Is winter-hardiness, a genetic trait?
Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 43
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Stevens Point, WI
    Posts
    228

    Post Is winter-hardiness, a genetic trait?

    A Wisconsin beekeeper starts the spring with 8 nucleus colonies and two packages. Through the spring and into summer between splits, they become 7 full size colonies and 17 nucleus colonies. Through summer some full colonies fail, some nucleus colonies fail and one swarms but is caught.....some failing hives are combined with nucs with good queens. Heading into fall the beekeeper has 14 colonies consisting of 7 double deep 10 frame colonies and 7 nuclues colonies.....

    January rolls around and all but 4 nucleus colonies have run through their stores. One full size hive and 4 nucs have starved out and died. All remaining hives are given supplemental candy to survive winter.
    The beekeeper notices that out of the 11 remaining colonies, 7 are very active even in cold (15F) conditions feeding on the candy at the top of the hive...seen coming into and out of the hive. The 4 nucleus colonies that seem to have plenty of stores are not active at all, but alive.
    The beekeeper is thinking the 4 nucleus colonies that appear to be slow playing their stores are more adapted to the cold Wisconsin environment than the other 7 remaining colonies that appear to have to be "nursed" to make it through harsh winter climates. Three of the 4 queens of the quiet hives were locally mated in the apiary with the fourth being a California Italian.

    Question: If you were wanting to "start" your own queen rearing program, is this a "trait" that can actually be passed along?
    Help is here to never misplace that hive tool again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvwlSiOzgOU

  2. Remove Advertisements
    BeeSource.com
    Advertisements
     

  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    5,536

    Default Re: Is winter-hardiness, a genetic trait?

    Sounds to me more of case of expanding too far beyond the resources (bees, drawn comb, nectar, time, and beekeeper's attention) available. Just because you can split/make nucs, etc. doesn't mean it's always a good idea. I am wondering about the colonies that failed in warm weather. (How come?)

    The fact that one full sized colony and four nucs have starved out - without being observed to be low on stores beforehand - by the middle of January sounds like operator error more than them not being fully, or relatively less, winter-hardy. (Also early season deaths are more often from PMS/varroa/viral loads than from starvation. You didn't mention your treatment program. And I am just assuming you are correct that the dead outs were primarily out of stores???)

    I would go back to basics of making sure you have sufficient resources in place at each step, first, before assuming you have bees of more (or less) winter-hardiness. Making splits and getting queens out and mated is the easy part.

    I laugh when I hear the sad predictions of the honey bees imminently dying out and vanishing from this Earth. They are too absurdly fecund for that to happen. Making increase is not really the problem. What requires close attention is making sure that the number of hives in any yard don't exceed the productivity of the site, the weather, the amount of honey taken and the willingness and ability of the beekeeper to apply syrup in the fall.

    Small colonies (nucs) without a lot of bees cannot afford to go out flying in really marginal weather - they need a certain amount of cluster mass to survive. So they may not be more thrifty, or better adapted, just too small to afford the luxury of cleansing flight. They may also be too small to migrate upwards towards more food, as well. So they can starve in a hive with plenty.

    These aren't toys or widgets, these are live animals.

    Nancy

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    8,226

    Default Re: Is winter-hardiness, a genetic trait?

    Kevin, there are so many variables here that it's difficult to answer.

    You didn't say how much feed they all had. Did you weigh them? Do you know for sure how many pounds of feed they burned through?

    Why would you expect the colonies to be quiet when they have sugar on the cluster. Of course they will be more active. If they had been fed to target weight, in the autumn, the sugar wouldn't have been there. The bees would have been quiet...like the 4 nucleus colonies that have sufficient stores.

    But, of course winter hardiness is a genetic trait. something that can be selected for...but it takes time. Years.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    5,474

    Default Re: Is winter-hardiness, a genetic trait?

    Did you have colony gross weights or some method of assessing whether you indeed had viable levels of stores? Were you depending heavily on "candy" as a large part of winter stores? Was robbing an issue? How did you assess mite levels? What was the winter hive setup re. insulation?

    Unless you have records of these variables on each of the hives and know they started with a level playing field it would be difficult to sort out the effects of genetic variation.

    Edit; I see Michael posted while I was typing!
    Frank

  6. #5

    Default Re: Is winter-hardiness, a genetic trait?

    Quote Originally Posted by KevinWI View Post

    Question: If you were wanting to "start" your own queen rearing program, is this a "trait" that can actually be passed along?
    Most definitely it is, but whether the case of your 3 nucs is a proof, that is more uncertain.

    When I imported stock from Central Europe back in the early 1990s, these bees were overwintering much more "hot" than my localized old stock, they almost had run out of food, and some did, when spring came. Usually they had a lot of dead bees on the hive bottom, sometimes several cm high pile. But even that they were full of bees! So they probably had been making more brood during winter.

    This phenomena disappeared/eased enough in couple matings with my original stock.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    7,866

    Default Re: Is winter-hardiness, a genetic trait?

    I hear what Mr Palmer is saying about bees being more active with sugar on top. It sounds logical but it is not anything Universal. I indeed select colonies who who have not used much of their supplemental feed as breeders and the hogs who dip heavily into the stores get their queen pinched. But as always, variability of winter conditions make food consumption not uniform year to year. For several years, I weighed colonies once a month, I didn't have very many, and found that November, December and January they all consumed between 8 and 9 pounds a month. At least the hives were that much lighter. The heavy usage of stores started In late February. In a normal year, very few of my colonies are into the MC sugar until then. A $4.70 bag of sugar is cheap insurance for me. It might be prohibitive for others.

  8. #7

    Default Re: Is winter-hardiness, a genetic trait?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vance G View Post
    For several years, I weighed colonies once a month, I didn't have very many, and found that November, December and January they all consumed between 8 and 9 pounds a month.
    From
    http://koti.tnnet.fi/web144/vaakapesa/selaa2.php

    These results are pretty consistent what i have been saying, that consumption during the winter months (no brood rearing) should not exceed 1,5 kg/month if the winter hardiness of the bees is at good level.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Stevens Point, WI
    Posts
    228

    Default Re: Is winter-hardiness, a genetic trait?

    Sometimes I wonder when a question is asked if you give too much information for people to speculate on things that are not really a part of the question at hand....and then make it quick to criticize. (operator error? really? given that little of information you went there?)

    In my current local bee clubs, many, many have reported their bees running out of stores and dying....some in December which shocked the hell out of me. I thought something else was going on...until I checked my own.



    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    Kevin, there are so many variables here that it's difficult to answer.

    You didn't say how much feed they all had. Did you weigh them? Do you know for sure how many pounds of feed they burned through?

    Why would you expect the colonies to be quiet when they have sugar on the cluster. Of course they will be more active. If they had been fed to target weight, in the autumn, the sugar wouldn't have been there. The bees would have been quiet...like the 4 nucleus colonies that have sufficient stores.

    But, of course winter hardiness is a genetic trait. something that can be selected for...but it takes time. Years.
    Michael,
    I appreciate you taking the time to respond. It is appreciated.

    For the record: each full colony was given 5 gallons of 2:1 in October. One August swarm was given 8. Each nuc was given 4 gallons. We had a cold fall, so they were not able to get onto the goldenrod as I hoped, so they needed that much feed.
    Plus open feeders in the yards.
    The hives were not weighed. I have no scale. Yet. I could not lift the double deeps at the end of October.

    I found the colonies active that were running out of stores. They had no sugar on them at that time. I put the candy on them after...these are 13 lb candy boards inverted over the colony, not on the frames. One colony, from January 4th to the 17th has gone through all 13lbs and I put another 5lb on the 18th.
    The four nucs that were inactive had more than a full deep of stores above them. Sugar was added to them as well...they are not active on top in those hives even with the candy on top...thus my question.
    Years is what I guessed. Thank you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vance G View Post
    I hear what Mr Palmer is saying about bees being more active with sugar on top. It sounds logical but it is not anything Universal. I indeed select colonies who who have not used much of their supplemental feed as breeders and the hogs who dip heavily into the stores get their queen pinched. But as always, variability of winter conditions make food consumption not uniform year to year. For several years, I weighed colonies once a month, I didn't have very many, and found that November, December and January they all consumed between 8 and 9 pounds a month. At least the hives were that much lighter. The heavy usage of stores started In late February. In a normal year, very few of my colonies are into the MC sugar until then. A $4.70 bag of sugar is cheap insurance for me. It might be prohibitive for others.
    Like most that live in the North, I would prefer not to have to feed my bees in the winter....in late Feb/March I might expect it...but January??, so a stock of slow play bees on winter stores is preferable. I am just curious if I am on the right track in thinking which bees I would most prefer as stock to select. I am also hoping to bring in new genetics from some Northern bred queens in the coming years.
    My days of bringing in queens from Georgia are over.

    It's a decent number that 9-10lbs per month usage. Given that the "recommendation" is 50lbs of honey is recommended for a moderate winter, I'd guess around 90lbs is needed further North. I know Stepplar targets 90lbs on his single box hives....and you have to account for 30+lbs of woodenware and bees, but his bees are dark for 6 months in a shed which may make a difference.
    As I wrote to Michael above, my bees went through 13lbs of candy (this is sugar/water and some pollen sub (not much) melted on the stove and poured into a board which turns to hard candy when cooled.



    Quote Originally Posted by Juhani Lunden View Post
    Most definitely it is, but whether the case of your 3 nucs is a proof, that is more uncertain.
    .
    I can honestly understand that. I was pondering that this might be a better starting point. I guess we have to start somewhere with some criteria even if it is uncertain.


    Appreciate everyone taking the time to reply.
    Help is here to never misplace that hive tool again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvwlSiOzgOU

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Lottsburg, Virginia USA
    Posts
    1,804

    Default Re: Is winter-hardiness, a genetic trait?

    Kevin if you read up the difference between Carniolan and Italian type of bees you will find the answer to your question, Starting of with Georgia's packages of Italians years ago had me re queening them with Carniolan queens in the first year and I have never looked back. As the years go on I find I have to continually bring in more Carniolan queens as I suspect there are beekeepers around my area still bringing in packages or other southern bees and with open mating my bees slowly start to get more yellow.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Dane County, WI, USA
    Posts
    3,883

    Default Re: Is winter-hardiness, a genetic trait?

    Quote Originally Posted by KevinWI View Post
    Given that the "recommendation" is 50lbs of honey is recommended for a moderate winter, I'd guess around 90lbs is needed further North.
    Russian/Ukrainian keepers routinely winter on 20kg/45lb using well localized bees.
    This 80-90lb needed is just saying one thing - unfit bees (and some wintering methods/equipment too).
    People around me keep talking 80 pounds too - side-affects of the package bee economy.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Seattle WA
    Posts
    1,247

    Default Re: Is winter-hardiness, a genetic trait?

    Kevin, yes consumption of winter stores is a genetic trait but the consumption rate is also tied into other factors. Italian bees over winter with larger colonies than Carni's. Russian colonies are often very small colonies going through the winter. Smaller colonies consume way less honey. I got tired of constantly feeding Italian bees over the winter to keep them alive and will not use them in my apiary. A few years back I got some queens from the Olympic Wilderness Apiaries (OWA) here in WA state. The colonies ate so little honey in the winter I could have sworn that they moved to Arizona for the winter and came back in the spring. All of my current hives are descendants of those queens. My open mated queens are different from their parent queens showing the traits of the other hives around the area. They now consume more then the OWA hives did but not nearly as much as the Italian hives I had years ago. I had 2 hives that started out as caught swarms last May. Neither took off and refused to store any honey/sugar water. There is no way they would survive the winter without starving. Knowing the traits of the OWA queens, I got 2 delivered to me in August. Re-queening the two hives with the OWA queens seemed like a good idea. They might be able to live off of the minimal stores in those hives. I added sugar blocks and prayed for their survival. As of this weekend, they are doing well. They still have minimal stores and are living off of sugar blocks with a bit of Ultrabee added in. I fully expect them to become powerhouses in April.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Stevens Point, WI
    Posts
    228

    Default Re: Is winter-hardiness, a genetic trait?

    Quote Originally Posted by johno View Post
    Kevin if you read up the difference between Carniolan and Italian type of bees you will find the answer to your question, Starting of with Georgia's packages of Italians years ago had me re queening them with Carniolan queens in the first year and I have never looked back. As the years go on I find I have to continually bring in more Carniolan queens as I suspect there are beekeepers around my area still bringing in packages or other southern bees and with open mating my bees slowly start to get more yellow.
    Oh I have...I'm aware of the differences b/t Carni/Italian/Russian, etc in wintering....my one colony of Cariolans is going through the most stores and is the most active...(they are the colony that went through 13lbs of candy in 17 days. I'm a big fan of Carniolans based on my reading...but not so much on what I'm seeing them do this winter so far....but she came from California, so for all I know she is mated with italian drones from warmer climates.

    I just got back from checking on the italian colony (swarm)....since it got colder, they have slowed down...have used half of their candy board which is a relief.
    Help is here to never misplace that hive tool again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvwlSiOzgOU

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Stevens Point, WI
    Posts
    228

    Default Re: Is winter-hardiness, a genetic trait?

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Russian/Ukrainian keepers routinely winter on 20kg/45lb using well localized bees.
    This 80-90lb needed is just saying one thing - unfit bees (and some wintering methods/equipment too).
    People around me keep talking 80 pounds too - side-affects of the package bee economy.
    I have shied away from Russians for one simple reason...temperament....not a fan of getting stung. Also I've talked to some keepers in my bee club who have kept russians and none have come away impressed even though they wintered well.

    I know Michael Palmer targets 150lbs in his hives for wintering (I'd guess that weight is with equipment)...2 deeps and a medium. My hives are wintered similarly with foam board on top, except I use reflectix insulation rather than black tar paper to wrap. Reflectix tends to reflect the bees own heat back to them where black paper absorbs sun energy......."sun" being a key word here....more prone to significant temperature fluctuations vs the reflectix when there is sun or it's cloudy. ... or night vs day.
    Help is here to never misplace that hive tool again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvwlSiOzgOU

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Dane County, WI, USA
    Posts
    3,883

    Default Re: Is winter-hardiness, a genetic trait?

    Quote Originally Posted by KevinWI View Post
    I have shied away from Russians for one simple reason....
    This is not about the Russians, Kevin.
    This is about "well localized local bees".
    In short - your local mutts.
    They ALL will become mutts if you let them, rather quickly.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Stevens Point, WI
    Posts
    228

    Default Re: Is winter-hardiness, a genetic trait?

    Quote Originally Posted by dudelt View Post
    Kevin, yes consumption of winter stores is a genetic trait but the consumption rate is also tied into other factors. Italian bees over winter with larger colonies than Carni's. Russian colonies are often very small colonies going through the winter. Smaller colonies consume way less honey. I got tired of constantly feeding Italian bees over the winter to keep them alive and will not use them in my apiary. A few years back I got some queens from the Olympic Wilderness Apiaries (OWA) here in WA state. The colonies ate so little honey in the winter I could have sworn that they moved to Arizona for the winter and came back in the spring. All of my current hives are descendants of those queens. My open mated queens are different from their parent queens showing the traits of the other hives around the area. They now consume more then the OWA hives did but not nearly as much as the Italian hives I had years ago. I had 2 hives that started out as caught swarms last May. Neither took off and refused to store any honey/sugar water. There is no way they would survive the winter without starving. Knowing the traits of the OWA queens, I got 2 delivered to me in August. Re-queening the two hives with the OWA queens seemed like a good idea. They might be able to live off of the minimal stores in those hives. I added sugar blocks and prayed for their survival. As of this weekend, they are doing well. They still have minimal stores and are living off of sugar blocks with a bit of Ultrabee added in. I fully expect them to become powerhouses in April.
    I have been doing some reading on New World Carniolans for Northern climates...I am intrigued. I believe they originate in your neck of the woods. (btw...I lived in Renton for awhile in late 80's and worked in Bellvue, awesome area....wish I could have afforded to stay).
    Help is here to never misplace that hive tool again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvwlSiOzgOU

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Stevens Point, WI
    Posts
    228

    Default Re: Is winter-hardiness, a genetic trait?

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    This is not about the Russians, Kevin.
    This is about "well localized local bees".
    In short - local mutts.
    They ALL will become mutts, given the time and rather quickly.
    You have a point....bringing in some queens for drone population might not be a bad suggestion.
    Help is here to never misplace that hive tool again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvwlSiOzgOU

  18. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Dane County, WI, USA
    Posts
    3,883

    Default Re: Is winter-hardiness, a genetic trait?

    Quote Originally Posted by KevinWI View Post
    You have a point....bringing in some queens for drone population might not be a bad suggestion.
    As well as offering queens of your favorite lines to your neighbors - for free.
    This is all about the sustainable population management - if you got some bees you really like - you want to spread them around for your own good - give them away all around you (once you have them).
    This is to have some fighting chance against the "almond bee" package flood.

    This is my exact situation.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  19. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Brooklyn, Connecticut
    Posts
    37

    Default Re: Is winter-hardiness, a genetic trait?

    does this person have any added holes in the upper part of the hive or top entrance? if they do, it will be part of the explanation for the increased consumption of stores.

  20. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Kamloops, BC, Canada
    Posts
    1,407

    Default Re: Is winter-hardiness, a genetic trait?

    Lots of commercial bees are good at raising brood, bringing in honey, but not much else. We went through a drought last year and then a long but mild winter. Lots of reports of bees burning through their stores before winter even. I suspect these were packages from outside for the most part. But my production hives (queens raised from survivors) were frugal through the fall and winter and didn't have to be fed. Most of my nucs have lots of food left in spring.

  21. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Stevens Point, WI
    Posts
    228

    Default Re: Is winter-hardiness, a genetic trait?

    Quote Originally Posted by lharder View Post
    Lots of commercial bees are good at raising brood, bringing in honey, but not much else. We went through a drought last year and then a long but mild winter. Lots of reports of bees burning through their stores before winter even. I suspect these were packages from outside for the most part. But my production hives (queens raised from survivors) were frugal through the fall and winter and didn't have to be fed. Most of my nucs have lots of food left in spring.
    yes, I would agree...thus the need to breed and raise winter bees that do not need to be coddled through winter. ..... I have 4 such colonies as I stated above, 3 of which are locally bred queens...the queens themselves are a product of whence they came, obviously (california)...but I would like to start breeding for traits....overwintering being #1.....the rest I will figure out later. Getting bees that are frugal is most important.
    Help is here to never misplace that hive tool again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvwlSiOzgOU

Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •