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Discussion Starter #1
Is there long term benefit to keeping around poor stock as well as excellent stock? Are we doing some harm to the availability of genetic stock by only selecting for traits that we can redily see expressed?

Maybe there is something beneficial to the whole in a queen or drones that don't produce well in certain areas?

Genetic diversity is important to have disease resitant traits in your colony, so does it benefit the expanded pool of bee genetics on the whole?

I don't know if I am being clear about this. It is a little early.
 

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Mark, you made me laugh today, your liberal ideas are overflowing on this subject, not every bee is equal, some will die, as the manager it is your duty to kill what is not going to help the group, if you cuddle the poor stock it will destroy many. I am laughing when I write this:D
Bob
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I'm glads that I can bring joy to someone and make their day a little brighter.

But, if we diod away w/ al of the undesirable genetics in our bees, wouldn't that leave them open to problems from some obscure place where we aren't even looking or aren't aware of?

Just curious.
 

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Mark,

I am new to bees but not genetics.

I don't think "we" need to be worried about a loss of genetic diversity in our bee populations any time soon. The one thing I am finding is that there is a very wide diversity in how people keep their bees. That includes equipment, management practices, marketing and genetics. Look at other areas of agriculture. Most have become much less diverse than beekeeping.

That said, a repository for "pure" Apis mellifera strains would probably be a good thing.

Tom
 

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a couple of quick thoughts on the subject:

1. "requeening a whole yard with sister (or near sister) queens mated in the same area" is an extreme approach....perhaps the opposite of "propping up weak stock so that it can survive year to year and contribute to the gene pool". somewhere in the middle....grafting from several colonies rather than just one, not requeening everything at once, not taking extreme measures to isolate mating yards, etc is probably a better place to be than at either extreme.

2. the mechanics of bee genetics is extremely complex and results in a number of unique characteristics....among them are that "bad genes" and "good genes" are hard to identify, "bad genes" have ways to stick around in low levels for many generations (a "bad gene" may well not be fatal if carried by 1 or 2 drone fathers in a colony...some may well be advantagous at low levels).

you could go on for days thinking of the ramifications of the honeybee's unique genetic mechanics...drones are merely "flying queen sperm", and any mating is really 2 queens mating.

imho, we should keep in mind what these mechanics do, and allow them to function...not short circuit them by II or by trying to control every last detail. likewise, crossing many different strains at once and constant introduction of "better genes" seems fraught with problems as well.

letting a population stabalize seems like a better approach...and honeybee populations don't get inbred quickly, and inbreeding is easy to identify.

i would also recommend watching the following videos:
kerstin ebbesron
http://thecompleteidiotsguidetobeek...ion=com_content&view=article&id=63&Itemid=118
and
randy quinn
http://thecompleteidiotsguidetobeek...ion=com_content&view=article&id=62&Itemid=117
as they relate to the subject as well.

deknow
 

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Discussion Starter #6
The the term Complete Idiot must not be in refernce to the authors? :)

Thanks for the recommendation.

Early morning thoughts sometimes are just dreges of dream secuences. I just thought it would be nice to get some perspective.

I'm all for genetic diversity. My oldest is 1/4 Korean and mostly European w/ a smattering of Ganesatake (Mohawk), my middle child is Euro-American mostly German/English/Irish and my youngest is EuroAmerican/Ganesatake. Not that we intentionally planned this result. Life provides for one to accept.

I wear my liberalsim on my sleeve for all to see and atke notice of. Live your values.
 

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I think that, as more beekeepers actively select for survival in their local area, the diversity of localities in which we live potentially ensures much more genetic diversity than previous management practices.
 

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It's an interesting and, in my view, valid question.

The example I use is the Irish Potato Famine of 1845 - 1852. As I understand it, Ireland had mostly reduced its potato biodiversity down to two similar strains of potato, selected for various traits everyone agreed were beneficial (I'm guessing things like yield, flavor, etc...).

Unfortunately both strains were susceptible to the same blight.

I try to maintain genetic diversity in my apiary - I have some feral, some local, some Buckfast, some Russian, some Italian from Hawaii, some local stock from Manitoba. That said, getting attacked every time you open a hive sucks, so I am re-queening one of my feral hives with some gentler local stock.

So am I maintaining genetic diversity, or contributing to the problem? I hope I'm striking a balance. I do still need to handle these creatures regularly after all.

:)

Grid.
 

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I am also a fan of genetic diversity.

I can't contribute much at this point, being a beginner, but my long-term plan is to have a line of Russians, a line of Italians, and a line of 'local' swarm stock (if I can get one). Once I start making splits and nucs with different queens, I'll cull and choose the best among those lines, but unless one line is just useless I'd like all of them to contribute to my apiary. Instead of requeening all from one hive, I'll pick the best queen of each line to contribute to the yard. I know their original traits will breed out in a few generations, but they will not have started out closely related.

Oh yeah, and they don't get drugs so I'm choosing for hygenics at least!
 

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Mark, Diversity is allways a good thing, we breed our bees to live in an artificial environment to produce honey products, those undersirable genes will allways be there and new ones will be produced due to mutation, but lets keep it in perspective during you next dream sequence think about what your hives look like from the space station, we silly Humans, the bees will be here long after we are gone :D
Bob
 

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no, diversity is not always a good thing.

for instance, if i had some poor stock (the kind that needs to be fed frames of honey and capped brood to maintain) and offered it to you to add to your own "diversity", would you consider that a good thing?

deknow
 

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Discussion Starter #12
My point is that we don't know the value of what may appear to be poor stock, not really. It may contain some necassary genetic advantages that could be of use in the future. This is not to say that we shouldn't be improving our bees genetically. And I doubt that we will ever creat a bee that would be like the irish potatoe. Bee genetics is complex.

But, isn't genetic purity dangerous?
 

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Genetic diversity is always a good thing, this does not mean undesirable genetics are a good thing. Like the potato famine demonstrated, get all your eggs in one basket, you better watch out. I dont care how fantastic those eggs are, your asking for trouble.
 

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I'm pretty sure all our breeding for 'gentle' bees dosn't help them one bit when they swarm and go feral. Or when gentle drones mate with feral queens...

I mean, Africanized bees are awesome survivors. No one bothers them, and they out-swarm the varroa on a regular basis. Two characteristics that breeders try to avoid, but help the bee in the wild.

So I have to agree with you sqkcrk--we ARE breeding out traits the bees, on a whole, need to survive. Unless eventually they turn into our version of sheep today--fat stupid things that will never last 2 seconds in the wild.

Not saying that's good or bad--I'm a beek, I like gentle bees--but probably not great with bees overall survival. Cause domestic sheep don't breed out with the wild stock, but you can't control drone flights.
 

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We like to play at being "little Gods" and look, we have remade the bees a new world in the form of the bee yards and hives we put them in.

Now to fit the way we want our little bee worlds to work, we try to make the bees change and adapt in ways that accomplish our intentions and wand wants, not what the bees need for life outside our little worlds.

It's just human nature to try to control everything , whether it's a good idea that we do or not.

Humans consider themselves the dominant species in a world that they are increasingly trying to take total control over.

We want to control the weather, lifespan, each other, nothing new under the sun here.

In our little bee worlds that we 'create', bees natural behaviors, such as swarming and defensiveness are undesirable. Thus we see them as 'bad' genetic traits and want to eliminate those.

OR

maybe the bees ultimately just don't give a darn about us and will end up doing what they intend to do regardless of what we try, even where biology is concerned.

They never read the same books we do and they never seem to want to take our advice anyway.

Big Bear
 

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It is a good question. Don't forget that you cannot totally control your line unless you do II. The drones are so important.
I try to keep the diversity by choosing different lines for the drones from the lines I graft from. You can increase the chances of your drones succeeding by using drone frames and moving them into the hives you don't want to provide drones. It will suppress the generation of drones in that hive, and the donor hive will make more drones.
Every year or so I like to get an II queen and use her to graft from. It is critical to keep refreshing the pool IMO.
 

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To add a side path to your genetic diversity questions . . .(seeing as the thread is starting to fade a little)

What about the way(s) in which people are breeding queens and that processes effect on genetic diversity? Some likely good, some likely not so good. To pick on the bad parts while not intending to ruffle anyones feathers to much, to me it is obvious that very little, if anything, about the mass production of queens mimics the natural selective process.
Just closely watch the process a colony goes through when either swarming or superceding.

-During supercedure or for emergency purposes they start several queen cells, likely from larvae of different ages, to hedge their bets. Then, commonly, they will tear down the first cells started from the oldest larvae in favor of the younger fed more royal jelly for the longest period of time. Even then they will occasionally tear down nicely formed queen cells prior to hatching and further reduce those left to hatch.

-During swarming they take their time and sometimes constructed many nice queen cells, which all are allowed to make it close to hatching. After the swarm sometimes the first queen to emerge kills off the others, sometime not, and the workers prevent hatching to allow for after-swarms.

Either way, both of the above situations include a selective process (that we do not fully understand) made by the colony as to which cells will reach maturity and an inevitable fight to the death.

And then there is artificial insemination!

We are probably fooling ourselves if we think we can make better queens than the bees can themselves.

In the end it probably comes down to money, like everything else. You can't be very profitable doing it the bees ways, so it is the goal that every graft survives to adulthood.

How is it possible that the mass production process yields the best queens?
I don't think it can.
But a process where you nudge the genetics while allowing for the selective pressures to occure just might.
~Reid
 

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I've thought about this thread a lot in the past few days. There's another couple factors the bees naturally select for that we counteract--

1) Fast hatching. If you're the first to hatch, you win and can kill all the rest while they're still developing. Again, Africanized bees, who have been wild the longest, have a monopoly on this--that's why they're outbreeding feral European bees in the south--they hatch a day early and kill all the queens with European drone fathers! When we separate all the cells, at the least we're putting a pause on the genetic pressure to hatch quickly. (how do you think queens got from 21 days to 16 days??) (I think we should try breeding Euro bees to Africanized--breed selectively for 15-day hatching while adding in more and more Euro each generation until we get several lines that retain the fast-hatching but are mostly European descent. Then release THOSE to counter-compete with the Africanized)

2) A lot of people claim small-cell is better for reasons I won't go into here. But then breeders pick the BIGGEST queen cells to keep. This is just theorizing since I know very little about queen raising right now, but if you want smaller bees, wouldn't it follow that eventually the queen needs to be smaller to fit her abdomen into the cells?

Fun thread, and I'm interested in hearing any opinions counter to mine!

~Tara
 

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So how diverse is bee genetics in the United States? How many sub-species or even queen lines are there since imports were banned back in 1922? A couple new lines have been snuck in or legally imported. If a queen lives one to five years, we have had 88 to 14 generations with less than 9 genetic lines. Diversity is what Buckfast Abby accomplished by going to several continents to collect new lines. Duplicate lines are maintained to prevent genetic depression. Heterosis almost universally improves by deepening the gene pool - which is shallower than spit in the U.S.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Again, Africanized bees, who have been wild the longest, have a monopoly on this--that's why they're outbreeding feral European bees in the south--they hatch a day early and kill all the queens with European drone fathers. (how do you think queens got from 21 days to 16 days??) (I think we should try breeding Euro bees to Africanized--breed selectively for 15-day hatching while adding in more and more Euro each generation until we get several lines that retain the fast-hatching but are mostly European descent. Then release THOSE to counter-compete with the Africanized)

~Tara
21 days to 16? I don't know how that happened.

AHB do that? Emerge from the queen cell a day earlier than European HB?

It has been my undersatnding that when an AHB Queen is mated w/ a Euro Drone that the Africanized genes are dominant. And when an AHB drone mates w/ a Euro Queen the AHB genes are dominant. That is why we still have AHB even since the African Honey Bees were released from their hives in Brazil 57 years ago. And after coming through the highest per square mile density of European honeybees in North America when AHB spread through Mexico. So, if that is true, your idea, a nice theory, would meet the same ends as what we have today, AHB, not a quieted down mixture.
 
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