If you could start from scratch
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Illinois
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    61

    Default If you could start from scratch

    Hello all,

    I have been keeping bees a few years and last year I was able to raise queens successfully for the first time. This year I would like to make a more serious attempt at breeding queens. I have set aside 25 colonies for the purpose of providing bees, brood, and resources for making up nucs. I have a colony headed by a russian queen who was open mated to a mostly carniolan population that I would like to use to graft from. This colony has survived one winter already and went into the 2016-2017 winter strong and with plenty of stores.

    I have a mating yard in northern Illinois that is relatively secluded from other beekeepers, and within a mile and a half I have 10 colonies of what I believe to be primarily carniolan genetics. My goal this year is to focus on splitting colonies, and to make up as many nucs as I can from my group of 25 colonies.

    I am seeking opinions on what kind of breeding stock to incorporate into my set-up, if any. Would it be beneficial in any way to use a breeder queen rather than my survivor stock to graft from? Would it make a significant impact on the quality of my queens if I installed breeder queens with desirable genetics into my drone colonies? If so does anyone have an opinion on stock or traits that are worth incorporating (VSH, Northern queens, etc.) Lets say my survivor stock doesn't make it through the winter; what kind of stock would you use in 2017 if you had to start from scratch?

    Thank you in advance for any and all replies

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    KC, MO, USA
    Posts
    4,646

    Default Re: If you could start from scratch

    >what kind of stock would you use in 2017 if you had to start from scratch?

    Local survivor stock.

    If introducing "VSH, Northern queens, etc" into your mix which dominate and recessive genes are going to come out? VSH is said to diminish after several generation, if that's the case what is left? Your true feral survivors have already done it, if you're able to get that stock that's what I would use.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Casey, Il, USA
    Posts
    4,130

    Default Re: If you could start from scratch

    x2 on local survivor stock. Really like cutouts from old established colonies.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    NE PA
    Posts
    111

    Default Re: If you could start from scratch

    your best sucess has been with russan / carny cross to date,, might pay to replicate that queen consistantly , before mudding the waters

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    7,861

    Default Re: If you could start from scratch

    I disagree!. While the local survivor is the way to go, you can also incorporate better queens into
    your operation like the AFB resistant traits. If Russians fit your purpose then get more of those
    queens. This way your carnis genetics can be maximized along with the Russians. This should be a
    compatible trait if you do it right with the right Russian breeders. Eventually the Russians will be mutted with
    the local canis stock if you do open mating. If your beekeeping record is not straight then after the 4th open mating
    generation they will all be 90% carnis in your hives. In this case I would like the Russians to be on equal footing with the
    local carnis if I can. For example, I only keep Italians here and acquired the compatible stocks all over if I can. Since
    the local carnis is the dominant bees here, I have no choice but to find other Italians to graft from. I don't want to have
    more carnis bees here that is why I have to diversify a bit by incorporating the Italians in to my area. In the future I will continue
    to incorporate the mite fighting Italians into my operation to make them stronger. If you don't mind a diverse population then
    get some compatible bees too. No doubt that diversity with compatible genetics will make them stronger bees in the bee world.
    Now the question is where to get the best queens be it a breeder or other special queens?
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  7. #6
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Shreveport, Louisiana, USA
    Posts
    2,467

    Default Re: If you could start from scratch

    Quote Originally Posted by Harley Craig View Post
    x2 on local survivor stock. Really like cutouts from old established colonies.
    x3.
    David. The way you want to keep bees is most likely at least as good as any way that I could suggest. Probably better.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Illinois
    Posts
    61

    Default Re: If you could start from scratch

    Thank you for all the replies!

    birddog suggested trying to replicate the success I have had with my RussianxCarni mix. As beepro alluded to in his post, over time the carni genetics will come to dominate. With this in mind, would it be better to graft from a "pure" Russian breeder queen rather than my survivor cross? would installing Russian queens in some of my drone colonies be a good idea? How about grafting daughters from my cross survivor and installing those in my drone colony if I graft from a Russian breeder?

    Again thank you for the responses and patience. I am new to queen rearing and all the parameters to consider can really make your head spin.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    7,861

    Default Re: If you could start from scratch

    For the last 3 seasons, I have been experimenting on using
    Cordovan breeders to graft. After the 3rd to 4th generation of open
    mating they turn into the local carnis bees. So if possible get the Russian
    breeders to graft. Then the daughters can be open mated with the
    local carnis. At any rate, the local will dominate over eventually.
    How many Russian drones you can send to the local DCAs will be the success
    or failure of this program. You have to dominate the local with your
    Russian genetics. Not sure how your can keep them apart though since they are
    all grey traits. With the Cordovan I can tell by their color. You will need better tracking in order to see the difference between carnis and Russians. One little mistake and you'll be wondering all season long. Is it carnis or Russians mixed?
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    Dayton, Ohio
    Posts
    249

    Default Re: If you could start from scratch

    Will Italian nurse bees care for Russian queen cells or will they destroy them?

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Illinois
    Posts
    61

    Default Re: If you could start from scratch

    Yes, it is possible to requeen Italians with a Russian cell.

    https://www.ars.usda.gov/ARSUserFile...f%20Mating.pdf

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    7,861

    Default Re: If you could start from scratch

    All newly emerged fuzzy bees and the young big fat nurse bees will
    care for any foreign queen not of their genetics. This is because they are too
    innocent bees at this stage. The fuzzy bees need to harden up to turn into the
    nurse bees first in order to care for the queen and cells You cannot use the older bees that will destroy the
    cells or queen for sure. This is how my signature line came into being!
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Kamloops, BC, Canada
    Posts
    1,407

    Default Re: If you could start from scratch

    I would concentrate on your survivor stock. As others have stated there is a chance that introducing too much new stock will muddy the waters.

    I am working from the premise that I want my bees to mostly mate with each other, but not exclusively. So I am trying to set up an area where my bees dominate the local genetics. I want some genetic influx from the outside. But I want nature to reinforce survivor traits without overly diluting them with untested genetics.

    So, taking the same approach, I will bring in a few queens to supplement what is going on, but not so many to muck up the genetics. Dribble them in I say. Raise daughters immediately from them with local drones.

    I am in the middle of the process of testing what resistance traits my bees have. If I have VSH for instance, there is no need to bring in VSH. Same with mite biting traits. Once these traits are in your population, there is no need to bring them in. Natural selection will bring them to the fore if they are useful. These are good first steps. As we understand more about resistance, we may find multiple genetic mechanisms for them. The difference between them may only be seen using molecular markers. Eventually it is going to be possible to have a fairly complete knowledge of molecular markers of resistance, not only for mites, but for viruses, brood diseases as well. We can use these to selectively enhance local genetic diversity.

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Manassas, Virginia, USA
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    3,080

    Default Re: If you could start from scratch

    At the moment we have two breeder queens from the same local apiary. All our other surviving hives are from the oldest of these, a great old bug but she's coming up on her 4th summer and is on borrowed time. The new breeder gets to show her stuff this year. We may buy another. We're relying on the fact that the breeder we get them from has be at this for years, starting with VSH.

    Our Russians swarmed last summer and the hybrid queen they left behind was a dud. We know the history of that Russian queen ... queen cells from several sources were put in a Russian hive, and the workers killed all but the Russians queen cells. We tried getting a queen in that colony all summer with no joy. Since then I've heard some advice on this forum that hybridizing with Russians may be disappointing. In general, first generation hybrids are a crap shoot. You may be able to work genes into an apiary but the mix has to cook for some generations.

    So our strategy is to get several lines going from that one apiary that produces great bees, and stick with them. They probably have local survivors to breed with. We are not going to attempt to introduce pure lines, just start with bees we've had good luck with, allow open mating, and if we want to breed, select the best.

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
    Posts
    2,547

    Default Re: If you could start from scratch

    I'd check with the bee clubs in the local area and see who is producing the most honey, go to their yard and see if they are acceptably well-behaved, then if they are, buy a few of his or her nuc's, or a full colony ready to be split.

    Open mate them, keep records on the F1's, breed from the best and start eliminating the "bad" 10% to 35% (depending on how many colonies you have and how bad they are) the following year. For the mean time, maybe even for 2 or 3 years, building up your numbers is far more important than selection. Later on, when you have the numbers that selecting several good queens is easy, or rather the problem is that there are so many good ones to choose from, now it is easy to replace the less desirable queens with excellent stock.

    Eventually, you will be trying out all the best stock in the country, it will be a matter of crossing them with the best locally-adapted bees to make even better F1's, F2's etc., while eliminating the low performers.

    It's dang near March 1st, so I hope you have the boxes and frames all made up for the increaser colonies! If not, get crackin'!!!

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Illinois
    Posts
    61

    Default Re: If you could start from scratch

    Thanks for the advice Kilo, I'm working on those boxes!
    https://www.facebook.com/17583970977...type=3&theater

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