African genetics
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Location
    Wildwood, FL
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    31

    Default African genetics

    I live in Florida, and hear about "Africanized Bees" all the time. We are required by the state to requeen any feral hive we collect to get the African genetics, that may be present, out of the hive.

    My quesiton is: Why don't the "African" genetics weaken as they continually mate with the other bees which are not "African"? Is the African gene that dominant? Are the others that recessive? It seem like over time, the Africanized traits would slowly "dilute" to the point where they would not be nearly as evident.

    Steve

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Northern Il, USA
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    637

    Default Re: African genetics

    Some of the African genetics offer the bees advantages, so those genes will continue to spread. If we keep killing off the meaner hives we can hope that the genetics for aggression will be weeded out. Apparently that has happened in a few places, like Puerto Rico. I hope that we can keep the increased resistance to varroa.

    I hope some Texas beekeepers will chime in. They have been dealing with Africanized bees longer than other parts of the US. Has there been any reduction in aggression since they got here?

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Murphy, TX
    Posts
    446

    Default Re: African genetics

    I started with a BeeWeaver queen 5 years ago. BeeWeaver queens are open mated and I have heard stories about feisty queens from BeeWeaver. I continued rearing my own queens from the original BeeWeaver queen which are open mated. I went from 1 to 20 colonies in last 5 years. I get a feisty queen in some hives which gets terminated on a regular basis, typically when the hive size is small in early spring. Aggressive hive is totally killed if ever encountered. I had an aggressive queen once in 5 year. And I had feisty queens for about 4 times so far.

    Definitions:
    Normal: Open a smoked colony after five minutes. Bees buzz around you. They may sting you if given an opportunity i.e. if you have exposed skin. No bee will follow you past 10 feet after you close the hive.
    Feisty: Bees jump on veil in dozen or two (mostly guard bees) even after smoking. They are actively trying to sting you on purpose. Bees go back to the hive after you close the hive. Some bees may follow for 20-30 feet after you close the hive.
    Aggressive: Cloud of bees jump on you after opening a smoked hive. They are trying to kill you. The cloud of bees will follow you for over 100-200 yards after you close the hive.
    Last edited by pjigar; 04-03-2020 at 06:24 PM.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Boaz, KY, USA
    Posts
    1,942

    Default Re: African genetics

    Quote Originally Posted by pjigar View Post
    Definitions:
    Normal: Open a smoked colony after five minutes. Bees buzz around you. They may sting you if given an opportunity i.e. if you have exposed skin. No bee will follow you past 10 feet after you close the hive.
    Feisty: Bees jump on veil in dozen or two (mostly guard bees) even after smoking. They are actively trying to sting you on purpose. Bees go back to the hive after you close the hive. Some bees may follow for 20-30 feet after you close the hive.
    Aggressive: Cloud of bees jump on you after opening a smoked hive. They are trying to kill you. The cloud of bees will follow you for over 100-200 yards after you close the hive.
    I like your definitions and classification system, pjigar. Good mental images.
    Ecclesiastes 11:4

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    ElDorado,Arkansas,USA
    Posts
    1,623

    Default Re: African genetics

    Quote Originally Posted by pjigar View Post
    I started with a BeeWeaver queen 5 years ago. BeeWeaver queens are open mated and I have heard stories about feisty queens from BeeWeaver. I continued rearing my own queens from the original BeeWeaver queen which are open mated. I went from 1 to 20 colonies in last 5 years. I get a feisty queen in some hives which gets terminated on a regular basis, typically when the hive size is small in early spring. Aggressive hive is totally killed if ever encountered. I had an aggressive queen once in 5 year. And I had feisty queens for about 4 times so far.

    Definitions:
    Normal: Open a smoked colony after five minutes. Bees buzz around you. They may sting you if given an opportunity i.e. if you have exposed skin. No bee will follow you past 10 feet after you close the hive.
    Feisty: Bees jump on veil in dozen or two (mostly guard bees) even after smoking. They are actively trying to sting you on purpose. Bees go back to the hive after you close the hive. Some bees may follow for 20-30 feet after you close the hive.
    Aggressive: Cloud of bees jump on you after opening a smoked hive. They are trying to kill you. The cloud of bees will follow you for over 100-200 yards after you close the hive.

    I kill out aggressive hives also.I dont even attempt to requeen because the longer they are alive the more chances those drones will mate with my new queens and I dont want any of those genetics.Close them up and a shot of ether and they are done.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Geauga, Ohio
    Posts
    470

    Default Re: African genetics

    Wow. pjigar's Defcon 2 is my Defcon 4. Nice to be where winter weeds out a lot of Africanized genes.... My understanding is that Africanized queens in a swarm can actually enter a European queen's hive and usurp it. Looking at the U of Fl entomology page, http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/misc/bees/ahb.htm , Africanized bees can swarm much more frequently, also assisting in their out-competing European queens to saturate an area.

    I can tell you that frequent swarming in Northeast Ohio is not a lifeway that will succeed. European honey bees can be swarm-prone as well, but that means 2 swarms in a year, not 10.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    runnels county, texas, usa
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: African genetics

    I caught a swarm in a quarantined county in Texas (like most are). Large swarm that couldn't all fit in the swarm trap. Gentlest hive I have ever worked. Maybe they are gentling down.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Northern Il, USA
    Posts
    637

    Default Re: African genetics

    https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1....994632v1.full

    They studied the spread of africanized bees and what the differences are with Euro bees.
    Africanized bees collect more pollen and less nectar, and raise more brood. They also burn energy faster. The authors speculate these might be why they can't spread farther north than they already are. They just starve out in winter.
    The africanized bees are 60-70% african in their range and less at the borders. They are about 46% africanized in S. California and decline to basically zero % in N Cali.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hamilton, Alabama
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    3,070

    Default Re: African genetics

    One of the early observations is that there is a cline for genetics of africanized bees such that percentage declines in higher rainfall and/or colder winter areas. Texas tends to have fairly high percentage genetics in the West declining quite a bit in East Texas. I too got some BeeWeaver queens in 2015 and culled 2 at the end of the season keeping the best and gentlest for breeding.

    To answer the original question, In one study, Africanized bees have about a 10 to 1 reproductive advantage over European lines. Also, a single Africanized drone can mate with a European queen and the resulting colony can be too hot to handle. Yes, the genetics get diluted over time, but never to the point of completely removing them from the gene pool and in favorable climates, always dominating European genetics.
    NW Alabama, 50 years, 20 colonies and growing, sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 14 frame square Dadant broodnest

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Northern Il, USA
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    637

    Default Re: African genetics

    Quote Originally Posted by Fusion_power View Post
    One of the early observations is that there is a cline for genetics of africanized bees such that percentage declines in higher rainfall and/or colder winter areas. Texas tends to have fairly high percentage genetics in the West declining quite a bit in East Texas. I too got some BeeWeaver queens in 2015 and culled 2 at the end of the season keeping the best and gentlest for breeding.

    To answer the original question, In one study, Africanized bees have about a 10 to 1 reproductive advantage over European lines. Also, a single Africanized drone can mate with a European queen and the resulting colony can be too hot to handle. Yes, the genetics get diluted over time, but never to the point of completely removing them from the gene pool and in favorable climates, always dominating European genetics.
    In that study I posted above, they note that africanized bees do consistently have 20-30% euro genetics, throughout their range. Apparently they picked up whatever superior genes the euros had while still in Brazil and carried them north and south with them. They are a stable hybrid.

    They also note that when varroa came in, African genetics increased in the bordering areas but did not replace the existing euro stocks. There is a band of latitude/climate that the africanized bees cannot extend past, except for some minimal gene flow. Get too much and die in the cold.

    To me that looks like good opportunities for selection.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
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    Tomball, Tx.
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    17

    Default Re: African genetics

    Quote Originally Posted by texbiker View Post
    I caught a swarm in a quarantined county in Texas (like most are). Large swarm that couldn't all fit in the swarm trap. Gentlest hive I have ever worked. Maybe they are gentling down.
    When did you collect this swarm? To my knowledge TAIS ended the quarantine on counties back in 2005.

    I travel quite a bit with my job and spend/have spent lots of time in Deep SOTX all along the border. Back in the late 90's and early 2000's the bees we encountered there some of the meanest I've ever seen. As time has gone by, I do believe I've seen the genetics making a change, solely from all the hobbyist and commercial folks. Don't get me wrong, there are some that are still just as mean. I've been beekeeping 33 years, started as a kid and worked several years during jr high/high school for commercial beeks. BeeWeaver queens are good and tend to do well dealing with varroa, but some have been known to be a little pissier than others. I think they are aware of this, but given where we are it's just gonna happen. I've noticed my BW queens that are a little grumpier produce a tad better. Just my observations.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    runnels county, texas, usa
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    3

    Default Re: African genetics

    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Tick View Post
    When did you collect this swarm? To my knowledge TAIS ended the quarantine on counties back in 2005.

    I travel quite a bit with my job and spend/have spent lots of time in Deep SOTX all along the border. Back in the late 90's and early 2000's the bees we encountered there some of the meanest I've ever seen. As time has gone by, I do believe I've seen the genetics making a change, solely from all the hobbyist and commercial folks. Don't get me wrong, there are some that are still just as mean. I've been beekeeping 33 years, started as a kid and worked several years during jr high/high school for commercial beeks. BeeWeaver queens are good and tend to do well dealing with varroa, but some have been known to be a little pissier than others. I think they are aware of this, but given where we are it's just gonna happen. I've noticed my BW queens that are a little grumpier produce a tad better. Just my observations.
    Caught the swarm April 2019 Runnels county. As Far as i know no commercial beekeepers in the area. First thing i noticed is they appear to be smaller than the Italians I had when I lived in New Mexico.

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    creek county oklahoma
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    176

    Default Re: African genetics

    Quote Originally Posted by AR1 View Post
    https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1....994632v1.full

    Africanized bees collect more pollen and less nectar, and raise more brood. .
    Interesting. I do have a colony that tends to hoard pollen. But they are also very good at making honey. I think they would keep growing until they get too tall for me to add boxes. They are "fesity" but not aggressive at all. In good flow you can stand at the entrance and they don't bother you. You've gotta smoke them to inspect, but they are not near as bad as some I have had. They also use more propolis than any colony I have ever seen. Kind of hard to work because of the propolis, but I rarely need to unless I want to steal a frame for a split.

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