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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I've been thinking about different ways to make rapid increase while maintaining the ability to have 'true readings' of mite tolerance. I've rejected the high-power approach of adding a grafted queen to brood and flying bees supplied by big comb/brood doner hives on the following basis:

The queen and the 'starter' bees are unrelated, and therefore the performance of the hive in the early weeks will be a function of the donated flying bees, not the queen's bees. This will tend to obscure performance data during the first couple of months.

I realise the effect will be short lived - but thinking about this made me realise something else. The hive ecology will also be foreign to that queen's genetic make up. I think that might matter more.

I could be over-thinking at this stage.. but I'm wondering if one of the factors that enables swarms to outperform manufactured nucs, as is commonly reported, might not be the ideal evolved combination of the strain and the hive ecology that accompanies it.

If there's any truth in that, then it would be best to develop a production method that maintains this combination, rather than one that denys it.

One feature of the ecology that would be preserved is the co-evolved nature of the bee-mite combination. Bees geared up to controlling mites in a certain way may come ready equipped with mites that are amenable to being controlled in that way. And that might well make a big difference. [This idea appears to be deflated in a reply below - see #10 and #11. - MB]

Bringing these ideas into play would entail something closer to walk-away splits, or building hives large then splitting them up (preferably with swarm cells ready to go), rather than a (more efficient and rapid) separate Q-raising plus comb/brood/bee-raising operation.

Does anyone have any thoughts about any of that?

Mike (UK)
 

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Bees geared up to controlling mites in a certain way may come ready equipped with mites that are amenable to being controlled in that way. And that might well make a big difference.
If that were true then the bees would control the controllable mites and necessarily select towards other, less easily controllable mites which would take over.

According to your general principles of natural selection, anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
If that were true then the bees would control the controllable mites and necessarily select towards other, less easily controllable mites which would take over.
Your understanding of the processes is muddled OT.

The bees create more controllable strains of mite (less fecund) by selectively breeding them. (They take out the most fecund adults, leaving the less fecund.)

Those strains of bee that do this best then prosper at the expense of those that don't. (In nature, and that's what we're learning from and copying. Thus doing our best to emulate and not to undermine the essential process...)

According to your general principles of natural selection, anyway.
Darwin's general principle, not mine.

Mike (UK)
 

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The bees create more controllable strains of mite (less fecund) by selectively breeding them. (They take out the most fecund adults, leaving the less fecund.)
But mites easily transfer between colonies. :) The rapid spread of varroa across continents is evidence of that easy transfer. The more fecund mites from other colonies would be still around to transfer to the colonies that are allegedly engaging in selective mite breeding.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
But mites easily transfer between colonies. :) The rapid spread of varroa across continents is evidence of that easy transfer. The more fecund mites from other colonies would be still around to transfer to the colonies that are allegedly engaging in selective mite breeding.
That's one of the very good reasons for wanting low fecudity mites already in the hive. They offer protection against incoming high-fecundity mites, by breeding with them, thus lowering fecundity in the first and subsequent generations.

The bees thus have a) good intitial (mite) genetics, and b) the ability to maintain those genetics in the face of incoming worse strains.

[Again this idea appears to have been at least partly countered - see #10 and 11 below - MB]

Its also another good reason for parking your hives well away from treating apiaries. Highly fecund mites can only exist where treatments protect them by protecting the bees they would otherwise rapidly kill.

Mike (UK)
 

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Male mites breed with their sisters, not with females from other mothers. The only way they breed with nonrelated females is when multiple mites invade a cell. Usually this results with only one male mite surviving to mate, and fewer viable females emerging. The low fecundity mites will have little or no effect on the high fecundity mites.

Mites don't only invade colonies when their host colony is crashing. Mites often invade colonies daily, with over 2000 being recorded in one week during a study in France. They do not have to be in the same apiary, just within flying distance of another colony.
 

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Mite resistance in bees has more to do with the production cycle of the bees then anything else. If a colony of bees has a shorter production cycle then the typical 19.5 days the pupae will spin a cocoon before the female mite wakes up and starts feeding, as a result the mite dies and is unable to reproduce. Also if the mite does wake up and feed before the pupae spins it's cocoon, but the bee hatches early before the mites in the cell have their final shed, the mites die. Colonies with a rapid brood cycles = mite resistance.

Monitor colonies brood cycles and choose from colonies that emerge in 12 hrs less time and you have mite resistant bees.
 

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As a matter of pondering I pretty much agree with you Mike. The less density and the more remote you are the more likely your thoughts are to be true. It may also have a basis that bees being worked less intensely have a chance of being generally healthier anyway.
Reminds me of the story of the Alaskan town that avoided the flu by letting nobody enter the town. That town remained isolated for less than a year though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Male mites breed with their sisters, not with females from other mothers. The only way they breed with nonrelated females is when multiple mites invade a cell. Usually this results with only one male mite surviving to mate, and fewer viable females emerging. The low fecundity mites will have little or no effect on the high fecundity mites.
Interesting. Can you point us to your source of info on this...

Mites don't only invade colonies when their host colony is crashing. Mites often invade colonies daily, with over 2000 being recorded in one week during a study in France. They do not have to be in the same apiary, just within flying distance of another colony.
...a reference would elevate this claim...

BTW, am I right to understand that ' 'IPM' disciple' means you are not a t/f beekeeper?

Mike (UK)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks. Yes, that appears to have scotched my theory about less fecund mites offering protection against more fecund ones.

I'm not sure that I'm done with it yet. And I still think the general transfer-of-suitable-ecology business is worth thinking about.

IPM generally refers to mechanical control like screen bottom boards, drone comb freezing etc. Treatment free is in reference to chemical control.
Hmm, yes, of course, I'm applying my personal definition! (http://www.beesource.com/forums/sho...eatment-Free-Beeks-only&p=1070888#post1070888 if you're interested)

Mike (UK)
 

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Thanks. Yes, that appears to have scotched my theory about less fecund mites offering protection against more fecund ones.

Mike (UK)
Which is what I tried to get across to you in the first place. But your response was to say my "thinking was muddled".

Less personal insults, less unproven illogical theory, more science, would make you more readable.
 
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