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  1. #21
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    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    I would guess they're Italians based on the way they look. I believe it's the same trait, but you never know genetically, but Carpenter selects for the same or a similar criteria. Perhaps I did not word that last post correctly, but it seems the devout just preach, get some feral bees and that's just about the end all of it.... it's not that simple and feral bees don't always have the best traits to work with from a commercial aspect. Not to say they're all bad, but sometimes it's better to mine traits from them into existing stocks as Fusion has done and then keep adjusting them to suit your needs.

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  3. #22
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    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    Just before Easter I got my first shipment of New Zealand produced (supposed) TF queens.

    Had a look in some of the hives 2 days ago and one of them in particular is extremely hygeinic. Or at least, they were pulling and chewing a lot of larvae. Initially I thought well this one is no good cos they obviously have a mite infestation so likely I won't be breeding from it. But on further thought it could be they have no more mites than the other hives but are just being more obviously aggressive about getting them out.

    Very interesting question. Anyhow we are going into winter here so I'll leave judgement till next spring when it will be a lot more obvious if this hive did have a big mite issue, or if they got right on top of it.

  4. #23
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    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    OT, keep in mind that combining VSH with Allogrooming gives the optimum level of mite tolerance along with honey production potential.
    NW Alabama, 50 years, 20 colonies and growing, sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 14 frame square Dadant broodnest

  5. #24
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    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    Agreed, and I base that on where attempts to breed varroa resistant bees based purely on hygiene have ended up. There must be more to it than just hygiene. But I note in lharders opening post he says they are looking at a lot more things than just hygiene.

    Also, the bees I got were not from the NZ VSH breeding program they came from somewhere else.

  6. #25
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    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    Well good luck with that OT. Know anything about their history? Just the beginning of the process.

    Meanwhile, the second visit of intrepid samplers is upon me. Initial hive weights will be taken for the honey production test and the 2nd hygienic test will be done. Whatever boxes I need to have on for the next two weeks need to be on before Monday. They should be OK as they stand, but I just may undersuper with an empty box and frames just in case I need it. Meanwhile, I suspect a supercedure in one of the test hives, knocking it out of the pool. Was stealing a bit of brood and noticed a queen cell that looked emerged, and another queen cell. It also means no stealing brood for nucs for awhile.

    So it looks like I have some hygienic behaviour in my overwintered nucs (5 out of 12?), not necessarily vsh. I have some queens from an apiary in Saskatchewan that are apparently biters, which have ties with the Saskatraz program as well. Hmmm. I think they will look at some groomed off mites looking for damage. Will be interesting to see what they find.

    I think generally, more resistance traits are better than one. One is often easily overcome. Mites are probably easier to overcome than cereal rusts for instance (for their respective hosts of course) so perhaps a few are sufficient. My uncle spent some time traveling looking at wild cousins of oats looking for resistant traits. A common activity in plant breeders. Just in case feral stuff is not properly appreciated.

    And don't forget the effect of the viral background, how dynamic it is and how it interacts with mites. What if the benefit of isolated apiaries has more to do with more stable viral dynamics rather than isolated bee breeding? This information is more difficult to assess unless properly equipped so ignored. Much easier to count mites. As technology improves, hopefully we will get a much better picture of whats happening over landscape scales.

  7. #26
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    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by lharder View Post
    Know anything about their history?
    Yes pretty interesting actually. There is a beekeeper here who had some kind of health issue and hardly looked at his bees for 18 months. Then when he was able to get back into it nearly all hives were dead, but there was a handful of hives alive, looking good, and with marked queens so he knew they were not new swarms. 18 months survival treatment free may seem chicken feed to you guys in the US, but here in NZ it's virtually unheard of. Trouble was by now he had no money to get himself re established so he asked other beekeepers to put money in, and if they did, he would re establish his bees breeding from the survivors, and when able, would send queens to the folks who put money in. So I put some money in, this was a few years ago, and finally my first batch of queens has showed up. He has been very careful with drone control and where to mate plus trying to weed any mite prone hives that develop, out of his breeding pool. He has periodically updated the stakeholders with how things are going and what he is doing and looks like he has been very careful and done it well. Each cage was marked with a code that denoted which breeder queen that queen had come from, and also which breeder queens had supplied drones where she was mated. So I'll be using his stock for my own breeders next season.

    Just wondering lharder, why does it matter if the hive supersedes? This is normally a smooth process with the young queen gradually taking over from the old queen and should not affect results too much. Or is it that they want to work with one queen of known genetics in each hive and not have any changes?

  8. #27
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    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    Evaluating a single queen can be expressed with standard analysis of variance. Evaluating two different queens in the same hive at the same time can't, the results will always be suspect. Look up single anova if you want to stretch your brain a bit.

    One note you might want to keep near and dear is that early generation treatment free bees often have multiple flaws. They may swarm, break brood rearing at the wrong time, not build up to an appropriate level for the flow, etc. They represent raw material from which more refined selections should be made.

    The most effective method of transitioning to treatment free is to get the right genetics and go cold turkey. You might want to do this with one yard of bees while still treating others. Also, some drone mothers will be the most important part of your work next spring. Would be very nice if you could get a few TF queens mated very early to replace all the queens in an apiary and then let them produce drones for later pure matings.
    NW Alabama, 50 years, 20 colonies and growing, sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 14 frame square Dadant broodnest

  9. #28
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    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    Don't just ignore the drones!
    With a high density of the treated drones, the next generation of resistant bees is really insignificant.
    With an isolated mating yard saturated with the resistant genetics going to the DCAs, then there is a
    good chance to find some good genetics for the 3rd generation. I only send off the good drones to the
    local DCAs by careful selection of the drone mother colony. This way the resistant genetics are ensured
    when it comes to selection of a breeder queen. This is a slow process where as with AI it will speed up the
    selection process with good certainty. KC mentioned to send off the drones and virgin queens to an AI facility.
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  10. #29
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    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    Thanks for the advice guys.

    Other thing I was wondering about lharder, who actually pays for this? Just, seems like a heckuva lot of time will be put in by these researchers, is it government funded? Just curious, big issue over here is we are a small country and getting money for any kind of research is a major problem.

  11. #30
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    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    Yes pretty interesting actually. There is a beekeeper here who had some kind of health issue and hardly looked at his bees for 18 months. Then when he was able to get back into it nearly all hives were dead, but there was a handful of hives alive, looking good, and with marked queens so he knew they were not new swarms. 18 months survival treatment free may seem chicken feed to you guys in the US, but here in NZ it's virtually unheard of. Trouble was by now he had no money to get himself re established so he asked other beekeepers to put money in, and if they did, he would re establish his bees breeding from the survivors, and when able, would send queens to the folks who put money in. So I put some money in, this was a few years ago, and finally my first batch of queens has showed up. He has been very careful with drone control and where to mate plus trying to weed any mite prone hives that develop, out of his breeding pool. He has periodically updated the stakeholders with how things are going and what he is doing and looks like he has been very careful and done it well. Each cage was marked with a code that denoted which breeder queen that queen had come from, and also which breeder queens had supplied drones where she was mated. So I'll be using his stock for my own breeders next season.

    Just wondering lharder, why does it matter if the hive supersedes? This is normally a smooth process with the young queen gradually taking over from the old queen and should not affect results too much. Or is it that they want to work with one queen of known genetics in each hive and not have any changes?
    Sounds like the stories in the US. Serendipitous stumbling onto a good situation and being canny enough to work with it. Even if this doesn't work out, it sounds there are rumblings of mite resistance in your neck of the woods. Promising signs. Good for you in supporting it.

    Yes they are trying to match genetics with outcomes. The results of that colony is hopelessly compromised. Marking and clipping the wings of existing queens shows how seriously they take it (I cringed a bit when they asked me if they could clip wings, but agreed to its usefulness in this situation). One of the practical goals of this project is to have genetic markers that identify resistance traits that can be used to assess bees. If you could sample a few bees from a new queen, you could assess her before her traits are expressed in a colony. I imagine as soon as you could sample some eggs. By doing some viral stuff as well we get a bit of toe dipping in the complexity of this situation. It may not just be a practical technical exercise, but some interesting science may come out of it.

    Funding? Not sure, but probable multiple sources. There is some government funding of course and the provincial bee keeping associations are throwing in some money. We have a lab dedicated to bee health in Alberta with abilities to sample virus types and some money dedicated to some practical but useful research. Meaning some tie ins are easy to do with infrastructure laid down. Lenard Foster has considerable expertise in the molecular/genetic side of things in his lab at UBC. I'll see if I can root out the funding formula for you.

  12. #31
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    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    it's mostly by default i guess, because of lack of expertise and a limited amount of time available, that i haven't really been selecting for this trait or that.

    rather i'm letting overall performance and general success determine which of my queens i select grafts from.

    obviously they are selected for survival since they wouldn't be here to select from otherwise, but i do give points for how many winters a colony has made it through.

    going hopelessly queenless is the same as a colony loss for me in this regard. so the more winters survived with the colony successfully requeening itself the better, unless the colony has shown a high propensity for swarming.

    after survival i guess it's honey production, (which happens to be closely associated with a favorable response to swarm prevention), that is the next important deciding factor as to which queens are looked at for breeder status. this is where keeping careful notes about how much new comb gets drawn and how much honey gets harvested comes in handy.

    it's only been a few short years, but i'm getting the sense that overall quality, overwintering success, successful supercedure, and productivity are all trending in a positive direction.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  13. #32
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    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    SP, I think your approach is perfect. Its a bit of a black box approach where success is built upon and failure abandoned even if the precise reasons aren't immediately apparent. Just as mother nature does it. Survival and honey production are the key parameters to focus on. The strength of this approach is that potential useful traits aren't weeded out if they aren't identified yet. It also allows genetic solutions that aren't necessarily our own. Nature is constantly mixing things up and experimenting. I think of it as a complex algorithm that instantly adapts to constantly shifting selection pressures.

    Its also my approach, though I am just at the survival stage at this point.

    So I think I would use genetic tools (if they were available) more as an understanding of what's going on. What are the known traits that are at work in the local population? If we had a list, we could specifically import a few traits that are absent and introduce them to the local pool for mother nature to mess with. New and a broader base of solutions to problems could be arrived at. Ongoing sampling could identify whether a trait was successfully introduced and its frequency in the population. I can do some of this without genetic tools, but much more guesswork is involved.

    Its also possible that we don't have to stop at bee genetics. We could also look at pest/disease genetics and at some point, with a greater understanding of symbiotic relationships in a hive, those genetics as well.

    Then put it in context of management, a fairly complete understanding of local success could be arrived at.

  14. #33
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    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    many thanks lharder for your thoughtful reply. i've been following your reports with great interest, and i appreciate that you take the time to share them with us.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  15. #34
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    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    The group came out yesterday and today to do the second round of hygienic testing and take initial hive weights for a 2 week honey production test. Hopefully the flow kicks in a big way as its supposed to. Will be interesting to see how consistent hygienic behaviour is. Just looking at it briefly there is some within hive variation between the 2 tests.

    Will be reporting in as results come in.

  16. #35
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    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    What are the known traits that are at work in the local population?

    The only way to know is to do some test trials in term of the bee behaviors.
    By that I will test the bee's mite fighting ability as well as their hygienic behavior
    within 2 bee emergence cycles. If they lack the hygienic behaviors then bring in
    queens that have this traits. If they are deficient in the might fighting ability then
    also buy queens from a reputable bee operation to enhance this traits. After 3-4 generation
    of grafting then you should know what traits are known in the local bee population. It is not
    as simple as one thought. After 4 years of experimenting still need to enhance what is needed
    in the local population. The goal is to make better mite fighting and honey producing bees with
    gentleness incorporated.
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  17. #36
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    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by beepro View Post

    The only way to know is to do some test trials in term of the bee behaviors.
    By that I will test the bee's mite fighting ability as well as their hygienic behavior
    within 2 bee emergence cycles. If they lack the hygienic behaviors then bring in
    queens that have this traits.
    How do you run your test trials? It would be cool to check a queen after two emergence cycles. How do you do that in your apiary? And while you're doing this, what is your base line for hygenic behavior? Like- I.e. How hygenic ?

  18. #37
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    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    I began my little bee experiment after acquiring some Cordovan queens from a
    reputable breeder who use the survivor queens as breeders.
    With these queen I have grafted many daughters from. They
    are open mated with the local Carnis drones from the local bee association carnis bees. The majority
    of the local drones are the carnis genetics because listed on the local bee association are what
    they used. Now I have the carnis and Cordovan to compare to in term of their mite fighting ability
    and hygienic behaviors. After 4 generation I can keep track of which hive have the hygienic behaviors
    when they do housekeeping and the mite removal if any. At first, they did not do a good job at fighting the mites.
    I blamed it on the local carnis drones but it could be both sides involved. Seeing my only 2 hives crashed by
    the mites 2 years ago, I incorporated the allogrooming behaviors with a Russian x Italians queen from a
    out of state tf apiary. Instantly, from her daughters I can see the mite count drop significantly leaving only 2-4 mites
    per frame of the newly emerged bees. Finally, no more DWVs and mite infested bees. My apiary is near mite free now, finally!
    Now I got a Glenn x LA bee lab daughter from a reputable breeder. She carry the vsh genetics from her mother coming from the LA bee lab. I will use her to graft some daughters for the Autumn queens. Then will do some test to decide how hygienic they are. How hygienic? It is good enough to keep the mites under control if not to get rid of them completely without any of my help. But when needed to keep the hive surviving until the might fighting ability kicks in I can always do some oav using my homemade oav gadget under the hive.

    Glenn x LA bee lab vsh queen:
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  19. #38
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    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    Quote Originally Posted by lharder View Post
    And don't forget the effect of the viral background, how dynamic it is and how it interacts with mites. What if the benefit of isolated apiaries has more to do with more stable viral dynamics rather than isolated bee breeding? This information is more difficult to assess unless properly equipped so ignored. Much easier to count mites. As technology improves, hopefully we will get a much better picture of whats happening over landscape scales.
    Does any of this mite-monitoring truly improve on traditional make-increase-from-the-best, when 'best' is the most productive under hands off condition?

    I guess most of the need for more intensive genetic management comes from poor ability to influence the drone environment due to an insufficient number of hives and interference from nearby treaters.

    I have 80 hives kept under zero interference, given unlimited brood space, at a fairly isolated location. The good-uns build big, make lots of drones and lots of honey; and I make more bees from them (and their drones). Its systematic, simple, and seems to be working well. Its all done from survivor stock. I spend my time making more boxes rather than looking for mites, or even looking at bees. I haven't seen any DWV this year at all.

    What I'm trying to do is run a natural selection environment in the belief that that is the best possible mechanism for producing strong strains. Upon that foundation I'm helping productivity along. What the factors are that are working are I've no idea. I just know (pace John Kefuss) they are working.

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

  20. #39
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    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    Mike, yes your approach is a black box one and is a powerful approach in my opinion. I am trying to achieve something similar. I also have this opportunity to have this parallel set of proxy information at the same time.

    I've been thinking that tf may work best in the back eddys of the beekeeping world. It may be just about some genetic isolation and the relative size of your apiary compared to others. These are things I am also trying to follow to some degree. I want to increase my size and become more of a genetic bully in my area, I want some elements of isolated mating that reinforces resistant genetics (I also am interested some open mating where there are other beekeepers where some resistant genetics can infiltrate and my bees can steal some new genetic tools.

    However, the other advantage of relative isolation is that the viral/disease environment is relatively stable. Meaning natural selection has a set of goal posts to aim at that is relatively slow to move. In the heart of migratory path of commercial beekeepers, ones bees would be exposed to every new viral/disease variant and other pests that are out there. It would make adaptation much more difficult. In a more isolated setting, bees would have occasional challenges to adapt to rather than an constant onslaught of them. If we gain more specific understanding of this process with regard to bees (I think the principles of the risks or moving biological material around are well understood at the theoretical level), then perhaps some unsustainable business models can be gradually undermined and we can move to a more sustainable local type of beekeeping.

  21. #40
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    Default Re: a little scientific involvement with TF bees.

    Small update: Got a little mite data from May. Percentage values ranges from 0 to 5 %. 160 to 290 bees were shaken twice with alcohol. The 5 % figure was an outlier with other values ranging from 0 to 1.8 in 12 colonies. Should probably histogram it. I have some bee weight data as well, so I'm hoping I can get a comparison with some others in the study who are on 5.4 foundations. Most of my bees are foundationless.

    So we are going to do it again this week. Will also be sampling for nosema and other pathogens. Gonna be real interesting to get these results. There are also going to be some mite boards installed and samples of mites taken to see if these bees beat them up. The queens will also be looked for and verified. That's going to be heaps of fun this time of year.

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