Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner
21 - 40 of 91 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,659 Posts
Another reference, locally adapted queens are superior:

The influence of genetic origin and its interaction with environmental effects on the survival of Apis mellifera L. colonies in Europe


Summary
The survival and performance of 597 honey bee colonies, representing five subspecies and 16 different genotypes, were comparatively studied in 20 apiaries across Europe. Started in October 2009, 15.7% of the colonies survived without any therapeutic treatment against diseases until spring 2012. The survival duration was strongly affected by environmental factors (apiary effects) and, to a lesser degree, by the genotypes and origin of queens. Varroa was identified as a main cause of losses (38.4%), followed by queen problems (16.9%) and Nosema infection (7.3%). On average, colonies with queens from local origin survived 83 days longer compared to non-local origins (p < 0.001). This result demonstrates strong genotype by environment interactions. Consequently, the conservation of bee diversity and the support of local breeding activities must be prioritised in order to prevent colony losses, to optimize a sustainable productivity and to enable a continuous adaptation to environmental changes.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,659 Posts
3rd Reference indicating the superiority of local queens:

Population dynamics of European honey bee genotypes under different environmental conditions


Summary
Adaptation of honey bees to their environment is expressed by the annual development pattern of the colony, the balance with food sources and the host—parasite balance, all of which interact among each other with changes in the environment. In the present study, we analyse the development patterns over a period of two years in colonies belonging to 16 different genotypes and placed in areas grouped within six environmental clusters across Europe. The colonies were maintained with no chemical treatment against varroa mites. The aim of the study was to investigate the presence of genotype—environment interactions and their effects on colony development, which we use in this study as a measure of their vitality. We found that colonies placed in Southern Europe tend to have lower adult bee populations compared to colonies placed in colder conditions, while the brood population tends to be smaller in the North, thus reflecting the shorter longevity of bees in warmer climates and the shorter brood rearing period in the North. We found that both genotype and environment significantly affect colony development, and that specific adaptations exist, especially in terms of adult bee population and overwintering ability.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
535 Posts
Good northern bees actually know better to NOT be foraging out when it is cold (even if sunny) - this amounts to nothing by loss of life and wasted resources.

My backyard Italians are ready to forage no matter how cold and keep bringing more pollen (for what?). The "northern" VSH mutts sit tight and don't waste the time. So that is what I observe.

The talk of Northern bee foraging when cold is.... an exaggeration or at least needs contextual qualification.
My son and I were just talking about this, as regards wind, yesterday. There is some eucalyptus bloom out there, but it was a very windy day and the bees were quiet. He was wondering if they fly when the wind dies down as it did for awhile yesterday. I didn't really have a answer. How do the bees know what to do when it's a windy day?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,322 Posts
The best queen might be the most flexible at surviving even though not the most productive. Other people might select for ease of working them with limited protection. I have a bit of experience with bees in an area where they seem to be dominant but I would not thank you if you gave them to me. I think "locally adapted" is a very overused and rather meaningless term but it is popular.
If I took any identifiable bee into an isolated area it would become the dominant bee. Had I chosen another bee it would have become the locally adapted bee. If the beekeepers there became accustomed to their particular peculiarities they would be successful. Usually in isolated areas the management has become adapted to the bees there. So which is most important, locally adapted bees or locally adapted beekeepers?
I think many queens that are brought in from long distances and subject to extremes of temperature, lack of royal jelly, dehydration etc. get a black mark as not being locally adapted but that is not due to inherent unsuitability. Locally raised queens with lesser inherent suitability but better environment get undeserved credit for being locally adapted.

I do think though that if you select a mixed bunch of mutts with a variety of habits both Italian and Carni and take them into, say, north west Minnesota or Thunder Bay Ontario, that in a few years the surviving bees in general will be a lot more Carniolan in habits since the others will self eliminate by not wintering well. Now someone indoor wintering might have bees maintaining more of the Italian habits. I believe that Ian Steppler the Canadian Beekeeper blogger has deliberately brought in more Italian habits but he knows how to deliberately shut down their propensity of going into winter with large clusters. Ian is locally adapted, not the bees!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21 Posts
Larrybud, I read your detailed response. Just get queens that fit your timeline. Your goal is really to draw out comb and micromanage feeding. With a laying queen early in season you will do just that. If you wanna replace queens later…go for it As I would not. I would just overwinter all and prob be surprised at the number that overwinter. I am of course assuming you treat for mites feed ongoing and sole goal is to draw out comb be it deep or honey super comb.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,659 Posts
The literature cited above clearly indicates that locally adapted bees/queens are superior in the Northern climates.

So the next question is who here in the US breeds local queens? Theres a few of them scattered around, but they are often sold out pretty well. Superior northern queens like those bred by Miachel Palmer - when are they first available? I know a few local bee supplier who makes authentic nucs available around the end of may or early june.

Often southern queens are purchased in April, and converted into "splits", long before local queens could be reared.

Overwintered nucs a good option - but in these parts they are expensive. I believe Mann Lake sells them for over $220?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,056 Posts
The literature cited above clearly indicates that locally adapted bees/queens are superior in the Northern climates.
kind of... It showed they lived longer TF...

but what the finding were

I am all for local stocks were they exist..
step one is people need to keep enough bees alive that they don't need to import queens
step 2 is people making there own form what has survived the winter, better if its 2 winters
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,659 Posts

The survival and performance of 597 honey bee colonies, representing five subspecies and 16 different genotypes, were comparatively studied in 20 apiaries across Europe. Started in October 2009, 15.7% of the colonies survived without any therapeutic treatment against diseases until spring 2012.

This is a good study - 600 colonies over 3 years, and the locally adapated queens survived better, even with varroa infestation.

They conclude:

Consequently, the conservation of bee diversity and the support of local breeding activities must be prioritised in order to prevent colony losses, to optimize a sustainable productivity and to enable a continuous adaptation to environmental changes.

Also -

Beekeepers with better knowledge on disease detection and management (specifically for varroosis and AFB), applying earlier prophylactic measures and good beekeeping practices (e.g. preparation of colonies for winter) had lower mortality rates than others (Tables (Tables11 & 2).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,322 Posts
"The literature cited above clearly indicates that locally adapted bees/queens are superior in the Northern climates."

That is too broad a statement without explaining why the results are what they found them to be. It takes a broader study with controls and tracking of the imported bees to tease out what all things may have influenced their observations. I just read some of the experiments that Canadian breeder, DesRocher has done on quality questions of queen shipments to and from his operation in Northern Quebec, the operation in California and delivery to other locations in North America. He uses data recorders of time and temperature during shipments and the queens experience some pretty wild temperature extremes. Shipping is a big problem in queen quality. The queens store of drone semen can be negatively affected by high and low temperature exposures.

To me the performance of queens is clearly more complicated than whether they were locally raised. I suggest that if some of the queens that were found superior were exposed to a trip incurring some of the same temperature and presssure excursions that different or more complicated conclusions might appear.

Be wary of simplistic solutions to complex problems.

One of our contributors here used to have as his signature some of the first lines from a poem.

Drink deeply from the Pierian springs, or drink not at all, for shallow draughts confuse the mind---------
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,056 Posts
Much of the variability in the survival of colonies is connected to the test locations, actually representing differences in climate, vegetation, infestation pressure, and colony management. The average survival period ranged from 80 days for the test location “Probistip” in Macedonia, where all colonies were lost during the first winter period, to 711 days for the test location “Avignon”, located in France. The differences between some of the locations were statistically significant. The course of survival and the adjusted mean survival duration are quite similar for most of the genotypes
worth noting that Avignon is famous for its TF bee pop and most of they stocks did real well there
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
535 Posts
"The literature cited above clearly indicates that locally adapted bees/queens are superior in the Northern climates."

That is too broad a statement without explaining why the results are what they found them to be. It takes a broader study with controls and tracking of the imported bees to tease out what all things may have influenced their observations. I just read some of the experiments that Canadian breeder, DesRocher has done on quality questions of queen shipments to and from his operation in Northern Quebec, the operation in California and delivery to other locations in North America. He uses data recorders of time and temperature during shipments and the queens experience some pretty wild temperature extremes. Shipping is a big problem in queen quality. The queens store of drone semen can be negatively affected by high and low temperature exposures.

To me the performance of queens is clearly more complicated than whether they were locally raised. I suggest that if some of the queens that were found superior were exposed to a trip incurring some of the same temperature and presssure excursions that different or more complicated conclusions might appear.

Be wary of simplistic solutions to complex problems.

One of our contributors here used to have as his signature some of the first lines from a poem.

Drink deeply from the Pieriansprings, or drink not at all, for shallow draughts confuse the mind---------
Yes, lots of variables involved. Given that, any conclusions reached may be caused by other factors than 'local' or imported queens, IMO. We should all strive to breed our queens from our survivor stock. I've done this for a long time; however, I have yet to see a hive that doesn't utimately succumb to the varroa and related diseases.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,659 Posts
Hmmm. There's some misunderstanding here. Those are 3 peer-review studies which indicate superiority of locally adapted queens.

This isn;t a blog - so if the authors and all the peer reviewers felt that those weren't acceptable conclusions, they would have had to remove them.

But all of these experts agreed in the conclusions published above in those 3 studies. There's more than one study with similar conclusions.

So please feel free to reference counterpoint studies, if they exist. That would be interesting to read. So let's produce some peer-review studies and have a discussion.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,322 Posts
Here is a bit of their closing comments. Seems that beekeeper experience may be the greatest influence. Ones having to import more replacement stock than ones that were able to continue on their own resources. Perhaps the conclusion can be made that the cause is the inferiority of the southern bees but I dont see that substantiated.

<"The limits of our descriptive epidemiological protocol should be taken into account when drawing conclusions. Indeed, any hypotheses expressed in this paper should be fully studied in dedicated experimental protocols to confirm the risk factors and clarify any potential causality [33]. Our study offers observational evidence to suggest the importance of beekeeper training and education. These results must be seen as preliminary until confirmed by direct experimental means.
Go to:
Conclusion
Our results show that the main factors protecting honey bee colonies are beekeeper background and practices. More efforts are needed in beekeeper training to promote good beekeeping practices and achieve early identification of clinical signs of disease. Considerable variation of colony losses exist across different Member States and between years. Climate conditions might have a strong effect on colony mortality during the whole year, requiring long term surveillance study to overcome the weather factor. Data from descriptive survey such as EPILOBEE should be used to set up dedicated protocols to study further targeted hypotheses. The promotion of regional scale studies of local practices should be encouraged. Further to this work, the causes of colony losses should be investigated by conducting studies on specific issues as potential causes of honey bee losses, for example case-control studies that include pesticide analyses and landscape recording.">
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,901 Posts
... So the question stands (with acknowledgement to Ray, msl and the rest) if I was to purchase "Southern Queens" for my location, would they survive the next Winter or even the first Spring? ...
There are many more variables that play a roll in whether a hive survives over winter than just 'Northern vs Southern Queens". one of the more obvious is Varroa Mite management, as well as stores, queen health, over all colony balance of age of population, and many others. In essence, the management practices of the beekeeper of the hives.
I still stand by my thinking that it's not Northern vs Southern Queens that should be paid attention to, but the quality of genetics and the management practices of the breeder you purchase the queens from. Granted, Northern vs Southern plays a part, but I still think other items of consideration play at least as large or larger part of the picture.

But yes I am aware that my experiences in beekeeping has never been in the colder northern areas, so what I state is based on what I've witnessed here in my location. So, take a grain of salt in what I say I guess. The extreme north can be brutal in winter for the bees. LOL for people too!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,322 Posts
I think there are a few elements at play in these discussions. Northern vs Southern AND so called local adaptation. They are not one and the same. Pernsonal thoughts are that if northern means leaning toward Carniolan tendencies then they are more efficient at wintering so could well be locally considered superior in many situations. So called local adaptation power could be based on many factors besides point of origin. Many of the factors based in the habits of the beekeeper rather than the bee. Broad brush definitions are not good at coaxing out the nuances of a question.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,659 Posts
Crofter, yes that's one study I read through it, I will bring your attention to:

Study #3 is much more interesting:
Rectangle Font Terrestrial plant Slope Parallel




The most striking effect of the different environmental conditions on colony development was the lower number of adult bees in southern Europe (longer active season) compared to northern Europe (shorter active season). This value, which refers to the whole two years of the experiment, could reflect the tendency of the colonies placed in cold climates to keep high numbers of bees to increase probability of survival during the long inactive season. The fact that local genotypes had higher adult bee populations in their area of origin than outside, could indicate specific adaptations to environmental conditions that allow individual bees to survive longer and thus to generate a larger colony population. This hypothesis finds confirmation in the fact that the same differences were not observed in the brood population, which was actually highest in the southern-most cluster: thus the number of bees is lower and the number of brood cells is higher in locations with longer active season.

1. shorter life-span of bees in areas of longer active season; 2. a higher proportion of foraging bees (not considered in the estimation). It has indeed been shown that reductions in colony population are associated with shorter worker life spans, younger worker foraging ages, and increased rates of comb building, brood rearing, and population growth (Winston and Fergusson, 1985; Winston et al., 1985). T
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,659 Posts
This study also speaks to the potential dangers of not breeding locally. As this will limits the number of subspecies and ecotypes. Read below:

Intensive breeding activities during the last decades are limiting the number of subspecies or ecotypes as they favour specific breeds or commercial lines. However, it is well documented that high diversity of honey bee populations still exists in Europe (De la Rua et al., 2009; Bouga et al., 2011; Ivanova et al., 2012). Therefore, the questions to be answered are: why does this high diversity exist? Do we need to preserve it for specific reasons? The results from the colony development in the European GEI experiment show that there are good reasons to believe that the diversity is the result of natural selection favouring specific phenotypes with important local adaptations, resulting in improved fitness of each population.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,322 Posts
Relative mite loads and length of season and bee miles traveled to forage will have an effect on average bee life experienced. varying length of winter shut in affects what is a survivable mite load. I am sure there are many other influences.

Regarding the value of local propagation of bees vs management that results in the need to have them imported from outside the region; Pretty much a no brainer! I am entirely in favor of that!

I have no argument with the research; what I find potentially misleading is your interpretation of the result and implications of it. You present your simplistic conclusions of complex data as if it were divine revelation.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
789 Posts
Discussion Starter · #39 ·
I found this article as I continue my research and development of my 2022 Plan. I found it interesting and it's definitely influencing my thoughts.

(1) Queen Bee Breeding |Northern vs. Southern Honeybee Queens – The B Farm

These guys are no boutique beekeepers in clean white jackets producing click bait YouTube videos, they're the real deal with millions of dollars in business and tens of thousands of colonies. The most interesting part of this article is the second paragraph:

Queens grafted raised and bred in southern climates have far better odds of survival in northern climates when other prerequisites are met including, but not limited to, pesticide/fungicide exposure during foraging season, general age of the cluster of  bees going into the winter, age of the queen, sufficient stores of honey and pollen, low mite and viral loads, proper insulation and ventilation of the colony, direction of the entrance, general air drainage at the apiary site,  and average daily temperature/humidity during winter months all play a critical role in colony survival.

Just a thought.
 
21 - 40 of 91 Posts
Top