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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Chippew County, WI, USA
    Posts
    650

    Default Capturing feral genetics?

    I have wanted to search some of the federal forest land for feral honeybees that might exist in the norther part of my state but I simply just dont have enough time to search for bees, set swarm traps, check them and so forth. I have thought of a much better way to capture feral genetics though by planting mating nucs with cells deep within sections of forest which would make mating with treated bees nearly impossible. Bees could be shaken through a queen excluder to filter out drones onto combs of brood then plant a cell and locate in isolated locations. If results only show poorly or unmated queens then you know there cant be a viable feral population. I am hoping to take one weekend soon to go up north and take some extracted combs with me to set out for robbing to see if any honeybees show up to see if there is a population to begin with. I have already spoken with the forest department and basically have permission.

    Has anyone ever done anything like this or have a better idea or method for obtaining true feral genetics? I would like to keep one separate yard treatment free with a mix of genetics and breed from colonies that remain healthy the longest and so forth. I only treat in fall each year. It is this time of year I start seeing DWV, stubby bees, and so forth while other colonies have no signs of stress and still have beautiful brood patterns. Some of my best colonies are head by queens I got from "VP Queen bees" which I have propagated from heavily. I have three queens marked blue that are still kicking butt from VP qb and picked up a few virgins to keep the genetics flowing. By breeding from the best colonies I have already made a large improvement over a few years and hope to one day have a line that will not need varroa treatments, and winter at 80%. If we can keep new problems at bay, I really believe in twenty years varroa may be a isolated problem that pops up in poor colonies with poor genetics that get pinched like bad cases of chalk brood.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Sherburne, MN, USA
    Posts
    58

    Default Re: Capturing feral genetics?

    I don't have an answer to your question, but I am curious of what kind of honey bees you have. Italian, Russian, Carniolan? Russians are supposed to winter well and be mite resistant, so I was just curious if you were using them. Good luck in your adventure, though!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Sacramento,California,USA
    Posts
    3,561

    Default Re: Capturing feral genetics?

    I've never lived near where any real feral bees might live, so can't give any personal input. I just wanted to post saying that your plan sounds great and I hope it turns out that there are ferals there in your area that you can get genetics from by implementing this plan you've described. Best of luck!
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Chippew County, WI, USA
    Posts
    650

    Default Re: Capturing feral genetics?

    "but I am curious of what kind of honey bees you have"

    apis mellifera mutts, claimed to be Italian by suppliers, open mated influence from there darkening them each generation. I even get a black queen time to time. Brother Adam took the best traits or at least traits he liked from many different localized strains. I see absolutely no reason not to do the same thing now.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Frederick County, Maryland, USA
    Posts
    414

    Default Re: Capturing feral genetics?

    Hi WI-Beek,
    glad to hear you've had good luck with our stock!

    The best way to test for "feral" bees influence on stock or to add it in, is to mate virgins from queen mothers you are familiar with, in areas where you suspect there are feral bees, producing feral drones. This is easier said then done because it requires transportation to the test areas and enough stores and resources in the mating nucs to carry them for three weeks or so until you can see if there's been any mating. Your plan is spot-on.

    One fellow I talked with a few years ago, wanted to backpack small nucs with virgins into a wilderness area, leave them, and retreive them after a few weeks, hoping to have mated the virgins to the isolated, feral population. I don't know if he ever did that that, but it was a cool idea!

    There's alot of mis-naming of bee stock these days. One's "Apis mellifera mellifera" is another's "Apis mellifera lingustica" meaning one's dark European honey bee is another's Italian honey bee--think of bee types as dog breeds. The dogs are all the same species, but have been selected through man's hand and the environment to be extremely different in looks, feel and life-cycle. (Bees: Carniolan vs Italian for example). They're all dogs and all honey bees. A breeder's job is to be able to select good candidates and combine them, observing the results and selecting again.

    Remember that the more you have to select from, the greater your chances are of finding a good combination.

    Adam Finkelstein
    www.vpqueenbees.com
    Last edited by adamf; 08-12-2012 at 04:57 AM. Reason: typos

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Casper, Wy, USA
    Posts
    804

    Default Re: Capturing feral genetics?

    Hi Guys

    It's a great idea. And I had plans of using mating nucs along this line in Wyoming.

    But there is a drawback. Under the right conditions mating nucs can easily be robbed out. And any broodnest pest in the nuc would be quickly injected to the local feral population.

    That's not a problem if the feral population is already exposed. But if the locale is remote and pristine, much damage could be done by leaving mating nucs unattended.

    In such instances, a better choice would be to capture swarms. It would require less attention and lacks the disease/pest risks.

    Another way to get those genetics would be to capture drones and . . . Ah, interesting. But it takes me far from my natural beekeeping focus. I'll leave those thoughts to others.

    Regards - Dennis
    I once wrangled bees. But now, knowing better, I just let them bee.
    http://talkingstick.me/category/bees/

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,464

    Default Re: Capturing feral genetics?

    Quote Originally Posted by adamf View Post
    ... more you have to select from, the greater your chances are of finding a good combination.
    Adam
    Nice post. I had arguments at our bee-club regarding urban beekeeping. To my surprise, the majority of club members (mostly commercial) are against keeping survival (read feral) bees. The reasoning was that all "feral" bees in our area (SoCal) are africanized and thus, keeping survival/feral bees will promote the spread of africanized bees. My personal view on it is that survival/feral bees provide necessary diversity in genetic material including useful genes of disease resistance etc. Thus, it is good to keep survival bees/genes. The argument against that was that africanized bees are too aggressive and advantage of "good" genes is negligible in comparison to aggressive behavior. Recommendation was - to keep only "proven" bees from reliable non-africanized source. Could you comment on all these? Thanks you, Sergey

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