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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Salt Lake City, UT, USA
    Posts
    52

    Default Treatment free "genetics" question

    First year beek with one hive here, and I'm trying to go treatment free (had a moment of weakness in the fall...). I'm re-queening my hive this spring with a queen from a treatment free operation in the hopes that I can get some better hygenic behavior in my hives. However, I've been thinking over the past few weeks that re-queening my only be a temporary solution. After all, at some point, the hive will supercede her (or swarm, or...) and I'll be left with a virgin queen. Given that I have just one hive and live in an urban area, the new queen will likely mate with drones from a non-hygenic hive, and I'll lose a bunch of the genetics I want, right?

    So, the questions: Is this inevitable or is there any way around it? If things go well and I get off the "treatment treadmill", will I just be getting on the "queen replacement treadmill" instead?

    Any thoughts/advice you can share would be most helpful,

    Will

    P.S. Thanks to everyone in this forum for all the thoughtful and polite discussion of TF related ideas. It's been a GREAT read!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    2,682

    Default Re: Treatment free "genetics" question

    The new queen will inherit traits from her mother, so you will still have some hygenic traits, hopefully, depending on the mother's genetics and what she mated with. If there are feral bees around you, they should be survivor stock as well so I wouldn't stress over it. There are things you can do as treatment free to knockdown mite populations, genetics only go so far sometimes.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    5,645

    Default Re: Treatment free "genetics" question

    From my perspective, with only one hive, you will be better off spending your money to increase the number of hives you have, as opposed to spending dollars on requeening. Consider splitting your hive this spring, and let them raise a replacement queen.

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beessplits.htm
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,324

    Default Re: Treatment free "genetics" question

    I think it makes sense to look at the big picture. If you stop treating and you keep raising your own queens, at least half the genetics are from a colony that is surviving. The other half is unknown, but still possibly from some feral bees that are surviving. The more you keep survivor bees without treatments, the more they raise drones who mate with the local feral stock and the more your queens mate with local feral stock. In the end it's the right directions. Granted you have people bringing in genetics that can't survive and they are contributing to the problem... but those are also likely to be dead in the spring when the drones are being reared...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,252

    Default Re: Treatment free "genetics" question

    with only one or a few hives, it would make sense to let the circumstances determine what needs to be done. if your bees are doing great and don't need any help don't treat them, and let them propagate the good genetics. if they get mite infested beyond survival, knock the mites down and requeen. the hard part is no one has a good answer to the question 'how many mites are too many', although 5% infestation in the summer seems to be the working number. if you have to take action, do so before the fall brood up, so that you will have queens available and the wintering bees will be from the new queen.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Salt Lake City, UT, USA
    Posts
    52

    Default Re: Treatment free "genetics" question

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    with only one or a few hives, it would make sense to let the circumstances determine what needs to be done. if your bees are doing great and don't need any help don't treat them, and let them propagate the good genetics. if they get mite infested beyond survival, knock the mites down and requeen. the hard part is no one has a good answer to the question 'how many mites are too many', although 5% infestation in the summer seems to be the working number. if you have to take action, do so before the fall brood up, so that you will have queens available and the wintering bees will be from the new queen.
    This seems to be along the lines of what I was thinking - though I was too slow/late to requeen in the fall and my hive was CLEARLY not dealing with mites well, so a re-queening is necessary

    The issue I think I am struggling with is mating with feral bees/raising my own queens.

    I have huge doubts that there are significant numbers of feral/survivor bees where I am. I'm surrounded by residential neighborhood, and when that ends, it's all scrub oak and sagebrush. Not good feral bee habitat. So, I'm going to guess that the VAST majority of drones around are from other Beek's hives and the majority of those are probably not hygenic strains, since there seems to be not a lot of folks who value that trait. Maybe (hopefully) I'm wrong there.

    In the end, though, it seems like my little "donation" to the drone pool will be insignificant in shaping the genetics of any queens and unless I'm wrong about the size of the feral gene pool, I'll just steadily lose ground (genetically speaking) and my hives will come back to the non-hygenic "norm" in just a couple generations/years. Were I able to keep a dozen or more hives, then maybe I have an effect. But, I'm on a TINY lot, and I think there will be a spousal revolt if a second or third hive suddenly appears. I will be splitting my hive this spring, but the split will be going to a community garden well removed from my home, so no help there.

    I guess the message I'm getting so far is: unless you have a significant apiary (or access to significant populations of feral drones), breeding is gonna be a problem. All one can do is hope for the best?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Baker Oregon
    Posts
    2,358

    Default Re: Treatment free "genetics" question

    Quote Originally Posted by ubernerd View Post
    I guess the message I'm getting so far is: unless you have a significant apiary (or access to significant populations of feral drones), breeding is gonna be a problem. All one can do is hope for the best?
    Well the likely scenario (assuming your colony survives) is that you will have to re-queen every 4-6 years (queen and first generation offspring queen). I think I would worry much more about the total survival of the colony than the possibility of having to re-queen every couple of years.
    Dan Hayden 4 Years. 9 hives. Tx Free. USDA Zone 5b.

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