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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Griffin, GA, USA
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    85

    Default Maintaining Genetic Diversity

    Do I need to worry about maintaining genetic diversity if all of my queens descend from one queen? I started with one package and one queen. I now have three queens (one in a nuc, one in a second hive.) Provided I manage to keep my bees and queens alive, can I continue in this way without ever introducing an outside queen?

    I'm thinking about the fact that any future queens may mate to drones from my hives which would be keeping it all in the family, so to speak.

    I realize they could also mate with outside drones (provided there are any near me) but I have no idea if my daughter queens mated with their brothers from the original hive or with drones from somewhere else.

    Does this ever become a problem or do the bees know what they're doing?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    27,020

    Default Re: Maintaining Genetic Diversity

    Well, Millenia, they have been doing it for, er, millenia. Bees don't worry about it. I think you can worry about something else.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Palmdale, CA
    Posts
    67

    Default Re: Maintaining Genetic Diversity

    I've wondered about that as well. I've always tried to keep a couple queens from different lines around my yard - even though I've been using the same breeder queen for grafting for a while. I think it's good to have a couple different lines just for comparison's sake. As far as interbreeding goes, my guess is that you could do that for many, many generations before seeing any problems, if ever. Unless you live in a bee desert, you probably have other drones around somewhere. Also keep in mind that over time you should have lots of half-brothers and sisters in your hives, since a queen can mate with 10-15 different drones.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,108

    Default Re: Maintaining Genetic Diversity

    There are a lot of drones out there. Mainly I just try not to bottleneck the genetics. If each hive continues their line (by walk away splits etc.) unless I have a reason to remove them from the gene pool, then I've done my part. Bee biology will do the rest...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    SNOW SHOE PA USA
    Posts
    1,230

    Default Re: Maintaining Genetic Diversity

    I worried about that also but after 4 years of breeding my own bee's and seeing all the different bee colors and different bees in my apiary I don't worry any more. I am pretty proud of my bee's Genetic Diversity.
    My bee's only get better. Year 3 of a sustainable apiary. It feels great not buying bees .
    Say hello to the bad guy!
    year five==== 31 hives==== T{OAV}

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Ash Grove MO. USA.
    Posts
    535

    Default Re: Maintaining Genetic Diversity

    I'll go against the flow here. I think for most people in most places this is a non issue. But I live in a bee desert. There are no other bees around me that I know of except a bee tree on the neighbor which is a swarm from my hives.
    I started with a nuc which raised and bred here. There was another bee tree a half mile away at that time. The first few queens I raised did good. After subsequent generations I'm getting a lot of shotgun brood and earlier supersedures.
    I'll have frames that are layed solid with eggs. When capped they will only be about 70% full. I believe this to be a sign of a queen breeding with too many drones that are too close of kin.

    Now that I have some outyards I'll take my nucs there for mating flights. I also plan on buying a couple queens a year to get some new blood.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Walker, Alabama, USA
    Posts
    900

    Default Re: Maintaining Genetic Diversity

    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfer View Post
    I'll have frames that are layed solid with eggs. When capped they will only be about 70% full.
    This might also be hygienic behavior. The workers could be culling.

    Just a thought!

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

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Ash Grove MO. USA.
    Posts
    535

    Default Re: Maintaining Genetic Diversity

    Rusty
    I do believe my bees are hygienic. I've never treated. But that usually happens between capping and hatching. I believe I have some of that.
    Where I notice my big loss is between egg hatch and capping.

    My son in law has several hives and has had two swarms move into empty hives this year. These bees are no kin to mine. About 15 miles away. I took a nuc out there this weekend. The queen should have hatched on Saturday.
    There should be no drones nearby that are kin to her. In a couple or three weeks I should know if I'm wrong. I often am!

  9. #9

    Default Re: Maintaining Genetic Diversity

    According to Larry Connor's book Bee Sex Essentials, if the queen lays an egg that has two identical sex alleles, then a sterile male bee will be produced and the bees will remove it. So inbreeding could produce shotgun brood but the bees that successfully hatch won't be inbred.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Alachua County, FL, USA
    Posts
    6,913

    Default Re: Maintaining Genetic Diversity

    Queens outfly all drones within a quarter mile eliminating inbreeding.
    americasbeekeeper.com
    beekeeper@americasbeekeeper.com

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Ash Grove MO. USA.
    Posts
    535

    Default Re: Maintaining Genetic Diversity

    Quote Originally Posted by AmericasBeekeeper View Post
    Queens outfly all drones within a quarter mile eliminating inbreeding.
    I certainly don't disagree with this but my current queens grandmother / great grandmother flew just as far. I don't believe their breeding with drones from my yard. I also don't believe they can fly far enough to find drones that aren't cousins.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    27,020

    Default Re: Maintaining Genetic Diversity

    More complex than we know or understand, I believe. Evidence shows it doesn't matter enough to worry about.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Griffin, GA, USA
    Posts
    85

    Default Re: Maintaining Genetic Diversity

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    Well, Millenia, they have been doing it for, er, millenia. Bees don't worry about it. I think you can worry about something else.
    That's my first inclination but when you think about the fact we are artificially keeping the splits in the same location instead of them swarming and flying away, it makes me wonder about the genetics getting stagnant.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Griffin, GA, USA
    Posts
    85

    Default Re: Maintaining Genetic Diversity

    Quote Originally Posted by AmericasBeekeeper View Post
    Queens outfly all drones within a quarter mile eliminating inbreeding.

    I've always read this but this means maintaining a healthy drone population in your own apiary will have no bearing on your queens being successfully mated.

    But like someone else said, she will be adding genes from multiple drones so I guess each daughter queen could have a different father. As long as none of them mate with my own drones, I guess everything will be fine.

    I think I have my brain wrapped around this now. Thanks for talking me through this.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    27,020

    Default Re: Maintaining Genetic Diversity

    See the Thread about ferals and managed colonies per square mile in America. There are a lot more colonies of bees out there than you can imagine.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Knox Co, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    830

    Default Re: Maintaining Genetic Diversity

    You also have queens mating with multiple drones which adds to genetic diversity.

    The downside of genetic diversity is non-reproducibility of traits. As you increase diversity you add and lose some traits.

    Tom

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    richland center, wisconsin USA
    Posts
    291

    Default Re: Maintaining Genetic Diversity

    And to think drones being welcomed into any hive, some of the time... I wonder if they are just waiting around to see what girl is going on a flight next... perhaps they will cover this at H.A.S. 2014
    "Anytime you see someone more successful than you are, they are doing something you aren't."

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Clinton, Iowa
    Posts
    624

    Default Re: Maintaining Genetic Diversity

    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfer View Post
    I'll go against the flow here. I think for most people in most places this is a non issue. But I live in a bee desert. There are no other bees around me that I know of except a bee tree on the neighbor which is a swarm from my hives.
    I started with a nuc which raised and bred here. There was another bee tree a half mile away at that time. The first few queens I raised did good. After subsequent generations I'm getting a lot of shotgun brood and earlier supersedures.
    I'll have frames that are layed solid with eggs. When capped they will only be about 70% full. I believe this to be a sign of a queen breeding with too many drones that are too close of kin.

    Now that I have some outyards I'll take my nucs there for mating flights. I also plan on buying a couple queens a year to get some new blood.
    I just looked up Ash Grove, MO. I have a VERY hard time believing that you are in a "bee desert".

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    27,020

    Default Re: Maintaining Genetic Diversity

    I think one would have to use II exclusively and try to produce bees that are inbred before open mated queens showed signs of inbreeding. I forget what it is called, but truly inbred bees will die.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Ash Grove MO. USA.
    Posts
    535

    Default Re: Maintaining Genetic Diversity

    Perhaps bee desert is a little harsh. I know some people keep bees in the ash grove area. I live about five miles from town and before I got bees if I saw a bee working the white clover in the yard it was news.
    I've been here 13 years and know of two swarms in the area. I'm pretty well acquainted with most of the neighbors within a few miles and none keep bees to my knowledge.

    I'm sure there are some and I'm sure there are some ferrels. But I'm pretty sure after several generations of raising queens they have mated with drones from every hive in flying distance.

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