I think we're barking up the wrong tree, - Page 5
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  1. #81
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    Default Re: I think we're barking up the wrong tree,

    Quote Originally Posted by peterloringborst View Post
    Yeah. When I had hundreds of colonies, I had no problem with the idea that some did really well, some didn't and some died. Now that I only have a few hives, I want them all to be winners. I guess the lesson is to keep more than you want and then when a few tank, you don't sweat it.
    The temptation to have all colonies perform at optimum rates has lead, inexorably, to what I call the veterinary model of beekeeping. That is, as well a buying in highly productive stock - as many other kinds of husbandry do - you also apply medication as needed - and even prophilactically.

    While this works to raise yields in a closed breeding system, in an open breeding system its a - predictable - disaster. The necessary selection of the healthiest to make the next generation has not just been abandoned - its been made all but impossible.

    I think a worthwhile questions here is: to what extent do we think that altering this state of affairs is part of the solution? What is achievable; what is do-able?

    Competitive economics (capitalism) will always advantage the most profitable system. If that's raising 1-year racing queens and dosing them throughout their lives, what, if anything can we do?

    That, as I see it, is the driver of the current problems. Can you see your solution being adopted by the big commercials for whom the bottom line is the main - or sole - consideration? Can they use that and remain competitive?

    Must beekeeping remain driven by the economic needs of the commercial beekeepers? Is there another way?

    Mike (UK)
    The race isn't always to the swift, nor the fight to the strong, but that's the way to bet

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  3. #82
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    Default Re: I think we're barking up the wrong tree,

    understood jwc. if the genetic make up of individual bees is so scrambled that maternal heritage of the line is no more than a vestige in the mdna then it probably doesn't make any difference.

    but doesn't the observation made by delaney that most of the confirmed ferals studied up and down the appalachians (post varroa) were of m line descent imply that enough of the sub-specie characteristics bled through and resulted in a measurable evolutionary advantage?

    i agree that recombination, open mating, and polyandry confound our best efforts to affect change with our breeding programs. i believe this is the point that you have been making all along, and perhaps what peter was probing in his original post.

    does this mean that we should be less concerned about the make up of breeder queens regarding specific traits and more concerned about the total genetic package including the drone contribution? i suppose that's what i am doing (pretty much by default) when splitting and grafting from the colonies that do the best overall. it appears to be working so far as the quality across the yard is improving year to year.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  4. #83
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    Default Re: I think we're barking up the wrong tree,

    What Delaplane and others are saying is that well mated queens produce healthier colonies.

    We really can't do much else since our stocks are so thoroughly hybridized.

    The flip side to that is that as many as 80% of our queens are 'poorly' mated. Not enough drones/sperm.

    The real issue, IMHO, is that the average queen longevity has dropped to the 6 month mark.

    Not enough breeder queens, and too many colonies to queen/re-queen seems to have led to that.

    It has become 'rent-a-queen'.

  5. #84
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    Default Re: I think we're barking up the wrong tree,

    Quote Originally Posted by WLC View Post

    The real issue, IMHO, is that the average queen longevity has dropped to the 6 month mark.
    not seeing that here, must be more of an issue with commercially produced queens.

    the large production colonies i kept from swarming last year superceded their queens during swarm season so they appear to be replacing them naturally after one year.

    other than a spurt of queen failure over the winter of 2012, (33% of 18 colonies), i haven't noticed any problems in particular regarding longevity with these queens.

    let's not forget that tim ives is reporting that his queens live an average of five years.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  6. #85
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    Default Re: I think we're barking up the wrong tree,

    Quote Originally Posted by WLC View Post
    The real issue, IMHO, is that the average queen longevity has dropped to the 6 month mark.
    I'm not seeing that either SP. Most of mine last at least 2 years with plenty 3 and some 4.

  7. #86
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    Default Re: I think we're barking up the wrong tree,

    PLB writes: "A large population of ferals has a far greater chance of evolving defense mechanisms, than a small isolated population."

    I think this is a serious misconception ---speciation typically occurs on the isolated edges of a population.
    I wasn't talking about speciation. I was talking about resistance.

  8. #87
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    Default Re: I think we're barking up the wrong tree,

    Quote Originally Posted by JWChesnut View Post
    Mitochondrial DNA doesn't have much to do with genetic diversity except indirectly. It is maternally inherited, extra-nuclear, and non-recombinant.* (aside -- a 1994 paper describes partial mDNA inheritance from fathers in honeybees-- it still remains, extra-nuclear and non-sexual.)

    Every single unfertilized ovule in the queens reproductive tract has a unique jumbled recombination of one half of the queens pair of chromosomes. That queen could be a cross-breed of A.m.m and any other race. Her progeny, including the lucky fertilized egg that becomes a daughter queen will share only some random assortment of 1/4 of the A.m.m. genes, but 100% of the A.m.m mtDNA. The daughter queen is a quarter-blood, but has the pure tiny mtDNA ring that provides the essential template to power her mitochondria.

    The daughter's daughter will have 1/4 x 1/4 = 1/16 of the A.m.m. genetic alleles, but still be represented as "pure" A.m.m mDNA. As a marker for phenotype -- mtDNA does not in any form account for the dilution to insignificance of a racial type in just a few generations.

    mDNA provides a marker of division of lineages (as it has somatic mutations with frequency). It contribute to studies of colonization of racial types, as in a non-mobile world the mutation arises only once, and must move to the point of detection. It would be useful as a proxy of inbreeding (if every queen in an apiary came with the exact same of the myriad of minor types of mDNA -- you would know that colonies were likely grafted off a single lineage. A diverse set of even minor variants of mDNA would assure you that multiple queen lineages were present.

    I don't think the letter-level divisions (M, O, C, A ) carry much meaning in the American landscape -- as the foundress queen could be, and likely is, 100 generations in the past, and the "pure" racial phenotype could be present at a concentration of (1 / 4)^100 (a terrifyingly small fraction). Any one of a set of queens sharing a single mDNA 'badge' could be as unrelated as John Lenon, Muhamed Ali, and Miley Cyrus.

    Cite: Meusel MS, Moritz RF (1993). "Transfer of paternal mitochondrial DNA during fertilization of honeybee (Apis mellifera L.) eggs". Curr. Genet. 24 (6): 539–43.
    Yes indeed. I just thought it might be nice to have one's lines actually match with their mDNA (carni lines with carni mDNA, italian lines with italian mDNA, caucasian lines with caucasian mDNA). Makes it more authentic. Sure, in the end, it doesn't really change much. And indeed (and I've said as much on another thread were this came up), mDNA is a poor indicator of genetic diversity, but with the import of old world germplasm by the WSU, one could start a breeding program that would return a line's genetics to statistically high levels of racial purity. Thus my interest to know how much it might cost to do this or to have it done.
    www.apisrustica.com Bee Breeding: Canadian nuclei & queens
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  9. #88
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    Default Re: I think we're barking up the wrong tree,

    awesome michael. i wonder if queens that have a shorter brooding season (in climates with longer winters) tend to last longer because they don't run out of sperm as fast?

    mine are brooding from late january to early october, with a short break in august.

    it make sense that queens that don't get adequately mated would fail sooner. sounds like your bees are getting the job done.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  10. #89
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    Default Re: I think we're barking up the wrong tree,

    Sorry for the long post, but this quote from Mike Allsopp says it better than I can

    Notwithstanding the characteristics of African honeybee races that pre-adapt them to varroa tolerance, the lack of breeding and artificial selection in African honeybees is certain to be a critical factor in varroa mites not becoming a major problem in South Africa as it has almost throughout the world. Varroa tolerance requires constant selection pressure to maintain the tolerance, the selection pressure provided by free-mating and unmanaged colony survival. In contrast, a very large proportion of the commercial beekeeping industry in the USA depends on the purchase of commercially-produced queens with limited genetic variability, which are often poorly mated and infected with various pests and diseases (Camazine et al 1998).

    A similar situation exists in commercial beekeeping operations around the world. To compound it, beekeepers are forever introducing bees from across the globe in an effort to deal with local pests and diseases. All in all, the commercial bee population is generally not genetically diverse and not locally adapted. This is in complete contrast to the African honeybee population which is almost totally unselected, and probably as genetically diverse now as it was a thousand years ago. Bailey (1999) and Allsopp (1999) have argued that selective breeding for “quality” by and for beekeepers has decreased the resistance in honeybee populations to a wide range of pathogens. Highly intensive selection has decreased genetic variability and selected against critical “bee tolerance” factors such as swarming and defensiveness (Bailey 1999).

    A more sensible approach would be to: (a) Manage naturally occurring regional strains of honeybee, rather than importing strains from elsewhere. This is particularly important in Europe and Africa where Apis mellifera is indigenous and less so where it is an exotic species. (b) Practise “primitive” beekeeping as is the case in Africa by allowing natural selection processes to determine which are the most significant characteristics for selection and not the beekeepers or bee scientists, at least to some extent. It is also best to use an un-manipulated wild population, and for this population to be as large as possible.

    Other researchers (e.g. Danka et al 1997; Rinderer et al 2001) have argued that there would be no natural resistance to varroa, and that all unmanaged colonies would be eliminated with only especially bred commercial stock being able to survive. Chemical or biotechnical treatment of colonies (Van Dung et al 1997; Goodwin & Van Eaton 2001), and the breeding of selected stock to develop resistance (Rinderer et al 2001), are held as the only way to maintain colonies faced with the varroa mite. There have also been suggestions that this resistance needs to be maintained through controlled mating and/or gene based selection made possible by the Honeybee Genome project (Evans 2005), much as happens in many varieties of livestock and plant crops.

    The existence of naturally occurring varroa tolerant honeybee populations around the world makes a mockery of these claims, and I would argue that this methodology, albeit seductive, would be ineffective, as has been the case with bee breeding in general. Captive breeding programmes and especially gene selection programmes can never adequately keep up with the changing environment, certainly not to the extent that a “live-and-let-die” approach can. Allowing natural selection to determine who the winners are, will always be the most sensible strategy. This may not sit well with generations of bee-masters and bee scientists, but the dominance of unmanaged bees takes some explaining away. The success of A.m.scutellata in the Americas and the failure of bee diseases in Africa, are two examples that support this approach.
    ANALYSIS OF VARROA DESTRUCTOR INFESTATION OF SOUTHERN AFRICAN HONEYBEE POPULATIONS
    Dissertation submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in the Faculty of Natural & Agricultural Science
    University of Pretoria, Pretoria
    MIKE ALLSOPP June 2006
    Last edited by peterloringborst; 04-01-2014 at 05:41 AM. Reason: CLARITY

  11. #90
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    Default Re: I think we're barking up the wrong tree,

    Thanks Peter. I think much of modern animal selection can get away with the reduced fitness due to greater environmental control and isolation of herds/flocks. However, beekeeping walks the line of wild vs. domestication and it is far more difficult for beekeepers to control the environment and exposure to pests, diseases and nutrition.
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  12. #91
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    Default Re: I think we're barking up the wrong tree,

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    I'm not seeing that either SP. Most of mine last at least 2 years with plenty 3 and some 4.
    Same here Michael, with the occasional one reaching five years.

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    mine are brooding from late january to early october, with a short break in august.
    Much the same here, and some are brooding all through the winter as pollen is available all year round, if flying conditions are suitable.

  13. #92
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    Default Re: I think we're barking up the wrong tree,

    i have mentioned in earlier posts that the bees i have are predecessors of locally adapted unmanaged survivors cut out from trees. they have proven their ability to resist varroa and thrive as evidenced by their seventeen years of continuity off treatments. there has not been any scientific study of these bees regarding their genetics or resistant traits, but the success speaks for itself. i believe that what is described in peter's reference is taking place here.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  14. #93
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    Default Re: I think we're barking up the wrong tree,

    Regarding Mike Allsopp:

    While I admire his conclusions, and point to this thesis often as a potential "new direction" it is easy to see the weakness in the argument. He is comparing conventional breeding to feral populations. But at the same time he is comparing European bees to African bees. So the difference could be entirely due to that factor. Which ruins his whole case.

    In fact, survival of colonies can be due to many factors, which the beekeeper may not be able to control. For example, I may succeed at treatment free in an area where all the beekeepers are effectively suppressing mites, so there isn't a heavy external pressure on my hives. Or, I may be located in an area where there aren't many other beekeepers so my colonies stabilize.

    Conversely (and this is more common) I may attempt to go treatment free but hives all around me are crashing from heavy mite loads, and these are spilling into my hives in late summer. That has happened to me over and over again. The point being that it is easy to attribute cause and effect if you ignore other relevant factors.

    PLB

  15. #94
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    Default Re: I think we're barking up the wrong tree,

    Quote Originally Posted by peterloringborst View Post
    I wasn't talking about speciation. I was talking about resistance.
    Breeding for resistance is just a special form of managed speciation.

    Unless your model is hybrid broccoli (or Starline bees), where a F1 or F2 cross is made from highly isolated inbred parent lines.

    Breeding for resistance implies "fixing" a novel set of alleles into a population at some threshold concentration. That is sub-speciation. An organism (like honeybees) that has a multi-million year evolutionary history of resisting genetic drift is not going "fix resistance" just because the bee-keeper wishes it would.

  16. #95
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    Default Re: I think we're barking up the wrong tree,

    >I'm not seeing that either SP. Most of mine last at least 2 years with plenty 3 and some 4.

    That's what I see.

    As far as breeding for individual traits, I have said that was a bad idea all along. There are far too many things involved in the overall outcome to judge genetics by one or two traits. We need to look at the big picture of healthy, productive, gentle bees and stop looking at the details. The details will mislead you. You need to look at the whole colony, not individual traits that you think will contribute.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  17. #96
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    Default Re: I think we're barking up the wrong tree,

    I wasn't talking about speciation. I was talking about resistance.

    Breeding for resistance is just a special form of managed speciation.
    I wasn't talking about breeding, either. Natural resistance formed by natural selection. I don't know why you bring speciation into this. Apis hasn't produced a new species in hundreds of thousands of years. Now, it might have if the African and European populations had remained isolated for a few more hundred thousand years. There is clear divergence between those two populations in terms of differential mating, behavior, size etc but they are capable of interbreeding, so most authorities refer to them as still the same species.

  18. #97
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    Default Re: I think we're barking up the wrong tree,

    For these putative "resistant" alleles to become frequent in the bee population, they must overcome the special and very strong bee mechanisms for normalization of the genome.

    Bees add genetic capacity by a unique trend toward hyper-vigorous polyandry -- so the hive becomes a "village" of many specialities. Eusocial Polyandry is very rare in nature (as it violates kinship selection)-- and bees have evolved this odd and counter-Darwinian mating system because it contributes to their long-term species stability.

    We might want bees to breed resistance -- as it should manifestly improve local fitness. The bees take a much longer view -- they "assume" that the local, 'fitness-de-jour' is a long-term trap. Their insect competitors that "specialized" on some long-extinct flower are now all extinct as well. It was a eusocial experiment with many fathers and glacially inefficient specialization that means the honey bees didn't speciate quickly, and they are still extant.

    The bees are in a "box" -- the system that prevents them from going off on the tangent of Salvia tongue-length extension to ridiculous hawk-moth proportions, also means that faced with a novel parasite are unable to "breed up" to the challenge.

    Honeybees have faced some type of Varroa before -- Varroa and Honeybee met in the Afghanistan Hindu Kush and along the central Asian Oxus valley (heartland of the Apple) in the millenial past. I would like to know the ecology of those previous encounters. Did bee's simply retreat -- making a cordon sanitaire -- the reason bees never entered the sub-continent India, or did the encounter have other outcomes.

    I hypothesize that the Korean Varroa is a novel, and very recent, evolved form --- Hypervirulence in the largely clonal Varroa was selected for in historic times -- by the bees themselves! The bees (Cerana and Mellifera equally) are engaged in a "typhoid Mary" strategy to empty the competitive niche of other bees to expand in the highly restricted survival sites in Siberian cold.

    Since Salvia keeps coming up in this discussion --- did you know California Salvia engage in "competitive allopathy" -- they literally poison the soil beneath their canopy. This means competition (including the progeny of the plant) cannot germinate -- it is not until a fire removes the plant that the very metabolically expensive chemical poisons (exuded by the roots) are denatured and a new crop of hyper competitors can grow. Bees are (hypothetically) engaged in a similar "laying waste" strategy by accomodating the Varroa.

  19. #98
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    Default Re: I think we're barking up the wrong tree,

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post

    let's not forget that tim ives is reporting that his queens live an average of five years.
    I'm working with 8+year treatment free, SUGAR free and naturally raised Queens.

    I don't keep hives that need life support.

    Tim Ives

  20. #99
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    Default Re: I think we're barking up the wrong tree,

    Quote Originally Posted by peterloringborst View Post
    Sorry for the long post, but this quote from Mike Allsopp says it better than I can
    Mike Allsop says 40% of it. He hints at the missing part, and its clearly embedded in his thinking, but he doesn't come out and say it.

    Intensive breeding is only a small part of the problem. The rest - the big part - is frustration of the natural emergence of resistance due to systematic treatments.

    Perhaps there's a need to be inoffensive. But we won't understand the problem unless we're clear about the major cause. The maintenance of, and creation of more, treatment-dependent bees is what perpetuates ... treatment dependent bees.

    Ferals don't have that problem. That's why they're successful.

    It also needs saying: the're no one-off cure other than the adoption of systematic propagation of resistant-only bees. The population has to be 'husbanded' - just the same as any other organic population.

    Breeding fine resistant bees then not maintaining their qualities through selective propagation isn't the answer.

    Mike (UK)
    The race isn't always to the swift, nor the fight to the strong, but that's the way to bet

  21. #100
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    Default Re: I think we're barking up the wrong tree,

    Quote Originally Posted by JWChesnut View Post
    Breeding for resistance implies "fixing" a novel set of alleles into a population at some threshold concentration.
    No it doesn't. The term 'breeding' covers anything from just making offspring to line breeding, and all between.

    What we need to be talking about is one of the in-betweens - the maintenance and improvement of resistance-imparting allelles in our own local breeding pools.

    This is easily achievable through systematic selective propagation - mirroring the natural process.

    It must be ongoing - done in every generation. The concentration of allelles will be a function of this process, the natural process, and (negatively) the treating of local bees. Period.

    Mike (UK)
    The race isn't always to the swift, nor the fight to the strong, but that's the way to bet

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