Re: Live and Let Die - Do you really reduce the gene pool?
Very nice Dean. I am still a little tickled I could see that there is a clone in the mix. genetics are not easy to sort through.
The very important thing I believe there is in all this for the average beekeeper as they are concerned with bottle necking or reduction of gene pool.
The queen has 32 chromosomes. I would like to go back and address this since it was brought up. Genes a are put together in strings. These strings of genes are then called Chromosomes. it is this chromosome that is passed on to the offspring. They say a queen bee has 32 chromosomes. but that still does not tell us how many genes are on all those chromosomes. They also say there are as many as 15,000 genes associated with the honey bee. No single bee is capable of having all 15,000 if they did their woudl never be a problem with inbreeding or loss of genetic diversity.
The entire issue over bottle necking or reducing the gene pool is the loss of these 15,000 genes. we don't want to loose them. we actually want to ad to them.
What is a chromosome and what is a gene is really not that critical to this conversation. Understanding how you can loose those genes is. I believe it is far more important for the average beekeeper to understand that to have a large selection of those 15,000 genes requires that there be a large number of colonies in the area.
I see that many beekeepers have a thinking along the lines of. I don't care if I have all 15,000 genes. I only care if I have the very best 500 or so. The problem with having only the very best 500 or so is that as soon as something comes along that those 500 or so genes cannot contend with. like varroa for example. all your bees get wiped out.
What we want is to flood that 15,000 gene pool with varroa resistant genes. We want varroa resistance to be predominant gene throughout bees. Sort of like genes to have wings would be. Every bee has that.
So can every bee have resistant genes? Theoretically yes. Many beekeepers might argue that. but yet they would have no problem thinking that African genes are perfectly capable of taking over every bee in existence. So if bad genes can be a problem. you can make good genes be a problem just the same.
Some genes spread more readily than others. Dominant genes for example are easier to get into your bees and see the effect. Dominant genes can be a problem as well. such as in hygienic traits when all the genes associated with it are recessive. This causes a situation that you can't just get some hygienic genes in your bees and be good. you have to get all the other genes out. the only gene you can have in your bees is the hygienic ones.
And this is exactly the situation I believe it is very important that even the hobby beekeepers has some understanding of genetics. That some situations require that you have pure bees. and that they remain pure. or a trait is completely lost. Africanization begins when even one gene from an African bee gets into your colony. Hygienic behavior happens only when you have purged every other non hygienic gene from your colony. It is obviously easier to Americanize bees than make housekeepers out of them.
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