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  1. #21
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    Default Re: An Option Towards Developing Treatment-Free Bees

    Quote Originally Posted by heaflaw View Post
    Juhani,

    Why do you say that?
    If you follow his website on his breeding plan http://www.saunalahti.fi/lunden/varroakertomus.htm, and it is quite interesting I suggest you do. One of the first things he suggests is "There will be more instrumental insemination in the coming years. This is because the risks are getting bigger: one wrong choice, one drone-line that is not working as expected, would be a big hit back. "

    What I think he is eluding to, is once youve sort of hit the nail on the head with what you want for genetics, if you have a wild card drone in there it will inject those genetics into possibly your whole apiary. To that effect I think he is right. His breeding plan is actually quite a well thought out operation, but very intensive.

  2. #22

    Default Re: An Option Towards Developing Treatment-Free Bees

    Quote Originally Posted by heaflaw View Post
    Juhani,

    Why do you say that?
    Well at least in my country it says in every book of beekeeping, that if you use swarm cells, you increase swarming behavior in your stock.

    But: I have not done it, so there is nothing I really can base on own experience. Good point. You pointed out to me, that I believe in something I have read, but not done myself, which is stupid, in a way. But very often we bump into "facts" in beekeeping, which in fact are only old habits. For instance: In Scandinavia beekeepers are taught, in every book of beekeeping, that they should clean their hive bottoms in spring. Why? I haven´t done that for decades, and when I stopped doing it I saw no effect.

    But as Honeydrunkapiaries pointed, if you are making a plan for breeding, make sure there is as little space as possible for chance. And if we still talk about swarmcells, it usually means, that besides you maybe are increasing swarming tendency, you use them just putting them in some neighboring colony and let them mate freely. There comes chance. Of course you can also mate swarm cells in a controlled manner, but I have not seen such a beekeeper.
    Last edited by Juhani Lunden; 01-11-2014 at 12:46 AM.
    Treatment free, honey production, isolation mated queens, www.saunalahti.fi/lunden/varroakertomus.html

  3. #23

    Default Re: An Option Towards Developing Treatment-Free Bees

    Quote Originally Posted by Dominic View Post
    I'm not convinced about feral swarms being any more resistant to varroa than any average stock. When swarming, the bees ditch all of their brood, and thus capped varroa, in the old colony. When they finally settle up after a few days, they need to build all of their foundation from scratch. That's a pretty significant brood break. Rinse & repeat and you can easily have a lot of feral swarms prospering despite varroa, even if their genetics against them are so poor that they'd die in a single season if prevented to swarm. Same for productiveness: robbing is an easy way for a colony to increase food stores.

    As swarming is easier than managing mites and as robbing is easier than harvesting, I tend to think that while feral swarms might APPEAR to be more resistant stock, natural selection favors the easy solutions that yield the most results, in this case swarming and robbing. Two traits that are good for the bees, not for the beekeeper. On the other hand, VSH and hygienic behavior results in brood loss, and thus slower population growth. Natural selection may even work against these traits.

    This does not apply to treatment-free beekeeping, however, but it's my view on using feral swarms to start one's stock. The only advantage I see is that they are adapted to local climate, but you can get that from purchasing from local breeders...
    I agree.

    To increase variation I suggest that a breeding plan like this should be started with your own bees. Catching swarms is taking a chance. You know nothing about them. At least they should be monitored for a year ( or preferably longer) to make sure varroa is actually building up slower in the swarm.

    Start with your own bees and mate them with some varroa resistant stock. By doing so, you eliminate chance and get at least 12 years head start.
    Treatment free, honey production, isolation mated queens, www.saunalahti.fi/lunden/varroakertomus.html

  4. #24
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    Default Re: An Option Towards Developing Treatment-Free Bees

    Quote Originally Posted by Fusion_power View Post
    Dominic, if this were true, the parent colonies would periodically die out from mite buildup in the fall. I know of several feral colonies in this area that are at least 10 years old. They have been continuously occupied for that length of time.
    Colonies known to have remained for long do have this in for them. If you know a colony has been there for quite a while, then you eliminate the chance that they survive by swarming alone.

    However, I still think it's valid question to ask yourself why these bees survive, even in such cases. There are many potential mechanisms of survival, but not all are practical or desirable when one seeks to make a living with the strains that have developed them. "Why is that feral colony surviving?" It's obvious it is doing something that's good for them, but that doesn't mean that it's doing something that would be good for you, or that would work in a standard langstroth hive. Swarming doesn't just bring a brood break to the offcast colony either, even the mother colony needs the new queen to emerge, fly out and mate. Maybe their queens stop laying when food sources are scarce, like my carnies do, resulting in more brood breaks. Is a brood break something you want? Some want them, but I suspect most beekeepers don't. The environment is different too: a tree hunk isn't the same as big square wooden boxes. Maybe there's something about the dead trees the bees live in that is just outright hostile to mites.

    In my book, feral swarms aren't bad by definition. They could have good genetics. But one just can't know: surviving in the wild is not the same game as surviving in a managed environment and not only making the colony live but the beekeeper as well. Bees adapted extraordinarily well to live in the wild are not guaranteed to do well in our hives. There's just too much unknown, so I'd personally only resort to using swarms for breeding if I didn't have access to stock that is both winter and pest hardy, which isn't my case.

  5. #25
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    Default Re: An Option Towards Developing Treatment-Free Bees

    Quote Originally Posted by Dominic View Post
    surviving in the wild is not the same game as surviving in a managed environment and not only making the colony live but the beekeeper as well. Bees adapted extraordinarily well to live in the wild are not guaranteed to do well in our hives. There's just too much unknown, so I'd personally only resort to using swarms for breeding if I didn't have access to stock that is both winter and pest hardy, which isn't my case.
    I agree, they are not being continually opened up and manipulated like most bees kept in hives, so retain the nest warmth and humidity, which is detrimental to mites, and maybe have other creatures within a wild nest which prey on varroa to some extent...and no doubt several other reasons.

  6. #26
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    Default Re: An Option Towards Developing Treatment-Free Bees

    Quote Originally Posted by Dominic View Post
    They could have good genetics. But one just can't know: surviving in the wild is not the same game as surviving in a managed environment and not only making the colony live but the beekeeper as well.
    The question is, if you want to be treatment free, can you do that without 'survivor' colones? 'Managed' bees tend to be treatment-addicted bees; 'survivors', by definition are not. If you can buy resistant queens and requeen your whole treatment-addicted apiary fine, and if you can steadily raise resistance in your own bees fine - lots seem to find this hard, but that doesn't mean it can't be done. Bringing in resistant genes from 'survivor' colonies offers a valuable contribution to the effort to go (properly) treatment free for those of us unable to source bred resistant bees.

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

  7. #27
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    Default Re: An Option Towards Developing Treatment-Free Bees

    The "treat and breed from the best" has never produced treatment free bees to my knowledge. The ones I see succeeding are the ones who simply don't treat and let things fall where they may. There is so much fear in this method, so much worrying and angst, no peace, no freedom to let things happen as nature intends them. Also, so much work.

    My experience militates against ideas like "mites from deadouts end up in neighboring hives." If the neighboring hive can deal with it, then end of story. Additionally, if you have a decent winter, mites are going to die long before a hive can get robbed out. And if a hive cannot deal with the infestation, then it ought to die too, and along it goes down the line. However, I have not seen it happen that way. I have not seen chain crashes and I have had plenty of hives die and get robbed out or just get robbed out. These crashes have not happened to me.

    Now I'm adding an additional stressor, I don't feed anymore. Didn't feed at all this winter.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  8. #28
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    Default Re: An Option Towards Developing Treatment-Free Bees

    Thanks for breakdown of culling Solomon,

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    Now I'm adding an additional stressor, I don't feed anymore. Didn't feed at all this winter.
    That involves a judgement about how much honey to leave... which amounts to the same thing - in raw calorific terms anyway. Take too much a good hive will die.

    Also places restrictions on how late to make nucs. And no robbing screens...?

    Seems on the surface too many factors to make a true test.

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

  9. #29
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    Default Re: An Option Towards Developing Treatment-Free Bees

    It does involve a judgment on how much honey to leave, that's good beekeeping. For instance, I do not do a fall harvest. Another beekeeper I know here does. He still makes less honey per hive than I do.

    My mating nucs have a screened ventilation hole which kinda serves as a robber screen, a la a design I found from Bushkill Farms.

    It's not really a test, it's a strategy, a way of life. It produces stronger bees which is the only way forward I see. No other method does, as far as I can tell, make ultimately strong bees. You've got to put them through the real-world conditions you want them to be able to survive.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  10. #30
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    Woodstock, Ontario, Canada
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    Default Re: An Option Towards Developing Treatment-Free Bees

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    Now I'm adding an additional stressor, I don't feed anymore. Didn't feed at all this winter.
    I think that is completely dependent on the year. Typically up here we get a good heavy goldenrod flow for autumn and that might give them enough honey to keep through the winter. This year it did not come. I left two medium supers of honey on for autumn/winter but autumn ended up being unusually warm so by the end of October they ate through all of that. Now if I didn't feed I would have 100% losses. Right now, after -40C ice storms and the lot, I still have all my hives alive (topped up dry sugar yesterday). Not feeding is a choice to be made at the end of the year, not a criteria in my opinion.

  11. #31
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    Default Re: An Option Towards Developing Treatment-Free Bees

    Could you clarify what you mean by criteria?
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  12. #32
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    Default Re: An Option Towards Developing Treatment-Free Bees

    I dont think feeding should be a criteria for raising TF bees, at least not at the moment. Here anyway, honey is dependent on the climate and getting a fall flow. If they have enough sure, dont feed em. But if you have to feed them....

  13. #33
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    Default Re: An Option Towards Developing Treatment-Free Bees

    I see. Not feeding is probably the next step up, but I see it the same way I see treating. If it's there when they "need" it, then they're apt to "need" it without pressure to not need it. And the same with treating, when I don't do it, I expect the ones that "need" it to die, that's kinda what I'm going for. I'm looking for brutally durable bees. And there is the argument that feeding is treating for starvation. But I'm not interested in pushing that view too hard.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  14. #34
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    Default Re: An Option Towards Developing Treatment-Free Bees

    Good post Dominic (post # 24)


    Don

  15. #35

    Default Re: An Option Towards Developing Treatment-Free Bees

    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon Parker View Post
    I see. Not feeding is probably the next step up, but I see it the same way I see treating. If it's there when they "need" it, then they're apt to "need" it without pressure to not need it. And the same with treating, when I don't do it, I expect the ones that "need" it to die, that's kinda what I'm going for. I'm looking for brutally durable bees. And there is the argument that feeding is treating for starvation. But I'm not interested in pushing that view too hard.
    I agree, unnecessary feeding will "soften" the bees.
    I think it is a good practice for a breeder to feed as little as possible. No little portions, only for winter, large storage amounts. Good durable bees need to get along by themselves. In our climate winter feeding is necessary, because bees are not natural animals here and wintering with honey is very uncertain (6 months winter, no flying, honey has too much minerals in it, it fills the gut )

    It is a matter of money too, honey sells for 10€/ kg, sugar is about 1€/kg.
    Treatment free, honey production, isolation mated queens, www.saunalahti.fi/lunden/varroakertomus.html

  16. #36
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    Default Re: An Option Towards Developing Treatment-Free Bees

    Quote Originally Posted by Fusion_power View Post
    Observation of traits.
    1. Flying and foraging at low temps and very late in the day, specifically @45 degrees on a bright sunny day.
    2. Excessive stinging behavior, typical AMM, sting if you get within 20 ft of the colony.
    3. Highly aggressive when the colony is manipulated, not like Africanized, just hotter than any other bees around.
    4. Overwintered on less than 20 pounds of honey, foraged early, still built up faster than any other colony I had.
    5. Very fast to swarm, typical of AMM, not typical of Italian or Carniolan.
    6. Very good tolerance to mites which is NOT typical of AMM and tells me they were crossbred.
    I keep AMM (in Ireland not the US) 2, 3 and 5 are not characteristic traits of AMM.
    They are traits of poor bees.
    Any decent breeder will select against those traits.
    My stock is not like that at all.

    In Ireland we have started a mite tolerance programme based on AMM which involves selecting the colonies which deal better with mites. They are not naturally more resistant to mites than other subspecies per se.

  17. #37
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    Default Re: An Option Towards Developing Treatment-Free Bees

    Quote Originally Posted by jonathan View Post
    I keep AMM (in Ireland not the US) 2, 3 and 5 are not characteristic traits of AMM.
    They are traits of poor bees.
    Any decent breeder will select against those traits.
    My stock is not like that at all.

    In Ireland we have started a mite tolerance programme based on AMM which involves selecting the colonies which deal better with mites. They are not naturally more resistant to mites than other subspecies per se.
    From what I gather, I suspect that these traits, which resemble A.m.l/A.m.s (AHB) hybrids, are the results of A.m.l/A.m.m. hybrids rather than A.m.m. purebreeds. Makes one wonder if AMM has the problem genes, or if AML does.

  18. #38
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    Default Re: An Option Towards Developing Treatment-Free Bees

    Quote Originally Posted by Dominic View Post
    From what I gather, I suspect that these traits, which resemble A.m.l/A.m.s (AHB) hybrids, are the results of A.m.l/A.m.m. hybrids rather than A.m.m. purebreeds. Makes one wonder if AMM has the problem genes, or if AML does.
    I'd say neither. If the traits are in the local population its because a pressure in recent predecessors has caused an adaptation. If they are in individuals its may be because they come from a population like the above, or that they are a random occurrence, a throw of the dice.

    Trait 5, swarminess, may be an early response to the pressure supplied by mites.

    Any race, and mongrel populations, can be pressed toward different propensities. Nature does it, breeders can do it.

    Aggression is (so I've been told) more common in early hybrids - just as you get hybrid vigour so you get hybrid aggression. But you can raise aggression in any population by, for example, introducing a predator that the bees can, if stroppy enough, see off. The genes coding for gentleness will fade in the population.

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

  19. #39
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    Default Re: An Option Towards Developing Treatment-Free Bees

    Quote Originally Posted by mike bispham View Post
    I'd say neither. If the traits are in the local population its because a pressure in recent predecessors has caused an adaptation. If they are in individuals its may be because they come from a population like the above, or that they are a random occurrence, a throw of the dice.

    Trait 5, swarminess, may be an early response to the pressure supplied by mites.

    Any race, and mongrel populations, can be pressed toward different propensities. Nature does it, breeders can do it.

    Aggression is (so I've been told) more common in early hybrids - just as you get hybrid vigour so you get hybrid aggression. But you can raise aggression in any population by, for example, introducing a predator that the bees can, if stroppy enough, see off. The genes coding for gentleness will fade in the population.

    Mike (UK)
    Yet, A.m. carnica / A.m. caucasica hybrids are not known to be aggressive.

    Are all hybrids being generalized as being aggressive just because most hybrids are AML mutts?

    Sure, after a few generations of being feral, natural selection will favor certain traits over others regardless of race, but I'm talking of F1 hybrids that have yet to be affected by any selection pressure. I don't have the answer, really, I'm just adding food for thought. With the Old World stock imported by the WSU, it could be possible to do experiments with this, to see what results of each crosses, though sadly they didn't seem to think it worthwhile to import old world AMM germplasm.

  20. #40
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    Default Re: An Option Towards Developing Treatment-Free Bees

    Quote Originally Posted by Dominic View Post
    From what I gather, I suspect that these traits, which resemble A.m.l/A.m.s (AHB) hybrids, are the results of A.m.l/A.m.m. hybrids rather than A.m.m. purebreeds. Makes one wonder if AMM has the problem genes, or if AML does.
    I don't think either subspecies has a problem but as you point out the hybrids are often aggressive. Ruttner found that the The Amm x Carnica hybrid was the most aggressive, and these subspecies are both dark, so many people wrongly assume that a dark bee is AMM when it is actually a dark hybrid between AMM and Carnica. Heterosis can produce a vigorous healthy bee but when the vigour is expressed as aggression this is not the bee which most beekeepers want to work with. Heterosis is one reason why simply breeding from the most vigourous colonies can be misleading as this is an F1 effect which is often lost in subsequent generations.

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