Expanding the gene pool
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  1. #1
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    Default Expanding the gene pool

    Have any of you commercial breeders, that do II, ever considered scouring the country side for feral colonies (I would use Google Earth or the like to locate isolated areas), collect drones/semen, bring back to the lab and add to your breeding program? I would love to head to the high country with my backpack, a piece of excluder, a vail, and the tools to collect semen. Someone that can set up bee-lines and knows how to collect semen could have a fun time and probably have enough time to get some fishing in. If it is true that many of the queens currently available don't represent a very good gene pool, you might be able to apply for an SBIR or STTR grant and get paid for your efforts.

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  3. #2
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    Fabulous idea. It probably isn't necessary to go overseas to get some genetic diversity. Much of its right here. However, wouldn't it be easier to just bring back drones alive?

  4. #3
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    Default Hemingway drone collection...

    Quote Originally Posted by HVH View Post
    I would love to head to the high country with my backpack, a piece of excluder, a vail, and the tools to collect semen. Someone that can set up bee-lines and knows how to collect semen could have a fun time and probably have enough time to get some fishing in.
    There are some folks that have thought of a variation on this--setting up remote mating nucs with cells to take advantage of some feral populations.

    Collecting semen in the wild would be somewhat difficult--even for the most adroit.
    One could collect drones and bring 'em back in small nucs, to where the collection set-up was.
    You'd have to be efficient. Drones don't keep well.

    Adam Finkelstein
    www.vpqueenbees.com

  5. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aspera View Post
    Fabulous idea. It probably isn't necessary to go overseas to get some genetic diversity. Much of its right here. However, wouldn't it be easier to just bring back drones alive?
    My understanding is that drones don't keep very well. Semen can be kept for over a week at room temp and even longer with some loss of viability over time.

  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by adamf View Post
    There are some folks that have thought of a variation on this--setting up remote mating nucs with cells to take advantage of some feral populations.

    Collecting semen in the wild would be somewhat difficult--even for the most adroit.
    One could collect drones and bring 'em back in small nucs, to where the collection set-up was.
    You'd have to be efficient. Drones don't keep well.

    Adam Finkelstein
    www.vpqueenbees.com
    I should have read this before my last post. I guess you could take mating nucs with virgin queens out to the drone source for mating, but I think it would be more efficient to collect the drones from feral colonies, take semen, take notes, and then move on a few mile and do it again. I guess I just can't get the backpack and flyrod out of my mind.
    Some alpine lakes are great sources of fish, I mean water for the bees, so I would focus on the best fishing holes, I mean bee forage areas. I would be terrible if it took all summer but that is the price someone would have to pay.

  7. #6
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    Hi HVH, sounds like a great idea,i will get my fishing gear,oops i mean insemination apparatus packed,and of we can go to the fish congregation area,i mean drone congregation area. but seriously think these are good ideas.

  8. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by beekuk View Post
    Hi HVH, sounds like a great idea,i will get my fishing gear,oops i mean insemination apparatus packed,and of we can go to the fish congregation area,i mean drone congregation area. but seriously think these are good ideas.
    Instead of one person taking on the burden of all the fishing, I mean hard work; a consortium of beeks could form a cooperative and get tons of diversity from all across the county. I would be willing to learn how to operate a bee-line and try my best to ship a couple of samples, but we would need someone to be the central hub for breeding unless a very organized group could be formed that could divide and conquer.

  9. #8
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    I think this could work, but would be better with a dedicated group of fishermen,i mean beekeepers,but some would have to leave the hills with the fresh semen for use, or dispatch., while some would have the chore of staying in the hills collecting more fish,i mean drone semen,but i don't mind hard work,so would stay in the hills catching more fine fish,uum drones. I love it when a plan comes together,if only one would.

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by beekuk View Post
    I think this could work, but would be better with a dedicated group of fishermen,i mean beekeepers,but some would have to leave the hills with the fresh semen for use, or dispatch., while some would have the chore of staying in the hills collecting more fish,i mean drone semen,but i don't mind hard work,so would stay in the hills catching more fine fish,uum drones. I love it when a plan comes together,if only one would.
    If we could get someone with the most to gain to take up the mantel of organizer/leader (no jerks) we could probably pull this off. I know how to tie flies and cast pretty well but I haven't done it in years.

  11. #10
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    All you and i need HVH, is the ability to delegate. Let others do the easy work of collecting the drone semen,while we take on the strenuous task of fishing,i mean delegating,keeping records ect. Phew, i need a rest allready,think we could let someone else do the fishing as well.

  12. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by beekuk View Post
    All you and i need HVH, is the ability to delegate. Let others do the easy work of collecting the drone semen,while we take on the strenuous task of fishing,i mean delegating,keeping records ect. Phew, i need a rest allready,think we could let someone else do the fishing as well.
    It sounds like fun to me but I am waiting for one of the experts to say it is is bad idea. If I was set up to run with the idea and had the expertise I would be thrilled.
    I think there are some risks involved regarding disease (mostly viral) but the benefits might make it worthwhile. Also, we would need to stay away from AHB areas.

  13. #12
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    I agree, shame about those AHB they have also got some good genetic material,but also far too much bad.

  14. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by HVH View Post
    Also, we would need to stay away from AHB areas.
    Easy enough. Just stay clear of warm, arid regions as the fishing is badly infested with AHB.

  15. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aspera View Post
    Easy enough. Just stay clear of warm, arid regions as the fishing is badly infested with AHB.
    It is a dream. If I can ever go at it full time I might take a stab at it.

  16. #15
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    This is a very interesting idea and one I have muddled around for several years now, but I had not thought about the excuse to fishing.

    Seriously though, I think there is a great deal of genetic diversity available across the US, but it seems the resources are so disjointed and unavailable.

    How many have read about the Ohio Queen Project? It is a statewide stock improvement/educational endeavor designed to utilize "survivor" stock from across Ohio. I have also been thinking about utilizing the genetic diversity on a much larger scale, but have been stuck of how to do this on a shoestring budget.

    Here is my idea thus far, bare with me, as it is a work in progress. With the recent design of my new semen homogenizing syringe, I was thinking about asking beekeepers across the US to each collect and send a relatively small sample of drones, say 20-30 total. They could collect the drones from several of their best "survivor" colonies. This would have to be carefully coordinated so that all the drones would arrive within a day or two of each other so that I could collect and pool all of the semen. I would then use the pooled semen from beekeepers across the US to inseminate virgin queens.

    Now, how do I repay those that contribute drones, remember, I am working through this on a shoestring budget and thinking outside the box. In order for each contributor to benefit from the genetic diversity, I could send everyone back a queen that is inseminated with homogenized semen. This could become expensive and the risk of losing a single queen in transit or introduction is high. My second thought was what about repaying those that contributed with eggs and larvae from the queens inseminated with homogenized semen. This way the eggs and larvae would be produced from a very large genetic pool and are relatively inexpensive to produce and ship. Shipping eggs and larvae is not a refined practice, but it has been done and I have played around with it a little.

    Any thoughts or ideas would be greatly appreciated!
    Breeder Queens & Honey Bee Nutritional Supplements
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  17. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by JSL View Post
    This is a very interesting idea and one I have muddled around for several years now, but I had not thought about the excuse to fishing.

    Seriously though, I think there is a great deal of genetic diversity available across the US, but it seems the resources are so disjointed and unavailable.

    How many have read about the Ohio Queen Project? It is a statewide stock improvement/educational endeavor designed to utilize "survivor" stock from across Ohio. I have also been thinking about utilizing the genetic diversity on a much larger scale, but have been stuck of how to do this on a shoestring budget.

    Here is my idea thus far, bare with me, as it is a work in progress. With the recent design of my new semen homogenizing syringe, I was thinking about asking beekeepers across the US to each collect and send a relatively small sample of drones, say 20-30 total. They could collect the drones from several of their best "survivor" colonies. This would have to be carefully coordinated so that all the drones would arrive within a day or two of each other so that I could collect and pool all of the semen. I would then use the pooled semen from beekeepers across the US to inseminate virgin queens.

    Now, how do I repay those that contribute drones, remember, I am working through this on a shoestring budget and thinking outside the box. In order for each contributor to benefit from the genetic diversity, I could send everyone back a queen that is inseminated with homogenized semen. This could become expensive and the risk of losing a single queen in transit or introduction is high. My second thought was what about repaying those that contributed with eggs and larvae from the queens inseminated with homogenized semen. This way the eggs and larvae would be produced from a very large genetic pool and are relatively inexpensive to produce and ship. Shipping eggs and larvae is not a refined practice, but it has been done and I have played around with it a little.

    Any thoughts or ideas would be greatly appreciated!
    Great response. As an alternative to drones (unless they ship a lot better than I have been told) - From all of your experience what is the cheapest and least amount of equipment needed to collect semen. Either an SBIR or STTR grant might provide enough of that equipment to pass around to beeks which would be their payment for their effort. Have you designed a portable semen collector? If you did have these designed, your grant money could pay you for the equipment that you supply to beeks plus perhaps an instructional video. I have a Schley but am willing to help in this experiment because I think it would be fun and important.


    Breeding survival stock is a bit different than scouring the mountains for new stock. Since I have been using Apistan, I don't have stock to send, but the mountain/country bees I might be able to send.
    I need to learn how to use a bee-line but that would be half the fun. Once you had some promising queens, I would buy some from you. Are you interested in stock that has been isolated from apiaries or apiary stock only that has been scrutinized?

    p.s. Do you sell capillary pullers or do I have the wrong guy?

  18. #17
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    I do not sell pipette pullers, but let me know if you find the right guy... Someday I would like to replace the tank of a puller I have.

    Shipping drones would be the cheapest method by far. They do not travel the best, but if you put them in a large cage or battery box with plenty of workers it works pretty well. The other advantage is that all of the drones could be collected at the same time.

    As for which drones, diversity is the key. I used quotes when I wrote "survivor" stock because the term has many different meanings. Feral bees would be great if they can be verified, but there are also many beekeepers that use little or no treatments to maintain their colonies, those would be great too. The idea is just to consolidate and share some of the most rugged and productive stock with a large number of beekeepers.
    Breeder Queens & Honey Bee Nutritional Supplements
    www.latshawapiaries.com

  19. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by JSL View Post
    I do not sell pipette pullers, but let me know if you find the right guy... Someday I would like to replace the tank of a puller I have.

    Shipping drones would be the cheapest method by far. They do not travel the best, but if you put them in a large cage or battery box with plenty of workers it works pretty well. The other advantage is that all of the drones could be collected at the same time.

    As for which drones, diversity is the key. I used quotes when I wrote "survivor" stock because the term has many different meanings. Feral bees would be great if they can be verified, but there are also many beekeepers that use little or no treatments to maintain their colonies, those would be great too. The idea is just to consolidate and share some of the most rugged and productive stock with a large number of beekeepers.
    You might end up with some good stock but if we have indeed reduced our gene pool through breeding programs in the last few decades will you increase diversity while getting disease resistance or will you just get some disease resistance?

  20. #19
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    Yes, again this is just a theoretical idea in the works. I think compiling a selection of drones from across the US will certainly provide a diverse genetic representation. Time would tell if the population provided a good level of resistance. I suspect, the initial benefit would be mostly adding genetic diversity, then the selection work begins.

    Purely speculation on my part, but I think there are populations of honey bees across the US that are not represented in the studies of commercial beekeeping operations that show a reduction in genetic diversity.
    Breeder Queens & Honey Bee Nutritional Supplements
    www.latshawapiaries.com

  21. #20
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    Default Testing

    This part of a e-mail

    Dear Mr. Williams,
    Thus far, using the mitochondrial DNA COI-COII marker, we have found some interesting results from feral colonies including a Middle Eastern lineage that has not been imported into the U.S. since the late 1800ís. I am also interested in looking at the genetic variation of managed colonies by hobbyists and commercial beekeepers. I am contacting you to see if you could provide me with some samples from your hives. I can send you vials filled with ethanol for the bees to be placed in. After they are analyzed, I will let you know what the results are and if we publish this data, names will be kept anonymous.
    In addition, the lab can also screen bees from colonies for Nosema that have crashed recently or any future problems that may occur as spring approaches as well as for Africanized bees.
    Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.

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