http://www.meamcneil.com/John%20Kefu...Themselves.pdf "Live and let die" = Bond Test "Survive or die now" = Bond Accelerated Test
Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline
First of all, it's the viruses transmitted by Varroa to Honeybees that do the killing. So, they need to bee virus resistant for the most part.
Secondly, investigators have now found that DWV can infect and replicate in Bombus impatiens, the common eastern bumblebee.
With a new, very large, environmental reservoir, and with the new horizontal pathway of virus transmission from Bombus impatiens, to pollen source, to Honeybee, to Varroa, and back again, I'd say that the 'Bond" hypothesis has a serious flaw.
You're better off getting resistant stock from feral trapouts/swarms or other known resistant stock.
One method can be justified as a form of conservation: removing exotic livestock from the environment.
The other one raises the question, "Why take risks with an invasive virus?" .
>There is no such thing as luck.
But there is. Survival of the lucky has always been around and the demise of the unlucky. Bees have to gamble to survive and if that gamble on when the flow will start fails miserably they die. A lot of success is timing.
>How do you determine that mites were the cause of the winter losses if you are not monitoring them?
It's not hard to count dead mites on the bottom board of a dead hive. Not hard at all to estimate if they are in the tens of thousands... or you have trouble finding them...
>This might be because VSH focusses on just one mechanism, to target mites. The bond method, in theory anyway, does not target one thing, it selects purely on the basis of weather a hive can survive in mite infested areas. That ability to survive might possibly include ability to resist mite related pathogens.
And I think this is essential. Survival may be a complex interaction or it may just be a combination of things that reach some critical mass. In other words if there are ten things that contribute to survival, and they have seven of them that might be what it takes, no matter which seven. Reality is I don't think we know what it takes exactly. But it is easy to measure survival.
WLC: True it is the viruses, but the mites also parasitize the bees. You are correct though in that bees need to develop a defense against the the vector (mites) as well as the pathogenic viruses, but I do not doubt that they can do this. Varroa came from another parasite host relationship where both were able to coexist. Given time they will do the same with honeybees. The viral vector problem is not totally solved by hygienic stock. The idea of hygienic stock has been around for a little while. I don't think it is a magic bullet.
You make an interesting point... Is all of this shipping of bees across the world a good idea?
There is chance and skill. Chance is the number of questions on the test you know the answers to. Skill is the total number of answers you know.
Gambling is not luck. Gambling is skill and chance. The worst gambler has the chance of winning occasionally. The best gambler can win with the worst cards. Survival of the lucky is the same as survival of the treated. Once one stops getting treated, one returns to survival of the fittest. Luck is combination of things occasionally working out by chance and the human tendency to forget about it when it didn't work.
Is it harsh, are my methods cruel, am I a cold heartless so and so? Yes. But my bees are awesome. ďThe Bond Test keeps you very busy doing nothingĒ - John Kefuss
Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline
Nice to find some people agreeing with me from time to time.
44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).
A few last questions and I am done. Is overwintering success an important indicator in the ability to deal with mites in treated hives? If not, then why do they die? Possibly from the same things that caused non-treated overwintering deaths. Which is a way of me asking is it not plausible that your varroa resistance is higher than you think, since you donít know why the hives that did not overwinter failed?
On one end of the spectrum we and do nothing at all, place them in a manmade structure and use them as much as we can. On the other end, we do everything humanly possible, within our knowledge to aid in their survival, due to the circumstances we have placed them in, which are not natural. Is one right the other wrong, I don't think so, we are all capable of choosing our own path, ad that is what your thread is about and a good one at that. I agree it's a path, not a destination, as is life in general. Its all about the trip, not the arrival.
Traditional husbandry/the Bond Method _is_ a solution to the problem of the day. That is, poor health bought about by mites. (The viruses that are vectored by mites are btw incidental - there is little point in paying them any attention as without mites they are nothing.)
Proper population husbandry fixes the problem, which is non-adaptation, due to: first, introduction of a foreign parasite, second, prevention of adaptation/co-evolution by systematic widespread treating.
Getting to the point where the new/old system is working, ticking along as natural and human selective mechanisms systematically maintain the what-it-is-bees-need-to-thrive is what I'd describe as the journey - to the destination - which is the new/old equilibrium.
The method/s are both the path (which way to go) AND the solution.
Non-treatment is both the goal and the means to the goal. And the means to maintaining the goal.
Stopping smoking cigarettes is the solution to stopping nicotine addiction AND the goal of the path 'giving up smoking'.
The goal is an equilibrium between mite, bee and beekeeper. That is not a state where the beekeeper can do nothing because everything is 'fixed.' That isn't how population husbandry works. And there isn't a (successful) other sort.
Ruminating over, thanks for the opportunity.
Last edited by mike bispham; 08-01-2013 at 03:29 AM.
Natural selection for the fittest strains is that part of evolutionary theory that explains the mechanism by which evolution occurs.
Separately (though in a related way) NSFTFS offers an explanation for how populations maintain health in the face of changing environments, in particular, new predators. This addresses questions about the here and now, rather than deep historical ones.
NSFTFS (together with an understanding of genetic inheritance and genetic diversity) explains the ability of populations to adapt to such changes as new parasites and diseases, through changes that are often not evolution in the sense of something new arising, but still evolution in the sense that those best fitted to the present enviroment tend to reproduce in the greatest number.
That is the bit that husbandry focuses on: trying to stay one step ahead of nature's winnowing (negative selection if you like) by emphasising the parental selection processes (positive selection - which also operates in lots of different way in nature - in competitive mating behaviours for example).
In husbandry that parental selection process has two aspects: a) obtaining sound breeding stock in the first place, b) keeping the population healthy by selecting the healthiest parents to make each new generation. These aspects supply principles, are conditions that, to the extent they are satisfied, will alleviate the dangers of failure due to inadequate genes. In all forms of husbandry they are the primary health tool.
I think Oldtimer that what happened to you was that nature terminated your bloodlines (for whatever reasons.) That doesn't have very much in common with the idea of extinction. Its just husbandry gone wrong because one of those conditions wasn't sufficiently satisfied, or because something external to genetics occurred, or both.
Mt Toler has kept an italian hive afloat, but he has had to feed these bees and monitor them quite a bit. Although I cannot state this with any surety, I would say the Italian hives are hybrids. I will inquire.
The Buckfast Queens in our control group were purchased from Canada. Ferguson Apiaries.
Mr Toler has had little success with Buckfast Queens purchased in the US. In fact, Both Buckfast queens he purchased from R Weaver this year, were destroyed by the colony within 30 days of their introduction and replaced with a custom queen.
Dear Adam Foster Collins
It is interesting to observe, that a strain or Queen, warmly received by one colony can be soundly rejected in another. Colonies are certainly aware of their own needs, and by our observations, waste no time in setting about exacting changes to fulfill those needs.
You have surmised the basis of an element of our rejection to be sure. We have learned that there will never be a "meeting of the minds" between Conservationists and Commercial beekeepers.
I'm sure you noticed that we disenfranchised the Naturalists as well, by using Bayer Chemicals within a close proximity of these hives. We are after the truth in these matters, and have not landed soundly in one Camp or the other. We will continue to publish our findings,....and buy a stainless steel umbrella.
So while breeding is a method that can be seen as a solution, simply not treating is not a solution in itself.
Quitting smoking is not a method of quitting smoking; it's just the path - moving from a state of active engagement in an addictive practice, to a state of abstaining, and then (hopefully) to a state where you just don't have the urge anymore, and don't miss it. How you manage to quit could involve innumerable methods along the way. (For me, it took 12 years and all kinds of methods). Seems simple enough, but somehow it isn't.
Stopping smoking or treatments is not a solution, but a momentary decision which must be made over and over again, each time the urge to "medicate" arises, until it is carried through to a state where "all is well" without the "medication". So with bees, it may require husbandry, raising nucs, catching swarms, etc. etc. etc. To reach the goal of succeeding without treating. But just not treating is not that big a deal, because you could start again tomorrow without actually having made an ounce of progress.
Just like I could say that I stopped smoking every time I put one out. Then I started again when I lit one up. In truth, I "quit" probably 50 times over that 12 year period. Oh yes, it was a lot more complicated than just "stopping". It involved a lot of stress, behavioral changes, physical withdrawal, etc. etc.
The same is true for Treatment of honeybees. The stopping of treatments is easy - but running a successful, sustainable, healthy apiary without treatments is a road you take, and a state you (hopefully) reach.
To your interest in husbandry specifically,
I heard a recent talk called Honeybee Breeding: Fact or Fiction by Dr. Keith Delaplane about the importance of polyandry in honeybee breeding, and the genetic strength of the honeybee as an organism. Since then, my ideas about what the best approach to bee breeding might be have been challenged. I wonder how you see finding a balance between selection and polyandry - two seemingly contradictory ideas.
Last edited by Adam Foster Collins; 08-01-2013 at 04:58 PM.
You are right Adam to point up the complications that arise when we try to express these ideas in clear and simple terms.
We don't really get to make up language, to decide what terms will be adopted, and how they should be used. But we do need clear language in order to be able to converse effectively. I think I object to the practice of using 'treatment free beekeeping' for that sort of activity. Thanks for bringing this to our attention - I think its important.
Perhaps we should try to develop the language we need to work with maybe using stronger terms to make the character of our activities plain. Bond Method beekeeping would work.
If we use the analogy of 'path' or 'journey' (remembering that is is an analogy) then we have to see that what the path 'is' changes as the process unfolds, and that it is different for different circumstances. But it has an element in common, an unbreakable principle: to treat (and then allow to mate) sabotages the goal - freedom of the need to medicate. Just as to start smoking again sabotages the main goal of becoming free of nicotine addiction.
So maybe a special mechanism is needed here too. A determination to succeed at proper bee husbandry together with an understanding that just stopping treaments might well be catastrophic might be what is needed to ensure a proper plan and sound preparations are put in place. A determined willingness to see the project through come what may will also help if the temptation to treat arises.
A good plan can only be assembled with a clear understanding of the mechanisms involved in raising mite resistance. But you can also use other's plans to good effect - Solomon Parker's, Michael Bush's or John Kefuss's for example. There are other models.
Last edited by mike bispham; 08-02-2013 at 10:00 AM.
Dr. Delaplane's key points are:
• For all the time and effort that has been put into bee breeding, how much success have we achieved? How much genetic "progress" has been made for the amount of selection we've done over the last century? He argues - not that much.
• Bee breeding is centered on polyandry, or the drive for the female to mate with many males.
• He and a team have done experiments, and although it is early in their project, they are finding that there is a direct relationship between the overall performance of a colony and the number of males the queen was mated with.
• He points out that the polyandry (more genetic input) and selection (less genetic input) are seemingly at odds. And wonders who the two might be better reconciled for more effective breeding. He wonders if the trading of drones might be something that should receive more focus than it currently does.
To my own thinking, the fact that bees mate multiple times, and take multiple mating flights to do so is proof of it's importance to their survival. Mating is so perilous, that if polyandry weren't so important, multiple matings would have long since disappeared, as there are always going to be more living queens who have mated fewer times, than there are living queens that have mated many times.
Yet somehow, those who mate more times continue to be more successful.
So I wonder - as we stop our treatments and turn to husbandry, how can we accommodate polyandry into our plans in a meaningful way?
Would it mean raising stocks with a fairly wide genetic background and a focus on creating strong drone populations - or drone colonies specifically - to provide the breadth of high-quality males to mate with?
Or should the typical practices be enough? Is Dr. Delaplane onto something? Or just on something?
Last edited by Adam Foster Collins; 08-02-2013 at 11:57 AM.
That was a very interesting talk. One thing I took away from it is that perhaps a successful treatment free program should have as much variety in its genetic sources as possible. I think there's some evidence of that in the observation that many successful treatment free operations make a large portion of their increase from swarms.
Just by luck, I've sort of started out that way. Of the six colonies I presently have, the bees come from 5 different sources. I have Wolf Creek bees, New World Carniolans, Italians, a BeeWeaver queen, and a local nuc of mutts from a guy who raises a few every year. The local nuc has produced the best, and been the healthiest.
Of course, this wide variety may be of more benefit to my neighboring beekeepers than to me, but still...
Anyway, the main takeaway from the talk is that breeding bees is nothing like breeding cows or chickens. The unique breeding strategy of hymenoptera species makes it a lot more complicated.
The bee still selects, but she does so over the broadest range possible. So how do we foster that? If we just provide her with lots of males from a few sources, she may mate plenty of times, but she's not getting the depth of genetic material.
Is that something we want to foster? More depth? And if so, how?