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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
On Bee-L recently, there was a discussion concerning the veracity of feral colonies in the US exhibiting a distinct genetic footprint from managed colonies. In response, Mr. Randy Oliver posted his findings, outlined in the following article:


Is anyone aware of any more recent scholarship on the subject? The newest I can find is the 2012 Oldroyd study referred to in Randy's write-up.
 

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Thing is, in our farmed hives we prefer and therefore select for certain characteristics such as gentleness, high honey production, low swarming impulse, etc.

Whereas in a population of bees not managed by humans, the opposite could be an advantage, and ways to manage mites are critical as there is no beekeeper to take care of that for them.

But end of day, any domestically bred bee that escapes via a swarm can set up hive in a tree and do very well in all areas except for mite management, and any "feral" bee can be set up in a human managed hive and farmed as we do any other bee.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks, Oldtimer. No arguments here.

Just curious whether with the advent of more sophisticated genetic mapping tools if we have learned more about the genetic makeup of feral colonies and whether they are in-fact as a group genetically-disparate from their managed counterparts. Might be very much location and bee-density specific.
 

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whether they are in-fact as a group genetically-disparate from their managed counterparts.



Ten African A lineage haplotypes were observed with two unique to Utah among A lineage haplotypes recorded in the US.
2 haplotypes found no were else in the US !!!
 

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I would think that according to the original question about differences, I wonder if you will have to divide that into 2 categories. One category for areas where africanized can live, and the other category for areas where they can't really penetrate into due to winters?

People in South America say that you don't find the local bees anymore, only the africanized genetics. They are that dominant that its changed everything. So this is why I replied the way I did.

I'm not implying every feral/wild colony is africanized however, but that will be strongly affected by if AHB are able to live in an area.
 

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So I looked at the link. Its very interesting and thank you for the article, regarding bee genetics in Utah.

I did have some points to say;

The data would be more useful if they actually spelled out what the haplogroups translate to in normal terms. Like when it classified stuff into western Europe and eastern Europe are they by chance actually meaning German/British Black Bee (Western Europe) genetics? And Eastern Europe as Carnica based genetics? Or... They don't spell this out and this is the key part that would make it make more sense. (They could have also meant Italian genetics by saying western europe however, but if they meant that why didn't they say southern europe instead?)

The article says, 'all 5 C haplogroup lineages' at one point. I'm curious how many various strains of genetics they have marked out for each of the european honey bees actually. But I doubt I'd ever actually be able to get such information, it would be fun to see.

(Haplogroups A, C, M, O, etc)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
MSL:

Thank you for your reply. I had forgotten about the Utah study. Speaking about forgetting, I recalled that Dr. Lopez-Uribe has been involved in two papers associated with the genetic make-up of both feral and managed colonies in North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
 

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On Bee-L recently, there was a discussion concerning the veracity of feral colonies in the US exhibiting a distinct genetic footprint from managed colonies. In response, Mr. Randy Oliver posted his findings, outlined in the following article:


Is anyone aware of any more recent scholarship on the subject? The newest I can find is the 2012 Oldroyd study referred to in Randy's write-up.
There are no bees currently living that are native to North America, so you can't really call any of them feral. I don't think bees have ever been domesticated because they still sting all the time and feel no attachment to us, so really they are all wild. Edit I did not understand what yall meant by feral, ignore the above.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks, GaJohnny. The title of the post and the 'feral' versus 'domestic' monikers utilized in the opening post are actually borrowed from the Randy Oliver article, where he devotes considerable space defining both. I suppose the question could be best framed by 'non-managed' versus 'managed'.
 

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There are no bees currently living that are native to North America, so you can't really call any of them feral.........Edit I did not understand what yall meant by feral, ignore the above.
Well, then why do they call the escaped feral pigs (non-native to North America) - feral.
We got feral horses and feral cattle and feral cats - none of these are native in North America.
Escaped domestic animal that persists over few generations on its own is feral no matter where the escape takes place.

Feral <> wild by the dictionary definition.
 

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Well, then why do they call the escaped feral pigs (non-native to North America) - feral.
We got feral horses and feral cattle and feral cats - none of these are native in North America.
Escaped domestic animal that persists over few generations on its own is feral no matter where the escape takes place.

Feral <> wild by the dictionary definition.
I was wrong, thank you for correcting me.
 

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Is anyone aware of any more recent scholarship on the subject? The newest I can find is the 2012 Oldroyd study referred to in Randy's write-up.
I have been very interested in this subject as well. I think there is also a Columbia University Study with Seeley that did a genetic study and the feral colonies in Arnot forest were genetically distinct from local managed colonies. I think he found that the feral population was much more diverse and even included trace Scutelata genes. He also found that managed colonies near feral colonies were remaining genetically distinct. I'll see if I can find the presentation he gave.
 

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feral colonies in Arnot forest were genetically distinct from local managed colonies
they were, but what is over looked (but pointed out by the local bee inspector) is the local beekeeper they took samples form had recently requeend the one yard with queens form new supplier, and the other yard was a new yard, stocked with queens from this new suplyer
ie
This was a new apiary established in April 2011 with 22 colonies. Each colony had been given a new queen purchased from Wooten’s Golden Queens, Palo Cedro, California. All 22 queens had mated in California in the spring of 2011. Apiary 2 was 5.2 km from the northeast boundary of the Arnot Forest. This apiary had been in existence since 2001 and contained 24 colonies. From time to time, some of the colonies were requeened using queens that were either purchased from various commercial queen producers or produced by the beekeeper using his own stock
in a commercial operation genetics aren't always "static"... one year they may be running local stock, another CA Italians, another Carnys or VSH.


The AF bees were 50% Italian, 50% Carny. The managed bees were 80/90% carny
Arnot Forest that yielded a clear result exhibited an even distribution of the C1 (ligustica ) and C2 (carnica ) haplotypes (50 % C1 and 50 % C2); however, the 10 colonies in both apiary 1 and apiary 2 exhibited mainly the C2 (carnica ) haplotype (90 and 80 % C2, respectively).
this is a red flag as Wooten’s Golden Queens is a commercial Italian bee producer, or maybe just showing clearly the failings of Mitochondrial DNA to give us anything meaningful ?

If the feral bees were not escaped swarms form commercial hives, we would expect to see AMM Mitochondrial DNA

They quite litery went to a new apiary that had just be set up with CA queens.... took samples and said "see the feral are different" .... about the same effect as driving to another new apiary just stocked with Russian queens and saying they are differento_O not good science, and no surprises in the results given the methods

now one great thing we have is the 1970s museum samples Museum samples reveal rapid evolution by wild honey bees exposed to a novel parasite showing a similar 50/50 mix

that is cause for pause as well, as (as illustrated in the randy O article ) Italians make up 4% of the feral pop, and in the 70s AMM was the domaint feral...
Practical food for thought: I find it of special interest that despite the fact that the C1 line (“yellow” Italian [40]) accounts for a third of the mitotypes in managed bees, that it does not appear to persist in the wild (only 4% of ferals carry it). Could it be that we tend to select for stock that lacks fitness under natural selective pressure?
Maby the clear cutting of NY drove AMM out threw habitat loss (by 1890 80% of the land was cut and cleared) and by the time old growth came back with its holes to nesting the Itilians were what were swarming form managed hives... either way it begs the question, why did AMM, the orongial feral go extencint in the AF, and get replaced, and why is the rair feral c-1 lines so prevalent in the AF while the carnys are right in line % wize with outher studyed feral pops

all and all the statement
We found substantial genetic differences between the colonies in the Arnot Forest colonies and the colonies in both apiaries nearby. This shows that there has been little genetic input from the managed colonies outside the Arnot Forest to the wild colonies inside the Arnot Forest
dosen't hold water as they are only comparing the genetics of one commercial queen rearer to Wooten’s Golden Queens to the currant feral pop, to make the statement of "little gentnic imput" we would have to know the genetics of managed hives in the area in the 90s when varroa (all but) wiped out the feral lines

I really liked seeley at 1st, but the deeper you go in to his work, the more holes you find.. In a way its a lot like BIP.... ya there is a lot of problems with the work, but its the best we have, be mindful crunching the data
 

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Feral and commercial are distinct from each other according to Delaney's research:
Same results:

More reading:
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Michael:

Thank you for your post. Helpful information. While the last two publications were locked behind a paywall, I thought the Schiff and Sheppard study was particularly interesting.

I suppose the take-away from it is:

Two mtDNA haplotypes were detected in the 142 breeder queen colonies analyzed. Six colonies from 3 of the apiaries had the haplotype associated with A. m. mellifera or A. m. iberica Goetze (Smith et al. 1991). These 3 apiaries produced a total of 50,000 marketable queens and, assuming that all breeder queens within an apiary produced an equal proportion of the total queens sold, the 6 A. m. mellifera haplotypes produced 14,000 (3%) of the queens sold by the 22 apiaries. The remaining 136 breeder queens all had mtDNA haplotypes associated with A. m. carnica and A. m. ligustica (Table 1.) and accounted for 433,900 (97%) of the total queens sold. This is significantly different (X2=63.1, P<0.001) than the feral population of the southern United States, where 36.7% of 692 feral colonies had the A. m. mellifera/iberica haplotype (Schiff et al. 1994). The lack of A. m. mellifera haplotypes in the commercial population is indicative of restricted gene flow between feral and commercial populations.

Thank you again for your feedback. I sincerely appreciate it.

Russ
 

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Utah would have been settled by Mormons, somewhat early, and not logged as heavy, so there may be some trace left for the 16 and 1700 there, to explain the 2 holotypes.

Agree MSL the trees being logged would either force the bees out or into Barn walls, definitely had an impact.

I read somewhere the Applications have a "unique" feral race that in time may be another distinct race. Not sure where I read it. As well it was never completely logged off.

there guys may have a good idea

we all place a couple may help.

GG
 

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I used to read with great interest all the hoopla about the Arnot Forest bees. Then at Apimondia I listened to a researcher from Europe that was poo-pooing all that hype. His argument, a dozen colonies does not a population make, and especially a dozen colonies within flight distance of larger commercial apiaries. So I had to go check this out, I was shocked at what I found.

The 'Arnot Forest' is hardly a 'forest'. It's 4200 acres, heck we have farms around here larger than that. When I first read about the mythical forest, I envisioned something like what we would consider a 'forest' in our area, hundreds of miles of nothing but trees.

This map shows the bee trees, all 8 of them. Huh ? 8 colonies ? They have more feeding stations than bee trees. Not a single one of those colonies is more than flight distance from civilization and managed colonies.

64422



I think all the folks falling for the hoopla about Arnot Forest bees are the victim of reporting of very bad 'science'. With all those feeding stations, the bees in those trees may as well be managed colonies.
 

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Grozzie,
As well the forest had been cut.
The "small" bee cavities are the norm there, as they are the only choice.
There was also verbiage about the "new size" of bee nests, while little mention of the "options"

Interesting study, just good enough to get funded IMO.

A same ish study in the Pacific Northwest with 1/2 a stae size area would be better data , likely never happen. Or the Applications. then there is room and Options.

GG
 

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To be fair, to Seeley have you read his actual books?

At no time does he try to hide the size of the forest the location or the goals of his work. He comes across to me in his writing as very modest , humble and restrained in his findings and conclusions.

Seeley did allot if not all the original research in the 70's on how bees live in the wild at the time there may have been some cultural / intitutional knowledge from woodsmen, bee hunters , loggers etc but he was the first one to go out and do the research in a disciplined manner and publish the studies on wild colony size, populations density, swarming behavior etc. all to be critically read and peer reviewed. In those original studies the he didn't hide the size of the Arnot forest and in every one of his studies he describes its size, so anyone that misses that fact shouldn't blame Seeley. The subsequent studies in the Arnot forest were based on the fact that he did the very same studies in the same forest before Varroa and he could directly compare any changes, to me that IS a bid deal, there is nowhere else in the world we have that opportunity.
To Gray Gooses point, I don't remember him discussing a "new size" just that bees in the wild live in smaller nests than managed colonies. IF he did come to the conclusion that there is a "new size" bee nest is it because he is comparing the size of the nests that he found in the SAME forest in the 70's? Are you saying it had been clearcut since then?

But besides that I think the actual point he made was that the small colony size forced the bees to swarm more often which provided brood breaks and kept varroa numbers down.

The studies that he did that showed the preferred size of cavities by bee swarms comes from a separate set of studies of his on swarm behavior , where they built the swarm boxes...completely independent on what is actually available in an any particular forest.

In his studies he does pose the question are the bees in the Arnot forest just swarms from local managed colonies , that is why he did the genetic studies, he came to a certain conclusion and people have pointed out its flaws. BUT he found that the bees in the forest were genetically distinct from all the managed bees around the forest .. newly requeened, brand new apiaries or not ... that is what he found.

Those feeding stations are not to feed the bees , its to catch the bees, they are there for a few hours or days at a time very rarely to conduct genetics studies or line bees to find their nests.

His main conclusion was that bees are still living in the wild in North America which was against the assumptions of himself and many people. This had not been studied at the time (post varroa) , and anecdotally this has been substantiated over and over again, as well as many other supporting studies have been done, but he was the first to actually go out an do it, anywhere, at all !...and then there are all these people that come decades later to question his work? Thats like a modern Drag Racer in a 2021 mustang talking trash out some dude in a hot rod 32 ford in the racing 1940's ..he was running a flathead...whats wrong with him? hadn't they heard of overhead cams?...the mustang wouldn't even exist without the 32 ford.... ..Hell I know of a few bee trees myself and have seen HB deep on the Olympia National Park far far from civilization.... so yes I think his conclusion is solid... bees are living in the wild, unmanaged in North America.
 
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