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  1. #41
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    Quote Originally Posted by D Semple View Post
    ..All the selection work being done by the most selective breeders won't last even 2 generations unsupported.
    Will it? I'm glad you brought this up Don, because I have been thinking about this.

    I wonder how much genetic work over the years has really become so "normal" that we don't even appreciate it anymore. For instance, we often talk about selecting for "gentleness" "lower tendency to swarm" and "production".

    These are things that people have been selecting for for 200 years (or more). And if I think about it, I've got to wonder if it's something I really need to worry about so much. I have NEVER seen a hot hive. Never. The ones you read about that go after a guy and chase him 100 yards to his truck? Never seen it. I have also never seen a hive that swarmed a ton. Never. I've seen plenty of variation in production, but I've seen as much in weather too...

    Now this is not to say that these "bad" colonies are not out there - but I suggest that they are very much in the minority. And when you read Brother Adam's account of traveling the world to investigate different bee races, you quickly learn that there are some pretty nasty, swarmy bees out there.

    All that to say, that I feel that all the breeding and selection has given us a pretty range of bees to work with, and two generations doesn't lose an ounce of it.

    So if enough of us put our noses to it, I feel pretty confident we could get to a place where mite resistance was every bit as "normal" to our bees as the traits we have come to expect in our bees to this point.

    Quote Originally Posted by D Semple View Post
    Great post JW
    Agreed. I also enjoyed JWChestnut's detailed post.
    Last edited by Adam Foster Collins; 08-15-2013 at 08:14 PM.

  2. #42
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rusty Hills Farm View Post
    ...requeening is as much a treatment as using MAQS or fogging, and just as temporary. Maybe it's just me, but I don't see that as such a bad thing. It also suggests to me that we don't have to sit on our hands and watch our bees die if we don't want to. That treating them is no more harmful to the species than not treating them!
    You know what, Rusty. I totally feel you on this. I want to reiterate, that I am absolutely NOT into the "good-guy/bad-guy" thing, and I do not buy into the "natural beekeeping" rhetoric.

    I'm going the treatment free route (and this answers frazzledozzle's earlier question as well) simply because I have to admit I do not know that much about the true nature and complexity of the honeybee. I'm simply taking the minimalist route - trying to minimize how many things I do with the bees that they wouldn't do on their own if I left them alone - because I just have no idea of the true scope of what anything I do is going to cause. It's as simple as that for me.

    Mike Bush says somewhere on his site, something like "If you don't know what to do, better to do nothing." I think that rings true for me.

    If I give them essential oils that kill off a bunch of the microbes in their gut - what does that do? How does that make them feel? Does it hurt anything? It may help with mites, but does it hurt something I can't see? I just don't know - so I don't do it. It's the same for brood comb spacing, cell size, entrance size, whatever I can leave alone, I do that.

    It's kind of a "keep it simple, stupid" approach, as in the grand scheme of things - I have to admit - I really don't know that much about what effect my actions will have on the bees. In a sense, I guess I'm "stupid". But I have researched a lot of bee-related issues long and hard, and I find that for every smart person who says one thing, there is an equally smart person who says the opposite. That tells me that we just don't have clear answers, so I just don't know what to do - so I try to "do nothing" as much as possible.

    Now, I also realize that one can't really "keep" bees without some degree of manipulation. For instance, bees would "choose" to live in just a single deep's worth of space, and swarm a couple of times per year. I give them an expanding space - and I take some of their honey - and I feed them if they are dangerously light. So I do make choices on where I will interfere - just as anyone does.

    This is not about right or wrong. It's about each of us doing our best to find a path that works to our own way of thinking.

    I'm glad you're doing what you're doing, and sharing what you discover along the way, so the rest of us might learn a thing or two from you.

    Adam

  3. #43
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    Great thread, and a lot of productive conversation going on. It seems clear to me Adam Foster Collins, that you are quite settled in your path and place in the practice if bees. It's all about your goals... If you want to steward, observe and cultivate the natural vitality of honeybees, your approach is going to be very different from someone who is using their bees to capitalize and stay in business. Which is going to be different then someone who has one pet hive. My service is toward the archetype of the honeybee. Not any individual queen or bee... or my rent.

    Personally I'm interested in queen rearing and medicinal hive products. For me, treatment-free is a natural and obvious choice. There have already been many wise and extensive comments made by keepers far more experienced then myself, for that I am glad.

  4. #44
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hazel-Rah View Post
    ...It seems clear to me Adam Foster Collins, that you are quite settled in your path and place in the practice...
    I'm only recently getting to feel that way, and I reserve the right to change directions if I find this one to bring me sadness!

    But that's really the gist of it. Each path offers a different set of likely or possible results, and each has it's value, as it offers another set of lessons. If the experiences we each have are shared, (as they are here) then we can all benefit from both the roads we take - and from the roads taken by others.

    The treatment free road has it's own curves, hills and bumps. And I'm beginning to get a sense of how this ride is likely to go. That is helping me to commit to riding it out.

    Adam

  5. #45
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    I was also thinking about your cow metaphor from a therapeutic perspective. Industrial diary cows are prolific producers, a true testament to human genetic manipulation. They are propped up through intensive chemical management and are dead at 4... 5?

    There is some esoteric conversation about forsaking the quality of the proteins, minerals, electrolytes and benefical micro-isms (of a raw, untreated stock that produces high quality product) for the volume of a less intensely 'vital' product. I can not through chemical manipulation, help the bees produce the herbal apothecary they do inside the hive. Genetics, forage and seasonal/regional sensibilities, and the sun- do that.

  6. #46
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    Let me address the idea of selection, adaptation, and evolution.

    I am not suggesting that wholesale macro-evolution is taking place in a group of hives in just a couple years. That would be ludicrous an most levels. What I am suggesting when I speak to adaptation is the rather rapid elimination of mixtures of traits which do not lead to survival, thereby meaning the concentration of mixtures traits which do lead to survival.

    For instance, in the last several years, several of my few losses have been hives which produce what I would call excessive propolis, leaving me with hives which do not produce excessive propolis.

    Was I breeding against propolis production? No.
    Is propolis production a negative trait? No.
    Are all your hives that produce a lot of propolis going to die? No.

    Why did these hives die? They had some mixture of traits which was not advantageous to survival in their present conditions. Maybe propolis production was part of that, maybe it was incidental. That's how it goes.

    I repeatedly stress that it is a mixture of traits in discussions mentioning VSH. VSH is good, but it is not the only thing and with the proper mixture of traits, it isn't even necessary. That's why I am not concerned with my genetics being diluted by local commercial operations, or anyone else's local commercial operations. Those commercial bees have all sorts of things working against them beside DNA which require them to be treated to survive. If they do affect my hives negatively enough, then they fail to thrive and are replaced or die. It is a continual process, but I haven't seen it happen wholesale. Part of that is surely resulting from my continual replacement of the relatively few number of poorly performing queens, and the deaths of the few hives that I lose in the winter. It's beneficial.

    For adaptation and evolution to take place, unfit animals need to die before reproducing. Selective breeding modifies that approach, maybe enhancing or speeding it up, maybe subverting and slowing it down, it depends on the breeder. One thing bred out of domesticated animals is the ability and desire to fight back. They are bred big and fat so they don't run or climb or fly well, and I can't really say they've gotten any smarter. In many cases, such as with turkeys, some cows and sheep, they cannot even reproduce without human intervention. I say that's too far and it can't be done with bees. At least throughout the history of domesticated animal breeding, some disease resistance was maintained due to the lack of medications. Such is not the case today.

    Another trait often mentioned is breaking the brood cycle. Again this is a good trait, but with the proper mixture of traits, it is not necessary. Any individual trait is not necessary as long as the group accomplishes the necessity of survival and my goals of gentleness and production. I personally do not have a group of bees which swarms a lot or needs brood breaks to beat mites, that doesn't mean other people don't. Sam Comfort certainly keeps some bees (depending on location, Hawaii for instance) which do swarm a lot, but also make a lot of honey. That's one trait, beneficial, yes, but not required with the right mixture.

    To recap: There's no evolution going on in this short of a time frame. It is a simple winnowing of traits, favoring a mixture of traits which results in survival. It's all about the right mixture. Since we do not yet know what all the traits are, it's best to leave it to the bees to figure it out (figuratively) on their own. The only way for that to happen is through the Bond Test. Any other interference results in frustration of the process and why I don't see many successful slow road treatment-free beekeepers, if any. They just can't get out of their own way because they think they're helping and they're simply interfering.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  7. #47
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    Nice to see actual polite discussion instead of the usual distain.
    I would like to point out one small problem. there have been 2 comments on the genetics of cattle and breeding. both are hogwash. Dairy cattle average production is 11 years, up from the typical 7 of when I was kid on the DAIRY FARM. beef cattle are not dying off in droves either. If you have calf problems, its farmer issues, not cattle. the average beeve is denser and more productive and tastier than ever before due to animail husbandry......

  8. #48
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    >To recap: There's no evolution going on in this short of a time frame. It is a simple winnowing of traits, favoring a mixture of traits which results in survival. It's all about the right mixture.

    Exactly. Everyone acts like selective breeding is evolution. It is not. No new traits are going to miraculously show up. You have to have them already. But the bees DO have them already. Feral bees are surviving. That is the gene pool that has already taken the losses and is already a reasonably stable gene pool as opposed to trying to maintain some recessive trait that requires a lot of control over the genetics.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  9. #49
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    Quote Originally Posted by gmcharlie View Post
    If you have calf problems, its farmer issues, not cattle.
    That's correct, the cows are not fit enough to survive and thrive without inputs from the farmer, treatments and assistance in birthing. That's why the cows I mentioned are dying. In the same case with the bees, why is the farmer's input necessary?
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  10. #50
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    Solomon... your makeing things up.... Calf survival is higher than its ever been..... If you knew anything about cattle you would realize that Calf losses will break you. 10% loss and you will be bankrupt in one generation.
    Stick to things you know.
    Last edited by Barry; 08-16-2013 at 09:54 AM. Reason: language

  11. #51
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    Withdrawn.

  12. #52
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    To recap: There's no evolution going on in this short of a time frame. It is a simple winnowing of traits, favoring a mixture of traits which results in survival. It's all about the right mixture. Since we do not yet know what all the traits are, it's best to leave it to the bees to figure it out (figuratively) on their own. The only way for that to happen is through the Bond Test. Any other interference results in frustration of the process and why I don't see many successful slow road treatment-free beekeepers, if any. They just can't get out of their own way because they think they're helping and they're simply interfering.
    Based on your described experiences and proximity to other beekeepers, can you see any reason why a larger operation couldn't have similar results with a single 30 hive yard? Requeen with resistant or TF stock, regress to small cell and stop treating. Build back up from survivors and use those to breed queens for the rest of their hives. Assuming 300 hive operation and an initial loss of 70%, it would mean the difference between losing 21 hives and losing 210 hives.
    Adam - Zone 5A
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  13. #53
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    Adam, I cannot guarantee any numbers at all. I have never had the kinds of losses Dee had (which actually came from repeated regression, very stressful) in all my years. The only thing I guarantee is that if you have one hive, it's going to die at some point.

    It took me five years to get 75% loss. My big losses came from climate upsets. West coast bees had never encountered temps lower than 20 degrees overnight. They had never had a day when it didn't get above freezing. Then when I moved them to Arkansas, they found temps to 0, and freezing for three or four days continuously. I wonder what will happen with future moves.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  14. #54
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    I am just thinking that if the goal is to have no one treating their bees, then we need a method of transition that doesn't involve sacrificing the livelihood of the beekeeper that derives all or part of his income from his bees. If the Soft Bond method isn't the answer than maybe the Bond test on an isolated subset makes sense.
    Adam - Zone 5A
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  15. #55
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    *sigh* I am not attempting to turn this into a thread about cows, BUT I live and work with cows everyday. Have been living and working around beef and dairy cows for several years, my farmer mentors have been working with cows for 40 years... My above comments were specifically geared toward the metaphor between dairy industry production levels(where cows are out of production between 3-7 years versus the 14-17 years of grass-fed) and commercial production of bees.

    My observations are not invalid, but they might be different from yours.

    solomon parker - it's interesting that you noticed propolis declining through natural selection - I've had it increasing! Perhaps that is environmental?

    zhiv9 - the only method I can come up with for transitioning everybody to treatment free without sacrificing livelihood, would be to radically change the paradigm of market values. I don't think that's going to happen. And even if it did, some people would still want to treat their bees... It's a personal choice really, not a fascist movement.

  16. #56
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hazel-Rah View Post
    it's interesting that you noticed propolis declining through natural selection - I've had it increasing! Perhaps that is environmental?
    It may very well be, I would certainly not say that this is a standard result. We have a very soft propolis here, not many pine trees, very sticky and soft. Other that I have seen can be very hard. What does it all mean? I don't know. I've only lived in two places in my life, maybe there will be more in the future.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  17. #57
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    For adaptation and evolution to take place, unfit animals need to die before reproducing.
    I agree with all you say here Solomon, but here I think this is only part of the story. The mating game is what matters, but failing doesn't have to entail death. Not producing strong drones will do the same thing, not producing many drones similar. We're into statistical effects here - the more drones, and the stronger they are, the better the chances of winning the mating game, and more often.

    The same is true on the queen/swarm side. Bigger colonies will be able to make more, larger swarms, rasing the chances of gene transmission. It isn't only a question of living and dying - its also about being stronger/quicker/keener of sight and scent and so on - that vast collection of skills that supply in totality a 'vigour' that supplies good chances of winning in the competition to make the most offspring from fixed and limited energy resources.


    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    Selective breeding modifies that approach, maybe enhancing or speeding it up, maybe subverting and slowing it down, it depends on the breeder. One thing bred out of domesticated animals is the ability and desire to fight back. They are bred big and fat so they don't run or climb or fly well, and I can't really say they've gotten any smarter. In many cases, such as with turkeys, some cows and sheep, they cannot even reproduce without human intervention. I say that's too far and it can't be done with bees. At least throughout the history of domesticated animal breeding, some disease resistance was maintained due to the lack of medications. Such is not the case today.
    Its my belief that many of the problems we have today are born of the inappropriate application of the 'veterinary' health-management model to an open mated animal. In closed populations you can get away with breeding into the available treatment environment. In open populations you can't, because it undermines the feral populations, which removes a health-providing function that has, in the past, quietly massively aided beekeepers. The presence of natural selection throwing strength into apiaries in the past allowed beekeepers to get away with poor breeding aims and practices, and now/where it has been removed the apiaries are exposed. This prompts yet more treatments, further undermining the very thing that could restore proper health and vigour.

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    To recap: There's no evolution going on in this short of a time frame. It is a simple winnowing of traits, favoring a mixture of traits which results in survival.
    It is right to call this evolution; though it must be recognised that 'evolution' is something that happens in lots of ways, on lots of different time-scales, simultaniously. Its doesn't just describe the causes of the rise of new species; it also describes the continuous process by which 'fixed' species are fine-tuned to their environment by natural selection. Talk of mite-bee co-evolution in the scientific literature illustrates this point. 'Adaptation' is used in a similar way; these are 'wide' terms.

    Mike (UK)
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  18. #58
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    Quote Originally Posted by D Semple View Post
    All the selection work being done by the most selective breeders won't last even 2 generations unsupported.
    Population husbandry involves continuous selection, and continuous importation of fresh sound genetic material. That's the nature of the art.

    There is nothing new there for bee breeders. What is new is that beekeepers have to realise that, like it or not, they are bee breeders, and their stock will thrive or fail in accordance with their skills in population husbandry.

    They can pass the need to breed over to queen suppliers, and make up for deficiencies with treatments and feeds and manipulations. But if you want to be treatment free, then you have to take on the skilled task of selective breeding, and do it in every generation.

    That's 'population husbandry', or what until quite recently was called 'husbandry' or 'farming.'

    Mike (UK)
    Anti-husbandry: Medication + Reproduction = Continuing Sickness
    http://www.suttonjoinery.co.uk/CCD/

  19. #59
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hazel-Rah View Post
    zhiv9 - the only method I can come up with for transitioning everybody to treatment free without sacrificing livelihood, would be to radically change the paradigm of market values. I don't think that's going to happen. And even if it did, some people would still want to treat their bees... It's a personal choice really, not a fascist movement.
    Sure, but I am sure more people would move towards not treating if there was a reliable method that mitigates the sacrifice.
    Adam - Zone 5A
    www.adamshoney.com

  20. #60
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    Default Re: Treatment Free "Thriving" vs. Treated "Thriving" - Is it Fair to Compare?

    Solomon Parker postulates: "Adaptation . . . The only way for that to happen is through the Bond Test."

    No, and this is core point I have tried repeated to make. Much of TF theory and practice I support wholeheartedly. (I will detail that below). However, the so-called "Bond Test" is 1) not the only way to raise fitness of lineage, 2) imposes unsustainable sacrifices, 3) actually loses any progress made by the beekeeper.

    I am arguing for a transition to sustainable practice that is not based on cant and rhetoric, but science and selection.

    Postulates (cant) I see repeated are --
    1) Local feral bees are already selected for survival. The Arnot Forest study which seems to one of the few papers that attempts to detect this seems flawed. It assumes wild feral hives are sustained, and is it not true that alternatively, regular loss and recolonization are an equal possibility. In my wild hives (all GPS'd), there is a regular decline and recovery cycle best explained by loss of the colony and a reswarm into the attractive abandoned comb. Several Bee Trees are repeatedly abandoned and recolonized. Seeley moved wild bees to boxes where they experienced mites just like his commercial, he explained this by some sort of "wild hive" essence that was lost. Seems more likely (Occam's Razor) that the feral bees were not unlike the commercial in tolerance.

    In fairness, I've read a paper on Varroa in East Africa, that claims in the decades since its appearance, the bees feral and domesticated have accomodated and the mite is not longer a problem. The claim was made by annecdote, and no data was presented.

    The feral swarms I have hived are no more or less likely to express mites and Nosema symptoms, and one succumbed to Tracheal mites which is virtually unheard of in selected, bred lines for a decade.

    I am not situated for feral races to "fix" a variation-- hundreds of hives are trucked to my region to fatten and brood before the Almonds, and some must swarm out, constantly diluting any feral genotype. -- But much of the country is similar, and consists of an unbounded interbreeding population.

    There is enough annecdotal evidence on this forum of local races in certain contexts that seem preselected for survival that in fairness I should concede this point for those fortunate enough to live in areas where a local founder population shifted the genotype.

    2) (The biggie) "The only way is the Bond Way". This sounds more like a religion than science. Counter examples are manifest. I don't want to rehearse the argument as I have done in several other posts. Until I detect some level of understanding non-exclusivity of the "Bond", we are simply talking past each other. Suffice to say, virtually all 20th century breeding was not done with some "Bond Test". In fact, I am racking my brain for a positive example -where a wild type penetrated an agricultural species passively.

    3) "Feral hives have integrated all traits into an optimum." No, much of research on local adaption in plants characterizes local "sinks" that are mal-adaptive in the larger context. We don't live in a Panglossian world where everything rises to the best of all possible solutions. Most local races founder into "ruts" and blink out as soon as they are challenged. Extinction (of populations) occurs more frequently than Speciation- by orders of magnitude.

    4) "You can emulate my method in your backyard in your sparetime". Beekeeping should respond to the local situation. If someone is going to have 3 hives in their suburban backyard, they *do not* have a sustainable inter-breeding population, and the core assumption of "Bond-Test" TF-- that an adaptive local genotype must be conserved -- is violated. This formulation is rejected with the claim that a universe of specially adapted local feral stock is waiting in the wings. I am waiting for evidence that this postulated "feral adaption" exists.

    So what's to like about the Treatment Free approach:
    1) Sort of a backhanded compliment-- it is a reservoir of Varroa still suseptible to chemicals, and will allow rapid reversion to sensitivity. As the TF advocates have pointed out, commercial beekeeping has seen a really short generation time until their hard chemicals become totally ineffective. This is due to the intrinsic breeding capacity of the mite, and mis-application of the chemical. Several studies have measured the generation time until suseptibility to Amitraz has been restored, the mites don't maintain resistance. Originally, Corn BT-GMO was supposed to have a inter-planting of suseptible stock for this same logic.

    2) Beekeepers with sufficient colony saturation and isolation will be able to select for their races. (though I maintain that selection must be based on a) measured metric and b) sufficiently out-crossed -- in other words, planned and directed. A point I have been trying to make is free-adaptation by feral stock is an "entropic" process -- the easiest, simplest, and most robust behavior is selected, and the other is lost. Refined traits (like gentleness, resistance to absconding, etc) are jettisoned by the coarse screen of survival, in favor of basic swarm propensity. An ecological principle -- "competitive exclusion" speaks to this -- in a population over time, only one genotype is promoted-- the one with greatest local population growth. In bees, fitness and husbandry are in tension (viz. AHB). Paul McCarty, a TF from NM, and on this forum, but not on these threads, makes this point repeatedly. His local survivor races are AHB, though his goes to lengths to minimize the seriousness of the AHB strain.

    3) Mite (and virus) less lethal, hypo-virulence are likely being selected for. I am not sure how hypo-virulence is amplified into a commercial beekeeping universe -- even if migratory beekeeping was suddenly eliminated, horizontal transmission of mites in fixed yards would occur.

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