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Discussion Starter #1
I had a research group from the University of British Columbia to take some samples from my bees. It is part of a larger survey of 1000 colonies Canada wide. Components tested throughout the season are

1) Hygienic behaviour
2) Aggression/defensive behaviour
3) Overwintering ability
4) Mite loads
5) Nosema and other pathogens
6) Gut microbiota
7) Honey production
8) Innate immunity

It was great to see competent people working with my hives that overwintered as nucs. One of the project leaders worked in Mark Winston's lab for many years and it was cool to see how quickly they found my queens and she gently handled and marked them. Very reassuring to see.

They enjoyed working with the bees, the foundationless comb, and commented how healthy and gentle the bees appeared.

Now if only I had bees that had a long history of TF like those of SP or Fusion, or Michael Bush. I suspect these bees will not really stand out in interesting ways.

http://cbr.ubc.ca/people/investigators/leonard-foster/ is a link to some information lead researcher.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
So I already have some information from initial hygienic behaviour testing. I asked about sharing the info from my bees and I got the "share as much as you like"

Of the 12 colonies tested, all overwintered nucs with mostly my own raised queens, I had 4 colonies that exhibited 100 % hygienic behaviour. This was done by putting a 2 1/2 inch tube into the comb to what would be foundation if there was some, over a patch of brood that was in the pink eyed pupal stage. Liquid nitrogen was poured into the tube, it was frozen into place then about another 250 ml was poured in. When it thawed and the tube removed, missing brood cells were tallied, and the frame placed back into the broodnest between 2 frames of brood. 24 hrs later the frame was checked to see how much was cleaned up. I don't have all the info for all the hives, and will relay the info as I get it because it varied quite a bit from sometimes as low as 50 percent. And the variation is as interesting as the best results.

When we were in my own yard, I had a chance to do my 2nd year overwintered colonies without treatment. Will have results at 6 tonight.
 

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very cool indeed lharder, many thanks for keeping us posted. i'm considering contacting some of the researchers at one of our agricultural universities to see if they might be interested in adopting a similar protocol so that we might do some comparisons.
 

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It is interesting how a beekeeper once achieved a certain level to want something
more. The old timer been keeping bees more than half of their life time. How can a
small operation compared to theirs? It is the bee experience that count the most!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
So I have results from my second year survivors. 1 out of 3 very hygienic. My most productive queen was actually kind of pathetic at this test, but they were manipulated with snelgrove boards so the demographics is altered.
 

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My most productive queen was actually kind of pathetic at this test
The principles: "No Free Lunch" and "You can't have your cake and eat it too" applies. By productive do you mean brood growth or honey collection.

Hygienic bees are notorious for this constraint. Hygienic behaviour is killing your own larvae, and over-enthusiasm with this action causes slow growth. The "bloodlines" selected systematically and offered as breeding stock have sought to balance VSH with desirable productivity. Balance and nuance.

I maintain a "pure" VSH queen in a Ulster-type observation hive (to watch the VSH action). Use of pure type VSH has the added benefit that the 5 frame Ulster base grows very slowly. A production queen will outgrow the 5 frame base in weeks. I had the same queen in the Ulster since August '15 with no appreciable growth. A natual "dwarf", a Bonsai honeybee.
 

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At one time I heard that to much of a good thing results in a bad thing. Meaning that you don't want 100% hygienic behavior. For some reason closer to 50% is in my head. In a nut shell to much hygiene is as destructive to the colony brood production as no hygiene. Another train of thought is what is the difference between a bee being killed by varroa transmitted disease or a nurse bee doing it in? it is the same reduction in production. something of a delicate balance must be struck.
 

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65 colonies +/- mostly Langstroth mediums, a few deeps for nuc production
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Sounds like a good study. One thing to keep in mind is the understanding of the difference between the measurement process for hygienic and varroa specific hygienic. The freeze test (or some other method like killing all with needles) is a standard for "hygienic".

The VSH tests involve opening cells and counting numbers of larvae with mites as well as the number of mites that are reproducing successfully. You can find the specific protocols used on some of the VSH related sites. The behaviors that are specific to VSH are not just removing infected brood. Some uncap take out accessible mites and recap, these and other behaviors result in the suppression of the varroa population.

The early concentration of the VSH genetics did result in queens that would not build up well. Keep in mind that if the varroa loads are high and the bees are removing the affected larvae growth will be slow. VSH is one tool, not the silver bullet.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
The most productive queen is the one that produced the most honey last year, overwintered the strongest and building the quickest this spring. The Saskatraz queens had much smaller clusters this spring, took their time getting going, but are doing well now.

It will be most interesting this next spring. I'll have lots of "proxy" data that can be compared to actual survival without treatment. I don't know if they are sampling any other TF apiaries, so my data will not be that relevant, except perhaps observationally.

That said, I may make a few nucs from the 1st year hygienic hives, that happen to be strong as well and see how they do.
 

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lharder; I found the Saskatraz experiment very interesting as a study of what all can be involved in a bee research project and a strong suggestion that a lot of claimed research in some other accounts have a lot of questionable gaps in their controls and objectivity. I believe Tibor Szabo had some input to the Saskatraz project and was involved with the development of the "Alberta Bee" at Beaverlodge. I sure am pleased with the bees I purchase from their family Apiary. There seems no comparison in wintering habit and spring buildup compared to mainly "italian" bees. I dont know their pedigree but I dont think it is a fluke.

I think it would be bordering on delusional for me to think I could improve upon them. After 5 years I am going to bring in a few new queens from him as I probably am my own drone source. I have one colony that is showing a bit of headbutting last season and again this year and that will shortly see a regime change! Other than that it would take a lot better record keeping and far more hives than I have to base any decision making on.
 

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I don't think there would be any problem finding TF keepers to work with if you looked for them. The scientists themselves haven't looked for it. If they thought it was important they would develop a few TF apiaries of their own. Its probably because scientists that work with bees are most often from an agricultural background. Useful traits are observed and bred into bees with the hope it will help survival. Then treatment is pulled to see if it works. If they were from a wildlife/ecology/evolution background, they would be looking at how solutions develop on their own without imposing one, and try to figure out what those solutions are. Seeley is an example of this approach. The shortage of wildlife types in bee research is that honeybees get enough attention as it is and its probably not cool to study them. Also with all that management and bee movement, there is too much chaos in the system. Beekeepers would be viewed as mostly irresponsible having brought most of their problems on themselves.

My background is in mostly in plant and insect ecology in forest settings. So I think the TF approach is scientifically reasonable and interesting. But I want to understand why it works when it works, and why it doesn't when it doesn't. Hopefully some progress can be made.
 

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Progress already been made by the LA bee lab. They only exchange the
breeders that show the progress. Maybe these are mainly the insect scientists who
look into it or the beekeepers who like to maintain these type of bees. Going to have
a chance to evaluate one pretty soon. I'm excited about it already!
 

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I don't think there would be any problem finding TF keepers to work with if you looked for them. The scientists themselves haven't looked for it. If they thought it was important they would develop a few TF apiaries of their own. Its probably because scientists that work with bees are most often from an agricultural background. Useful traits are observed and bred into bees with the hope it will help survival. Then treatment is pulled to see if it works. If they were from a wildlife/ecology/evolution background, they would be looking at how solutions develop on their own without imposing one, and try to figure out what those solutions are. Seeley is an example of this approach. The shortage of wildlife types in bee research is that honeybees get enough attention as it is and its probably not cool to study them. Also with all that management and bee movement, there is too much chaos in the system. Beekeepers would be viewed as mostly irresponsible having brought most of their problems on themselves.

My background is in mostly in plant and insect ecology in forest settings. So I think the TF approach is scientifically reasonable and interesting. But I want to understand why it works when it works, and why it doesn't when it doesn't. Hopefully some progress can be made.
Problem is backyard beekeepers or small time TF operations don't look at the big picture of the commercial aspect of things. There's more to it then just selecting for resistance or survivability and then throw into it the non local aspect of migratory beekeeping and the equation becomes much more complex. Fusion Power has one of the better approaches, he has the resistance, and then is continually improving on certain aspects of his bees to fit his model.
 

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Problem is backyard beekeepers or small time TF operations don't look at the big picture of the commercial aspect of things. There's more to it then just selecting for resistance or survivability and then throw into it the non local aspect of migratory beekeeping and the equation becomes much more complex. Fusion Power has one of the better approaches, he has the resistance, and then is continually improving on certain aspects of his bees to fit his model.
I'm sorry. I probably missed this in another thread, where is it that Fusion Power has resistance and proof of improvement?
 

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In a situation like this why not just ask FP about it?
No matter what people claim the proof is on after the winter.
Let's see who has the most hives that made it coming next Spring.
 

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What JRG was alluding to is that my bees express very high levels of VSH and when crossed with Carpenter queens they also express high levels of allogrooming. The background is that I've spent the last 11 years using mite tolerant genetics and have used no treatments of any sort on my bees in that time. What I have done is look diligently for outside genetics that could complement my line and bring them in when found. I got some queens from Carpenter Apiaries 4 years ago and quickly found that they are very synergistic with my bees. Mating a Carpenter virgin with my line drones gives mite tolerance as good as or better than my own bees but improves colony size and honey production. I brought in some BWeaver queens last year to trial and quickly decided that I don't need the hassle of usurpation swarms and aggressive hive defense. That said, I have one BWeaver queen that is a star performer this year having produced about 100 pounds of honey so far. It is also the only colony that did not throw any usurpation swarms. I'm debating raising a few queens from her and mating to my drones just to see if the other traits are worth having.
 

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You can isolate this hive and put some drones hives there to make a few
queens for this experiment. It would be fun to see what else can come from this mix.
Are the Carpenter queens the Italians based or carnis stock based? Also, are they the
angle biter bees or different bees from the angle biting website?
 
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