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Oh, there are some more...

Abstract
[…] Here, we studied the specifics of the seasonal variation of female V. destructor mites, obtained from honey bees, by the morphological characters of mites belonging to the summer and winter generations, and their differences were established. Using the methods of multivariate statistics, we found significant differences between the summer (June–July) and winter (October–November) morphotypes of V. destructor mites. There are differences between the seasonal samples by 12 morphological characters of the parasite, namely the width of dorsal shield, width of dorsoventral shield, number of pores on sternal shield, length of tarsus and macrochaeta IV, and distances between setae of gnathosoma. Processing the seasonal samples of mites with discriminant analysis resulted in differences by 11 morphological characters including the length of dorsal shield, number of lancet setae, length and width of genitoventral shield, width of anal shield, number of setae and pores on sternal shield and distance between setae of gnathosoma. In general, the summer females are smaller and elongated compared to winter females, with larger genitoventral shield and shorter legs. The mites ofsummer and winter generations are adapted to different seasons: the summer mites to the reproductive period, the winter gener-ation to overwintering on bees. The ratio of morphotypes in female V. destructor mites is observed to change during the year, from 20.2% winter morphotype in summer generation to 20.7% summer morphotype in winter mites. Studying the influence of acaricides on the distinguished morphotypes is a promising approach to improve pest control measures against varroosis of honey bees.

Morphological variation of Varroa destructor (Parasitiformes, Varroidae) in different seasons
V. O. Yevstafieva, L. M. Zaloznaya, O. S. Nazarenko, V. V. Melnychuk, A. G. Sobolta
Biosystems Diversity. Vol 28 No 1 (2020). DOI: https://doi.org/10.15421/012003
 

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Re Keyfuss treating, I'm not quite up with the play on that, but my understanding was that it was not the original Keyfuss, but the son took over, did things a bit different to his Dad, and then found he had to treat?
 

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Re Keyfuss treating, I'm not quite up with the play on that, but my understanding was that it was not the original Keyfuss, but the son took over, did things a bit different to his Dad, and then found he had to treat?
Got me on that one.

I haven't contacted John since we went there but the situation then was as you described.
 

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Interesting read!

His bottom boards are the same as mine. :)
 

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... the simple answer is alive doesn't make breeding stock...
GregV:

Thank you for this post- and I apologize that I have just now had the time to sit down and read / absorb everything that has been shared thus far.

I noted that Dr. Johnson makes note that his initial stock will come from a Mr. Paul Zelenski (http://hometownhives.com/) who I see is on the Dane County Beekeepers Association board and is noted for having good survival- have you had the opportunity to speak with him and exchange information / genetics?

I also thought I would add a thought to this thread for the purposes of discussion (with the caveat that I am no expert on this topic)- specifically the concept of 'population resistance'.

While everything I read suggests there is much left to be learned about the specific mechanisms which confer resistance, there does seem to be some consensus that it is a multi-factorial response (at least within European Honeybees). Further, it seems that we learn more with each passing year of the importance of genetic diversity within a population of honeybees, even down to the colony level, where individual sister groups possibly provide specialization in tasks based on their genetic make-up.

So, while I have taken MSL's admonition above to heart in my own apiary I sometimes wonder if we unwittingly 'put too fine a point' on our selection efforts and this may inadvertently seek to counteract the primary goal of honeybee reproduction- namely survival.

I don't want to go too far out on a limb here, and I take nothing away from the merits of focused selection efforts- I just wonder sometimes if it might be prudent to keep one eye on the foundational paradigms of natural selection while being focused on the specific goals of artificial selection.

Anecdotally, if a particular colony had no particular traits that one might select for (i.e. swarmy, ill-tempered, minimal surplus... and even throw middling mite drop numbers in there for good measure) but it manages to survive year-over-year, is it possible that this colony has something in its genetic make-up that is worth having around for the benefit of the more 'desirable' colonies?

When thinking about this concept, I always come around to Brother Andrew's primary goal of breeding for 'vitality'- this idea of colonies which are possessed with life- and even he seems to struggle to provide a precise definition for this concept or to articulate the specific variables which constitute it- but to borrow Justice Potter Smith- "... we know it when we see it."

So, while I have no confident answers nor solutions to the treatment-free paradox, my personal focus is to ultimately:

1. Adhere to my own approach to the 'Bond Method' which allows me the grace to intervene if I have made a mistake that has put a colony in a disadvantage or they have caught a bad break. This means that while I will likely not propagate a colony with mite drop numbers that are above the apiary average, if they continue to survive, they get to hang around.

2. Use MSL's advice to only select from the colonies which show the most promise in terms of objective variables that can be measured and/or reasonably defined.

Who knows if this is even a reasonable approach, but I just cannot shake the notion that 'bees know best'- so I don't want to completely remove the tools of selection from them.

Again, a good thread- I enjoyed and appreciated everyone's input.

Russ
 

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Discussion Starter #49
GregV:

Thank you for this post- ........

Russ
Russ, I just decided to drop out of this particular discussion.
<deleted>
Might as well go away and quietly do to my own thing.
:)

Indeed, while the overused "Albert Einstein's definition of insanity" is probably often correct (very likely so in the controlled environments) - it is not always (if ever?) relevant in uncontrolled and chaotic contexts.
 

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Indeed, while the Albert Einstein's definition of insanity is probably often correct (very likely so in the controlled environments) - it is not always (if ever?) relevant in uncontrolled and chaotic contexts.
well put
some gamblers count cards, some bet it all on black, some just sit there and keep pulling the slot lever. Witch one is more likely to make a steady month to month income, witch one is likely to lose any gains, but likly feel good about the "wins" they had ?

but at the BYBK scale with 2 hives catching swarms does it matter if the odds a 200/1 or 500/1 that the swarm is "the real thing"? maby not, they are going to fail either way, even if they find it(some one has to), its lost in a few out crossing, but they do feel good about that "win"


any way, Bee well doing your own thing, can't wait to hear about you exploits this year as you grow back

I just cannot shake the notion that 'bees know best'
They do know whats best for bees! its fairly clear the honey bee, as a species is not in any danger. beekeepers on the other hand
 

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Bees are superorganisms.

But bees are not invincible, immortal superheroes. They are living creatures and as prone to die out as all the other life species are. More than 99 percent of all species that ever lived on Earth are estimated to be extinct.

Since the world of insects is experiencing a massive die out rate at the moment, why shall the honeybees as insects be less susceptible than all the other insects?

We lost 75 % of the insect mass in Germany, that study was confirmed by two universities and also by a university in Denmark (if I remember right). We lost those insects in just decades.

To think that honeybees are superheroes with superpowers, that can outbeat the other loosers on their own, is not understandable from a biological point of view.
 

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Very true Bernhard. I read recently that there has been a great reduction in bee numbers generally in just the last decade, and around 10% of bee species are threatened with extinction. Very sad.

As a teenager when I drove out of town at night, the windscreen would get pasted with squished insects, and the oil in their bodies meant we had to put a detergent in the water that was squirted onto the windscreen to wipe it all off with the windscreen wipers. Now, night driving not a problem at all. Other than a very occasional bug, nothing. I suspect that those night time flying insects have been reduced by a factor of thousands to one, if not tens of thousands to one.

A couple of weeks ago I saw a small butterfly with beautiful blue coloring on the wings. I realised this was a butterfly that was a common every day sight when I was a child, but this one was the first time I have seen one in years. Made me think about some other butterflies that used to be common but I have not seen in years, perhaps they are extinct and nobody even noticed. :(
 

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To think that honeybees are superheroes with superpowers, that can outbeat the other loosers on their own, is not understandable from a biological point of view.
Well said
while the natural selection types make a lot of noise over "predator prey balance in nature"...the importation of house cats has led to 63 species going extinct, no balance there. 99.9 of all species that ever lived have gone extinct, that is the way of nature

North America had a native honey bee, Apis Nearctica and it went extinct, "nature" made its choice

As a teenager when I drove out of town at night, the windscreen would get pasted with squished insects,
yep, family roadtrips every gas stop some one would grab the squeegee from the bucket next to the pump and wash the windshield
 

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Now, night driving not a problem at all. Other than a very occasional bug, nothing. I suspect that those night time flying insects have been reduced by a factor of thousands to one, if not tens of thousands to one.

A couple of weeks ago I saw a small butterfly with beautiful blue coloring on the wings. I realised this was a butterfly that was a common every day sight when I was a child, but this one was the first time I have seen one in years. Made me think about some other butterflies that used to be common but I have not seen in years, perhaps they are extinct and nobody even noticed. :(
Is that due in significant part to the use of agricultural pesticides?
 

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Whatever the cause the reduction in the insect population bumps on up the food chain. Amphibians and reptiles and birds are seeing a corresponding decline. Used to be I couldn't walk anywhere in the grass with out frogs constantly jumping all over. Green garden snakes would be seen two or three a day at least. Now it is a special treat to see them. Last summer I think I only spotted two or three all season.

For every action an equal reaction; Forgive them for they know not what they do? Anh anh, mother nature is taking notes!
 

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I find this PDF of interest in terms of "breeding bees on a small scale" which is applicable here.

The ref is courtesy of little_john:
http://bibba.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Breeding-honeybees-on-a-small-scale-Dorian-Pritchard.pdf
GregV:

I FINALLY had the opportunity to read this paper, and in my humble opinion there were a lot of good principles presented- but as they say (and thinking about your specific situation) I am reminded that, ‘the devil’s in the details.’

Specifically, Dr. Pritchard summarizes Part 1 by noting that, ‘… if you want to create a stock of honeybees superior to all others available and capable of surviving indefinitely, you should start off with bees that are already a long way along the path you want to take and as mating partners you should use only similar bees.’

And yet, he summarizes Part 2 by cautioning, ‘Few beekeepers seem to care how their actions may affect their neighbours' bees, but in my opinion it is grossly irresponsible to bring in foreign queens, unless you take steps to prevent them producing drones. The foreign drones produced in a single apiary can cause genetic havoc in all other colonies within a radius of several miles and in one season utterly ruin the life's work of many beekeeping neighbours.’

So I take this to mean that the overarching assumption is that there are suitable genetics available in our respective ‘village’ and maybe our most important task is to find and propagate them.

He follows by observing, ‘You may find selection within your own stock never turns up some desired aspect of quality or behaviour because the relevant allele simply does not exist in the bees of your area. To remedy this you could send a virgin queen away to be mated elsewhere. "Elsewhere" should not be too far away (e.g.<50 miles) and bees at that apiary should be of excellent native stock and strong in the character yours lack. You then assess the performance of the new colony, but don't allow it to raise daughter queens unless and until that colony proves capable of performing well in your apiary. This prevents the drones of daughter queens disseminating exotic alleles; you should not allow daughter queens to arise until you are quite sure how they perform in your own locality.’

So I may be missing the forest for the proverbial trees but it seems that this approach may not fully take into account a regional bee population which is inundated by ‘foreign’ imports on an annual basis.

It seems that he alludes to controlled mating when describing his goals and challenges when he states, ‘My current aim is to combine their best features into a single uniform stock while retaining sufficient genetic heterogeneity to maintain vigour. My major obstacles in this endeavour are my own deficiencies as a beekeeper, uncontrolled matings and the summer weather.’

It is hard for me to argue with these goals and I can certainly identify with his challenges.

As I think through his approach and bee biology as I understand it I am reminded that fundamentally we are either assuming that our local population is suitable for propagation and fits our goals, or we have to engage in a fairly substantial method of controlled matings to develop and maintain an ‘island’ population in a ‘sea’ of unsuitable genetics.

I do look forward to reading about your approach to selection and hope that your early season expansion efforts are successful.

Russ

p.s. While not directly applicable to this discussion, I came across this website today, and I thought you might be interested. It seems similar to the ethos of Dr. Johnson's work and this quarter’s article talks about growing citrus in Russia- very interesting:

https://www.lowtechmagazine.com/
 

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We don't have the options that Dr Pritcher had. All of the bees locally are completely mixed with purchased bees from other states. Where I live I strongly doubt there is any long-standing feral population or any type of 'local' bee.
 

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Looks like they had a ruff start and ended up doing a profilac antibiotic treatment to the entire project...
Thanks for the post, MSL.

That is certainly a rough start- to be dealing with AFB right out of the gate.

Kind of sobering too- I have bought used equipment a few times already and have had good success so far- but I won't lie that it is always in the back of my mind that I might regret it later...
 

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Discussion Starter #60 (Edited)
Greg do you have any insider info on mite losses so far?
Mike,
Don't know.
I should ask Scott.
Just in September we harvested some apples together, but it was all apple talk (we are much into apples).
The bee talk kinda went sideways...
However, he never mentioned anything about doing the counts (which I understand - he is way too busy with his homestead as is).
I think they will do just "hard bond' this season and regroup in spring.
Will ask anyway as I am invested too a little bit.
 
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