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  1. #1
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    Default Genetic Diversity: What Would Brother Adam Do... Today?

    I have been reading about how Brother Adam traveled the world over years, identifying different races of bees, and returning to his home apiary with queens of these different races or strains in order to add them to his breeding program. Then I was also listening to a discussion about the importance of genetic diversity to the strength and vitality of the bees.

    And I thought, how would one feasibly go about creating the widest genetic diversity in one's operation today?

    To travel around and get permits and to gain access to the so many regions and bring back queens to one place as Brother Adam did would be nearly impossible today. It would certainly be cost prohibitive for most. Plus there's political upheaval and violence in a number of places... And now we have the work of Brother Adam to reference, so there's no need to try and 're-do' what he did.

    But there might be value in genetic diversity - to a point. I don't think you'd want to get into such wild variations that you'd be a danger, or major pest to people around you, or to other beekeepers.

    So, how would a person create the most genetically diverse - yet commercially viable - stock in a single operation today?

    I've read that just a small number of breeders supply most of the world's queens, so what would be the best a regular beekeeper could do?

    Adam

  2. #2
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    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Genetic Diversity: What Would Brother Adam Do... Today?

    Not to be a downer, but that's how we got AHB too, by doing what Brother Adam did.

    Would it be too simplistic to say, simply buy queens from as many sources as possible w/in the US? As many different strains as possible.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Genetic Diversity: What Would Brother Adam Do... Today?

    I have the opportunity to travel extensively, as Bro. Adam did. I just cannot get through U.S. customs. They even have detector dogs in Florida that can find anything living.
    There are import restrictions to prevent unwanted species as sqk mentioned or diseases coming in. The queens that were brought to S.A. are supposedly not the same African bees as had been originally selected. There are actually 12 known African species.
    All the diseases are here already so only new parasites and unwanted species are left to come in.
    americasbeekeeper.com
    beekeeper@americasbeekeeper.com

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Genetic Diversity: What Would Brother Adam Do... Today?

    The closing down of queen importation, back in the first half of the 20th century, was due to the Isle of Wight Disease and yet we still got tracheal mites somehow. Maybe smuggling was easier in times past.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Genetic Diversity: What Would Brother Adam Do... Today?

    genetic diversity has been shown to be important, in the context of having the opportunity to find and develop resistant traits by selective breeding. does that mean the more diversity the better?

    the extreme case here would be to go around the world and collect enough queens from different lines of bees so that every colony in your apiary was unique genetically.

    for me, the problem is, that you might lose the adaptations that have been made to your specific location. i.e. would bees from hawaii, that have never experienced seasonal changes, have the ability to brood up and brood down in anticipation of the changes in temperature and forage availibilty in alabama?

    it's the opposite extreme to the one i put forward in the 'reducing the gene pool?' thread, whereby all the colonies in that hypothetical apiary were derived from one queen.

    in practice, and what i assume most are doing, and what i will strive to do, is find an appropriate balance between the two extremes.

    (i think the same argument could be made for 'treatments', hard to make the case for either 'extreme')
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Genetic Diversity: What Would Brother Adam Do... Today?

    Queens and drones. Let's not forget the drones. If we don't have drone diversity or specificity then what do we have to mate w/ the specific or diverse queens?
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  7. #7
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    Apr 2010
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    Warrior, Alabama
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    Default Re: Genetic Diversity: What Would Brother Adam Do... Today?

    I think it is possible to change your bees by simply buying queens from different suppliers here in the USA. The key to it working would be another question.

    Are you prepared to let your bees die out?

    If you are to do this then it means that you must let those resulting bees(what you get from the cross breeding) with the lower level of "survivor" traits die off so those with the better "survivor" traits continue to breed. This is the process of natural selection that has already been set in motion for us. Our problem is we spend a great deal of effort trying to keep alive all our bees. We focus our attention on pulling those weak hives through rather than letting them die and focus our attention of propagating new hives from our survivors.

    I think we need to be looking at bringing in a few new queens into our area and using them as "Drone Mothers". Then we can breed our own queens in natural matings letting those drones add their traits to the next generation of queens. By this process we increase the bee bio-diversity and also hopefully add those traits to the feral hives that live among us.

    I believe that this is what several are looking at trying to do to bring/increase hygienic behaviour into their survivors that are already adapted to their areas.
    Old Guy in Alabama

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Genetic Diversity: What Would Brother Adam Do... Today?

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    Not to be a downer, but that's how we got AHB too... Would it be too simplistic to... buy queens from as many sources as possible w/in the US? As many different strains as possible.
    Good point, which is why I imagine one would have to connect with a variety of professional breeders, who would have proper management/inspections, etc.

    Buying queens from as many US sources as possible would not be too simplistic at all - particularly like myself, who aren't living in the United States. So that would already be a challenge - but doable, and likely the first step. One can also, more easily get drone semen or queen cells, as these are less prone to carry pests and disease.

    So is there an efficient way of getting the best sense of which breeders would provide the widest diversity? I guess you would have to contact them and try to get a sense of their background - where their bees came from?


    Adam

  9. #9
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Genetic Diversity: What Would Brother Adam Do... Today?

    i have found open bred 'glenn' and 'russel' queens within driving distance of me. i also have talked with some of the beeks in our local club about trading queens.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  10. #10
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    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Genetic Diversity: What Would Brother Adam Do... Today?

    I forgot u are in Canada. Why wouldn't u simply purchase queens of different strain from different suppliers across Canada and other countries u are allowed to import from?
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  11. #11
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    Default Re: Genetic Diversity: What Would Brother Adam Do... Today?

    The smartest thing to do is figure out what you want or research traits/resistances in wild stocks and see how you can introgress them into your stocks.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Genetic Diversity: What Would Brother Adam Do... Today?

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    ...Why wouldn't u simply purchase queens of different strain from different suppliers across Canada and other countries u are allowed to import from?
    I would. Sounds like a logical idea. Then the question would be how to achieve the widest diversity through the fewest breeders. You don't want to overlap too much by getting stock from people who are sourcing their own from the same place.

    I heard somewhere that something like 10 or 11 breeders supply most of the world's queens. Is that right?

    Adam

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Genetic Diversity: What Would Brother Adam Do... Today?

    To quote Bro. Adam
    "The assumption that an indigenous bee must necessarily prove superior in her native habitat is completely erroneous. "
    but he has a few more years wth bees than you and I combined . . .
    americasbeekeeper.com
    beekeeper@americasbeekeeper.com

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