Anyone self teach themselves how to do I.I of Queens, if so how hard is it?
Anyone self teach themselves how to do I.I of Queens, if so how hard is it?
Hard. You'll kill a lot of queens before you successfully mate one. Not to mention the drones you will also kill harvesting the semen. Are you planning on doing some II?
Yes would like to get into I.I for the main reason of stock improvement for my area, also learn more and see more of a role in honeybee genetics be played out in selecting favorite traits to be carried on and for research purposes such as average body weight of Queens from certain strains over others
Where will you get the queens and the drone semen from in order to improve stock?
From my breeder hives as I call them, which are three story nucs all separately located in there own stationary spots year round, the three strains I have in them and have been grading them for a couple seasons are Italian ,carniolan, Caucasian
Neat. How many hives do you run?
I'm a small beekeeper my numbers are 100 to 120 hives on average
Good that you have enough hives to work with. Next step is to just buy some of the best stock you can find. Why spend 30 years catching up when you can improve upon the best?
The desirable traits don't just magically show up - they have to be there in the first place.
Next step after that is to clearly define a genetic goal. You'll need to separate "on-off" type traits, "% expression" type traits, multiple allele traits, figure out dominant vs. recessive, and which of the sex-linked traits are male-passed vs. female-passed, etc.
Try to identify which colonies already have your best overall score, these are your base stock colonies to begin a bloodline. Identify which traits are absent from those base stock colonies. Now, go identify which colonies, however poor an overall score, have a high expression of the next most desirable trait that is missing from your base stock. Inseminate queens from both colonies with drones from the opposite colony and keep track of which are which. Select from the best of these next year and promote the next most desirable trait.
You will need to buy the bees with the desired traits, get them established, add drone combs and the queen to a Pritchard box (breeder queen isolation compartment for laying eggs - it locks in the genetics and removes the chance that another queen has usurped your breeder hive), and start the drone rearing calendar. Then add fresh, empty worker cell comb to the Pritchard box to make female queen-grafting larvae.
Once the queens are grafted and the queen cells are capped, carefully place them in jars with a dab of RJ and queen candy, and move them to the incubator to hatch and grow to 5 days old, when they are ready for I.I. any time up to 10 days old or possibly even later.
Your increaser nuc' boxes should have robbing screens on them, a patty feeder inner cover, a queen excluder barrier to keep your I.I. queen in place, and a jar feeder in the outer cover. I would use a Laidlaw queen introduction cage to introduce the I.I. queens to the nuc's, and leave them alone for 10 days to get them laying eggs and accepted, then release her if the bees are not balling the Laidlaw cage.
Best of luck, and keep asking questions!
Last edited by kilocharlie; 01-12-2017 at 04:58 PM.
Is it hard? It is very involved, but not what I consider as hard. There are several videos out there that can really help. You definitely need an instrument and associated equipment (microscope, CO2, and misc stuff). The instruments are expensive if you buy one of the few currently commercially available. I have the Schley, which is a wonderful instrument, but very expensive. True German precision. There are a few threads recently of folks making their own instruments, which is something I consider as "hard". Actually using the instrument is more of a "touch" technique. It will definitely take you many tries until you are successful. Be prepared to sacrifice many queens in the learning process. I was taught by Sue Cobey and they provided a nearly an endless supply of virgin queens to develop our skills. I find extracting the semen more difficult than the insemination procedure. I believe that I still could have learned the skill without the class, but it would have taken much longer and been more frustrating.
It would save you a bunch of time to find someone willing to show you the basics.
Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/
I.I. gives the breeder a whole host of options. Selfing, back-crossing, and other inbreeding options allow one to cause a recessive trait to express, then out-cross it for hybrid vigor. There are a lot of such options. Queen Rearing and Bee Breeding by Laidlaw and Page goes in to it in detail.
I.I. also allows you to run several different bloodlines if you have different yards to keep them separate. They do not have to be isolated if you have an I.I. setup, but you'll have to keep re-queening to retain traits.
Generally I.I. achieves genetic goals faster than even an isolated mating yard, but way faster than open mating in a yard with feral bees or other apiaries nearby.
I.I. is expensive, time consuming, and for the dedicated breeder/geneticist. You'll make good progress with an isolated yard on a single bloodline, so having access to such a mating yard narrows the gap (between O.M. and I.I.) greatly over a non-isolated yard with random drones all over the place. That would seem to make your choice more difficult, but if a single bloodline of locally-adapted bees with mite tolerating traits was your goal, you would not need I.I. If you wanted better than that, go ahead and dive in.
I feel i.I is a awesome tool for improvement but I am curious how many queens can a experience person do in a day, also has there been any fear of traits being lost in a intense breeding program?
Number of queens is not the limiting factor in a day of I.I. - it's drawing the semen / sperm out of the drones that takes up the day before. You need about 20 drones per queen, so get a comfortable chair from which to work. You'll need just the right sized drone flight cage and cover net box.
Don't worry about time and quantity until you have been at it for 2 years, WORRY ABOUT QUALITY AND QUALITY ONLY. You have to get that queen inseminated, introduced, accepted, and NOT SUPERCEDED anytime soon. That's getting a lot of things quite a bit more right than wrong.
Traits will cycle out at 20 generations or so in a closed population, but there are ways around this. Number one is a large apiary. Lots of non-sister queens and non-brother drones of the target sub-species (a.k.a. "race" of bees) in a breeding population delays inbreeding problems a long time. Rotate between bloodlines (=> think "families") in a race, each round starts a new 20 generation cycle.
As long as the out-cross gene source bees are well-selected for not having undesirable traits, no undesirable traits will show up in your heirloom stock.
Keep reading about genetics, especially as they apply to bees, which are significantly different than peas, fruit flies, or humans.
Introducing Genetics by Steve Jones and Borin Van Loon
a fun and funny cartoon book that is a fantastic starting place to study genetics
Elemental Genetics For Breeding the Honeybee by Dr. Ernesto Guzman-Novoa
available from the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Queen Rearing and Bee Breeding by Dr. Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. and Dr. Robert E.
Best book on the subject to date that I am aware of.
Double Helix by James Watson
the inside story of the discovery of the structure of DNA by one of the guys who broke the code. Not necessary for bee breeders, but a geneticist cannot put it down
Contemporary Queen Rearing by Dr. Harry H. Laidlaw, Jr.
Lots of practical queen rearing / breeding advice. A little dated, but unbelievably helpful. Available from Dadant and Sons.
Queen Rearing by Dr. John Eckert and Dr. Harry H. Laidlaw, Jr.
an older book that is still very helpful for the I.I. enthusiast.
Queen Rearing (English Translation) by Dr. _____ Rutner (or Ruttner sp?)
there are Russian and German editions of this book, and rumor of an English translation is available. Check Great Britain book websites. (our friends on the right side of the pond, please feel free to jump in and fill in the blanks )
www.glenn-apiaries.com don't forget the dash
www.honeybeeinsemination.com read every article!
www.wicwas.com Dr. John Connor's book publishing has many relevant titles.
www.bushfarms.com Michael Bush has an amazing online library of old beekeeping classics. Bravo, MB!
Since we are listing websites,
www.scientificbeekeeping.com should be mentioned. Not about breeding, but one of the most helpful websites to get you apiary up to the size needed for breeding. This is where you can learn the ins and outs of IPM for mites, lots of excellent issues and discussions and bee science from an actual commercial beek' / scientist. Bravissimo, Randy!
I've wondered a few times why Randy does write so little about breeding queens. Any reason you know and I do not know?
WOW! Thank you all for the awesome information and resources, Going to give I.I A try for the first time this season got some interesting hybrids I would like to try and study. Again thank you
I can't really speak for Randy, but I imaging that his schedule is pretty busy managing a commercial operation with his sons, and with his lecture schedule (he's in world-wide demand), so I doubt he is a serious breeder, but like most commercial beeks, doing what improvement he can with the best bees he can get his hands on by re-queening, drone killing, and open mating.
I may be wrong, you can ask him - it is off season for another week. Almond pollination starts about February 10th, at which time he likely won't be answering back any time soon.
Queen Rearing (English Translation ) by Dr. Friedrich Ruttner
Stephen 40+ hives. 6th year. Treat. Germany.