44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).
what i have is essentially 17 years into mike's 'experiment', i.e. the end result of successive generations of bees that have not been treated which through both natural and artificial winnowing appear to be demonstrating the ability to thrive and be productive off treatments.
but i don't have any grand illusions that i have some kind of superbee, and i realize that all it would take is a very virulent virus to come along to cause mass casualties. there are reports on the forum of just that happening to folks, reports of losing all or most colonies after some years of being off treatments.
since the bee's natural resistance to viruses and other pathogens is mediated through their immune system, and since the effectiveness of their immune system is dependent on nutrition, i think that there should be more focus on bee diet.
i think that one should consider how plentiful and diversified the forage available to their bees is, consider the drawbacks of too much (or too little) supplemental feeding, and make sure that the bees at least have what they need for their natural immunity to be working optimally.
i'm not sure how this could be achieved on the practical level, short of analyzing pollen samples, but it might explain in part why there are pockets of bees that are doing better than others off treatments.
journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives
No matter what you do to preserve or improve genetics in your home apiary your queens fly out and mate with a drone population which you have little or no control over - as do your drones for that matter. The good news is that they have All survived for decades while dealing with mites - and anecdotal reports are that the overall situation may be improving.
I suspect that everyone who has some bees which live, and others which die, contributes a bit toward bees adapting to life in the modern world.
Maybe genetics is an overestimated component of success, given the complexity and unavoidable out-crossing of bee breeding. This seems especially likely with small-timers who are working with a fairly small number of hives.
Partly this idea appeals to me because it's a very optimistic one. If it's right, then you can succeed without super bees, if your cultural practices are good enough.
Impressive considering they were first introduced into the US in 1987 (at least parts, FL namely, and took up to 3 years to hit some parts of the continental US). Kudos for having the forethought.
this is only my third season with them, having started with nucs and queens from my friend. the seventeen years refers to their lineage off treatments.
it's unknown how long these colonies had been surviving vs. whether or not they were just new swarms in the trees. the consensus is that the ferals here weren't completely wiped out, and have been and continue to provide drones for those of us rearing queens.
the oldtimers talk about the 'wild' bees around here as being 'german black' bees, which may have some a.m.m. lineage. they had a reputation for being aggressive but good honey producers, and i believe this strain exhibits some resistance to mites.
my bees do tend to be a little on the dark side in terms of their coloration.
journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives
Last edited by Rader Sidetrack; 08-25-2013 at 01:43 PM.
USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft
Having said that one usually is looking at many characteristics when choosing breeding stock. The question becomes which are more important to the breeder? Is mite resistance more important than honey production, demeanour, brood expansion etc.
I am very new to bees but in the short time I have been following bee converstions it seems that there are common pressures in both the commercial and back yard bee world. Brood expansion (with survival), honey production and demeanour seem on the top. For the first two feeding seems to be the "artificial" tool that is used to shore up weakness or push nature to the limits. With thriving populous colonies whose natural swarming instincts are then managed as another "artificial" tool mites, and other wellness issues, become a limiting factor in maintaining the desired level of growth and production. Treatments, and management manipulation, are then brought into play to try and diminish the effect parasitism and stress related illness.
To me this seems no different than the issues that arise with any husbandry practices that place production and selection of a few desired commercial traits above all else.
Managed husbandry has very different success markers than does natural selection. Natural selection selects for those that can survive as individuals and as a population....one system cares about how much can be derived from something and the other selects for survivability. With manipulation for the former the traits for survivability are often overlooked.
With the "manipulated" stock that it seems most are staring with now it seems it is possible to select for survivability and production but the journey may be slower than most commercial beekeepers can tolerate.
What is great about this forum is we see both sides of this debate.
Lauri seems to be fortunate in having had access to a genetic line that may have already been influenced by natural selection in her geographical location and in having the time to work with that line without the pressures of immediate $$ production. Hopefully there are many more out t here doing the same thing.
My 2 cents...hope I didn't offend too many folks.
You can combine these in millions of different ways - and you build a town of say 10,000 houses. Each is different, unique.
Now one burns one down because a particular type of light fitting turned out to be faulty, and was tfitted too close to particualr type of curtain that was inflammable. Everything burned to bits.
What has been lost? One set of all the components used in that one house. Many other houses however still stand, still containing all the same components (though not in the same combination). The number of elements in existence is still 1000.
There has been no loss in diversity of components.
There has been a loss of one combination - that didn't work well.
And the wise thing to do is _not copy that combination again_
Of course with houses you can re-engineer - fix them by changing the light fittings and curtains.
With bees you can't. But you can stop more of that bad combination being made. And that is what nature does. No cost - it will be replaced with one likely better.
Last edited by mike bispham; 08-26-2013 at 03:05 AM.
But...if through this thread some myths can be dispelled and some better understanding can be developed it is a good thread.
Basic punet square genetics, gene regulation, gene modulation..viral or otherwise...will affect any breeding outcomes..individual and population survival...
In the moment will treatments we are discussing have the potential to be anything more than act as a crutch for bees that could not live without it, allowing them to produce for the moment and continue a population that remains dependant on that crutch...no. They will not be directly changing the physical genetic make up of the treated Queen.
I would agree with you if bee genetics were as simple as every bee containing 10 different genes, but each one expresses it differently, i.e. in a different combination. Some combinations are winners, others are losers, so by eliminating the losers you aren't eliminating genes from the pool. Because the survivors still have the same 10 genes, but in different combinations. At least, this is what I think you are trying to explain.
But that's not how bee genetics work. The bees in colony one (or actually, some of them, as many bees inside a colony have different fathers, and different genes) might have genes A-G (extremely simplified here). Colony two might have genes A-C & H-K. Now, genes D-G are only expressed in colony 1, and genes H-K are only expressed in colony 2. Letting one of those colonies die (doesn't matter which one) removes certain genes from the gene pool. By definition, the gene pool is less diverse at the end of this than at the beginning, and allowing it to not happen would increase genetic diversity, not decrease it. Colonies 1 and 2 don't contain the same genetic material but in different combinations. They contain some of the same genetic material (or genes) in different combinations along with other genes entirely. That's what I'm confused about what you are saying. That covers my 'diversity' question.
To take it one step further now, based on my (probably too) simplified explanation above, lets say that gene D is recessive and F is dominant. Now lets say that gene D contains something that shows mite resistance. If the colony has genes D-F, that colony will not show mite resistance, as F will dominate over D. Now you let Colony 1 die out, because it wasn't a winner, and you removed gene D from the pool. If you instead treated to keep them alive, then let them re-mate with the pool, it's possible that colony 1 will create an offspring that contains genes A-D & G-I. But you would have lost this combination possibility if you let colony 1 die when it failed to show resistance, because you reduced the mating pool.
Real bee matings is extremely more complex, for obvious reasons. Multiple matings and uncontrolled mating yards make this more complicated to the n'th degree. I'm just using this example as a discussion point.
But to get to the main point, it was originally stated that:
Using your analogy above, I would agree that AT BEST, you don't reduce or increase the diversity of houses, just eliminate one combination that didn't work. I would still argue that AT BEST you would maintain the status quo, and AT WORST you could remove a component from future selection. But still, if you saw the house was burning, and you put it out before it destroyed the house, and only charred one room. Maybe the house will burn down later. Who knows. But how does putting out that fire DECREASE the diversity of the houses? By putting out the fire AT BEST it maintains the diversity of the houses to the same level it was before the fire broke out. AT WORST it increases the diversity of the houses, as theoretically one component could have only been in that house and would have been completely removed by letting it burn down.
I hope that explains my point of conversation.
But like you I don't understand how diversity is increased by pursuing the Bond method. I think genetic diversity is not an element that the average beekeeper has any definitive control over.
I'm carrying out a breeding program designed to raise resistance to an objectionable quality more rapidly than nature would do.
Last edited by mike bispham; 08-26-2013 at 04:06 AM.
As we discussed earlier (though I confess I couldn't really pin down the point in the lietrature) - not all patrilines need to be 'resistant'. there are different forms of resistances, and just some patrilines carrying some forms can amount to a sufficient level of behaviours to allow effective mite control.
On top of that: something all open mating bee breeders have always done is keep large drone populations from their best queens in and around their apiaries in order to swing drone input their way.
So while you don't have total control, you do have some, and this is perfectly sufficient, given enough attention.
A couple of sound sources: R.A.B. Manley, Honey Farming, first page of Chapter V; Friedrich Ruttner, Breeding Techniques and the Selection for Breeding of the Honeybee, pages 41 and 87.
I think one of the things those of us who argue for survivability to be raised in the breeding evaluations are concerned about is that the competitive nature of raw commerce has driven modern commercial beekeeping to a self-destructive level. It focuses on maintaining productivity above all else, and is quite at home with any method that achieves that, regardless of outside impact. It is (I'm deliberately talking about the industry here, not present company) selfish - self interested.
And so it produces bees that perform best in an environment that includes any sort of manipulation or substance input as long as the economic case is sound. And I think that needs regulating as it is harmful to the interests of future generations - of bees and of beekeepers, and of humanity and generation unborn. Raw competitive commerce has its merits, but it has a long record of destroying resources that arguably ought to be regarded as common property.
And the present breeding criteria have a wider impact than the industry itself. Due to the open breeding nature, these self-interested actions impact on other beekeepers and on wild bees - which again impacts on other beekeepers.
The feeling from where I stand is: the future of the bee species is not the property of a narrow interest group, but (if the property of anyone at all) belongs to humankind, now and in the future. I don't know how many people here will want to argue with that point of view (though I'm pretty sure some will).
I think what we are arguing about just now is what is best for bees (and thus for humanity now and in the future) - and what is possible. Specifically, whether the sorts of husbandry I'm advocating, and practising myself result overall in harm toward the species via a reduction in genetic diversity.
That seems to be the charge; and it seems to be a counter to my own charge; that widespread treating is corrosive of genetic diversity.
If so, is that a generalised conclusion, or would it only apply in certain circumstances - and if so, which.
Acknowleging the oversimplifications; lets identify:
a) genetic diversity, in terms of raw gene numbers within the species, and carried within each population.
b) a diversity of local strains, each adapted to locality - climate, habitat.
(Now we must again acknowlege that 'local' means an infinite number of things simultaniously - lets restrict our discussion to continental local, climate local, and breeding pool local)
Speaking sloppily; the 'breeding-pool' local strains will have 'discovered', and will express, those particular genes, gene-sets, alelles, that supply best health and productivity (available energy converted to offspring) in that immediate vicinity at that time - given that parasite and micropredatory environment. A replacement number of offspring of the local population will be able to survive to reproduction age, and as normal those _best able_ to thrive will supply _the greater number_ of offspring in each generation, keeping the population attuned to its total environment/healthy.
Genetic diversity is best preserved by allowing that process to play out in all the different breeding pools and the wider 'localities'. All sorts of bees, able to live in all sorts of places, can do so.
If so: the answer to your question is found in the question: how do we preserve that state of affairs?
1) adapt widespread treatments that spread treatment-dependency into wild populations, suppressing their numbers and their natural adaptation process, or,
2) allow the process to play out so that as much as possible locally adapted wild/feral bees everywhere become all but immune to the effects of varroa, and return to the pre-epidemic semi-natural state?
And this: that window pattern can be restored through contact with other towns. Every town in the whole world has the same elements...
I'm not saying there are no arguments at all against maintaining local adaptivity by carefully preserving local stocks while resistance is bred in - and allowed to breed itself in. But that must happen. Simply having everyone treating and doing nothing else just prevents it happening. Saying 'we must treat to preserve diversity' is an oversimplification that inverts the realities, and supplies a handy narrative that justifies carrying on as usual.
There are consequences to putting out the fire, just as there are consequences to not putting it out.
Lets try something new - Reductio ad absurdum. Your argument seems to me to lead to a position where we must always keep all bees alive alive as long as we can, and encourage all of them to reproduce, in order to maintain local (breeding-pool level) diversity.
Have I got that right?
PS Has anyone else noticed that Deknow was talking about microbe diversity?
two actual situation I know of that relate to this "What is a suitable variability" issue.
1. this was an actually study that required years to conduct. The question was. how many unrelated pairs of humans would have been required to successfully migrate to the Americas?
The answer was 67 or 134 unrelated individuals.
2. The relatively recent importation of the Serama from Malaysia. 137 unrelated pairs where imported. the number one issue in the breeding of Seramas today is lack of genetic diversity or symptoms of inbreeding. Cross breeding with bantams is under way in order to boost the gene pool.
The analogy to building a house and having a hand full of options does not work. not only is a hand full of options even if you are making thousands of choices not nearly enough. but you are limited to choices of light fixtures that will all short and burn down your house. There is no good choice.
In addition it is not a matter of how many options are out here among suppliers. it s the choices you have in your apiary. You are not building new colonies from the selection the world offers you are building them from the tiny corner hardware store that is your bee yard. The issue is you think that is a first rate hardware store. most think it does not offer nearly enough options. Real world condition of the Honey Bee indicates the latter is correct.
Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.