John Kefuss The Science of Resistance Raising
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  1. #1
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    Default John Kefuss The Science of Resistance Raising

    We've talked lately about the role of science in beekeeping, and are here particularly interested in science and treatment-free beekeeping. This recent paper by arguably _the_ foremost beekeeper-scientist, John Kefuss, is I think a milestone in the case for treatment free beekeeping.

    It contains as least some treatment of pretty much all the questions that need to be addressed by beekeepers wishing to go treatment free, and supplies references to anyone who wants to dig deeper:

    Selection for resistance to Varroa destructor under commercial beekeeping conditions

    John Kefuss, Jacques Vanpoucke, Maria Bolt & Cyril Kefuss

    Journal of Apicultural Research

    Volume 54, 2015 - Issue 5
    Received 08 Jun 2015, Accepted 24 Feb 2016, Published online: 02 Jun 2016

    http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/...9.2016.1160709

    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. #2
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    Default Re: John Kefuss The Science of Resistance Raising

    Mike posted this paper a week ago and I have been sitting here waiting for someone to reply. No reply!

    This is a very interesting paper, at least to me. What Kefuss showed was the result of his bond application was the bees did evolve resistance to mites causing a lower mite population in untreated hives with no sign of mite tolerance. The experimental design was very good to show which happened. There are things I could pick on with respect to the paper. But, knowing if resistance or tolerance is what you need to be thinking about is a very important finding. If you combine the Kefuss results with results from others on mite migration from hive to hive I think you can start to think about optimum management methods that could speed your progress towards a better bee.

    To answer the question Kefuss had you really do need to use a bond approach. Once you have the answer to that question bond makes no sense to me at all. Lets just say you are Mike and have about 100 colonies in the spring. If you monitor mite counts in those colonies and keep records in a while you are going to see the counts for some colonies going up fast and you hope that other colonies are going up in counts a lot slower. If you add in an occasional test for hygienic behavior you even get more information about good versus bad. Even a simple pin prick test of hygienic behavior is a lot better than no information.

    Now think about Randy's results on queen zero when her colony was placed in a location with a bunch of high mite count colonies. Suddenly she was not zero any more. This says even the best colony can get problems if exposed to other colonies with high mite counts.

    So, what does all this say Mike should do? It seems to me he should want to protect his best colonies from the risk of getting flooded with mites from poorer performers. He could simply move high mite colonies to an out yard. He could simply kill the bad colonies. Give them calcium cyanide for instance so he does not damage the comb and honey. Or he could requeen them with a queen he hoped would be better and toss on an apivar strip to knock the mite count low enough the colony has a decent restarting point and also does not pose a risk to his good colonies.

    My point is simple. He has options available to do something besides sit there and do nothing. Those options protect his other colonies and preserve resources. Any of those options also remove a drone population that has poor genetics so his new queens have a better chance of mating with good drones. The downside is I am asking him to do more work doing things like mite counts and hygienic testing and keeping records. We all know that mite count data is poor. Another thread talks about the ratio of reproductive mites versus phoretic mites. That ratio is going to vary with time and hive conditions I am sure. The alcohol wash is the best we have even if it is not really very good. But, it is better than nothing and it beats all the alternatives. If you simply eliminated the 10% of your colonies that are the very worst a couple of times a year the result just might be to speed up progress significantly. You would be eliminating colonies that were going to die anyhow, they just did not know it yet.

    Based on my observations and the observations of others in my harsh winter climate there is more than raw August mite counts in winter colony deaths. I am seeing a big excess of deaths in those colonies that were the very strongest in Sept. In fact those strongest colonies account for most of my winter losses. A big population of bees with a mite count of 2% in late August can result in sky high mite counts in Nov after the population shrinks down to winter size and the mites have had another six weeks to reproduce. A warm September like last year really brings this point home. I had two hives dead by Jan 1 that each made 60 pounds of harvestable honey on golden rod in September. Those hives were three deeps and two honey supers with bees on top of the inner cover in late Sept. So, it may take some experience to know what hive is doing fine and what hive is in trouble even if both have the same mite counts. You need big populations of bees to make a big honey crop. So, you want to be careful your selection program is not selecting for smaller bee populations.

    When you read a scientific paper you should not just think about if you should follow the methods used in the paper. Often those methods were used to define some parameters. In the Kerfuss paper the big question was are we looking for resistance or tolerance. Once you know the answer to that question you have alternatives that may make more sense than simply following the same route used in the paper.

    Mike, this is a really helpful paper. Thank you for posting it.

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    Default Re: John Kefuss The Science of Resistance Raising

    Thanks Richard. I think you are right in a key respect. It sort of dawned on me as spring came on and the numbers were (kind of) holding up, that I now had a new tool. I should start looking at the whole apiary afresh, as a single entity. I came up with the analogy: it is an engine.

    Now that I have an engine I can think about what sort of vehicle I can build around it, and where I might want to drive it.

    I can go for a honey-car - and I should: honey can contribute usefully to my income, freeing me up to spend more time fine-tuning the engine and looking at the maps.

    I should work toward more comb and better output. Feeding will contribute a lot to that end. Swarms can be directed to build comb hard (they are good at it).

    Freshly extracted comb can be returned promptly, and placed on those colonies that can make best use of it. Breaking up poor-performers might be useful, but good genes could be lost that way... breaking them up while preserving the old queen (unless there's a clear reason to dump her) might be good. A look at records should made too.

    And I should press for better non-treatment health through husbanding the genes systematically and intelligently.

    I'm not too bothered about mitey hives hanging around. I follow Kefuss in thinking we should allow the pressure for adaptation to remain. Varroa are our friends - they tell us which hives can handle them.

    I believe too in the co-evolution of bees and varroa, and that much varroa in my apiary will be of low-fecundity strains. This would be 'good' varroa to have around - it will interbreed with any nasty stuff flown in and tame it.

    I can start thinking about closer assays to help with selection, and consider taking a jump by concentrating some maternal lines.

    I think my unlimited brood nest method is very helpful for making lots of drones from the best, and that mechanism is powerful.

    I'm also working toward building a corridor between my location and that of the nearest town, which has a healthy feral population.

    (I just found a swarm from a tree colony almost exactly halfway between us! Guess where the latest traps are!)

    In all, I'm rethinking what I can do now that I've got it off the ground.

    Thanks for helping with that

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

  5. #4
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    Default Re: John Kefuss The Science of Resistance Raising

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Cryberg View Post
    But, knowing if resistance or tolerance is what you need to be thinking about is a very important finding.

    To answer the question Kefuss had you really do need to use a bond approach. When you read a scientific paper you should not just think about if you should follow the methods used in the paper. Often those methods were used to define some parameters. In the Kerfuss paper the big question was are we looking for resistance or tolerance. Once you know the answer to that question you have alternatives that may make more sense than simply following the same route used in the paper.
    Could you possibly elaborate a little more on this issue for us Richard? The resistance/tolerance question, what the 'answer' was, how that made a difference?

    And more generally, the business of a 'scientific question' in scientific work?

    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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    Default Re: John Kefuss The Science of Resistance Raising

    it is a very good read, I came to many of the same couculsions so I put it under discussion in the IMP thread.

    Do you have a link for randys queen zero? I have read most of his stuff I can find, but I have't hurd that one

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    Default Re: John Kefuss The Science of Resistance Raising

    Resistance is when the bees do something to limit the mite population. There are lots of possible routes. They can chew and groom off the mites. These are often called mite biters. Or dig out infested brood cells and in the process kill both the larva and mites in that cell. This is called hygienic behavior. Another way is to suppress mite reproduction and as far as I know the details of how this is done are not understood but it might be via the brood pheromones.

    Tolerance is when the hive can stand a large mite population with little evidence of harm where that mite level would be expected usually to kill the colony. Tolerance may be achieved by superior virus resistance in the bees.

    We have known for a long time that hygienic behavior produced a bee that was resistant to AFB. The pin prick or freezing assays are a quant way to determine a little about a hives hygienic behavior. From all I have read you need good performance on the pin prick or freezing assays, but that is not sufficient to deal with mites without added genetics so the bees can identify infested cells. You can get some idea about mite biters by looking at mites on sticky boards under a dissecting scope. I do not know of any easy way to measure suppressed mite reproduction.

    Kefuss reported he found no evidence of tolerance in his tests, althou there are isolated reports of bees in both the US and UK that do seem tolerant.

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    Default Re: John Kefuss The Science of Resistance Raising

    Quote Originally Posted by msl View Post

    Do you have a link for randys queen zero? I have read most of his stuff I can find, but I have't hurd that one
    APJ May issue. I think it is also now on Randy's web site.

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    Default Re: John Kefuss The Science of Resistance Raising

    Randy Oliver's article is not yet posted on his website. Give him about 3 weeks and he will put it up.

    Re nobody posting in this thread, the article referenced was a topic of discussion on this forum and on the UK forum several months ago. I posted my thoughts about it several times already. I don't have anything new to add.
    NW Alabama, 50 years, 20 colonies and growing, sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 14 frame square Dadant broodnest

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    Default Re: John Kefuss The Science of Resistance Raising

    odd, I didn't see it

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    Default Re: John Kefuss The Science of Resistance Raising

    Quote Originally Posted by Fusion_power View Post
    Re nobody posting in this thread, the article referenced was a topic of discussion on this forum and on the UK forum several months ago. I posted my thoughts about it several times already. I don't have anything new to add.
    Mike linked that same Kefuss study in this thread from August 2016 (and Fusion_power commented on it there; see #246 and following):
    https://www.beesource.com/forums/show...ke#post1460969
    Graham
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    Default Re: John Kefuss The Science of Resistance Raising

    Kefuss reported he found no evidence of tolerance in his tests, althou there are isolated reports of bees in both the US and UK that do seem tolerant.
    Richard's post no. 6 is a good post that helps avoid the logical fallacy of making a hasty generalization to conclude, wrongly, from the study that no bees have varroa tolerance (or, for that matter, that all bees have varroa resistance). I favor hard Bond in my location with my bees. I do not favor me keeping bees that are not locally adapted, feral or treatment free survivors.
    David Matlock

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    Default Re: John Kefuss The Science of Resistance Raising

    By 2010 Cyril has taken over the honey production of the operation McNeil (2010) ABJ we also see the mite counts in the 2015 paper end in 2010
    2012 he takes 70+% losses https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uD06vfxvqdU
    2016 Cyril reports being down to 103 hives, many not production sized " I have 103 living hives, their development is quite heterogeneous. However, I think I can work properly this year the mortality has been lower"
    2017 "This year seems more problematic " https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?f...5638257&type=3
    some were down the road he turned to treatment to avoid complete loss

  14. #13

    Default Re: John Kefuss The Science of Resistance Raising

    Dear Sibylle,

    The beekeeping operations of my son Cyril and I are independent of each other. That way we don’t have any conflicts as each is his own boss and responsible for his own errors. He does not rear queens, but I do. He treats but I don’t. Later on this month he will be running a “ Soft Bond Test” which implies treatment of all hives except the breeders ( from which I will make his 2019 queens). This is the method that I recommend to beekeepers who don’t wish to use the “Bond test” (no treatments). We will measure his honey production for each colony and also take bee and brood samples for analysis later on this Fall ( when I have the time ) to get some hard data to work with. That way we can compare the economics of using Band and Soft Bond tests.

    Yours,

    John
    It will need some time but may come out very interesting.

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    Default Re: John Kefuss The Science of Resistance Raising

    ---- GRUMP ----
    Last edited by JWChesnut; 09-10-2018 at 07:06 PM.

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    Default Re: John Kefuss The Science of Resistance Raising

    As is the pattern in getting in to large scale queen production instead of honey or pollination.
    I am not trying to impune the man (there are some other guru types I will), he has likely forgotten more about bees than I will never know

    if we take every thing at face value...

    John is what, 70? his wife got cancer. No wonder the heavy lift honey operation was past down to his son, as he said in McNeil (2010) “It’s easier to lift a queen than a deep super of honey.”
    As we often see with TF stock, it doesn't survive a change in management...

    The 4000 production hives in Chile are treated, only the breeders are kept TF/bonded, The french honey production hives are treated, only the queen breeding operation is TF.... So by the look of things its been a long time sense the Kefuss stock has been TF and commercially vaibul as production hives.... That makes me sad.


    The question is, what happened?
    Was it a change in the beekeeping methodology, did Cyril not up keep the genetics with rigorous selection (as suggested by Sibylle's post), did the areas pathogen load shift, family fallout?

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    Default Re: John Kefuss The Science of Resistance Raising

    As someone who has bred mice for genetic recessive genes to create tri-color mice, which involved three genes, I am taken aback that they indicate over 90 genes may be involved in hygienic behavior and that the genes are most likely recessive. Wow! no wonder it is so hard to select for the right traits and why the right traits in one area may not be the right ones in another area. Through into the mix matriarchal vs patriarcal genetics and we have a lot of research to do.

    JWChestnut, did you read it? Even the abstract mentions losses. Colony loss is also mentioned in the results section. Please back you opinion with verifiable fact. After all this is a thread about scientific research.

    That there is a proven genetic link is promising, even if it is not fully understood.

    I like how they tested for general hygienic behavior. It is an easily reproduced method for the home hobbiest.

    "However, mites were removed to a lesser degree in the lines selected for general hygienic behavior (14%) than in the group selected for Varroa Sensitive Hygiene (66%)... suggests that beekeepers should select for both behaviors to get maximum disease and varroa resistance."

    " It also implies that beekeepers should be able to incorporate selected mite resistance material from outside sources into their own populations with little difficulty using queen cells for example. "

    He goes on to mention responsibility to fellow beekeepers and those of the future and how important it is to stop suppressing the mechanisms by which bees naturally select for those genetic by the constant use of chemicals that allow inferior genetics to continue to be passed on. (rephrased)

    Even with his high loss numbers and the expectation that I too will lose hives, I see the logic and longterm thinking of taking the hits now in order to improve our bees for the future. Afterall, isn't that what husbandry is about? Selecting for better stock.
    Beek since 2016: Hardiness Zone 9a: in NW Florida

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    Default Re: John Kefuss The Science of Resistance Raising

    jade you need to do a deep dive....
    I like how they tested for general hygienic behavior. It is an easily reproduced method for the home hobbiest.
    " no correlations between general hygienic behavior and mite infestations were found"
    "However, mites were removed to a lesser degree in the lines selected for general hygienic behavior (14%) than in the group selected for Varroa Sensitive Hygiene (66%)... suggests that beekeepers should select for both behaviors to get maximum disease and varroa resistance."
    that is
    (Danka, Harris, Villa, & Dodds, 2013 Danka, R., Harris, J., Villa, J., & Dodds, G. (2013). Varying congruence of hygienic responses to Varroa destructor and freeze-killed brood among different types of honey bees. Apidologie, 44, 447–457.10.1007/s13592-013-0195-8,
    not the resuts of this trial

    It also implies that beekeepers should be able to incorporate selected mite resistance material from outside sources into their own populations with little difficulty using queen cells for example
    It does, but that hasn't been the real world beekeeper experience, if it was we would just by queens from some one and be done.. TF wouldn't be controversial, it wold be the standard.
    Even with his high loss numbers
    his losses were low, less then the advrage US treating beekeeper, when the hive were transferred to his son the then had large losses

    bees naturally select
    buzz words....the bees were beekeeper selected by rigors testing...some times using only one breeder queen out of hundreds
    this is the only method that has been documented to create a commercial vaibul mite restaint stock,

    “There is a criticism of selecting “blindly” for resistance, i.e., by using an approach that simply targets low mite infestations. This has already, however, been documented to be a viable breeding approach that has led to honey bees that now are used by both small-scale and commercial beekeepers with no or minimal acaricide input: Russian honey bees in the USA (Rinderer et al. 2010; de Guzman et al., 2007) and bees bred by John Kefuss in France (Büchler et al., 2010; Kefuss et al., 2004). Resistance in other untreated bees selected for survival may be functional but has not been documented with rigorous testing”
    Robert G Danka1*, Thomas E Rinderer , Marla Spivak and John Kefuss . Journal of Apicultural Research 52(2): 69-71 (2013)

  19. #18

    Default Re: John Kefuss The Science of Resistance Raising

    Tell me,
    how many big commercial beekeepers are around who select queen lines from their tf PRODUCTION hives and not have a separate queen breeding enterprise or ONLY a queen breeding enterprise?

    Not many. It´s just the normal way to breed tf queens separately or not? Erik Österlund breeds queens from production colonies three seasons surviving tf and introduces those once again into tf production colonies but he is the only one I know of.
    I don´t know if the other european queen breeders like Wallner or Koller do this. As I remember Wallner treats his production colonies with acids but sells tf mite biting queens.

  20. #19
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    Default Re: John Kefuss The Science of Resistance Raising

    Quote Originally Posted by msl View Post
    TF wouldn't be controversial, it wold be the standard.
    Treatments are widely effectively used prophylactically. Beekeepers have no idea which if if any hive might have some resistance. In reality very few (of their colonies) will have any. But even if some did, it pays beekeepers treat prophylactically.

    There is no realistic scenario in which TF becomes 'standard', because... its more profitable to simply not bother trying to locate resistant strains and instead just systematically treat prophylactically.

    Which perpetuates vulnerability to mites.

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

  21. #20

    Default Re: John Kefuss The Science of Resistance Raising

    Quote Originally Posted by SiWolKe View Post
    Tell me,
    how many big commercial beekeepers are around who select queen lines from their tf PRODUCTION hives and not have a separate queen breeding enterprise or ONLY a queen breeding enterprise?

    Not many. It´s just the normal way to breed tf queens separately or not? Erik Österlund breeds queens from production colonies three seasons surviving tf and introduces those once again into tf production colonies but he is the only one I know of.
    The difference between John Kefuss and Erik Österlund is that Erik treats 50% of his hives and keeps mite levels with treatments at a very low level so no domino effects can take place. So Erik has never been tf in true sense. He is doing IPM, which is a very wise approach.

    John Kefuss was treatment free since 1998, and his son started treatments 2016, so it makes 18 TF years. Johns own hives are still TF.
    18 years, that is a long time, especially when you consider that they have had free mating and lots of beekeepers around.
    3 seasons in a IPM system does not compare at all.

    To find out more we went for a visit.
    Black Hornet (a wasp) has been quite a problem in their operation, said John. After a long talk in his honey house and lunch, we went to have a look at his hives, and tried to find some mites. I found one and the one cent he gave me is hanging on my office wall.

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