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Given how good you have gotten at queen rearing and propagating bees, it seems to me (strictly from the outside looking in) that you are in a good position to try a few experiments- though I won't fault you if you elect to take the prudent route.

If you're livelihood isn't dependent on it and you haven't grown emotionally attached to your TF bees, I say give it a go.
I guess I should really go through and do some alcohol washes and start keeping some decent records. I bought the cup thingy last Jan, but so far digging varroa out of brood (or looking at blown-up pics for phoretic) has been the extent of testing.

On queens, I finally got ahead of the demand and I'm deciding what to do with some beauties. Caught a few dark and tiger-striped from the mating nucs Fri as they were around 3 weeks and about to blow up the minis. So yes Russ, looking at it from that angle I have both extra equipment, and extra queens and a desire to know whether a race of bees can be bred to chew off mites, and keep down the viruses, .... for real, not marketing.

My brother's bees are rocking along without treatment, fair growth, etc. They usually swarm twice and go down to small numbers, take 2 months to recover, but they do recover. I have his swarm (virgin queen) from April 25 and she is blowing up a double deep. Pulled a split from her 3 weeks ago and dropped a new queen of mine in just to see if she could turn around the mite issue.

Apologies if that was all in my previous post. As far as $, my living is made elsewhere, although it has been satisfying being able to pay for bee stuff with bee stuff. God has blessed everything I've put my hand to, and I'm grateful. Life didn't always look this way, as pride came before several near-destructions. Again, grateful.

I will need about 8-10 large colonies next spring to support a starter and 2-3 good finishers with a couple for a ton of drones and some room for error. Plan to expand to 100 mating nucs. I guess I could treat my "keepers" and let the rest go, but I wouldn't have time for analysis until Dec. I have around 30 now (1/3 10-frame multiple boxes, 1/3 Lyson double 6-frame polys, 1/3 EZ Nucs). Planning to purchase 10 more Lysons to move the EZ Nucs into. Always graft from untreated survivors.?.? Don't care at all about honey (other than giving away). Yeah Bro, I guess I am in a good place to experiment, just no plan, obviously. Thank you my friend.
 

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Discussion Starter · #1,942 ·
I have both extra equipment, and extra queens and a desire to know whether a race of bees can be bred to chew off mites, and keep down the viruses, .... for real, not marketing.
... I guess I am in a good place to experiment, just no plan, obviously.
Joe:

Great post. I do apologize for my delay in reply. Things are blowing-up at work, and like you I try to approach these seasons from an attitude of gratitude... though oftentimes it is hard for me to consistently have a grateful mindset in the midst of the busyness.

While I don't know all the details of your operation, it seems reasonable to me that if you have extra resources on-hand and some inkling of where you might meet with some success in TF experimentation, that seems like a good place to start to me. At least in my mind, it wouldn't be necessary to have an airtight plan, as you are afforded the freedom to modify the plan as you go based on what you learn along the way, especially if you have a relatively large base of resources to draw from.

Always graft from untreated survivors.?.?
Now that's an interesting and loaded question (at least to my mind). In my decidedly narrow perspective formed from a collection of my own experience and what I have read, it seems to me that Apis mellifera thrives when afforded the opportunity to maintain genetic diversity. As such, it seems that the idea of grafting off untreated survivors is a reasonable approach provided that the genetic depth of the survivors is deep enough and is subsequently maintained through successive generations.

It was eye-opening to me to consider Dr. Kefuss' feedback that if he had it to do over again, he would have simultaneously selected for both resistance and tolerance- meaning have defined breeding objectives (i.e. untreated survival) but then keep the selection funnel sufficiently wide to not lose both the vitality that comes from genetic diversity and the other (possibly not so obvious) survival mechanisms which might be developing in parallel with your selection criterion.

Keep up the good work, and I will wait with baited breath to read what you decide to do.

Best of success to you as you work to close out the season.

Russ
 

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Discussion Starter · #1,943 ·
While I haven't yet been able to run this research to ground yet...
As I've read-into Dr. Martin's recent scholarship I found the research I expect is being referenced when talking about the prospect of honey bee learning relative to varroa-resistance.

In the March 2021 edition of Journal of Apicultural Research, Dr. Martin and research assistant Ms. Isobel Grindrod published a paper entitled, Spatial distribution of recapping behaviour indicates clustering around Varroa infested cells’.

The key nugget I expect relative to individual learning (with emphasis mine) is:

‘Exposure to Varroa may allow individual bees to learn to recognize the cues involved in infestation (Gronenberg et al., 2014). This could explain why Varroa naïve colonies and colonies with very low infestation levels had low levels of recapping until after substantial exposure to Varroa. Repeated exposure may increase the numbers of sensitive bees, enhance their sensitivity or lower the bees’ threshold of response to cells that carry cue traces (Masterman et al., 2001; Mondet et al., 2015).

Indeed, the positive correlation between the recapping of infested cells and non-infested cells suggests that individuals in colonies that are more able to detect Varroa are also more likely to investigate non-infested cells. Experience dependent behavior like this has been observed in another eusocial insect species, the clonal ant Platythyrea punctata (Westhus et al.,2014).

It may thus be worth exploring whether the environment can influence the behavior – for example, whether bees can become sensitized to (or learn) certain cue odors over time, priming them for recapping and brood removal.’


Interesting hypothesis and an area that it looks like there is a lot of room for more research on the subject.

Dr. Martin also has a new paper that just dropped today. He sent me a copy and a corresponding YouTube video that I will share once I've had the chance to read and digest it.
 

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...is a reasonable approach provided that the genetic depth of the survivors is deep enough and is subsequently maintained through successive generations.
And there in lies the rub, back to careful record keeping and analysis of data. I've had to examine my overall motives many times in this journey, and several times they've changed. Last year was super enjoyable and I nursed some small colonies into and through winter. This year I committed to learning queen rearing and along with some nuc and hive sales I'm probably in the black even rolling up startup costs to this year, depreciation, cost of goods sold, etc. I won't slow down to do that until closer to tax time. If you'd have told me last year that was possible I would have giggled a bit. The costs have been a one-way street until now. However, it went from enjoyable hobby to probably averaging 25hrs/week outside doing something bee related. I left my tech job today at noon to come home and work for $4/hr because this stuff has to be done on a schedule. lol - a bit off-topic but I tend to make 100 decisions then say, "How did I get here". Trying to move in meaningful directions with purpose and decide those purposes in advance.
...survival mechanisms which might be developing in parallel with your selection criterion.

Keep up the good work, and I will wait with baited breath to read what you decide to do.
Again, without proper analysis I think I'd flail around and possibly breed out the traits we all look for, and wonder what happened. But running a small experiment where all that's lost are a few hives and maybe higher general viral loads, .... the hives I can afford, particularly if the losses are few.

This afternoon I fed 30ish new queens (along with a few mated) in the incubator, then put about 20 more cells out of 2 hives into the incubator. Went through 6 large hives pulling a few honey frames to extract soon. Two were triple deeps and one had brood in the top so I grabbed off a quick split to place a newly mated queen in along with about a pound of nurse bees from another colony. Dropped a great-looking queen into my starter (after pulling last grafts) as I'm retiring that one. Then I bush-hogged a few lines in our field to make it easier to hunt down yellow jacket nests. Pulled one mini out of rotation as they absconded in the last few days. May have been robbed as I moved a feeding station close to them to get it away from my son's chickens. My belabored point is this is now a job and I'm both rethinking cutting down my numbers and at the same time thinking I could almost make this a paying gig. Somebody throw a glass of water in my face, .... this is too much work. ;) -- And now to your point, I planned to treat tonight if I was going to anytime soon. Can't even get through half the yard, so they'll have to make do for now. Take care Russ
 

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Discussion Starter · #1,945 ·
Again, without proper analysis I think I'd flail around and possibly breed out the traits we all look for, and wonder what happened. But running a small experiment where all that's lost are a few hives and maybe higher general viral loads, .... the hives I can afford, particularly if the losses are few.
Joe:

My apologies on the delay in reply. Sounds to me that you are asking the right questions.

Looking at it another way, if you have a few or several different lines you are working with, you could plan on doing a TF experiment with one or two colonies from each line and treat them like a 'black box'- if they survive (by whatever combination of mechanisms) they move on for further evaluation and possible propagation in the future.

This beekeeping stuff is beguiling isn't it? In my mind it is kind of like cutting and splitting my own firewood- when people ask if it pencils out, I say no- but the physical and mental health benefits are significant and hard to quantify.

God bless you and your family, my friend.

Russ
 

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Russ
This beekeeping stuff is beguiling isn't it? In my mind it is kind of like cutting and splitting my own firewood- when people ask if it pencils out, I say no- but the physical and mental health benefits are significant and hard to quantify.
Perfect in my mind.
Cheers
gww
 

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This beekeeping stuff is beguiling isn't it? In my mind it is kind of like cutting and splitting my own firewood- when people ask if it pencils out, I say no- but the physical and mental health benefits are significant and hard to quantify.
That last part should be on a t-shirt, ... for real.

As for the beguiling part, sometimes I'm enamored with bees, sometimes I'm sick of them. This usually passes if I spend a few days away from them. Sometimes I truly grow tired of being schooled by something so small.

I visited Bob Binnie's store on Saturday and we talked a few minutes. I tried to respect his time and cut it short. At one point I said, "I totally don't know what I'm doing." to which he replied, "None of us do." - this brought me great comfort. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #1,949 ·
"None of us do."
Thanks for the reply, Joe. Cool story.

Reminds me of the Socratic Paradox (from Plato quoting Socrates):

"I am wiser than this man, for neither of us appears to know anything great and good; but he fancies he knows something, although he knows nothing; whereas I, as I do not know anything, so I do not fancy I do. In this trifling particular, then, I appear to be wiser than he, because I do not fancy I know what I do not know."

The problem with this kind of thinking is that it might (at least in Socrates' case) lead to persecution:


All that said, I am reminded of another ancient text:

Proverbs 9:1-11: Wisdom has built her house, She has hewn out her seven pillars; She has prepared her food, she has mixed her wine; She has also set her table; She has sent out her maidens, she calls From the tops of the heights of the city: "Whoever is naive, let him turn in here!" To him who lacks understanding she says, "Come, eat of my food And drink of the wine I have mixed. "Forsake your folly and live, And proceed in the way of understanding." He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself, And he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself. Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you, Reprove a wise man and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser, Teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For by me your days will be multiplied, And years of life will be added to you.
 

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Dr. Martin also has a new paper that just dropped today. He sent me a copy and a corresponding YouTube video that I will share once I've had the chance to read and digest it.
In their recently published, Parallel evolution of Varroa resistance in honey bees: a common mechanism across continents? paper, Ms. Isobel Grindrod and Dr. Stephen Martin utilize data analysis of 60 research papers published over the past 40 years exploring EHB survival in the face of varroa pressure across the globe in an attempt to find a unifying link in all resistant populations.

For the purposes of the paper, they defined ‘resistant’ as, … the ability of a population to survive long term without any treatment for Varroa within a given environment. Thus, we do not view resistance as a fixed trait but the product of adaptive traits and adaptation to the local environment.

Based on the write-up, it appears that the 2018 research by Oddie et all entitled, Rapid parallel evolution overcomes global honey bee parasite serves as the cornerstone for the current study.

They concluded that resistant populations tend to have three traits in common, high rates of:
  • Removal of Mite-Infested Brood
  • Recapping
  • Mite Infertility
Independently, each Varroa-resistant honeybee population previously studied across seven countries has developed the same traits to control the mite. These are: (i) brood removal, in which Varroa-infested pupae are removed; (ii) recapping, where holes are created allowing direct access to the pupa and then resealed; and (iii) mite infertility, where female mites are unable to produce viable (mated) female offspring.
  • Data from mite-infestation experiments from 403 colonies (86 data points) across 10 studies conducted in seven countries demonstrate that resistant colonies are significantly (U = 341.5, p < 0.0001) better at removing mite-infested brood than susceptible colonies (38% versus 22%) (figure 1b).
  • We collected data from 163 colonies from five studies that took place across seven countries (figure 1c). This showed that in resistant colonies significantly more infested cells are recapped than in susceptible colonies (55% versus 33%) (U = 1280, p < 0.00001).
  • Data from 786 colonies (99 data points) across 40 studies in 14 countries showed that resistant populations had significantly (U = 28, p < 0.0001) greater proportions of infertile mites than susceptible colonies (45% versus 17%) (figure 1e).
They further suggest that this resistance is supported by a suite of traits rather than a singular expression:

The framework suggests that resistance is a sequence of events that generate the key traits (increased recapping, brood removal and mite infertility) rather than a single trait.
Similarly, other traits such as brood suppression of mite reproduction, or DWV tolerance may complement those within the framework. There is also likely to be a mite element to resistance which could be illuminated by further studies into the coevolution of A. mellifera and Varroa.


And finally, they offer this tidbit which is interesting and thought provoking:

As resistance is a population level trait rather than a single colony trait, a resistant colony becomes vulnerable if moved out of its population and could collapse if a sudden influx of mites occurs due to excessive (40–60%) brood removal. This may explain why resistant colonies moved out of their population typically do not survive.

 

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In their recently published, Parallel evolution of Varroa resistance in honey bees: a common mechanism across continents? paper, Ms. Isobel Grindrod and Dr. Stephen Martin utilize data analysis of 60 research papers published over the past 40 years exploring EHB survival in the face of varroa pressure across the globe in an attempt to find a unifying link in all resistant populations.

For the purposes of the paper, they defined ‘resistant’ as, … the ability of a population to survive long term without any treatment for Varroa within a given environment. Thus, we do not view resistance as a fixed trait but the product of adaptive traits and adaptation to the local environment.

Based on the write-up, it appears that the 2018 research by Oddie et all entitled, Rapid parallel evolution overcomes global honey bee parasite serves as the cornerstone for the current study.

They concluded that resistant populations tend to have three traits in common, high rates of:
  • Removal of Mite-Infested Brood
  • Recapping
  • Mite Infertility
Independently, each Varroa-resistant honeybee population previously studied across seven countries has developed the same traits to control the mite. These are: (i) brood removal, in which Varroa-infested pupae are removed; (ii) recapping, where holes are created allowing direct access to the pupa and then resealed; and (iii) mite infertility, where female mites are unable to produce viable (mated) female offspring.
  • Data from mite-infestation experiments from 403 colonies (86 data points) across 10 studies conducted in seven countries demonstrate that resistant colonies are significantly (U = 341.5, p < 0.0001) better at removing mite-infested brood than susceptible colonies (38% versus 22%) (figure 1b).
  • We collected data from 163 colonies from five studies that took place across seven countries (figure 1c). This showed that in resistant colonies significantly more infested cells are recapped than in susceptible colonies (55% versus 33%) (U = 1280, p < 0.00001).
  • Data from 786 colonies (99 data points) across 40 studies in 14 countries showed that resistant populations had significantly (U = 28, p < 0.0001) greater proportions of infertile mites than susceptible colonies (45% versus 17%) (figure 1e).
They further suggest that this resistance is supported by a suite of traits rather than a singular expression:

The framework suggests that resistance is a sequence of events that generate the key traits (increased recapping, brood removal and mite infertility) rather than a single trait.
Similarly, other traits such as brood suppression of mite reproduction, or DWV tolerance may complement those within the framework. There is also likely to be a mite element to resistance which could be illuminated by further studies into the coevolution of A. mellifera and Varroa.


And finally, they offer this tidbit which is interesting and thought provoking:

As resistance is a population level trait rather than a single colony trait, a resistant colony becomes vulnerable if moved out of its population and could collapse if a sudden influx of mites occurs due to excessive (40–60%) brood removal. This may explain why resistant colonies moved out of their population typically do not survive.

Whenever I see a video like this I think of the poor graduate students who has to do all the fiddly, boring work, and I hope they at least get their names listed as co-authors on the final papers.

My daughter is currently working on a project for a professor. He has essentially bribed her into doing the boring parts by promising to include her as a co-author.
 

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Discussion Starter · #1,952 ·
He has essentially bribed her into doing the boring parts by promising to include her as a co-author.
Glad to read that she will be included in the authorship. This will hopefully set her up for future publishing if she so desires. As I understand it, getting published in academia is fairly difficult unless you have either; a supportive institution and/or project lead or; the willingness to self-fund the publication.
 

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Discussion Starter · #1,953 ·
Great video up yesterday from the University of Guelph outlining Part 1 of a 3-part series exploring their efforts to breed for low varroa growth (LVG):


Dr. Ernesto Guzman summarizes the project goals as follows:

1. Develop a honey bee population that demonstrates resistance via LVG.
2. Test the population in the field and transfer the selection protocol to beekeepers.
3. Pinpoint the genes that contribute to resistance.

Video 2 will be Dr. Berna Emsen, Ataturk University, Turkey outlining the project results (summarized here).

Video 3 will be Les Eccles, Ontario Beekeepers’ Association Technology Transfer Program outlining the planned implementation.
 

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Russ
I love their video selection and must say that they must really have nice bees or the main communicator is really tough. Mostly, I like him cause he is smart enough to sit on something while working bees. My motto has always been, why stand when you can sit and why sit when you can recline.
Cheers
gww
 

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Discussion Starter · #1,955 ·
My motto has always been, why stand when you can sit and why sit when you can recline.
GWW:

I concur that Paul Kelly is a good communicator and excellent beekeeper- and the production aspect of their videos makes them enjoyable to watch.

As I've said before, I appreciate your self-deprecating sense of humor. Beekeepers can be accused of many things, but rarely is lazy on that list...

Have a great week.

Russ
 

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Discussion Starter · #1,956 ·
I always enjoy getting to see the wide variety of pollinators that become conspicuous during the fall blooms.

It has been a charmed year here in Western Kentucky- no real hard dearth and starting to see the first signs of fall surplus gathering now. The early goldenrods, boneset, Joe Pye Weed, ironweed and mistflower are blooming now and the crownbeard, thoroughwort and later goldenrods are around the corner.

Have a great week.
 

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I always enjoy getting to see the wide variety of pollinators that become conspicuous during the fall blooms.
I too have to say that a brief early August dearth (if there was one) is, pretty much, no more.
The late summer bloom is massive as usually around her; there should be enough moisture as well to support it.
 

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... there should be enough moisture as well to support it.
Thanks, GregV. At least locally, it seems that the combination of a protracted spring and timely rains throughout the summer has provided a boon to nectar availability. It's been fun to watch the season unfold...

But I am also mindful of the poor folks just to the south of me in West Tennessee. While we received 2 inches of rain the other night which was a welcome gift, some folks received over 15 inches from the same storm front with tragic consequences.

Best of success to you here in the home stretch. How has the propagation of your survivor-stock queen gone?
 

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Discussion Starter · #1,960 ·
Video 2 will be Dr. Berna Emsen, Ataturk University, Turkey outlining the project results (summarized here).
Video 2 is out today. Dr. Emsen outlines the approach and results of the first two years of the study and outlines the plans for the third year (rinse-and-repeat).

One interesting tidbit is that Paul Kelly indicates that the genetics which demonstrated increased resistance also tended to be more defensive- and that they intend to explore this aspect further.

p.s. Check out the conversation piece hive in the background- I count 17 hive bodies.
 
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