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  1. #1
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    Default Does treating a "Treatment Free" queen really destroy her genetics?

    I've heard it mentioned more than once before:

    "These queens are treatment free. They will thrive without treatments. But if you do treat, you'll destroy the genetics and they'll never be able to be treatment free again."

    How true is that?

    If a certain strain of bees is genetically pre-dispositioned in some way to be treatment free (either hygienic, VSH, grooming behavior, high tolerance to mite spread viruses, ect.), how would a change in environment over a short period of time affect those genetics? While some treatments can be very harsh, I can't say any of them affect bees on a genetic level. And with the life span of a worker bee being about 4 weeks in the summer time, theoretically if you treat, and let all the bees be replaced, the current work force should still be just as genetically treatment free as the previous work force.

    I can see how over a long period of time if you treat that hive, and they replace their queen from new genetics and mate with other hives near by that are treated, you would be allowing weaker genetics to combine into the mix. But that's long term, over a series of years. Not short term, as in within one season.

    I'm aware that some will say "well, if they are treatment free, why treat at all?" Often times in treatment free situations, you have high mite counts, or borderline mite counts, where it's a coin flip as to whether or not the hive will be able to overcome the mites on their own or whether they will crash and die. Assuming allowing them to die is not an option, if you were to treat to help reduce the mite loads (and further spread their potentially partially mite resistant genetics) and keep the colony alive, the apiary might be better off for it (if two partially mite resistant stocks breed together, some might have no mite resistance, others might have super mite resistance, and by allowing it to die the year before you loose that possibility).

    Thoughts? Experiences?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Does treating a "Treatment Free" queen really destroy her genetics?

    Also, for the record, I didn't post this in the Treatment Free section for a reason. Since the concept involves using treatments on treatment free genetics, the underlying conversation instills a pre-disposed concept that the beekeeper is willing to, or has, used treatments.

    If this was posted (or moved) to the treatment free thread, I think there would be a bunch of responses along the lines of "why would you ever do that" or "I don't know, don't treat so wouldn't know what to tell you."

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Does treating a "Treatment Free" queen really destroy her genetics?

    I don't believe the genetics are affected but depending on the treatment residuals will remain in the hive longer than one bee life. Also, there could be an issue with what the treatment does physically to the queen.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Does treating a "Treatment Free" queen really destroy her genetics?

    It's true. For the same reason that you shouldn't be vacinated of take aspirins if you are a generally healthy person. They will change you into a genetic wimp. Now where is that tongue in cheek smiley?

    There is the legitimate argument that by keeping less resistant stock alive you water down the whole gene pool. But if you conscientiosly requeen low performing hives with higher performing genetic stock - what advantage would there be to letting a hive die when you could prevent it?

    There is also the theory that you irreversibly polute the hive environment when you use some treatments. Which may be true.
    Since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  5. #5

    Default Re: Does treating a "Treatment Free" queen really destroy her genetics?

    Quote Originally Posted by Specialkayme View Post
    But if you do treat, you'll destroy the genetics and they'll never be able to be treatment free again."
    Absolute fact! Once treated a queen will invariably begin laying neonic coated eggs.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Does treating a "Treatment Free" queen really destroy her genetics?

    I am skeptical here - some bees are better able to survive without treatments - but they still need "help" once in a while. To me treatment free is the goal and I hate seeing bees not make it when I could have done something. Like my Russians - Kim Flottum reported that Russian Bees seemed to require fewer treatments for mites - my test was all or nothing - the bees didn't have a chance to show how far they had progressed. As truly TF bees they hadn't progressed far enough. The old "work in progress" saying applies me thinks.

    My understanding of genetics finds the original statement absurd.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Does treating a "Treatment Free" queen really destroy her genetics?

    I think that there is not enough information available to substantiate the statement. While there are accepted mechanisms by which genes can be altered through exposure to some agent, and these genes can be passed to progeny, I am not aware of any study that has been conducted with bees. Sounds like an interesting experiment.

    In the end, drawing conclusions based on accepted pieces of scientific knowledge but based on faulty hypotheses or data obtained under varying conditions is pseudoscience. This does not mean that such conclusions always turn out to be incorrect. But, until proven, they are opinion at best.
    Pete. New 2013, 7 hives, zone 6a
    To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Does treating a "Treatment Free" queen really destroy her genetics?

    While there are accepted mechanisms by which genes can be altered through exposure to some agent, and these genes can be passed to progeny

    But isn't an alteration in genes a very different thing then a reaction in the genome to an external stimulus? For instance genes may react to radiation, but that change in the gene is not some alteration that makes the offspring resistant to radiation. Typically the alteration to the gene is a random change that has nothing to do with stimulus at all other then being caused by the stimulus.

    For the most part I think this is a largely misunderstood perception of genetics and even evolution. Genes and species don't "Adapt" because of the stimulus they are exposed to. What happens is that either the altered genes are passed on and provide some benefit in some future environment or the environment changes and allows a certain species that has existing gene set to survive that environment.

    In this example the idea that a bee would have some genetic level adaptation in response to treatment would be a fluke at best. It is quite possible that the bee already has a gene set that allows them to adapt to the stimulus of treatment in some way, that I do not know and would be interesting to find out. It is also possible that treatment creates some random genetic alteration that is passed on to the next generation, but highly improbably that that random change would provide any change negative or positive as related to treatment.

    ~Matt

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Does treating a "Treatment Free" queen really destroy her genetics?

    Quote Originally Posted by MJuric View Post
    For the most part I think this is a largely misunderstood perception of genetics and even evolution. Genes and species don't "Adapt" because of the stimulus they are exposed to. What happens is that either the altered genes are passed on and provide some benefit in some future environment or the environment changes and allows a certain species that has existing gene set to survive that environment.
    That has been found to be not entirely the case - Google epigenetics - environmental factors don't generally change the genome, but they can change gene expression in ways that can be passed along.
    Since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Does treating a "Treatment Free" queen really destroy her genetics?

    THis is like asking if after having sex for the first time is the person a virgin.
    Mark Berninghausen
    Squeak Creek Apiaries



  11. #11
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    Default Re: Does treating a "Treatment Free" queen really destroy her genetics?

    No, the genetics won't be changed.

    If I treat you for head lice your genetics are not changed. Same thing.
    Mark Berninghausen
    Squeak Creek Apiaries



  12. #12
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    Default Re: Does treating a "Treatment Free" queen really destroy her genetics?

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    If I treat you for head lice your genetics are not changed. Same thing.
    Same thing? Really? Does everyone in your home die if your lice get out of hand?
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Does treating a "Treatment Free" queen really destroy her genetics?

    >"These queens are treatment free. They will thrive without treatments. But if you do treat, you'll destroy the genetics and they'll never be able to be treatment free again."

    The statement makes it sound like they are claiming that treating with some unspecified treatment (or maybe all unspecified treatments) will make some genetic change in the queen. I don't know the context but that's what it sounds like out of context. Obviously that's not true.

    On the other hand. Recent studies on microbes in bees have shown that after using antibiotics and other things the disrupt the microbes the microbes do not recover for several years at least.

    http://mbio.asm.org/content/3/6/e00377-12.full
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Does treating a "Treatment Free" queen really destroy her genetics?

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    No, the genetics won't be changed.
    So it begs the question, why take a Hard Bond approach? Other than morally being opposed to treatments, or being too cheap/lazy/stupid to treat. If treating a colony to prevent it from dying has no impact on the genetic make up of the hive, and therefore no genetic impact on the gene pool of the area, why would you ever elect to simply let the hive die instead (at least, from a mite resistant genetic point of view)?

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Does treating a "Treatment Free" queen really destroy her genetics?

    environmental factors don't generally change the genome, but they can change gene expression in ways that can be passed along.

    Yes, that is largely what I'm saying. The environment might change and this may trigger a certain trait or expressing. However that gene or gene expression was pre existing, it did not appear expressly because of the change in environment. It's more akin to discovering a previously unknown, but already existing, talent or ability. It certainly makes things a bit more grey but does not generally change the line of thinking.

    If bees start laying purple eggs because they are exposed to a certain treatment it's not because their DNA was altered. It will be because they already had this trait and the treatment triggered it in some fashion.

    OTOH I won't pretend to be a geneticist, it's way above my pay grade :-)

    In short what I'm saying is that a single treatment to a hive will not alter that hives DNA rendering it unable to be hygienic. It could trigger a sequence of events that might cause some sort of gene expression change that would make the offspring less hygienic if for some reason that trait was pre existing in the code already. By the same token however all you would have to do is turn that trait back off and you would have the same characteristics as the pre treated hive, assuming you could find the trigger to turn it off.

    This is different then a DNA change where going back is impossible for the most part as the previous code no longer exists.

    ~Matt

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Does treating a "Treatment Free" queen really destroy her genetics?

    I have not treated for mites in four years, but would not hesitate to treat to save the bees and progress they've made so far. But I will allow a target percentage to die out.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Does treating a "Treatment Free" queen really destroy her genetics?

    Quote Originally Posted by Specialkayme View Post
    "These queens are treatment free. They will thrive without treatments. But if you do treat, you'll destroy the genetics and they'll never be able to be treatment free again."

    How true is that?
    It's not true, but what will happen is depending on the treatment, the biology of the hive will be all messed up. For instance treating with an anti-biotic will temporarily mask the symptoms of AFB but will make the hive more susceptible to it in the future.

    So while your interpretation of the person's words is technically incorrect, the effect is the same.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  18. #18

    Default Re: Does treating a "Treatment Free" queen really destroy her genetics?

    Quote Originally Posted by Specialkayme View Post
    So it begs the question, why take a Hard Bond approach?
    OMG! Sol was right....it was a setup.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Does treating a "Treatment Free" queen really destroy her genetics?

    Quote Originally Posted by beemandan View Post
    OMG! Sol was right....it was a setup.
    I didn't even get that far into it. I'd be happy to answer the "why Bond Test approach" but I'd be off topic, wouldn't I? The subject of the thread is parsing something someone supposedly said. If someone wants to ask that question, they ought to start a thread for it.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Does treating a "Treatment Free" queen really destroy her genetics?

    >So it begs the question, why take a Hard Bond approach?

    No, it doesn't. The "Hard Bond" approach is about selection, not epigenetics. The "Hard Bond" approach is not about changing the genes in the current queen, it's about passing on to the next generation the genes that can survive and eliminating from the gene pool the ones that can't.

    >I've heard it mentioned more than once before...

    I'd still like to know where you heard it "mentioned more than once before", since I'm a pretty avid reader and have never "heard" it mentioned at all...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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