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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,972

    Default Beginning in Queen Rearing: How to get from here to a genetic goal?

    I am just finishing my third season, and will go into winter with 13 colonies. Next season, I plan to continue expansion and my focus for learning will be on queen rearing. My goal for that is to work toward a stock of bees who do well in this region, but perhaps that is obvious.

    My question is about how best to go from no knowledge or experience to selective breeding in the future.

    What is the straightest route - without using instrumental insemination?

    What is the book(s) to get me grounded and on a solid base of working understanding this winter?

    What are some approaches you have used with some success?

    How do I get from knowing nothing to being able to raise queens with a purpose? - more than just hit-and-miss.

    Thanks,

    Adam

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Eatonville WA USA
    Posts
    167

    Default Re: Beginning in Queen Rearing: How to get from here to a genetic goal?

    I would read Larrys Connors increase essentials and his other book about raising queens Both book are an easy read and very informative especaully
    the queen rearing book.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
    Posts
    723

    Default Re: Beginning in Queen Rearing: How to get from here to a genetic goal?

    Brother Adam's books are recommended by most guys in cold country, but you will benefit by reading Laidlaw & Eckert's Queen Rearing, and Jay Smith's Better Queens, Laidlaw & Page's book published in 1976 (title?), G.M. Doolittle's Scientific Queen Rearing. All the books and university papers listed in bibliographies of any of these books, including Larry Connor's, are reads that will help. Michael Bush has a good list of queen rearing books, and you might want to ask Michael Palmer. There are lots of great books on queen rearing, several are difficult to obtain.

    Watch Beesource for when these guys and rrussell6870, Oldtimer, Ted Kretchman, Fusion Power, Bees4U, LSPender, Barry, and others who've been doing it a while contribute to the threads. Great guidance.

    Like most of these guys say, read the books, then get out of the books and into the hives and get your hands dirty! Experience is the toughest grader, but the best teacher. All bees, locations, beekeepers, and neighboring farms are different.

    Get email for professors at Cornell, U.C. Davis, other universities with apiculture programs - they can give you EXCELLENT advice and hints!

    Make use of the Bee Research Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland for your problem hives. 10300 Baltimore Blvd., Bldg. 476 room 100 BARC-EAST, Beltsville MD 20705.

    Also, it helps to have your equipment built before you need it, and a good shelf of supplies.

    If you can, join a club, take a college class, or even go to work for a commercial beekeeper! Find an older, very experienced queen breeder nearest you, and go help him out all you can!

    Read Oldtimer's thread on Cut-Cell Method here in Beesource!

    Being goal-oriented in you queen breeding involves tracking individual traits of colonies. Learn the tests for these traits, develop a consistent form of measurement and keep careful records and calendars from year to year. Read Introducing Genetics.

    Good luck!
    Last edited by kilocharlie; 08-20-2012 at 09:19 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,972

    Default Re: Beginning in Queen Rearing: How to get from here to a genetic goal?

    All good input. Thank you!

    One thing to note is that I'm pretty solid on methods of raising queens. I have read a lot on the subject here, and on other sites. I have read Jay Smith's Better Queens. My question is rooted more in methods of selection than it is in methods of rearing, if that makes sense.

    Adam

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
    Posts
    723

    Default Re: Beginning in Queen Rearing: How to get from here to a genetic goal?

    You first need to increase your apiary to over 50 colonies, better like 150 or more.

    Selection of breeder queens would involve tracking of queens whose daughter colonies display individual traits that differ from colony to colony. You need to identify the traits that are most important to your area of Nova Scotia and come up with grading criteria for the quantifiable traits and determinants of qualitative traits, so now they are defined. You then need to develop a regimen of standard tests to identify / quantify these traits, and implement record keeping for colonies in each apiary yard.

    Now that you have tested and tracked a generation, you select those which have traits that you wish to promote - and raise LOTS of queens - and in the following generation, "de-select" (re-queen and kill the drones of) those colonies not displaying or weakly displaying the traits you are trying to promote. It is a tedious, slow process, sped up considerably by instrumental insemination. Open mating is "hit-and-miss", or often "miss-and-miss-and-miss-and..."

    At some point you will want to import some bees with desirable qualities to cross into your mix. The earlier, the better.

    You won't be "de-selecting" for your first 4 generations - you need to grow your apiary to greater colony numbers, besides, nature will probably do plenty of that for you that far north!. Just select from your best colonies at first, getting rid of the poor performers will come later, when your hive production can't keep up with your [successful queen production minus queen sales].

    Great numbers of mating nucs are of great use, as are many beehives and frames. The more you have, the better from which to select (most likely, according to the law of averages).

    Another point to remind - recessive and quasi-recessive traits require more than one generation to show and promote. This is where it gets complex, another reason to not kill any queens the first few generations. By then, you may have a grip on which traits are male-passed, which are female-passed, which are dominant, and which are recessive. This is where I am now - increasing my apiaries, learning tests for traits, preparing for I.I. of queens, learning male- vs. female-passed traits, learning dominant from recessive traits, building LOTS of bee equipment and queen rearing equipment.

    Oh, and another book to mention is by Ernesto Guzman-Nojoa. You might wish to send off a pm to Michael Palmer about it - Elemental Genetics of Honeybee Breeding (or something like that). Michael mentioned it and said it is available through a Canadian source - University of Guelph, if I recall correctly.
    Last edited by kilocharlie; 08-20-2012 at 09:15 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Danbury, CT
    Posts
    2,861

    Default Re: Beginning in Queen Rearing: How to get from here to a genetic goal?

    He can't use the Beltsville lab... He would be violating International law shipping samples into the USA

    Adam. As far as selection goes, if you are up to a really dull read on Honeybee genetics and trait selection Brother Adams book (s) "Breeding the Honeybee" is about the best publication out there... "In search of the best strains of Bees" is a companion book that talks a lot about traits and how he selected for them... what can be selected for and what cannot. Has a nice chapter that lays out his priorities in order of importance.
    I would start there and then progress into the actual queen rearing books... It sounds like your first goal is selection so start with that.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

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