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  1. #1
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    Default Will the constant use of swarm cells for re-queening and making increases...

    eventually lead to selecting for bees that have a strong propensity to swarm?

    My gut tells me yet...if you use queens that were harvested from swarm cells, but I'd like to hear the opinions of others here.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Will the constant use of swarm cells for re-queening and making increases...

    I believe so.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Will the constant use of swarm cells for re-queening and making increases...

    Is it too simplistic to say that if it is a heritable trait it can be selected for? So wouldn't the use of swarm cells promote that trait. There are worse things though, aren't there? I wonder what traits align w/ swarming tendency?
    Mark Berninghausen
    The answers are the end. The questions are the journey. Journey on.



  4. #4
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    Default Re: Will the constant use of swarm cells for re-queening and making increases...

    I think that it depends upon the conditions under which the swarm cells were harvested.

    If a hive becomes crowded in the spring with no room to expand, and a flow is on, isn't it natural for any colony to prepare to swarm? With proper springtime management that same colony may not swarm under similar conditions.

    However if a colony is bent on swarming even if all swarm management measures were taken, then yes, I would think that you are selectively breeding queens with strong swarming tendencies.
    To everything there is a season....

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Will the constant use of swarm cells for re-queening and making increases...

    What if we could selectively breed swarming tendency out of a line of bees? What would that produce?
    Mark Berninghausen
    The answers are the end. The questions are the journey. Journey on.



  6. #6
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    Default Re: Will the constant use of swarm cells for re-queening and making increases...

    That's just it. I bring this up as a fellow beekeeper used swarm cells for the sole purpose of being self sufficient. A lot of the time when I visit his apiary, there are swarms in the tree and it got me thinking.

    @sqkcrk: That's a great question!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Will the constant use of swarm cells for re-queening and making increases...

    As much as selecting the children of body builders will result in more strong children.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Will the constant use of swarm cells for re-queening and making increases...

    >eventually lead to selecting for bees that have a strong propensity to swarm?

    That depends. If they were swarming when they have a good reason to, no. If they were swarming when there is no good reason to, probably. To me swarmy bees are either the ones who swarm the hive to death with afterswarms or swarm at the drop of a hat when I don't think the conditions warrant it. Bees that don't swarm would be bees that don't reproduce.

    "For years our bee journals have been printing reams of articles on the question of a non-swarming strain of bees. It has always seemed to me there was a lot of time wasted advocating such an improbable accomplishment, because nature would hardly yield to an arrangement that in itself might destroy the species. If accomplished it would be tantamount to breeding the mating instinct out of domestic animals." --P.C. Chadwick ABJ, April 1936
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Will the constant use of swarm cells for re-queening and making increases...

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    I believe so.
    I agree. I've captured some swarms from my hives and sure enough, they swarmed the next year too.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Will the constant use of swarm cells for re-queening and making increases...

    Is it too simplistic to say that if it is a heritable trait it can be selected for? So wouldn't the use of swarm cells promote that trait.
    I don't think this is how selection works. If you have bees which are genetically inclined to swarm, with a statistically significant frequency which is greater than any other given hive, then ANY increase you make from this hive MIGHT carry those genetic traits with it; whether its from an emergency cell, a swarm cell, a supersedure cell, or grafting. Creating increase from SWARM CELLS does not give you any more likely-hood of having swarmy bees.

    If you have a hive that swarms say once every four years, and you create a split using swarm cells on that fourth year, the new hive will NOT be any more likely to swarm (assuming the drone genetics don't include a propensity for swarming). Think of it this way: if a person of genetically 'average' strength has children, those children are likely to be 'average' in terms of strength. If that same person begins bodybuilding, and five years later, has another child with the same other parent, that second child has EXACTLY the same genetic makeup and NO chance of being stronger than normal (based on his parent's new strength, at least).

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Will the constant use of swarm cells for re-queening and making increases...

    As usual, in the minority, I vote no. And why would you want to select for low-swarming? Motivation for reproduction is the driver in buildup. The safety margin in population is the source of surplus honey. Intervention in the swarm process improves honey production.

    Walt

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Will the constant use of swarm cells for re-queening and making increases...

    Part of something I wrote on swarming...

    I still remember my first experience with Carniolan bees. In my early beekeeping years, before using Carniolan bees…I always used York Starline, and other Italian strains from the South. With the arrival of the Tracheal mite in my apiaries, I witnessed the demise of my yellow bees. In an attempt to change direction, I began installing Carniolan queens in some of my hives. Having kept Italian stock for twenty years, I was quite familiar with their behavior. Colonies exiting winter built up steadily, using the early flows to expand their broodnests. Their buildup was quite predictable. By dandelion bloom, some would begin showing early swarm preparations, but I had learned their characteristics and my manipulations were timed to this steady, predictable buildup. My first spring with overwintered Carniolan stocks really threw a wrench in the works.

    I arrived at the Green Valley apiary to do my mid-spring management: reversing, supering, and swarm control being on the list of chores. The previous summer, I had re-queened five colonies in the yard with a Carniolan strain from California. While unpacking the truck, my help noticed a swarm hanging in an apple tree. Well, that happens. Then he sees another, and another. What the heck is going on? We weren’t late with our spring work, and at last visit two weeks before, the bees weren’t ahead of us. The neighboring apiary we had just worked had no swarms, and only a couple colonies with very young cells started. Then, while walking the tree line, I saw two more swarms hanging from a pine tree.

    Four of the swarms were conveniently located close to the ground, and were easily installed in empty equipment. The fifth was so far off the ground we had to let it go, and go it did, over the trees and far away. The big question was, what was happening here?

    We went through that apiary reversing hive bodies, adding supers, and removing queen cells when present. Everything seemed about normal. A few strong colonies with yellow bees had young cells started, but nothing out of the ordinary. The condition of the five Carniolan stocks was anything but ordinary. These colonies, which had small clusters just three weeks before, were full of ripe queens cells and had obviously just swarmed. On the previous examination, the yellow stocks were well ahead of the dark stocks in their buildup. Now, such a short time later, all five Carniolan colonies had swarmed, while only the strongest of the Italians had just begun their queen cells. The difference between the two groups, and the explosion of the more conservative Carniolan bees was a complete surprise to me, and a huge learning experience.

    Different races of honeybees, and different stocks within those races, vary in their propensity to swarm. That being the case, it seems logical that we could select from colonies with reduced swarming propensity, and have honeybee colonies in which the desire to swarm is greatly reduced. Many of the bee masters from the past hundred years agree, and said so in their published works.

    Brother Adam wrote this in his work, Beekeeping at Buckfast Abbey:

    “A highly developed disinclination to swarm is doubtless an indispensable prerequisite in modern beekeeping; when bees were kept in skeps the primitive way, the reverse was the case, for swarming was then the only means colonies could be propagated and multiplied. Indeed a race or strain of bees endowed with every desirable trait but given to swarming, will from the strictly practical point of view, prove of little value, for all the qualities of economic importance will be dissipated in idle swarming.
    While a truly non-swarming bee is almost certainly beyond our reach, strains which will normally swarm in exceptional circumstances are undoubtedly possible, are in fact already at our disposal.”
    Brother Adam, Beekeeping at Buckfast Abbey, British Bee Publications, Ltd., 1977, p. 53-54

    And C.C Miller had this to say at the beginning of the last century:

    “But there are some colonies that will go through the whole season with never a grub in a queen-cell – possibly never an egg – and exactly those colonies are the ones most likely to give record yields. To interfere with their work, even for a week in a slight degree, is not desirable. There is also another important reason for allowing every colony willing to do so to go through the whole season without any preparation for swarming and without any interference. I am trying all the time to work at least a little toward a non-swarming strain of bee, and if all colonies were treated in advance how would I know which were the non-swarmers from which to choose my breeding stock?”
    Miller, Dr., C. C., Fifty Years Among the Bees, 1911, The A. I. Root Co., p. 190-191

    And thirty-five years later, in 1946, Manley wrote:

    “I have no doubt myself, that the best hope of reducing the incidence of swarming lies in breeding from non-swarming strains, strains, that is, that show much less addiction to swarming than is the case with the average colonies. I believe that if we systematically breed from queens and drones of strains that have swarmed little, and have produced much honey, and have not suffered from disease, we shall in that way lay the foundation of successful honey production.”
    Manley, R.O.B., Honey Farming, Farber and Farber, Ltd., 1946, p. 159

    So that’s my take on swarming, and what I do in my apiary to control it. It’s obvious that swarming in honeybees is a complex behavior, and not fully understood. We can observe our bees and learn the signals and the signs they give us. While we will never eliminate all swarming, nor really know just what it is that causes one colony to cast a swarm while it’s neighbor never starts a cell, we can follow them as they proceed through the spring and into swarming season, and manage them in a way that greatly reduces the number of lost swarms and weakened colonies. The work is at times intense, but it is, after all, just beekeeping.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Will the constant use of swarm cells for re-queening and making increases...

    I'm open to proof-reading any upcoming Mike Palmer books....

    ...just sayin'...

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Will the constant use of swarm cells for re-queening and making increases...

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    What if we could selectively breed swarming tendency out of a line of bees? What would that produce?
    I think your idea is a good one except what it would produce is less bees.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Will the constant use of swarm cells for re-queening and making increases...

    Quote Originally Posted by rbees View Post
    eventually lead to selecting for bees that have a strong propensity to swarm?

    My gut tells me yet...if you use queens that were harvested from swarm cells, but I'd like to hear the opinions of others here.
    Harvest swarm cells from your hives that produce the most honey.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Will the constant use of swarm cells for re-queening and making increases...

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Gillmore View Post
    I think that it depends upon the conditions under which the swarm cells were harvested.

    If a hive becomes crowded in the spring with no room to expand, and a flow is on, isn't it natural for any colony to prepare to swarm? With proper springtime management that same colony may not swarm under similar conditions.

    However if a colony is bent on swarming even if all swarm management measures were taken, then yes, I would think that you are selectively breeding queens with strong swarming tendencies.
    There is also a relatively new branch of science called epigenetics - the study of changes in gene expression caused by mechanisms other than changes in DNA. Which implies that it might be likely that a queen which swarms because of overcrowding may pass on the tendency for swarming even without genetic selection or change in DNA. Not that long ago this was considered snake oil, but it turns out to be a real thing.

  17. #17
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    Slidell, LA, USA
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    Default Re: Will the constant use of swarm cells for re-queening and making increases...

    I'd be curious if the tendency to swarm is carried as learned behavior by the attending bees. If you remove a swarm cell and allow the Q to emerge with no attending bees from the "swarmy" hive will the new colony she produces with non-swarmy attending bees have a greater tendency to swarm.

    Or if you use a swarm cell with attending bees from a swarmy hive to start a new colony will the attending bees carry a learned behavior to swarm. The attending bees from a swarmy hive's theme song is "We got to get out of this place, if it's the last thing we ever do"

    I have been taught that there is communication between the colony and the Q preparing her and the colony for when it's time to swarm.

    Genetics may not have a role in swarm behavior if the tendency to swarm is carried as learned and sharable behavior among the workers

    Just a thought.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Will the constant use of swarm cells for re-queening and making increases...

    If you could successfully produce a mule or a hinney bee would the result be a honey producing bee?

    In my line of thinking swarmy bees have less chance of survival so naturally they would be eliminated from the gene pool unless a human intervenes.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Will the constant use of swarm cells for re-queening and making increases...

    Change your line of thinking. Swarming is how colonies reproduce themselves, so I don't know why you think they have "less chance of survival". W/out swarming you wouldn't, we wouldn't, have bees. Maybe I don't understand something about what you wrote.
    Mark Berninghausen
    The answers are the end. The questions are the journey. Journey on.



  20. #20
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    Default Re: Will the constant use of swarm cells for re-queening and making increases...

    Quote Originally Posted by Acebird View Post
    If you could successfully produce a mule or a hinney bee would the result be a honey producing bee?
    What?
    Last edited by BeeCurious; 06-20-2013 at 08:11 AM. Reason: I couldn't produce either...
    BeeCurious
    5 hives and 8 nucs................... Trying to think inside the box...

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