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Thread: VSH Breeding?

  1. #41
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    Default Re: VSH Breeding?

    Joe,

    I was curious, apart from VSH/hygenic behavior, do we know how 'survivor' stocks combat the mites? Is it better grooming we need to look for or something that hasn't been quantified? I only ask because much of the time I wonder how regionality and mainly non-migratory success of treatment free management styles affect the overall success of the programs, or maybe there's migratory success stories of treatment free??

  2. #42
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    Default Re: VSH Breeding?

    thanks jrg for asking that question. i too am interested in a measure or a count or a benchmark beyond just survival in assesing this trait. many of the treatment free beekeepers i ask reply they don't measure, as survival alone dictates management.

    maybe those of us keeping treatment free and raising queens could look at similar measures as jeff does, and we could compare notes. i am in the learning mode as to how to select and deselect for heartiness including mite resistance. what are the best tools at our disposal? how do those of you that have been doing this already approach it?

    (you don't have to answer if it means revealing any trade secrets and/or proprietary and confidential information)

    i love the idea of swapping our best queens, if we all use some sort of standard measure, it would make the selection and swapping more meaningful.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  3. #43
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    Default Re: VSH Breeding?

    JRG13,

    I will start another thread to reply to your questions. I do not want to deviate too far from Deknow's original questions.

    Joe
    Last edited by JSL; 01-27-2013 at 06:41 PM.
    Breeder Queens & Honey Bee Nutritional Supplements
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  4. #44
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    Default Re: VSH Breeding?

    I guess I should keep my mouth shut but here goes. I sell open mated VSH queens. I am not a queen breeder but more a queen propagator. I don't have the time to be a breeder, so I buy II pure VSH queens from Tom Glenn,who will be missed by many, Adam at VP Queens and Dr. Harbo. I take those queens, graft from them, and mate the resulting daughters to drones produced by the previous years queens. I use what I need and sell the rest. I try to produce above average queens by starting small number of cells in large cell builders, using larger mating nucs, running 3 week cycles so queens are laying well when pulled and never banking queens. It seems to be working.

    I am a small non-migratory beekeeper with around 150 hive. They are treatment free. I loose less than 20% per year to all problems. We produced a little over 100 lbs per hive this year. By my definition that is successfull.

    VSH works for me, but I am sure Joe's breeders would too. This is not a one size fits all business. What works for me may not work in a northern migratory operation.

    I realize treatment free won't work for everyone. But it is working for some, and other are able to drop from hard chemicals to softer treatments.

    For the sake of bees and beekeeping lets quit bashing each others work and keep trying to find a solution.

    Just my 2 cents, Johnny
    "Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." - Mark Twain

  5. #45
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    Default Re: VSH Breeding?

    johnny, all i can say is !
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  6. #46
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    Default Re: VSH Breeding?

    Johnny, my apologies if my comments and observations appeared to be “bashing” in nature. That was not my intent.

    VSH is an interesting trait to me. I worked with some of the initial lines developed, back when it was called Suppression of Mite Reproduction (SMR). My initial understanding was that SMR was influencing mite reproduction through a chemical cue, perhaps something the brood was producing or perhaps something the brood was lacking that was negatively impacting Varroa reproduction. The poor brood patterns were evident with the early lines, but I noticed that by removing a frame of eggs from a colony that expressed a high level of SMR and placing the frame of eggs in an unselected colony, I saw solid frames of brood develop. However, the frames of brood in the SMR colony looked like shotgun brood.

    My graduate work focused on behavioral genetics, specifically learning and the pathways associated with underlying genetic mechanisms that influence the expression of behavioral traits. After seeing the difference in brood development when the SMR eggs were placed in an unselected colony, I began to think it may be more behavioral in nature. I think this is about the same time Marla started looking at the trait. Later the name was changed to Varroa Sensitive Hygience (VSH). I assume this was to reflect the work that showed it was a behavioral trait.

    It is interesting to me from the perspective that it is another example of how behavior can influence resistance mechanisms. I think VSH would be ideal if the behavior was more targeted and directed. From my work with selecting lines for their abilities to perform specific learning tasks, I realized that honeybees have limits with regard to accuracy and performance. If VSH could be developed to more accurately target only Varroa infested brood and less of the general approach that is shows at this time, then beekeepers are in business. Nonetheless, another fascinating example of how behavior can be influenced by genetics.

    Joe
    Breeder Queens & Honey Bee Nutritional Supplements
    www.latshawapiaries.com

  7. #47
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    Default Re: VSH Breeding?

    Johnny,

    I'll try to write some more later (I've got some things to finish up first), but your post is important wrt my original questions.

    You are (by your own words and description) not really "breeding", but mating this years imported stock to last years (essentially....I'm sure other genetics and other years stock creeps in there as well).

    This has been my understanding of what buying VSH was good for...and it is encouraging to hear that it is working for you.

    My interest is more towards breeding...both our own project, and encouraging as many other beekeepers to do the same...on any scale. The more we have going on, the more approaches, possibilities, and beekeepers thinking about breeding we have. I'm not trying to trash anyone's work, I'm trying to clarify what is actually happening....both for myself and for others. The way you are using VSH breeder stock is absolutely appropriate. You are relying on your suppliers to provide appropriate stock, and crossing to last years queens seems to give you the right active level of VSH for your needs. You either need to do what you are doing, or you need a way to measure VSH expression.

    I know of more than two local (to me) breeding initiatives that started with VSH breeders to mate with whatever was local in an attempt to establish a mite resistant localized stock. This is a terrible use of VSH technology (for reasons I pointed out in the first post of this thread). There is little guidance out there to help a beekeeper figure this stuff out. There is a lot of "hype" around VSH and mite resistance....again, there are appropriate ways to apply this, and not so appropriate ones. My only goal is to try and clarify this stuff for us all.

    deknow
    The perils of benefactors; The blessings of parasites; Blindness blindness and sight -Joni Mitchell 'Shadows and Light'

  8. #48
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    Default Re: VSH Breeding?

    dean, so is what you see johnny doing right is to keep introducing ii queens every year, and mating them with last years grafts vs. letting them mate with whatever is around?
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  9. #49
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    Default Re: VSH Breeding?

    Based on what Jeff and others have told me you need at least 50% VSH trait to help in varoa control. By using last years queens as drone mothers I am getting a lot of pure VSH drones out to mate with. This should put my VSH level somewhere between 50% and 100%. Jeff also said that early on the pure VSH queens had such a hight brood removal rate that they couldn't sustain themselves. That problem was addressed. I have not seen this problem in the pure VSH breeders that I have purchased the last two years. The breeders from VP Queens have been especially good layers.

    Breeding cattle over the last 20 years has shown me that not only do you have to select for the good but also cull the bad. With bees, the mites do a pretty good job of handling that for us.

    Just some more thoughts, Johnny
    "Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." - Mark Twain

  10. #50
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    Default Re: VSH Breeding?

    interesting, thanks johnny.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  11. #51
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    Default Re: VSH Breeding?

    A good study on the VSH trait from various breeders' stock. Study shows in concrete numbers how the VSH trait renders the mites infertile.

    http://www.ars.usda.gov/SP2UserFiles...f%20varroa.pdf

  12. #52
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    Default Re: VSH Breeding?

    I've never been more challenged going into this year’s breeder queen selection. The VSH trait is very difficult to stabilize within a population. Too little, too much I’m always walking the tightrope. The top three selection criterion: 1. Mite management, 2. Honey Production, 3. Northwest Survivor. About half my population exhibit VSH to some degree. This is based on brood removal from light to so extreme external brood is added to maintain colony strength. The other half of the population has low mite counts and solid slabs of brood. The plan is to try and understand the grooming (non VSH ) better and see if I can separate the traits somewhat. All my VSH boosting has come from semen out of USDA Baton Rouge, LA. I must admit quantifying the grooming trait comes up a more than a little short. I want you to know I’m working on the question in the initial post starting this thread.

    Mark

  13. #53
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    Default Re: VSH Breeding?

    Quote Originally Posted by JSL View Post
    I worked with some of the initial lines developed, back when it was called Suppression of Mite Reproduction (SMR).
    Joe,

    I was wondering what experience you have with recent releases of VSH bees from the USDA. Could there have been recent changes that could impact your general position on VSH?

    I find VSH very puzzling. In particular, why are some people, like Broke-T and others, having such success, while others are not. Broke-T is working with (from what I gather) very pure VSH stock and claims good yields. In a previous post I recounted the brood viability issues that I've experienced with several attempts at VSH (Glenn stock and others). What could possibly explain the wide variation of performance? Any thoughts?
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  14. #54
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    Default Re: VSH Breeding?

    From where I'm sitting, I don't have any way of knowing how "VSH " the bees broke-t is working with. I assume that II stock from the USDA has been evaluated for VSH expression. I don't know anything about the other sources, and no one has claimed that they have been evaluated for VSH. I appreciate the openness we've had in this discussion, but I wouldn't make the assumptions about the level of VSH expression that broke-t is making. You either have to start with stock of know expression, or you have to evaluate what you have....my reading is that neither has been done.

    Joe's analysis of the pol line queens is also what I came up with in reading up on it.

    Selecting for common "good traits" does not select for VSH, and the confusion that has been created makes things more difficult for everyone.

    Deknow
    The perils of benefactors; The blessings of parasites; Blindness blindness and sight -Joni Mitchell 'Shadows and Light'

  15. #55
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    Default Re: VSH Breeding?

    perhaps it's easier and more practical to 'deselect'. nature does this with deadouts, and we can do it by requeening.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  16. #56
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    Default Re: VSH Breeding?

    I probably shouldn't have singled out Broke-T, but since he contributed to this thread I thought it was most relevant to the discussion. Broke-T, I hope you're OK with me using you as a case of success with VSH bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by deknow View Post
    From where I'm sitting, I don't have any way of knowing how "VSH " the bees broke-t is working with.
    In an earlier post:

    Quote Originally Posted by Broke-T View Post
    snip .....I buy II pure VSH queens from Tom Glenn,who will be missed by many, Adam at VP Queens and Dr. Harbo.
    It seems to me that if anyone is producing VSH bees it would be these three. Perhaps you should spend some time reading Harbo's website. See http://www.harbobeeco.com/breeder-queens/ for details. As for Tom Glenn's bees, he had a CRADA with the USDA for which he received pure VSH germplasm, so I think its fair to assume that his stock was reasonably pure VSH. As for VP-queens, well he's contributed much here and I'll let him restate his VSH evaluation protocol.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  17. #57
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    Default Re: VSH Breeding?

    We have incorporated the VSH/SMR genetics several times over the years; starting the first year they were available. It has been 3 or 4 years since I have purchased any breeders and we can still observe VSH in action. I feel the trait can be maintained with out sacrificing viability or productivity at all. This is done by selecting queens that can cope with heavy mite pressure without collapse or loss in productivity. Of the 16 breeders we identified this way, we subsequently performed a freeze killed brood assay, and about half had 100% clean-out in 24 hours. I believe when Spivac's Minnesota hygs were compared to VSH, a number of years ago, the VSH tested slightly more hygienic with the same test. Perhaps freeze killed brood assay can be used to screen for candidates that are likely to exhibit VSH? One thing for sure a decent level of VSH can be maintained with sacrifice of productivity. Variable degrees heredity continues to be a challenge but isolated mating yards and II should help.

    There are many genes involved in the suppression of mite reproduction and VSH is not the only one. It should only be a matter of time before marker assisted selection comes to bear in our industry and we should see some rapid advances in bee breeding. I also feel it is better to look first for these traits we are interested in already productive lines as opposed to starting with extremely resistant but purportedly less productive lines.
    John B Jacob www.oldsolbees.com

  18. #58
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    Default Re: VSH Breeding?

    >This is done by selecting queens that can cope with heavy mite pressure without collapse or loss in productivity.

    jbj, can you elaborate on the criterian you used in this initial selection process? i.e. were mite counts used, was productivity relative to other hives in the yard or a specific harvest quantity?
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  19. #59
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    Default Re: VSH Breeding?

    AstroBee,

    It has been a couple of years since I last looked at VSH lines. I have attempted to incorporate VSH into my existing lines on several occasions over the years. I do not object to VSH outright. I am intrigued by it and would like it to work for me, which is why I keep working at it.

    John Harbo states he has overcome the brood issue, which I was not able to get past once I intensified VSH in my test crosses. I may be in a different position that most as I can intensify the frequency of VSH after my initial crosses whereas most may not have that option.

    My only objection to VSH is that it does not appear to be specific or targeted enough. In my experience, the relatively broad hygienic aspect of the trait is what makes it costly.

    Joe
    Breeder Queens & Honey Bee Nutritional Supplements
    www.latshawapiaries.com

  20. #60
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    Default Re: VSH Breeding?

    Quote Originally Posted by JSL View Post
    I may be in a different position that most as I can intensify the frequency of VSH after my initial crosses whereas most may not have that option.
    Joe
    Just for clarity sake, you mean intensify VSH through II, correct?


    Quote Originally Posted by JSL View Post
    My only objection to VSH is that it does not appear to be specific or targeted enough. In my experience, the relatively broad hygienic aspect of the trait is what makes it costly.

    Joe
    Perhaps this is the hurdle that Harbo has cleared?
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

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