This is a post I made to Kamon Reynolds thread of "Breeding 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.
"(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.