Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 25
  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
    3,839

    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
    417

    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 05:57 AM. Reason: typos

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Casper, Wy, USA
    Posts
    806

    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, I know better, so I do better.
    http://talkingstick.me/category/bees/

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,535

    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

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Frederick County, Maryland, USA
    Posts
    417

    Default Re: Capturing feral genetics?

    Quote Originally Posted by cerezha View 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? Sergey
    Hi Sergey,
    Interesting situation you point out: in your case, the club members and
    many other people (beekeeping types and academics, breeders, etc.)
    argue that although having a feral population as a "diversity bank" so to
    speak for keeping the population robust, where there is an Africanized presence,
    they support the flooding of the feral population with non-feral bees and eradicating feral ones (read:
    Africanized ones in this case).

    Since the African Bee has shown to pass it's aggressive tendencies on to
    offspring, in your scenario, they're worried that if they support feral
    populations, they'll be selecting for aggression. Now sure, if one could
    test each open-mated cross for temperament, and cull any aggressive ones, in
    an Africanized area, one would have the best scenario: hardy, non-aggressive
    ferals crossing with domesticated stocks. This is similar to anywhere
    non-Africanized. However, the folks feel that the cost of an aggressive outbreak is
    too great a risk to let the Africanized feral population balance between
    mostly African and partially African phenotypes if let alone and not managed.

    Take a look at some of the literature that discusses areas on the fringe of
    African Bee populations (Central and South America). They keep
    non-aggressive Africans there. The border is based on altitude and climate.

    There are other folks that run basically African outfits and they have good
    success with selecting out aggressive colonies--you can search for this too.

    Bottom line in your situation is that folks want to avoid the hugely
    negative impact an Africanized incident would generate.

    Adam Finkelstein
    www.vpqeenebes.com

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
    Posts
    1,014

    Default Re: Capturing feral genetics?

    Sergey - there are a lot of other bees beside the "somewhat Africanized" bees in our area - feral Apis Mellifera Melifera (the German black bee), feral Italians (Apis Mellifera Ligusta), feral California Golden bees, wild crosses of these, and the Africanized mixes. Recently some Carniolans swarmed on a friend of mine, so they're out there too, now.

    The Africanized Italians (a.m. Ligusta / a.m. Scutellata cross) are excellent bees except for hive defense and swarming / usurping. Very pest and disease tolerant or resistant. Very promising for controlled, selective breeding IF YOU CONTROL THE DRONES AND SWARMS. I use triple Q.E. cages and LOTS of sagebrush & pine needle smoke. They are NOT good pollinators, though, as they tend to abscond in great numbers when stressed. If one could breed in the African (a.m. scutellata) trait of egg laying rate (often over 3500 / day) with a race that builds up in January for pollinating in February, while de-selecting strong hive defense and absconding from the daughter queens' colonies, you could come up with a strong population builder for Almond season. Worth the hassle? I think so!

    Now start by making a BIG smoker...

    WI-beek - I'd try some trap hives, too. You'll get a better look at the source colonies' traits by getting them directly.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    1,388

    Default Re: Capturing feral genetics?

    I live in Southern NM and use mostly feral bees. I am sure most of them have African dna. My bees in question build up super fast and need no treatment but don't drag in a lot of honey unless you give them empty comb to fill. I have not had any issues with aggression, though every now and then you run across a truly aggressive feral hive. I have found many of the traits people ascribe to them do not seem to be correct. My bees cluster in the cold and are only moderately agressive. That being said, I try to requeen the lousy producers or aggressive ones with known stock. My best hive this year was one of them. 4 deeps of very runny, irritable bees, but boy did they pack away the nectar when I gave them comb to fill. Very scary to manipulate, almost like working with a ticking time bomb. I cut them out in April and by June they had filled 4 boxes and tried to swarm once. I requeened them after I split them up. They seemed to be too dangerous in that great of numbers. It's just a theory, but I suspect a lot of what is thought of as AHB in my area is actually not the Brazilian variety (North African from the Spanish?). Their traits do not seem to match up in a lot of cases. Hybrids maybe?

    There are several large beekeeping outfits along the Rio Grande. I am guessing the africans had to run the gauntlet through them and got watered down by the time they got to me.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,535

    Default Re: Capturing feral genetics?

    Adam and Charlie
    Many thanks for your respond. It is very useful! My current situation is that I inherit two beehives (max permitted in Santa Monica) of survival (read feral) bees. I know that colonies were established 2-3 years ago and doing well ever since.The beehives are located within 20 feet from my house. Every morning I come to the bees to say hello and sit next to the beehive to watch them. I have my "morning tea place" in the garden just behind the beehive. So, after severe inspection, bees become a little bit protective - they dedicate 3 (!) bees to patrol my backdoor. It is quite hilarious situation when grown adult prohibited from entering the garden by 3 bees. They release a blockade after few days. Now, I learned to work beehives with less disturbance and "blockade" is rare. Bees hated pine-needles smoke! I switched to pepper-tree leaves - it is better, but in general - they hated the smoke. So, we are living with africanized bees for 11 months in urban environment and I just do not see why we could not continue this way in the future. Strongest hive is producing 5 kilos of honey every month. My neighbors love our honey! My concern is do I do good or bad by keeping survival bees? My initial argument was that I am preserving some "good" genes and provide diversity, which is good. But, if majority of beekeepers strongly against the crosses between feral bees and domesticated, than,there is no point to try to preserve survival bees. In addition, there is strong feral beekeeping movement in Los Angeles. They are using similar argument as myself to keep"feral" bees and therefore enhance bees gene pool. All this movement, apparently, is in conflict with "official" beekeeping. Our bee-club even issued the statement against amateur feral beekeeping in Los Angeles (I was one who vote against). It creates strange situation. I would not imagine that all these hobbyist urban beekeepers have truly africanized bees - how it is possible in the city? So, it seems to me that this "feral" bees movement already selected less agressive bees, similar to what I have. If so, than my argument (good genes, diversity) is valid and we have to continue keeping feral semi-africanized bees.

    If anybody could comment on it, I would greatly appreciate it. Sergey

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    1,388

    Default Re: Capturing feral genetics?

    I have no plans to stop catching wild bees. AHB or not, just breed for non-aggression and production. Eventually the genes will spread and we will have better bees in general. I think it does a dis-service to import bees from other regions to replace ferals. You should just breed better ferals. If you destroy them all, you will end up like Texas where the aggressive genes dominate. Most of my feral bees come from the desert, and if you leave them in the desert, they do quite well. I also have yards in the mountains, around 8000', and the desert bees don't do as well. They can survive, but they gather like they live in the desert and have a hard time in the snow. I try to keep the bees separated. I am currently doing a trap-out of very aggressive bees at a location that is 9000' up. Not sure what they are. Sending them to be tested as I am curious - very snowy area to find AHB in, if you follow the scientific dogma. By the way, I have 12 hives of ferals in my 1 acre back-yard in the mountains -30 feet from my house. They can be testy some times, but most of the time they totally ignore you.

    My opinion, if you have a hive that is very nervous and runny, has an irritable disposition, does not produce for you (makes more bees than honey), swarms to excess, or is very hard to manipulate - they should be re-queened regardless. Most of these traits are what is typically seen as "African". Oh, and the Brazilian variety is known for bearding heavily for some reason. Those are the ones that usually attack first in my experience, usually when you lean your ladder against the wall near the hive to be removed.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Chippew County, WI, USA
    Posts
    650

    Default Re: Capturing feral genetics?

    I see no reason to fear spreading any pests, commercial beeks do enough of that every time they go to almonds and come back or come up from the south to produce honey or pollinate. Spreading disease or pests withing my own state seems a little over paranoid to me. Catching swarms of course would be ideal but that requires more time and resources than I have available.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
    Posts
    1,014

    Default Re: Capturing feral genetics?

    Sergey - by your description of their behavior, I doubt they are Africanized. I suppose most beekeepers goal is an out-crossed stock of bees with local survivor genes and another genetic line with other desired traits, so I imaginge you are indeed doing a service.

    Paul - There is generally little doubt when one encounters actual, full-strength AHB (apis mellifera ligusta / apis mellifera scutellata cross). A "little testy" hardly describes the experience. They seem to send ten to fifty times the forces out to run off anything that moves from the hive up to about a half mile before letting up. A visual tell-tale is that AHB tend to fly straight into the hive without landing on the front deck. Other tip-offs are that they abscond regularly, rob like #e!!, and don't get diseases.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    1,388

    Default Re: Capturing feral genetics?

    The last two of my hives that tested positive for AHB DNA (I had two from the same queen) were runny like cockroaches, and very nervous, but not overly aggressive. They were workable, but very, very difficult mostly because when you opened the hives you literally had bees dripping from everything and crawling over every square inch of ground within 5 feet of the hive box. They would also crawl and festoon off your arms as you held the frame. There would be hundreds of them. I do remember seeing them fly straight into the hive on occasion. Mostly, they acted a lot like bees on crack - they literally blew out of the entrance like a blower was blowing them out when they came out to forage. It was like they had a "turbo" setting. I let them build up four deeps worth (I must be nuts, but they were making me honey)

    They only attacked me once, when I accidently dropped a super on the brood box a little too hard. Then they overflowed the box like someone was filling it with bees and it ran over the top. A little smoke broke them up, and I only got a few stings through my jeans. Smoke didn't calm them, it just scared them and they hid from it, or made them run. They did pack in the honey though, but would not draw comb in the super. I had to give them comb. They robbed my other hives like it was going out of style. I could not keep them with my other bees, because the other weaker hives would end up robbed out and queenless. Those African bees got their own yard. I just requeened them with more manageble stock after I harvested their honey for the season. Here in a few months, they should be nice italian bees.

    My other hives don't act like that, so I have not had them tested. I have had others that were similar, but gradually calmed down and got more "euro" as I let them supercede. They might swarm a bit more, or be a little more defensive, but they basically act like the other bees I have. Wild bees are wild bees. I have made it a point to test my removals from this point on, especially if they have very little honey in the hive or seem particularly nervous. I still think the classic Brazilian AHB is rare for my area, even though most of the bees show up with African DNA. I theorize the african here is genetically weak or a different kind of African, at least in my little region.

    I am currently doing a trap out on a very aggressive hive, but it is located 9000' up, above the snowline in the pine forested mountains. Definitely NOT classic AHB territory, and they have been there for several years. Those bees are very tiny and dark, the smallest I have ever seen, actually. Going to test them to see what they are. It will be funny if they show up as "African". I suspect a lot of our domestic bees will show up as "African" in a DNA test, but are not AHB. I am highly suspicious of those tests they run.

    All I know is most of my bees are wild, and I do not treat. Not one bit other than a mid-summer brood break. They seem to thrive no matter what I do. African DNA? I don't know - don't care as long as they are not mean and they are workable.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,535

    Default Re: Capturing feral genetics?

    Paul
    Where you doing DNA tests? Is it expensive? Could you give me a reference?
    So, my bees somehow in the middle what you described. During the last inspection everything was very peaceful until I got to the second from the bottom box - they explode, bees are flying everywhere... this is a first time I got 20 or so stings in my glove... but they immediately retrieved as soon as I restore their house. They did a little bit patrolling next 2 days (well, one bee). My usual sting count is one per 2-3 weeks mainly without obvious (to me) reason. My wife got 2 total. My cat probably got too because she do recognize bees and prefer to stay away from them. My bees are very small, half of them are dark, and another are yellowish. I am thinking, is it possible that yellowish bees have no AHB genes? At least, they should be hetezygotes since AHB phenotype is dark.

    I was thinking about bees genetics. It is quite complicated. At least, my school and university genetic courses did not help much. So, what I think, is because drones are haploid, they preserve the genotype. In order to do selection, drones should be selected, not queens. I have no idea how to do it practically, but selection the queen is ineffective - only drones inherited original genes from the queen. All new queens will have 1/2 genes of unknown origin (from different drones). What you think?
    Many thanks for your reply, sergey

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    1,388

    Default Re: Capturing feral genetics?

    As far as DNA tests go, I take mine to the county agricultural extension office and they send them to the state entomologist. It is totally free, just a bit of a hassle to make sure the sample won't leak. I normally use a pill bottle with alcohol and cotton balls stuffed in it. They only need about 6 bees. It is not real accurate in my opinion - it only says African yes/no. I wish it would test the mitochondrial dna so we could figure out the actual subspecies involved in the mix.

    The drones carry the full queen dna. They are half of the equation - from what I understand the traits they hand down are different than the traits the queen hands down. It is quite common to take a queen and open mate her to local survivors to obtain their survival traits while retaining the queen's temperament. Now if they supercede, the supercedure queen is going to be 50/50 whatever the queen mated with for that particular egg. That is why many breeders practice drone flooding.

    Most of my bees are dark (dark queen/black drones), most of the ones I have pulled from the desert with verified African genetics were light yellow(tiger striped queen and drones), but color means nothing because they can be dark too - I just haven't seen them that way in my area.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Santa Monica, CA, USA
    Posts
    1,535

    Default Re: Capturing feral genetics?

    Paul
    Many thanks for your reply.
    Regarded drone and queen originated traits - do you feel that for instance, queen traits has more power than drones? In another words, do you think that two gene parts (queen and drone) are equal at the level of phenotype? Also, how you feel that different traits (from ether queen or drone) may have a different "power" in the mixture? In another words, in the mixture (queen-drone), some drones and some queen traits prevail. If so, is any traits, which you know how they behave? For instance, who is responsible for aggressive behavior, queen or drone? Or it is a mixture? Or - they have dose effect ? Or they may have a synergy effect (enhance or suppress each other). It is so interesting! I wish I have space for raising my own queens. Many thanks for your attention, sergey

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    1,388

    Default Re: Capturing feral genetics?

    Can't really say as I am not a bee geneticist. That's the mystery behind breeding queens, very complicated stuff.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
    Posts
    1,014

    Default Re: Capturing feral genetics?

    Paul - I like how you are on top of it! My scientific wild-assed guess is AHB / AMM cross. By your description of their behavior, I'm pretty sure you do indeed have some AHB genes in those bees. Good move re-queening them.

    Sergey - Another place to send the bees to determine what kind you have is the Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland. I'll log back on and give the details. Also - some (and I'm not sure which) sex-passed traits are variable as drones have half of their mother's chromosomes. Which half is at least in part random. As Paul says, complicated stuff.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Ads