Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner

1 - 20 of 85 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
311 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Don't shoot me or anything but I was sitting here wondering. Is it possible that people are making bees weaker by taking too good care of them?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
311 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Absolutely. Bees are much weaker than they should be because of lack of selection.
I wasn't really be thinking about the selection process. I was thinking about how people wrap the hives for cold weather. I am also not saying it's a bad thing. I guess what I am wondering is now that people do things like wrap them does it program the bees to require it. For example feral bees that have never been treated or protected from the cold, are they more Hardy than domesticated bees?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,186 Posts
How thick are the walls of a tree cavity hive? Man made hives in North America are mostly 3/4 inches of pine or other soft wood. I think natural hives may be better insulated than what we provide. Would that make feral bees stronger or weaker? Are there very many feral hives north of the 50th parallel?

A lot of us catch swarms from feral hives. Do they survive mites, beetles and disease better, worse, or the same as our kept hives? Not having any evidence to the contrary, I think survival rates are probably about the same. If ferals do have a better survival rate, does intermixing them with our kept hives make either stronger or weaker? I suspect they get balanced out over a few generations.

All in all, I think they are all about the same, in terms of strength. We've taken a specie that evolved in a warm climate and forced them to live in a cold climate. Maybe we've made them stronger.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,190 Posts
I don't consider winter a manhood test for my colonies! I want them wrapped and snugly insulated so the genetic idiots who try to eat themselves to death can be broken into nucs with caged queens to sell, make up losses or expand. Those same snugly wrapped colonies can make a box of honey off dandelions and the neighbors fruit trees that the tough bees that made it on their own, use to make enough brood to almost be ready for the main flow!


I do select the quiet winter colonies that use 8 or 9 pounds of stores a month thru the dead of winter and rapidly build in spring. But being I realist, I know that hundreds of thousands of commercial bees are going to flood in every spring and the drones in those hives are going to largely wipe out whatever I do. So I will continue to make life as easy as possible for my bees.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
311 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
There are not any commercial bees around me....to the best of my knowledge. The nearest bees around me I think are about 10 miles. No one here has any bees, I am hoping to be able to catch a couple of feral swarms in the mountains here. Especially in one place I know there are bees but no people around at all.
I may be wrong, but I believe if they have made it in the wild on their own they have some how found a way to deal with disease and/ or mites. I'm hoping they will be small cell bees also and I still plan on treating with formic pro.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,409 Posts
We've taken a specie that evolved in a warm climate and forced them to live in a cold climate.
Is that strictly true ? Honey-bees migrated of their own accord into Asia, up into Russia, and across into Europe. Those bees were to survive the 'Little Ice Age' of the 14th to 19th centuries under somewhat primitive beekeeping conditions.

I'd suggest the relatively severe winters of N. America and Canada are not much different from those of mainland Northern Europe during that fairly recent (in evolutionary terms) period of history.
LJ
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
10,456 Posts
i wonder if the limiting factor for wild-type bees to make it in the far north is the availability of large cavities.

i say this because mike palmer reports overwintering in a double deep and one medium, and i am assuming at least the upper deep and medium are full of stores.

mike also reports that when he first gets into his hives after the spring thaw there typically isn't very much honey left.

i'm guessing there aren't many tree hollows having that much volume to go around.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,190 Posts
I did an attempted rescue on a colony in a black cottonwood that had blown down. I cut four feet below the opening and went across three feet of 3empty comb. There are a lot of big cavities along river valleys and in farmstead groves. It really amazes me that we have any feral bees here. Our annual rainfall is only about 11 inches including melted snow. Almost all of it comes in the spring. From mid July to next April there is no flow many years. That is 8 months between paydays! My little operation is fairly isolated because my locations are marginal ones bounded by a treeless waterfowl refuge on one side and a wheat desert elsewhere. Our urban and suburban bees have a better shot at life with watered lawns and heated buildings to help warm clusters in walls.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,432 Posts
i wonder if the limiting factor for wild-type bees to make it in the far north is the availability of large cavities.

i say this because mike palmer reports overwintering in a double deep and one medium, and i am assuming at least the upper deep and medium are full of stores.

mike also reports that when he first gets into his hives after the spring thaw there typically isn't very much honey left.

i'm guessing there aren't many tree hollows having that much volume to go around.
Tree size goes down as the winters get longer and colder. I'm sure this has a big impact on northern range limits. Must be an inverse relationship between cavity size and the amount of honey needed to survive a long winter.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,331 Posts
I wasn't really be thinking about the selection process. I was thinking about how people wrap the hives for cold weather. I am also not saying it's a bad thing. I guess what I am wondering is now that people do things like wrap them does it program the bees to require it. For example feral bees that have never been treated or protected from the cold, are they more Hardy than domesticated bees?
all of the babying we do currently is because of hive deaths. if they were not dying out in huge numbers in winter i doubt anyone would do extra work.
Your question comes back to the treat or not treat debate. Some believe letting them alone is better and they will survive while others believe intervention is needed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,409 Posts
i'm guessing there aren't many tree hollows having that much volume to go around.
That's certainly true of managed forests. In really old unmanaged forests cavities are more plentiful due to moribund trees falling over and causing limb damage to their neighbours. In Sherwood Forest (of Robin Hood fame) there are hollow oak trees there a person can hide inside.
LJ
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,409 Posts
Can't argue with that. Thanks MB
You could if you wanted to, although I suspect there would be little point.

One of the core principles of Natural Selection is that if a genetic alteration should occur which confers an advantage, then this advantage must be expressed prior to that organism reproducing, in order that such alteration (and the advantage it bestows) is then passed on to the next generation.

Suppose you have a varroa-infested colony which is destined to collapse towards the end of the year. Providing that colony reproduces (say, by multiple swarms) earlier in that year, then the existing genotype - that is, one which does not possess any advantage with regard to that varroa infestation - will continue to persist within the prevailing gene pool. But these are not 'wimpy' bees - these are the same bees as existed before Varroa arrived.

In the above case, not-treating those mites will have absolutely zero positive effect upon the outcome (quite the reverse, as a 'mite-bomb' is highly likely to develop), whereas treating them will allow that colony and it's progeny to survive for a further year - during which time it's always possible that some miraculous event will occur to finally solve the Varroa problem. Although I very much doubt this will happen any time soon.
LJ
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,190 Posts
Here Here Little John! A fully rational well thought out response that fully states what I have poorly attempted.

The American west cattle industry was once based on longhorn cattle, a feral stock that was hard to manage, inefficient and tough as nails. The longhorn was almost entirely replaced, first by Wimpy fully domesticated stock. It doesn't seem to have ended the livestock industry.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,432 Posts
You could if you wanted to, although I suspect there would be little point.

One of the core principles of Natural Selection is that if a genetic alteration should occur which confers an advantage, then this advantage must be expressed prior to that organism reproducing, in order that such alteration (and the advantage it bestows) is then passed on to the next generation.

Suppose you have a varroa-infested colony which is destined to collapse towards the end of the year. Providing that colony reproduces (say, by multiple swarms) earlier in that year, then the existing genotype - that is, one which does not possess any advantage with regard to that varroa infestation - will continue to persist within the prevailing gene pool. But these are not 'wimpy' bees - these are the same bees as existed before Varroa arrived.

In the above case, not-treating those mites will have absolutely zero positive effect upon the outcome (quite the reverse, as a 'mite-bomb' is highly likely to develop), whereas treating them will allow that colony and it's progeny to survive for a further year - during which time it's always possible that some miraculous event will occur to finally solve the Varroa problem. Although I very much doubt this will happen any time soon.
LJ
But the Arnot experience completely is at odds with this narrative. Hand waving vs fact. Varroa came, a major reduction of population, adaptation, carry on as before. So there is selective pressure. Some bees need a brood break every year. Swarming in feral bees accomplishes that. So the level of mite control is just enough to allow this to happen.

The conditions for survival in treatment free bees is a little more stringent, if one doesn't do brood breaks. By consistently taking queens from hives that persist the parameters slowly shift. Say I have a population of 100 where 25 percent are resistant and 75 % are not. They have equal opportunity to reproduce in the spring occupying 100 new hives for a total of 200 hives. That winter you lose 75 of non resistant bees freeing up those boxes. Assume 100 percent survival of the first year hives. You will end up with 50 hives resistant, and 50 hives non resistant. I know its not that simple but is a useful example to refute this line of thinking. Add in some additional beekeeper selection and you can end up with tough bees. I can say that my bees seem to healthier and more vigorous compared to my first year and I am barely to the stage where I can hopefully dominate my mating areas. I am not fighting the selection in my own yard but the lack of selection in others.

The message is that we all need to select one way or another for mite resistant bees.
 

·
Vendor
Local feral survivors in eight frame medium boxes.
Joined
·
54,120 Posts
>The longhorn was almost entirely replaced, first by Wimpy fully domesticated stock. It doesn't seem to have ended the livestock industry.

Actually, that's not what happened here. What they did was put Hereford bulls out with the longhorn cows and what they are raising today on ranches here still have some of those longhorn genetics which is why they are such good range cattle. When they got to 15/16 Hereford, they just called it pure bred. Unfortunately they got the bright idea to try to breed them to be "compact" and created calving problems that have plagued them ever since. They now have figured out that short legged cattle have calving problems and long legged cattle seldom do. But they bred that out now...
 
1 - 20 of 85 Posts
Top