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  1. #1
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    Default Genetic diversity, how it happens, and the importance of drones

    This is a post I made to Kamon Reynolds thread of "Breeding Better Drones"
    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...-Better-Drones

    I decided to post it here as a new thread about genetic diversity, it's importance, and the importance of drones. Some of this refers back to Kamon's thread, so refer to it as/if needed.



    Kamon says...
    "(Like) Methods to produce drones, what keeps them from being as viable?, is feeding drone hives sugar water and pollen sub producing a less viable drone due to poorer nutrition?"

    In my opinion and from some of my own experience, a resounding NO. Miticides and other agriculture chemicals, perhaps yes.

    This thread is titled Breeding Better Drones. Drones need good supply of nectar and pollen in a hive with a good well balanced of ages of bees. incoming nectar and pollen is needed. Miticides and other chemicals in the area helps to contaminate the hive and brood, of both drones and workers. You need good non-contaminated feed, and sugar water and pollen sub fit that bill as well as can be done when raising bees, in my opinion of course. Is natural pollen better than pollen substitute? In most cases I'd say yes. Is nectar better than sugar water? I'd have to say yes. But, using these as supplement to natural forage does not hurt or degrade the drones or queens, or worker brood, once again in my opinion. I do know this, if you try to raise queens or drones in a dearth or low quality nectar flow, you will not have any success without giving pollen or pollen sub and syrup.

    Now, a bit off topic, but Kamon asked me to post some of what we chatted about in the chat room earlier this evening. This does not follow precisely along the lines of breeding healthy drones, but gives some information as I understand it, about the importance of good drones in the mating yard area.

    Let me side track just a bit here... I get the impression that Kamon is of the opinion that many different breeds of bees in the drone population is better for genetic diversity in the hive. I'm not sure if I agree with that or not. Genetic diversity in the same bee type, such as Italian or Carniolan or Russian or Caucasian, yes, but as far as having each of these strains of drones in the mating area? I'm not sure. There is good arguments for keeping strains pure. There may also be good arguments for diversity across strains, my jury is out on that myself.

    Ok, here is what I was saying in chat earlier tonight, concerning the importance of drones in the mating area...
    The queen has 32 chromosomes, a random (I think) 16 of which goes to the egg. So, you get some diversity within the hive from the queen, as she donates a random set of 16 out of 32 chromosomes (I'm pretty sure it's random) to each egg. I'm not good enough at the math to say just what kind of percentage of randomness this gives, especially since she mates with numerous drones.

    Ok, now the drone contains only 16 chromosomes, which he gets all from his mother queen, as his egg was not fertilized with sperm from any of his mothers drone mates. So, he has no father. But, his mother came from a queen that had mated with many drones, so a drone has many grandfathers, but only one mother and only one grandmother. Kinda hard to think in it this way huh? It is kinda for me still. Ok, so he gets 16 of his mothers chromosomes, once again, random (I think) from the 32 that his mother queen has total. So once again, we get more randomness from the queen into each of her drone sons. So, each drone son of a queen is not identical to each other, but has randomness from the queen mother. So it is said in many places that the drone is the queen, that the queen sends her genes out into the world by making drones. I see that it is true but not entirely so, he is her genes yes, but he is a randomness of 16 out of 32 of her chromosomes.

    Someone please correct me if I have all or parts of this wrong.

    So now from all this, I come to the conclusion that bees are built to create diversity of genes or chromosomes in the hive and in the areas around a hive.

    So, the worker bee gets a random 16 out of 32 chromosomes from the queen mother, and the worker gets the full 16 chromosomes from each drone that mated the mother, and the drone giving those chromosomes got them as a random 16 out of 32 from his queen mother, which would be a grandmother of the worker being created.

    Ok, now, so just how important are the drones mating a queen to the hive as a whole? I say the drones are very important, at least on equal with the importance of the queen, and maybe more so in the fact that the queen mates with 15 to 20 drones, on average, during her mating flights.

    So now, we have a hive, one queen the mother of all the bees in the hive, and many drone fathers. The queen gives her randomness to the workers. The drone fathers each give their randomness to the workers too, and each drone got his random 16 chromosomes from their grandmothers. OK, now this, we have subsets of workers in the hive. They all have the same mother, but each does not have the same father, we now have groups of workers with each group having the same father. So for each drone the queen mother mated with, we get a subgroup of workers. Each subgroup may have differing attitudes or skills to give to the hive that one or many of the other groups do not do so well, this is what Kamon was referring to when he started this thread.

    I'm all talked out, and this is still all hard for me to keep straight in my mind, and I feel I've rambled along with this posting at least somewhat. If anyone has more to add or has any corrections to what I've said, please do, add and/or correct what I've said.

    Ok, here is another little snippit that somewhat goes along with all of this.
    I do not believe that the queen automatically flies out so far that she does not mate with her own drones, it just does not make sense to me, especially since drones fly great distances and are accepted into many hives along those distances. I've read from research that drones have been found up to over 30 miles away from their own parent hive. So saying a queen flies greater distance than the two mile or more foraging range around the hive just does not hold water. I think she flies only as far as needed to be mated to her satisfaction, and I think I have proved this to myself. One year I had 2 major strains of bees in my yard... Italians and Carniolans. The first round of queens I mated that year were Italian mothers when the drones from my Carniolan hives were mature and ripe for mating. The next round of queens I raised were the opposite, Carni Queens with ITA drones. The third round that year was a mix of it all. What I ended up with was something I had not seen before. I had Two Tone Drones! and I had queens that were blotchy Black and orange, not in nice defined rings or stripes, but all blotchy. I called them my Halloween Queens because of the odd patterns of black and orange, and my two tone drones. OK, so this proved to me that queens mating flight is only as long and as far as she needs to be well mated. This also raises another thought this brought into my mind. We all know as people, our own sons and daughters and brothers and sisters, so why would I think it is so impossible for a queen to not recognise her own sons? Perhaps the queens do recognise her own sons and will not mate with them. But then again, perhaps not and she will. Perhaps she only will, if they are the only drones populous in numbers within her own mating flight directions? I don't know, I leave this as food for thought.
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Genetic diversity, how it happens, and the importance of drones

    I feel I don't do well at long writings, it's hard for me to keep my thought focused and flowing well, especially on this subject which is hard for me to keep straight in my own mind. Please make comments and postings to help clarify or correct what I've written. My general thoughts are the importance of genetic diversity, how it happens, and the importance of drones for that diversity.

    Thanks to you all.
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Genetic diversity, how it happens, and the importance of drones

    A very well presented and clear talk on genetic diversity covering a vast range of topics of interest to beekeepers. I can't believe it has only 604 views. Maybe because it is so long on just unknown. I hope its of value to some.

    University of Delaware Dr. Deborah Delaney Presentation - Genetic Diversity

    http://youtu.be/bDQNoQfW-9w
    Stephen 26 hives. 4th year. Treat. Germany.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Genetic diversity, how it happens, and the importance of drones

    Great post, RM! Clearly you've given this a LOT of thought and, to me at least, those thoughts make a lot of sense. Hopefully other breeders will come along and add their thoughts as well.

    Great topic!


    Rusty
    Rusty Hills Farm -- home of AQHA A Rusty Zipper & Rusty's Bees ( LC and T)

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Genetic diversity, how it happens, and the importance of drones

    >Genetic diversity in the same bee type, such as Italian or Carniolan or Russian or Caucasian, yes, but as far as having each of these strains of drones in the mating area? I'm not sure.

    I agree. I want to breed similar bees not dissimilar bees... Hybrids are usually hot and they don't always have consistent characteristics at all. I once saw a cross between a German Shepherd and a Basset Hound. It was a very ugly dog... better to cross things with similar characteristics...

    >So it is said in many places that the drone is the queen, that the queen sends her genes out into the world by making drones. I see that it is true but not entirely so, he is her genes yes, but he is a randomness of 16 out of 32 of her chromosomes.

    >Someone please correct me if I have all or parts of this wrong.

    That is correct. I think this is one of those points people often get confused on. The drones are not all identical from the same queen, but their genes are all from her, but a random set of her genes.

    >I've read from research that drones have been found up to over 30 miles away from their own parent hive.

    Don't you think they go to a DCA, and then follow some other drone back to a different apiary and then later fly out to a different DCA and follow some other drones back to another apiary etc. etc. etc. until they end up 30 miles away a month later? That would be my guess. I don't think any "rule" is something that bees follow other than general tendancies.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Genetic diversity, how it happens, and the importance of drones

    "The queen has 32 chromosomes, a random (I think) 16 of which goes to the egg. So, you get some diversity within the hive from the queen, as she donates a random set of 16 out of 32 chromosomes (I'm pretty sure it's random) to each egg"

    OK, so I'll throw a couple thoughts at this. I don't think the queens "16" chromosomes are random. Those are set coming directly from her, the queen. The random will come with whatever drone semen she uses to fertilize that egg on it's way out.

    "Ok, now the drone contains only 16 chromosomes, which he gets all from his mother queen, as his egg was not fertilized with sperm from any of his mothers drone mates. So, he has no father. But, his mother came from a queen that had mated with many drones, so a drone has many grandfathers, but only one mother and only one grandmother."

    I also think a drone only has 1 grandfather. Whatever drone semen that was used to fertilize that egg that became a queen then the unfertilized egg to become this specific drone. But a combination of drones within a colony will have a collection of different drone grandfathers.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Genetic diversity, how it happens, and the importance of drones

    RayMarler:

    Great post. One comment - a queen never mates with her own drones, because unless she's II, she does not start laying until she is mated. I could see your point that she might end up mated with her mother's drones, though.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Genetic diversity, how it happens, and the importance of drones

    Thanks Ray.

    A little bit of insight here and there puts all the pieces in place.
    I for one am out in the barn these days assembling parts and milling up mini frames. You'll get more views as soon as folks see your thread.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Genetic diversity, how it happens, and the importance of drones

    >OK, so I'll throw a couple thoughts at this. I don't think the queens "16" chromosomes are random.

    Yes they are.

    >Those are set coming directly from her, the queen.

    16 of them randomly selected from the 32 she has, a 50/50 chance on any given chromosome. That is 65,536 possible combinations. It's easily seen as a binary number (call it the left and the right chromosome or the 1 or the 0). If the first has a 50/50 chance then it is either a 1 or a 0. So if we have 16 we could enumerate the possibilities as this: 0000000000000000, 0000000000000001, 0000000000000010, 0000000000000011, 0000000000000100, 00000000000000101... and count from 0 to 111111111111111 which in decimal is 65,535 (the last one is 0000000000000000 making it 65,536).

    > The random will come with whatever drone semen she uses to fertilize that egg on it's way out.

    The current topic is drones and their eggs are not fertilized at all, but the workers would have a set from a drone and that is not a random set (although it is a random drone) as all of a given drone's sperm is identical. There is only one set of chromosomes so there is no randomness from the drone at this stage.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Genetic diversity, how it happens, and the importance of drones

    Don't forget about chromosomal recombination during meiosis. Now the queens gametes are a mix of her maternal and paternal heritage on the chromosome level as well.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Genetic diversity, how it happens, and the importance of drones

    >Don't forget about chromosomal recombination during meiosis.

    Yes, that has also been documented, but then the possibilities get really huge...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Genetic diversity, how it happens, and the importance of drones

    Michael Bush says...
    "Don't you think they go to a DCA, and then follow some other drone back to a different apiary and then later fly out to a different DCA and follow some other drones back to another apiary etc. etc. etc. until they end up 30 miles away a month later? That would be my guess. I don't think any "rule" is something that bees follow other than general tendancies.

    That could very well be, but a drone's life span is a little less than 30 days yes? I thought it was more like 3 or 3 1/2 weeks, and half of that time is maturing to be old enough to viably mate. Seems like one of Larry Conners books is where I read this.
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Genetic diversity, how it happens, and the importance of drones

    Ray, thanks for illuminating another gap in my education. I had read that drones drift, but I was thinking on a smaller scale within a group of hives, not the leapfrogging you describe above. I saw four or five drones returning to a strong hive on 22 Dec. I wonder how long a drone can live over winter?
    LeeB
    I try to learn from my mistakes, and from yours when you give me a heads up :)

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Genetic diversity, how it happens, and the importance of drones

    Great thread. It is difficult for someone like me with no knowlege of genetics to get all this worked out in my head. But, thanks for explaining it in simple terms for us.
    Lawrence Heafner
    15 hives; 15 years; TF for 10; Zone 7B

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Genetic diversity, how it happens, and the importance of drones

    Quote Originally Posted by Brandy View Post
    "The queen has 32 chromosomes, a random (I think) 16 of which goes to the egg. So, you get some diversity within the hive from the queen, as she donates a random set of 16 out of 32 chromosomes (I'm pretty sure it's random) to each egg"

    OK, so I'll throw a couple thoughts at this. I don't think the queens "16" chromosomes are random. Those are set coming directly from her, the queen. The random will come with whatever drone semen she uses to fertilize that egg on it's way out.

    RayMarler replies... Yes, the 16 chromosomes come from the queen, but she has a total of 32 chromosomes in her gene strand, so she gives up 16 randomly from out of the 32. Or do you think she always gives up the same 16? Such as, only the 16 she got from her mother, leaving the drones contribution of 16 out of the equation for the next generation? I lean more towards it's a random 16 from her total 32, but I'm not positive sure on this.


    Now back to Brandy...
    "Ok, now the drone contains only 16 chromosomes, which he gets all from his mother queen, as his egg was not fertilized with sperm from any of his mothers drone mates. So, he has no father. But, his mother came from a queen that had mated with many drones, so a drone has many grandfathers, but only one mother and only one grandmother."

    I also think a drone only has 1 grandfather. Whatever drone semen that was used to fertilize that egg that became a queen then the unfertilized egg to become this specific drone. But a combination of drones within a colony will have a collection of different drone grandfathers.

    RayMarler replies...
    Yes I see, I misspoke, the grandmother fertilized this queen's egg with sperm from only one of her many drone mates. So now this queen lays drone eggs, so the drone had only one grandfather, but each drone she lays can have a different grandfather.
    ...
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Genetic diversity, how it happens, and the importance of drones

    Quote Originally Posted by heaflaw View Post
    Great thread. It is difficult for someone like me with no knowlege of genetics to get all this worked out in my head. But, thanks for explaining it in simple terms for us.
    This is my problem as well, I've had no upper level education or training in genetics so I have a hard time following it all correctly myself. My genetics education comes from Jr. Highschool and Highschool. I have raised cockatiels for color genetic mutations through 5 generations in the past, but bees are haploid/diploid which makes it hard for me to follow the logic levels.
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Genetic diversity, how it happens, and the importance of drones

    Yes, I want to understand genetics of bees better and I hope everyone keeps the discussion on our level.
    Lawrence Heafner
    15 hives; 15 years; TF for 10; Zone 7B

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Genetic diversity, how it happens, and the importance of drones

    Ray, you might find this interesting, re genetic diversity:

    http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/...ts-hive-health

    Somewhere there's a video in which Seeley talks a bit about this line of study.
    Ray--1 year, 7 hives, TF

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