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  1. #21
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    Default Re: Systematic breeding in non-treatment management systems

    Quote Originally Posted by D Semple View Post
    All depends on your local bee, I have nothing but feral stock and for me I want a bee that responds to the local flows and pollen production, not one who's brood production cycles by artificially stimulation. Where's the balance in that?
    Me too. But I also want to tweak my bees to improve productivity. I agree, working on that without stimulation is the safest way to go - but while I work on it I don't think I'll be doing the ferals much harm by raising the proportion of self-sufficient drones around - tending to negate the harm done by nearby treaters. Perhaps that will compensate as bit. Or perhaps I'll come around to your way of thinking.

    Just breeding toward productivity will raise productivity in ferals. So I'm already having an effect, that I can't see as being negative.

    Quote Originally Posted by D Semple View Post
    Ferals die a lot and native populations swing dramatically year to year, can you stand > 50% losses?
    Ferals round here are getting stronger, and I've always maintained that their biggest problem after (varroa) was treaters - and for those reasons yes, they've been dying lots. As I understand it lots of swarms -especially late swarms - fail to establish, but after that survival rates are (in the wild) pretty good.

    But in a selectively bred apaiary a lot of bees die too - its just we limit it to queens, taking the nasty out of nature. That's part of the point of selective propagation - to work with the grain of nature, but to exclude the jungle and its painful ways. I can't - yet - see that doing that harms the local feral population.


    Quote Originally Posted by D Semple View Post
    Your hearts in the right place Mike, wish you success.

    That means a lot Don, thanks, and the same to you.

    Sincerely,

    Mike
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  2. #22
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    Default Re: Systematic breeding in non-treatment management systems

    Mike,

    Pretty much the answer I expected. Looking for affirmation from likeminded keepers. You are not actually doing systematic breeding. You are managing in a treatment free manner. There is a large difference. You have no control over what your queens breed with. Every time you bring cut outs or swarms into the apiary, you are bringing in possibly treated bees, or poor survivors, which will also saturate the area with poor or at best, unknown drones. By the time you can access the survivability of your queen, you have already released thousands of unproven drones into the area. This is not a breeding program. It is a management style. There is nothing wrong with managing that way, but that is what it is management, not a breeding program.

    It does not matter whether you agree or not, it is what it is. You allude to rolling the dice. I agree all breeding is a dice roll. But when you control what breeds and when, you are rolling with say two six sided die instead of two 20 sided die. You may get what you want but probably not. You can increase your chances a lot by controlling the breeding, with how and when. Furthermore, by controlling both sides, you are not inadvertently promulgating inferior genetics by allowing unselected drones and queens survive.

    Yes, your management style is better than none and more likely to result in treatment free bees than a similar management style with treatments, but don't delude yourself into thinking you are systematically breeding treatment free bees.

    If you want to do that, you will either have to control the drones input via instrumental insemination.

    But at the end of the day we each have to keep our minds open and do the best we can within our abilities, time, talents and resources. Doing something almost always beats doing nothing.
    Last edited by jbeshearse; 10-01-2012 at 08:27 PM. Reason: clean up

  3. #23
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    Default Re: Systematic breeding in non-treatment management systems

    Soloman;

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    I disagree.
    One day I will learn how to multi-quote, or maybe not.

    Lets look at your "program" and selection criteria:

    Sol: I breed based on a bunch of aspects, first, did the hive survive the winter? If not, I don't breed from it.

    JB: Makes sense, hard to breed from dead bees (aside from Instrumental Insemination). Of course your hives that survive may have nothing to do with varroa resistance and could simply be a result of life cycles between the varroa and bees. (hard to say when you don't know)

    Sol: Second, can I work the hive without gloves while it's raining?
    JB: Okay, I can see doing that, but it can eliminate a lot of good treatment free genetics.

    Sol: Did the hive make a goodly amount of honey last year?
    JB: Sounds good, BUT: Why did it make a good amount of honey last year? Was it strong in the spring, quick build up, or was it a new colony from last year with low mite loads due to brood cycle breaks, etc. in the fall? There are a lot of contributors to a good honey producing hive. It usually relates directly to how many foragers there are. And that usually is a result of the shape a hive is in going into winter.

    Sol: Did the hive build up well this spring?
    JB: See previous as to why a hive may build up well in the spring.

    Sol: Most other aspects weed themselves out.
    JB: Agree, most everything will weed itself out, unless the weeds take over. And weeds are just so prolific.

    Sol: There are a lot more things you can breed for, but I find that the hives that do the above things well just about never have problems with other aspects. For instance, I had one hive that produced a lot of sticky propolis. It didn't make honey and didn't build up well, requeened, problem solved.

    JB: That is good management Sol. You have made a determination of what you feel constitutes the highest propability for survival and selct for those. But it is more management that breeding. You don't selectively breed, you selectively manage. When you don't control the breeding pairs, you don't control the breeding and end up with what nature supplies, and there is nothing wrong with that, for certain. As for lots of propolis, I like it in my hives. I feel it helps lock away pathogens and also helps the bees a lot against SHB, which is more of a problem for me than varroa is.

    SOL: I have a location to the north and south of my location to add drones to the mix. I feel AI is unecessary and somewhat antithetical to the ideal of treatment free beekeeping.

    JB: You still have no control over what your virgins mate with and thusly have no control over whether they are able to survive treatment free or not. Antiethical to treatment free? I don't see how. Yes you are managing the queen and drones, but that does not translate to adding treatments to your hives.


    SOL: I think you mean assess, so I'll reply on that assumption. One or two winters pretty well does it for me. After increase made from the same queen for two years, I move to different ones to avoid too much inbreeding.

    JB: Yes, assess! One winter does not a treatment free survivor make. 2 years maybe, three a definite. But we all know that most hive will re-queen themselves after one year. If your hives are not swarming, are they superseding? If they are superseding, is there a natural brood cycle break? Could this be the contributor to survival? How do you know?

    SOL: No. What you're describing is a totally different mindset to the way I think and carryout my beekeeping practice. Control is for treatments and inbreeding to express a certain trait. I'm not going there. My method fits just fine with the idea of keeping bees in the context of a hobbyist. I don't need every hive to produce a bumper crop every year. I don't need every hive to survive every winter. I don't need to breed for a certain specific trait for the bees to survive. And I don't need to control much because it's not necessary. Nature controls what I need to control for me. Outside of that, I have all the control I need by getting rid of mean or unproductive queens. Winter does the rest. This simple method of breeding from what I want and discarding the rest is the same thing that all manner of farmers have done for thousands of years. There is only so far you can go with it. II is only going to produce a hive, same as mine. Maybe it produces more honey or is nicer or whatever, maybe not. There's no guarantee either way. I've never even seen anyone guarantee that the drone they got is from the hive they got it from.


    JB: No, control is what a breeding program is built on. If you are not controlling anything, then you are managing a treatment free operation, not running a treatment free breeding operation. That is the gist of my first post.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with that approach, it is an admirable goal and method. But you are keeping treatment free bees, not breeding them. You are doing nothing different that the guy or gal that buys some survivor bees and sticks them out in the yard and lets them sink or swim. You are a treatment free beekeeper.

  4. #24
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    Default Re: Systematic breeding in non-treatment management systems

    Quote Originally Posted by jbeshearse View Post
    Mike,

    Pretty much the answer I expected. Looking for affirmation from likeminded keepers. You are not actually doing systematic breeding. You are managing in a treatment free manner. There is a large difference.
    JB,

    I don't know about 'affirmation'; I'm looking to share thoughts about what works and why.

    I think we've stated our positions now. You have made a fair point, but the issue has become one of semantics and unsupported denial of efficacy. To reiterate my position on the semantic side: 'breeding' is a term wide enough to be legitimately used to describe what we do. Here is the (UK) English Oxford Dictionary definition (The US English is slightly different and you may think supports your position more strongly):

    Breed
    verb (past and past participle bred /bred/) [with object] cause (an animal) to produce offspring, typically in a controlled and organized way:

    Examples of use:
    'he wants to see the animals his new stock has been bred from[no object] (of animals) mate and then produce offspring:'

    'toads are said to return to the pond of their birth to breed'

    (as adjective breeding)

    'the breeding season develop (a kind of animal or plant) for a particular purpose or quality:

    'these horses are bred for this sportrear and train'

    '(someone) to behave in a particular way or have certain qualities:

    Theresa had been beautifully bred cause'

    '(something) to happen or occur, typically over a period of time:

    success breeds confidence'

    Physics creates (fissile material) by nuclear reaction.

    noun
    a stock of animals or plants within a species having a distinctive appearance and typically having been developed by deliberate selection.

    a sort or kind of person or thing:

    a new breed of entrepreneurs was brought into being

    Quote Originally Posted by jbeshearse View Post
    You have no control over what your queens breed with.
    It would be accurate to say we have limited control. That's not 'no control'.

    Quote Originally Posted by jbeshearse View Post
    Every time you bring cut outs or swarms into the apiary, you are bringing in possibly treated bees, or poor survivors, which will also saturate the area with poor or at best, unknown drones. By the time you can access the survivability of your queen, you have already released thousands of unproven drones into the area.
    This is only occuring at the outset (when initial stock is being collected). After that any new entrants can be kept at a remote apairy while they are tested. This is a good point, and a useful reminder to manage the way new genetics are bought in. Thank you.

    Again, having large colonies with large drone populations both within and at a distance from the apairy loads the dice toward your proven genetics.

    Quote Originally Posted by jbeshearse View Post
    This is not a breeding program. It is a management style. There is nothing wrong with managing that way, but that is what it is management, not a breeding program.
    Whatever: its accurate to say that this is a tradional method by which bees are kept healthy and vigorous. If you read, for example, Wedmore91932) or Manley (1945) you'll see that this is their prescription for propagation in a commecial apiary - although they preferred pure-race bees. And they describe this as 'breeding'.

    They managed, its worth noting, to maintain their strains in the face of mongrels and other imported races (and the indiginous bee) by these methods alone. That demonstrates that it works - and that, in the final analysis, brings it quite firmly into the description 'breeding'.

    Quote Originally Posted by jbeshearse View Post
    It does not matter whether you agree or not, it is what it is.
    'It' here is you claiming narrow interpretation of the term 'breeding' - reserving it for mid-tech AI. That's all.

    Quote Originally Posted by jbeshearse View Post
    You allude to rolling the dice. I agree all breeding is a dice roll. But when you control what breeds and when, you are rolling with say two six sided die instead of two 20 sided die.
    I'll accept, for the sake of argument, the odds you supply. But the combination of propagating only from winning queens gives us control over 50% of the parentage material. Repeating that process by requeening the weaker rapidly brings the required genes forward. They can then be made to supply perhaps half of the male side - and we have 75% breeding pair control (and the advantages of open competitive mating).

    That's not all that far from the odds you get with 100% parental. And each time its repeated things are moving the right way.

    Quote Originally Posted by jbeshearse View Post
    You may get what you want but probably not.
    There is plenty of evidence that demonstrates that it works. If you are choosing not to look at it, that's up to you.

    Quote Originally Posted by jbeshearse View Post
    Yes, your management style is better than none and more likely to result in treatment free bees than a similar management style with treatments...
    For reasons that I've outlined to you previously on another thread (which you haven't responded to), treating, unless accompanied by a strict selective propagation program, absolutely inhibits the rise of resistance.

    I don't want to have that argument here. We know what sorts of things work, and we want to talk about and share them. The premise of this thread it that low-level low-tech selective propagation is at the heart of successful non-treatment beekeeping, and that its fair to describe that as 'breeding. I've no desire to contest either the premise of the thead or the semantics of that key term anymore.

    Best wishes,

    Mike
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  5. #25
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    Default Re: Systematic breeding in non-treatment management systems

    Quote Originally Posted by jbeshearse View Post
    You are not actually doing systematic breeding. You are managing in a treatment free manner. There is a large difference.
    You seem to be confusing "systematic breeding" with a controlled experiment. It is not necessary to have control of all the variables. We have been systematically breeding a variety of animals for millennia, by simply selecting for desirable traits. In this case mite and general disease resistance. Some of us don't care what the mechanism is that causes the resistance, just that they are resistant. We can look to breeding lovebirds of parakeets for colour variations as a parallel. Some colour variations are caused by variations in melanin levels (yellow vs green), where others are actually variations in feather structure that change how light is reflected (blue vs green). We care more about the colour itself than how they got that colour.

    Systematic breeding is just that breeding with some sort system.
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  6. #26
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    Default Re: Systematic breeding in non-treatment management systems

    How about breeding by FedEx?

    I've read that a number of treatment-free beekeepers add new genetics to their apiary w/ new queens.

    It sounds like a faster route to more stable 'resistance'.

  7. #27
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    Default Re: Systematic breeding in non-treatment management systems

    Quote Originally Posted by mike bispham View Post
    JB,


    For reasons that I've outlined to you previously on another thread (which you haven't responded to), treating, unless accompanied by a strict selective propagation program, absolutely inhibits the rise of resistance.


    Best wishes,

    Mike
    Mike,

    You made my points farily well. I quit answering to your posts on the previous thread you allude to, as we were at an impasse. No reason to continue. I did have a lengthy post composed but saw no reason to continue as you were looking for agreement and affirmation, not information. But you are absolutely right, it really is a matter of semantics and so here I am also done on this thread, as I am off topic.

    Best wishes with your beekeeping.

    jeb

  8. #28
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    Default Re: Systematic breeding in non-treatment management systems

    Quote Originally Posted by WLC View Post
    How about breeding by FedEx?
    I used to bring in new stock, 1, 2, 3, or 4 queens per year, depending on the year. The funny thing was, when I got to the point of buying 4 queens, I started having lots of bees surviving the winter, which means I still have two of those queens (marked) and a number of offspring from a third.

    It is an option to buy already resistant stock and StevenG has posted numerous times on how he's done that and been quite successful, keeping over 30 hives, having very low winter mortality, and making great honey. But that's off topic.

    Mike wants to talk about low-tech breeding so let's keep it on topic. No 'Fed->Ex', no 'you're not actually breeding.' If you want to talk about something else, start your own thread. This thread is Mikes and we're talking about what he wants to talk about.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
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  9. #29
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    Default Re: Systematic breeding in non-treatment management systems

    I have a couple of reoccurring thoughts regarding "Natural Selection" type of focus on a breeding program. Or treatment free methods.

    First and simplest I will just put out there. How does the Keeping of bees at all make it impossible to be treatment free. I understand that treatment is meant to attempt to cure from disease. but my idea of treatment is broader than that. As in how where you treated the last time you visited the in laws?

    Associated with my first thought and to me far more important is this one.
    Basically treatment free to me is a recognition that nature has a better method of selecting than we do. we make mistakes that weaken the species. So treatment free is also a returning toward (not to, but toward) natural selection.

    I will assume that the majority will agree that natural selection can and most likely will solve these problems. It is a fair bet that if you are an advocate of treatment free beekeeping you have a faith in natural selection.

    A stable population is one in which the number of any given species remains the same. For bees I will consider a colony as an individual of the species. So regardless of how many offspring are produced when the parent has passed only one offspring has survived. In bees I consider there is only one colony producing parent, the queen. so in a stable system for every hive that dies out it has manged to only produce one surviving colony.

    So just what sort of numbers are we looking at, when do they happen and what might be the importance of those losses on improving the qualities of the bees?

    I will just take some numbers that it seems to me are fairly common. A healthy hive that is left to manage itself will produce something in the neighborhood of 20 queens. cast a primary swarm and multiple after swarms.

    I don't know the nature of an after swarm as well as the primary swarm but my understanding is it is multiple tiny clusters of bees that will actually group together each containing several queens.

    It also seems to me that the overall opinion is that a primary swarm has a better chance of survival then an after swarm. a larger swarm has a better chance than a smaller one etc. But is this true. Are our observations in beekeeping being altered due to the fact we "Keep" bees.

    Regardless of the rats next of questions this alone can bring up. At this point just where the issue of only one queen, one colony can now survive nature is accepting 95% losses.

    Are you willing to accept that only one out of every 20 queens will survive? That according to the above evidence is the direction yo may be choosing to go.

    Is it critical that you accept that part of natural selection? I personally believe it is. It is just such heavy losses that improve the species. Eventually after successive generations of such loses the species in improved to some degree and the population begins to increase.

    Also keep in mind that one of the ways nature stops a plague is that the victim species is driven to very near extinction. when the disease no longer has nay hosts. it then dies out. the population of the host is then able to recover. Sometimes not. extinction does happen naturally.

    It has been observed that feral colonies are development resistance.

    I suspect a fairly heavy loss in queens is made right at the outset. I suspect at best only 25% of the queens that swarm from the hive ever live long enough to find a location to colonies. They die or are killed in the cluster or shortly after the bees find a place to build the hive.

    What is the survival rate of primary swarms> what is the survival rate of secondary swarms. What is the survival rate of queens in a secondary swarm?

    Just one idea that has come to mind that might improve queen production. No proof just an idea that at least falls partial in line with the thoughts above.

    Produce 20 times the number of queens desired from carefully chosen queen stocks. Keep these queen cells in groups of 20. and only the one queen able to survive gets to live and produce a colony. I seriously doubt there is much accuracy in that or that it woudl even be on the right track. but at least it give some idea of what matching natural selection might look like.

    Keep in mind that in feral colonies even these sort of losses are resulting in barely noticeable resistance. Natural selection is not so much about the strong surviving as it is about the weak dying.

    Mice. one in 365 offspring in just a single year can be allowed to live in a stable population. In many birds only one in 35 to 40 survive after one year.

    Even bears only one in about a dozen or so can survive and remain stable. and that is during the parents entire life.

    In deer a species low on the food chain only 1 in 4 or so over the parents lifetime. funny how the prey species has lower production numbers. That is because any species that has to hunt and kill to eat is more likely to die than thrive. Nothing has to happen to keep a bear population in check other than it doesn't find enough food. Mountain lions is about 1 in 24 survive over the lifetime of the parent.

    Nature produces some fairly grand numbers just to remain stable. death is the rule. death is the control. Avoiding gross odds of dying is what produces blood lines that are very suitable to survival.

    Okay I am not saying anything with all that except. What if that is what it takes?
    Last edited by Solomon Parker; 10-02-2012 at 06:52 AM. Reason: Belongs in Tailgater
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  10. #30
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    Default Re: Systematic breeding in non-treatment management systems

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Y View Post
    What if that is what it takes?
    In my experience, it doesn't, or it shouldn't. It may at first, but we're beyond that stage now. Coincidentally, I have one of my original twenty if you don't count the dozen or more descendents I have of it. What I mean is, one of the original hives survives, in the same hive, with natural line of succession from the original queen that I bought in 2003.

    What I have found is that once the population and resistance levels out you get what Michael Palmer describes as thirds. A third of new hives are great, a third average, and a third dinks. Way better odds that one in twenty.

    It has also been my experience that afterswarms are not nearly as common in the US, being more common to strains of bees (i. e. 'swarmy' like the German Black Bee) which we do not keep nearly as much. I believe it is due to our selective breeding over the last 150 years for bees that swarm less.

    Natural swarming, or walkaway splits, or natural supersedure is very wasteful, yielding fewer than one in ten viable queens from one episode. That's why we use grafting and cell builders and mating nucs, to speed up the process, to make more queens, and to increase faster. But there is a price to be paid. It deselects for emergence time in queens. Fortunately, some of it is made up through natural swarming and supersedures, but it is something to keep in mind.
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  11. #31
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    Default Re: Systematic breeding in non-treatment management systems

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    What I have found is that once the population and resistance levels out you get what Michael Palmer describes as thirds. A third of new hives are great, a third average, and a third dinks. Way better odds that one in twenty.
    And thats a good part of what breeding is all about. It improves on nature. But you have to be very selective, and active, in order to get that result. Instead of letting the dinks die slowly, you pull them out quickly, and save the body of workers to boot. Same, to a degree, with the middlers. Now the lower 2/3rds get a new hand, a new deal, and 1/3rd of them will be top level. Deal again, a 3rd of the remainder climb up. And so on.

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    Natural swarming, or walkaway splits, or natural supersedure is very wasteful, yielding fewer than one in ten viable queens from one episode. That's why we use grafting and cell builders and mating nucs, to speed up the process, to make more queens, and to increase faster. But there is a price to be paid. It deselects for emergence time in queens. Fortunately, some of it is made up through natural swarming and supersedures, but it is something to keep in mind.
    I was thinking about this earlier today, and it something I'm not sure about (if I've understood your point properly). There's a widely held believe that the first one out is superior, by virtue of faster growing rate, and has thus won the right to terminate the rest. But I'm not so sure. The workers may not start all queen cells at the same time, and they may not start using larvae of the same age. And they may even keep some warmer than others, thus speeding growth. This makes good evolutionary sense - the weather may be wrong for mating the first up, and she may pass her mating window. To have another in reserve is a line-saver.

    Again, its not always the case (as I understand it) that the workers will allow the first queen out to kill the rest. They may wait till she's mated, or even proven, keeping others walled in.

    Both these things seem to me to point to no particular superiority in the first queen - meaning that making nucs from all carries no health and vitality cost at all.

    Mike
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  12. #32
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    Default Re: Systematic breeding in non-treatment management systems

    Quote Originally Posted by WLC View Post
    How about breeding by FedEx?

    I've read that a number of treatment-free beekeepers add new genetics to their apiary w/ new queens.

    It sounds like a faster route to more stable 'resistance'.
    I agree, it may provide a good lift to many starting out, and sound new blood for established apiaries. But it has a cost in terms of biodiversity. If I had access to hygienic queens I'd buy a few to add to my starting-out mix. But no more than I'd feel was the minimum I'd need - based on the presence of survivors more than anything.

    A larger point is: its not really 'breeding'. The clue is in that 'ing': breeding is a _process_. It never ends. Continually buying is is not breeding - or rather, its having someone else doing your breeding for you. 'Stability' can only be raised by an ongoing effective working procedure. The only endpoint is a good selective propagation system working well.

    If you only have a few hives and can't increase them (and therefore have insufficient numbers to bred with) continuous import is an option. Similarly you have a large treating apiary on your doorstep (or lots of smaller ones) it may be a necessity. But (for those reasons of biodiversity) it shouldn't be thought a universal solution.

    It may, as you say, be a faster route to more stable resistance. There might be other disadvantages that weigh against it as a preferred route. Again, I'd be very cautious if I thought there was a good selection of survivors around - though you'd bring in their blood over time anyway. There is suitability to your particular climate patterns to consider - from where do these bred bees originate. And so on. The Art is simple and complex at the same time.
    Last edited by mike bispham; 10-02-2012 at 08:09 AM.
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  13. #33
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    Default Re: Systematic breeding in non-treatment management systems

    I tend to agree, but I cannot discount the effect completely. Remember that a freshly hatched queen due to her early emergence is 'not done' in a sense. Her exoskeleton is till very soft, much less developed than a worker.

    If the first queen out were somehow superior, we'd see one hive do much better than all the rest, but I still see thirds. What the effect results in is the genes that might retard development will be eliminated. But there are a lot of queens eliminated for one reason or another anyway. I don't think it's something we need to worry about, especially since its been done for over a hundred years. Like other things, I think this one is self-righting.
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    Default Re: Systematic breeding in non-treatment management systems

    Quote Originally Posted by jbeshearse View Post
    Soloman;



    JB: No, control is what a breeding program is built on. If you are not controlling anything, then you are managing a treatment free operation, not running a treatment free breeding operation. That is the gist of my first post.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with that approach, it is an admirable goal and method. But you are keeping treatment free bees, not breeding them. You are doing nothing different that the guy or gal that buys some survivor bees and sticks them out in the yard and lets them sink or swim. You are a treatment free beekeeper.

    Good point JB

    To me, like my mentor Michael Bush, Treatment free beekeeping is a management philosophy, the bee itself is less important than how it's managed.

    Following Michael's advice, I have over 40 strong treatment free, SC, foundationless, hives going into winter starting at 0 just a year and a half ago.

    And, my honey production average this year was 1/3 higher than our local average reported at our club meetings.

  15. #35
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    Default Re: Systematic breeding in non-treatment management systems

    My sister is working on beekeeping, she want to involve me in, but I am totally a fresher in this region, I appreciate your ideas that combine avaliable techniques and natrual ways together, I will follow your post, hope you will post more experience on it.

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    Default Re: Systematic breeding in non-treatment management systems

    Solomon, are you keeping track of honey production also, or just breeding what survived??

  17. #37
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    Default Re: Systematic breeding in non-treatment management systems

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    This year, I made a plan, researched some methods, and carried it through....
    So here's what happened. I robbed all but one frame of brood from seven hives to make queen castles in which were placed ripe queen cells. Those that came out well graduated into five frame or ten frame nucs. Some were sold, some were used to requeen, and some headed their own hives. I went from ten hives to 28 after selling seven....
    I think I have found the combination to that lock: grafting, queenright cell builder/finisher, queen castles, rob your middling hives for brood and stores, combine the dinks, requeen with the result.
    I have been very pleased Sol to see you getting some success now you are using more traditional methods. Not just for you, but for other treatment free beekeepers who follow you. As a queen breeder, what really irked me when I first started reading the treatment free stuff on Beesource, was that, back then, there was a strong rejection of "traditional methods", and even quite a bit of derision of "old beekeepers, stuck in their ways".
    As a result of this mindset, I saw many struggling and not making any headway with their bees, sometimes for years. Problem being, just being treatment free, became such an all consuming mindset, that all else was thrown out the window by many, to their cost.

    To me, queen breeding (and doing it well), is one of the foundations of good beekeeping, and success. It is one of the pinnacles of the art of beekeeping. I'm glad to see that you have opened up to using grafting, cell builders and all else that goes with solid, traditional, beekeeping skills. And the success that this is finally bringing to your operation.

    I guess my main point is that when I first joined Beesource, there was disagreement between treaters, and non treaters. There still is of course. But one of the negative effects was that anything a treater had to say, was rejected. I feel it's very necessary, if beekeeping without chemicals is to advance, for those doing it to be open minded to the wisdom of the past, and reap the benefits, as you obviously have this last year.

    Remember too, you have not found anything new. All you have done can be found in books written more than 50 years ago.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

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