice of reason, even if I am attacked by you or your disciples. I'm sorry if I have caused any kind of ruckus, but I won't apologize for it. I'm not trying to hurt you Michael, but it's something that has to be said.

    Now Michael. Understand that I'm not saying anything about you as a person. I enjoyed your visit here and the time you spent in my apiary. But if you're are going to be a beekeeping educator, and say things that I believe are hurting our people and not helping them, well....

    Respectfully apologetic to the list.

    Mike

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