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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I think in order to live with the bee problems we are having here we need to breed or select resistance into the bees we have. As I remember that is why "Brother Adam" developed the "Buckfast bees." What I am thinking is we need to find one of our existing strains to build queens & drones from these.
Who is willing to take on this challenge?

This should be one of the ARS (Agriculture Research Stations) future projects! If they are already into this could we have some helpful notes as to their progress? I do not see what I am suggesting on the agenda of the ARS I have looked at, anyone know of research so we can bee enlightened?
 

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Research Project: Breeding, Genetics, Stock Improvement and Management of Russian Honey Bees for Mite and Small Hive Beetle Control and Pollination
Location: Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics, and Physiology Research

Project Number: 6413-21000-012-00
Project Type: Appropriated


Start Date: Oct 01, 2008
End Date: Sep 30, 2013


Objective:
The long-term objective of this project is to develop the economic value of Russian honey bees (RHB) through genetic improvements and devise innovative management strategies to increase the stock¿s general and pollination productivity. Over the next five years, we will focus on multiple interrelated projects with the following objectives:

Objective 1: Develop procedures for identification of RHB as a stock certification tool, determine the genetic makeup of feral bees, and identify genes contributing to mite resistance and survivability.

Objective 2: Develop management techniques (e.g., determine economic thresholds for mite treatment, develop cultural techniques for small hive beetle (SHB) management in standard and nucleus colonies, and determine winter management and spring build-up strategies) to build RHB populations for crop pollination (e.g., for almond).

Objective 3: Determine if there are genetic components of RHB response to emerging problems (such as colony collapse disorder or CCD) once syndromes and causes are identified.

Objective 4: Use traditional breeding techniques to develop RHB with improved economic traits.

Objective 5: Develop procedures for routine identification of sex alleles and determine queen relationships in multiple queen colonies.
 

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A list of the most recent Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics & Physiology Unit publications.

http://www.ars.usda.gov/Services/docs.htm?docid=8568

example:

469 VILLA, J. D., DANKA, R. G., HARRIS, J.W. 2009. Simplified methods of evaluating colonies for levels of Varroa Sensitive Hygiene (VSH). Journal of Apicultural Research 48(3):162-167.
Thanks,
I've just glanced at the publications, but there is a lot of great info here.
 

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What I am thinking is we need to find one of our existing strains to build queens & drones from these.

From what I have read on this site and in the bee magazines is that Russians that are resistant to Varroa have been bred by the USDA for years and have been released to queen breeders. The USDA has also bred the Varroa Sensitive Hygienics (VSH) in native Italians that is available to us. Also, New World Carniolans and Minnesota Hygienics have been bred with resistance to the brood diseases and somewhat to Varroa. Locally, some beekepers have their own strains that are variously resistant to Varroa. And there are a lot of feral bees that are isolated from beekeepers who treat that have become resistant to Varroa.

I'd love to have those who know more than I do to tell me if I explained this well or left something important out.
 

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The Honey Bee Act of 1922 really eliminated any diversity for the past 88 years. Importation was curtailed to control tracheal mites. Our gene pool is smaller than a wash tub. USDA is importing very little for experimentation. Guess what imported sperm has to be free of everything we are seeking resistance to. The diseases, pests and parasites are already here. Why not deliberately import honey bee races that have been exposed and survived? The lack of heterosis alone is reason enough to stir in fresh genetics from around the world. Diversity is to stir sperm from 20 drones up for every queen. Stir up the sperm from 20 of their offspring. Then you have a diverse group of breeder queens to select from.
http://americasbeekeeper.com/inbred_until_dead.htm

americasbeekeeper.com
americasbeekeeper.org
 

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Myron, several breeders are already doing this... both Weavers in Texas, Strachan Apiaries, Glenn Apiaries in California, and I'm sure there are others.
 

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> The Honey Bee Act of 1922 really eliminated any diversity for the past 88 years.

I thought this too. But -- This is a myth which is disproved by work by Debbie Delaney, Steve Sheppard, Marina Meixner, and all. In fact, Marla Spivak also stated point blank to the Orlando group that there is adequate diversity in our bees. Bees have been imported in any case, in very large numbers. Starting with the Russians, add the Australian imports, and Sue Cobey's recent imports from Europe, and your argument fails to convince.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
The test you are involved with is using all Russian Colonies as I understand. There is at least one person on this forum that started 10 Russian colonies last year, by Dec he had lost 40% of these colonies to unknown causes, he knows who he is.

I am guessing Colony Collapse Disorder is the problem we are looking at, but it may be caused by Varroa.

I suggest a trial using known Hygienic honeybees of different varieties: Italians, Carniolans, Russian, and other (unknown to me) varieties that might be considered hygienic or suspected "CCD" immune. (Buckfasts look like Italians to me, but include them if you think they are CCD resistant)
I think there needs to be a minimum of 10 healthy colonies of each variety of bees on large and small foundation cell size.

I am just a farmer, but, if you would set up the guidelines that I can afford I would like to be involved in a small test using 3 to 5 different hygienic "VSH" varieties of bees in 3 to 5 different locations over a period lasting up to 3 years. It needs to be understood that my test would just corroborate your results. I also think honey production needs to be included in the test. I think it is imperative that this test be started in the very near future!

I am guessing the Entomology Department at Oklahoma State University would be helpful with technical support. (they got out of the bee business years ago)

If those breeders mentioned by StevenG want to get involved maybe we can at least prove what will not work!
 

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I am the one who asked Marla Spivak the diversity question in Orlando. Australian bees are not resistant to mites or viruses. As she stated the European importation is frozen sperm. That can only be half (haploid) the alleles if it is even viable after days frozen. The most important point is the sperm is extensively tested to make sure the source bees were not exposed to any viruses. So we definitely are not getting resistance to anything they could not be exposed to. The haploid importation of Buckfast by Weaver is a great example. The offspring are a different color and do not have all the excellent qualities of Buckfast bees. African bees were imported to South America because it more closely approximated the climate and latitude. Asia corresponds closer to the United States than northern Europe. I can send the research papers if the interest is truly in the facts. Some of the original research is listed in References at http:americasbeekeeper.com/inbred_until_dead
 

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"I am just a farmer, but, if you would set up the guidelines that I can afford I would like to be involved in a small test using 3 to 5 different hygienic "VSH" varieties of bees in 3 to 5 different locations over a period lasting up to 3 years. It needs to be understood that my test would just corroborate your results. I also think honey production needs to be included in the test. I think it is imperative that this test be started in the very near future!" MD

Funny you should mention. We are launching a national stock selection program. Details to be revealed soon on our web site as soon as we get it updated, hopefully by Mon. Program queens will be distributed for $100 buy in (covers 3 queens over 2 seasons) on the first year. A publicly viewable database will be used to track selection and performance data. Top 1% to 3% will be sent back (with incentives) for propagation and 2 daughters from the chosen will be sent to each participant whose queen was not chosen. This will be an on going project as participants come and go. Most selections will be made after build up data is obtained after the queens are overwintered.

More details coming soon...

We will need lots of citizen scientist beekeepers collecting the data to make this work well. We should be able to screen many queens and a diversity of climates and conditions.
 

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This is one of the reasons I am trying to promote the honey bee Science network.

to see if we can get science minded beekeepers of all types to collaborate on projects just like these.

Big Bear
 

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JBJ, I trust/hope you'll post that on this forum at the appropriate time, as I think I'd like to participate also.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Does anyone know for absolute sure the variety of bee's that (?Dave?) Hackenberg had at the time CCD wiped out his bees? Do we know if they were hygienic?
Myron Denny
 
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