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  1. #101
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    Default Re: something to think about

    >faster reproduction
    more offspring/mating
    behaviors that increase the amount the mites move from hive to hive
    hosting of more viruses to keep the colony weak enough for mite infestation

    wouldn't natural selection in mites favor these strategies in response to any pressure, including hygienic behavior by the bees?
    beekeeping since june 2010, +/- 20 hives, tf

  2. #102
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    Default Re: something to think about

    I believe that Tom Seeley hypothesized that a greater distance between hives reduces mite virulence. This was based on feral colony observations in the Arnot Forest. If the mites kill off the colony and they are a great distance from the next colony, their lineage dies with the colony. If the mites are less virulent than the prime method of expansion would be through swarms from the originally parasitized colony.
    Adam - Zone 5A
    www.adamshoney.com

  3. #103
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    Default Re: something to think about

    Yes, horizontal transmission and vertical transmission. Horizontal transmission would mean the parasite always has access to a new host. The parasite's genes are transmitted to the new host, and the first host is expendable and so are the parasites in it. An apiary being re-stocked is an example. There are always more hosts added by the beekeeper.

    Vertical transmission is when the parasite passes genes to offspring that have no other host but the one they are on. Their host is not expendable. Colonies separated by distance would lead to vertical transmission of the parasites genes from one generation to the next. Like the various bee trees in the Arnot forest.

  4. #104
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    Default Re: something to think about

    I figured someone out there had to be studying it. I'm mostly just familiar with the idea with regards to diseases from teaching Biology. I have to agree with squarepeg though on other mechanisms to develop resistance. I would argue in addition that those methods are ways of mites becoming resistant to miticides, but rather ways to cope with them, that would be similar to ways they would cope with any selective pressure against them.

  5. #105
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    Default Re: something to think about

    I think the best that we can hope for is a balance in the hive between the mites and bees. Nothing we do is going eliminate the mites completely. How many colony deaths are blamed on mites, when it was really other factors that weakened the colony and upset the balance? Disease, starvation, poor genetics, pesticide exposure, and miticides could all be the real causes of death.

    A person suffering from AIDS could succomb to the common cold due to their weekend immune system. So what was the cause of death? AIDS or the cold?
    Adam - Zone 5A
    www.adamshoney.com

  6. #106
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    Default Re: something to think about

    Quote Originally Posted by zhiv9 View Post
    I think the best that we can hope for is a balance in the hive between the mites and bees.
    This is what actual treatment-free beekeepers are looking for. It is not only the best that can be hoped for, it is what is possible.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  7. #107
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    Default Re: something to think about

    I mean strong as in "they don't die easily" and "they can reproduce fast enough to overcome our treatments". It could also be that they can run, hide or hang on better so they don't get groomed off. Or that they prefer worker cells because the beekeepers keep removing drone cells and selecting for bees that don't prefer drones. None of this is good for the bees. It seems to me that any aspect of "strong" for the mites is bad for the bees.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  8. #108
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    Default Re: something to think about

    I would say this is what all beekeepers are looking for, there are just different ways of reaching a realtively stable equilibrium and other factors to consider.

  9. #109
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    Default Re: something to think about

    randy oliver has an interesting discussion on scientificbeekeeping.com about the host/parasite relationship between bees and mites.

    he makes the point that it is rare in nature to find a parasite that completely crashes, collapses, and kills it's host. (not a very smart strategy for a parasite to kill off it's host)

    with the asian honeybee (apis ceranae) and its mites (varroa jacobsoni) the bees and the mites have reached an equilibrium whereby the mites don't crash the hives. this equilibrium supposedly took over 100 years to come about.

    the european honeybee (what most of us have) and its mites (varroa destructor) have not reached this equilibrium yet. the mites crash the hives, and then depend on other bees to come in and rob it out so that they can hitchhike a ride to the next colony. it's counter-intuitive, but one could argue that crashing a hive is varroa destructor's main strategy for survival.

    the assumption is that selective pressures will eventually result in the european bees developing better strategies to deal with the mites, and destructor mites will eventually develop better strategies to not kill off the bees. the problem is that today's beekeeper can't afford to wait 100 or more years (if it were to take that long).

    if this line of thinking is correct, and if we assume that our beekeeping practrices have an effect, it suggests that we should be selecting for mites that don't crash colonies by allowing these less virulent mites to coexist with the bees.

    it also suggests we should kill the mites that do crash colonies, and prevent them from being transmitted to new colonies (via hitchhiking on robbing bees).

    avoiding across the board treatments, combined with taking action when necessary seems like a good approach to me, and what i plan to try with my bees.
    beekeeping since june 2010, +/- 20 hives, tf

  10. #110
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    Default Re: something to think about

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    it also suggests we should kill the mites that do crash colonies, and prevent them from being transmitted to new colonies (via hitchhiking on robbing bees).
    This is the impossible and unrealistic aspect of this post. You can't choose which mites to kill. The only logical way to do it (the same way nature does) is to let over-virulent parasites kill themselves. It is also necessary to allow the pressure to remain on the bees to develop their own methods as well. These things can't be done effectively whilst treating.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  11. #111
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    Default Re: something to think about

    Um, yes it is possible to kill mites that crash a colony. I can think of a couple ways to do so without treating the hives. You can isolate the hive that is crashing...which will kill the mites if they can't spread to another colony. You can uthenize the hive and remove it. You can pull the hive, shook swarm them and drop the mites off with powdered sugar and restart them on fresh comb. I'm sure there are others I haven't thought of as well.

    And it is most certainly possible to treat and still selectively breed for mite resistance. The characteristics that allow bees to be mite resistant are distinct behaviors. You can test for those things by various methods, freezing, pin pricking, observations of nurse bees, finding chewed mites etc. You can also measure mite counts because even treating does not kill all of the mites, so bees with lower counts are likely the ones that exhibit those behaviors. Breeding from those bees selects STRONGLY for those behaviors without killing all of the other bees.

    Telling people that letting their bees die (if that is what you are advocating by "keeping the pressure on") is the only way to select for better stock is downright misleading. There are ways to select for stock that don't involve allowing hives to crash in a treatment free or treatment setup. In fact it should be noted that unless you have a whole lot of hives or are isolated, you are not likely to make any lasting progress on stock breeding (I believe brother Adam said anything under 100 hives is not going to make much progress).

    I would say it's illogical to do it the same way nature does it because the whole point of any agricultural enterprise is to alter nature to better suit our needs. You can exploit natural trends in nature to assist your goals, but why wait a few hundred years (give or take a few centuries) for nature to take its course when you may also lose lots of valuable traits that have been breed into the population from generations of breeding selection?

  12. #112
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    Default Re: something to think about

    also assuming apiaries like bweaver and russels arent lying, a balanced relationship between mite and bee already exists

  13. #113
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    Default Re: something to think about

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. C View Post
    You can pull the hive, shook swarm them and drop the mites off with powdered sugar and restart them on fresh comb.
    Interesting, I had not yet heard that powdered sugar was a 100% effective treatment, or that it was effective at all. Survey says no.


    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. C View Post
    And it is most certainly possible to treat and still selectively breed for mite resistance.
    No, it is not. You may be able to breed for certain traits, for which there are test methods. But I find no usefulness in breeding for bees able to chew out frozen brood because mites don't often freeze brood in my neighborhood. Wild hives have broadly varying mixtures of traits (some of which are certainly still undiscovered) which can only be utilized by pressures applied by actual mites.


    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. C View Post
    Telling people that letting their bees die (if that is what you are advocating by "keeping the pressure on") is the only way to select for better stock is downright misleading.
    Who is misleading? I did not say that.


    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. C View Post
    I would say it's illogical to do it the same way nature does it because the whole point of any agricultural enterprise is to alter nature to better suit our needs. You can exploit natural trends in nature to assist your goals, but why wait a few hundred years (give or take a few centuries) for nature to take its course when you may also lose lots of valuable traits that have been breed into the population from generations of breeding selection?
    It doesn't take that long, but for some reason, no one wants to listen to the people who have actually done it.


    Quote Originally Posted by nada View Post
    also assuming apiaries like bweaver and russels arent lying, a balanced relationship between mite and bee already exists
    There are a number of us who are already there. I cannot speak for BWeaver, but I know of one guy who keeps BWeaver stock treatment-free.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  14. #114
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    Default Re: something to think about

    All hives (at least in areas where mites exist) have mite pressures. The upside of not treating is you are speeding up the selective pressure a bit, the downside of course is the corresponding loss of genetic diversity. There is really no argument among bee researchers (and I would heartily agree) that today's bees tolerate varroa much better than when we were first impacted 20+ years ago. Clearly the North American honeybee is on a treatment free "glide path" in respect to varroa. It is however, difficult to predict just how steep (or shallow) the slope is, certainly it's a far different path than the trachael mite which was a relative "flash in the pan". The point is, though, that progress is being made and it's essentially because all breeding is selective breeding whether you choose to treat or not.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  15. #115
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    Default Re: something to think about

    >Um, yes it is possible to kill mites that crash a colony. I can think of a couple ways to do so without treating the hives...You can pull the hive, shook swarm them and drop the mites off with powdered sugar and restart them on fresh comb.

    How is that "not treating" the colony?

    >And it is most certainly possible to treat and still selectively breed for mite resistance.

    I would say the opposite. It is IMpossible to treat and still selectively breed for mite resistance. No one knows the complex set of characteristics that provide mite resistance. Breeding for any one trait in my observation of human breeding programs, has almost always failed in the long run.

    > The characteristics that allow bees to be mite resistant are distinct behaviors.

    I don't belive that. There may be a few that we THINK contribute, but all in all, the number of possible things that may contribute only in certain combinations may be impossible to tell.

    > You can test for those things by various methods, freezing, pin pricking, observations of nurse bees, finding chewed mites etc. You can also measure mite counts because even treating does not kill all of the mites, so bees with lower counts are likely the ones that exhibit those behaviors. Breeding from those bees selects STRONGLY for those behaviors without killing all of the other bees.

    Assuming that those are the only behaviors involved and assuming you don't accidently breed out other behaviors that are equally important in the process of selection.

    >(I believe brother Adam said anything under 100 hives is not going to make much progress).

    But he was trying to breed out what the local wild stock was. I'm trying to breed IN what the local wild stock has. There are many colonies around that contribute. But then I do have 200 hives. But I think you can make progress with any number.

    >I would say it's illogical to do it the same way nature does it because the whole point of any agricultural enterprise is to alter nature to better suit our needs.

    Yes, and that is a philosophy that often backfires.

    >You can exploit natural trends in nature to assist your goals, but why wait a few hundred years (give or take a few centuries) for nature to take its course when you may also lose lots of valuable traits that have been breed into the population from generations of breeding selection?

    The South African beekeepers decided not to treat and things were getting better in three years... not a few hundred years...

    >the assumption is that selective pressures will eventually result in the european bees developing better strategies to deal with the mites, and destructor mites will eventually develop better strategies to not kill off the bees. the problem is that today's beekeeper can't afford to wait 100 or more years (if it were to take that long).

    But it doesn't take that long. With Tracheal mites it took a few years, not a few hundred. With Varroa even with people treating and propping up their stock the pressure has improved survival with Varroa from what I'm seeing and hearing from people. In South Africa with NO treatments it only took a few years.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  16. #116
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    Default Re: something to think about

    <Interesting, I had not yet heard that powdered sugar was a 100% effective treatment, or that it was effective at all. Survey says no.>

    It's not 100% effective, especially not as an in hive treatment. It is fairly effective at dislodging phoretic mites (think powdered sugar roll) though. Which if you have done a shook swarm and all of your bees are in a wired cage can be used to kill the majority of the mites by mechanically dislodging them. There are other ways that can be used that either kill or dislodge phoretic mites, that can be used this way as well. I was simply pointing out that you can indeed kill select mites.

    <No, it is not. You may be able to breed for certain traits, for which there are test methods. But I find no usefulness in breeding for bees able to chew out frozen brood because mites don't often freeze brood in my neighborhood. Wild hives have broadly varying mixtures of traits (some of which are certainly still undiscovered) which can only be utilized by pressures applied by actual mites.>

    Frozen brood is one way to test for hygenic behavior, which has been demonstrated to correlate to removing infected/diseased/parasitized brood etc. I think Jim has already made my point for me on mite pressure. No treatment is 100% effective there are always mites around, thus always mite pressure.


    <Originally Posted by Mr. C

    Telling people that letting their bees die (if that is what you are advocating by "keeping the pressure on") is the only way to select for better stock is downright misleading.

    Who is misleading? I did not say that.>

    Reread, I never said you did. I said IF that is what you were advocating since you just got done saying there was no way to selectively kill mites and the only way to kill them is let them kill themselves. If you imply something other than letting the bees die as a method for letting the virulent mites die I would be happy to hear it. I couldn't figure out any way, which is why I assumed that is what you meant. I tried to point out the fact that I was assuming by the clarifying statement "if that is what you mean" hoping that if I got it wrong you could explain or clarify.

    <It doesn't take that long, but for some reason, no one wants to listen to the people who have actually done it.>

    It's going to take a different amount of time in different areas depending on a gazillion factors. It's the unknown time period for a given area that is the problem. Not everyone can afford to wait. It's not that people don't pay attention to those that have done it, some people also look at those that have tried and either have failed or not yet succeeded as well. I tried buying treatment free raised bees a couple of times. They did not work in my area and some were downright viscous to boot. I'm trying out new stock this year, haven't given up just being pragmatic.

  17. #117
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    Default Re: something to think about

    >You can't choose which mites to kill.

    sure you can sol. by identifying a colony collapsing under mites, dislodging those mites, and requeening, you stop those mites virulent enough to collapse a colony from passing on their genetics, as well as culling the bees that lack the traits to be resistant on their own.

    >The only logical way to do it (the same way nature does) is to let over-virulent parasites kill themselves.

    this only happens when the parasite is so virulent that it kills its host. the problem is that our kept bee colonies are located much closer together than they would be in nature. this provides an almost limitless suppy of host. so our practices get in the way of the over-virulent parasite killing themselves, and we instead promote over-virulence.

    >also assuming apiaries like bweaver and russels arent lying, a balanced relationship between mite and bee already exists

    a lot of progress is being made nada, but the experts that i pay attention to would say that we are not there yet.
    beekeeping since june 2010, +/- 20 hives, tf

  18. #118
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    Default Re: something to think about

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. C View Post
    It's not 100% effective
    Exactly. Not even a dead hive is 100% effective.


    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. C View Post
    Frozen brood is one way to test for hygenic behavior, which has been demonstrated to correlate to removing infected/diseased/parasitized brood etc. I think Jim has already made my point for me on mite pressure. No treatment is 100% effective there are always mites around, thus always mite pressure.
    Thus the solution has to be something other than treating because it is not effective.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. C View Post
    Reread, I never said you did.
    I AM advocating people let their bees die. It's not the parenthetical part or the part preceding it I'm taking issue with. It's the last part, the "only" part. Insert "best" or "most effective" or "quickest" or all three and you'd have a good solid statement.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  19. #119
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    Default Re: something to think about

    So we get back to the definition of what you mean by treatment free. If you're hard line requeening could be a treatment, or any manipulation done. If your treatment free because you don't want any chemicals in the hive (which I believe a large portion of the treatment free community is and the reason I try to avoid treatments, but maybe I'm wrong here). Then dusting bees not in a hive with powdered sugar should not in any way affect any residue left in the hive or in the honey, wax, or propolis they produce. If you draw the line elsewhere that's a difference of opinion on a sliding scale, the bottom being somewhere around wild honey gathering without any smoke I guess.


    <I would say the opposite. It is IMpossible to treat and still selectively breed for mite resistance. No one knows the complex set of characteristics that provide mite resistance. Breeding for any one trait in my observation of human breeding programs, has almost always failed in the long run.>

    I never said breed for one trait, I'm sorry if that was implied. But if your breeding chickens there's nothing wrong with breeding from the hens that produce the most eggs, it doesn't mean ignore all other factors. If you did it the "natural way" that would mean breeding all the chickens and the population changing by the ones that raised the most chicks. That might improve your hens some, but not as fast as if you select the healthiest chickens that have the best of a set of characteristics.

    >I would say it's illogical to do it the same way nature does it because the whole point of any agricultural enterprise is to alter nature to better suit our needs.

    Yes, and that is a philosophy that often backfires.

    Everything backfires sometimes, but I'd say overall we're doing pretty well and are certainly (ok in my opinion) better off than when we were hunting and gathering only and in constant danger of starvation and predation.

    As to South Africa, I'm not terribly familiar, but doesn't Africa already have a large population of resistant bees to draw from that have spent many many years in contact with varroa already? Unless South Africa never had varroa and all the bees were descended from European stock, I don't know the region.

  20. #120
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    Default Re: something to think about

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. C View Post
    So we get back to the definition of what you mean by treatment free.
    Sounds like you haven't read the Unique Forum Rules.

    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...ue-Forum-Rules
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

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