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Author Topic: Bee genetics  (Read 1720 times)

Offline omnimirage

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Bee genetics
« on: January 12, 2018, 03:04:25 am »
I've come across some people arguing to use bee swarms, rather than to buy queen bees. The argument was that, bee swarms have grown strong enough to be able to split off and adapt to one's local environment, whereas queens are often enough not suitable for such and tend to under perform in comparison.

At least here in my part of Australia, people like buying queen bees from the local bee sanctuary, Kangaroo Island, which houses a pure strain of Ligurian Bee.

Now I'm wanting to split a number of my hives to expand my operation. I have one hive that's probably the most productive of the lot (could just be because it's the oldest most established), and it's also by far the most aggressive hive. I figure that, in spite of how productive they are, I don't wish to duplicate such aggressive bees and if anything, I should try to replace the queen with more gentler genetics. I've thought about finding the queen and squishing her, then take out all the frames that have eggs/young larvae in them, and replace them with eggs/young larvae from hives that have more desired traits. I figure I can do this with any beehive that has undesirable characteristics. A number of my hives don't ever seem to perform too well. It's difficult to tell if it's just due to their current circumstances, that they just need more time, or whether the genetics of the bees is not as strong.

This is all a pretty fascinating topic. How do you guys manage the genetics of your bees?

Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: Bee genetics
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2018, 05:45:22 am »
I prefer swarms, hopefully from feral hives that have not had to have chemicals to keep them alive.
Jim
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Offline little john

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Re: Bee genetics
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2018, 06:40:32 am »
One of the gems from Brother Adam - for the amateur beekeeper - was to 'divide' your apiary into two, and breed each time from those queens in the best half.  Which I think is good advice in the absence of a better plan.
He didn't qualify what was meant by 'best' - presumably whatever qualities the beekeeper is looking for.  For me, good behaviour is the number one priority.  Disease resistance comes second.  Everything else then lines-up in a queue.

When re-starting beekeeping after decades away, I first collected numerous local swarms (around 20 ?), ALL of which were ferocious - and so I took to importing queens of known proven stock in order to obtain a stable base-line from which to work.  But - no sooner had I done that, than one swarm arrived which turned out to have highly desirable behaviour.  (Murphy's Law, aka Sod's Law in action ...)
Which is why I still have two distinctly different lines of bees here - which I fully expect to morph together at some point in the future - but can still be identified apart due to their different colouring.

Faced with your situation, I'd be inclined to raise a new queen first (in a nuc) in order that you can make a provisional assessment of her quality before squishing the undesirable queen and replacing her.  If you raise the new queen over your existing problematic colony, replacement should then be a trouble-free procedure.
LJ
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Offline Van, Arkansas, USA

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Re: Bee genetics
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2018, 05:29:28 pm »
The Ligurian Bee.  I think I have read about this bee line, world famous, if it is the one I am thinking of.  Does the bee keeper of this line put his hives on tracks, and therefore controls the breeding by confining and releasing his queens and his drones, only after the local drone congregation has returned to their hives.  Is this the same bee line as I speak of?

Offline Van, Arkansas, USA

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Re: Bee genetics
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2018, 05:43:46 pm »
Ligurian Bee, mirage, are you referring to species name, I.e. the common itialian?

Offline omnimirage

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Re: Bee genetics
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2018, 05:44:48 pm »
Interesting about testing the queen in a nuc before using her to replace other queens.

I'm not sure Van. In Kangaroo Island, it's a bee sanctuary, besides the native Australian honeybees (which are much smaller), the Ligurian bee is the only bee on the island, so even all the feral bees are pure strain Ligurians.

And yes I am referring to the common italian bee.

Offline Van, Arkansas, USA

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Re: Bee genetics
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2018, 06:12:08 pm »
Behavior: I am with LJ, behaviors is number 1.  I define gentle bees as bees that I can approach the hive in short sleeve and observe without problems.  If the bees chase me, then genetics, the queen, is going to change.

In US, some breeders offer proven queens at a premium (about additional $20.00)...!That is the queen is bred, placed in a nuc, (not a small mating nuc) and the laying pattern is observed for 21 days.

This year, I have ordered survivor queens and Caucasian queens.  Survivor bees defined as the parent hive was not treated with chemicals the previous year.

In 2017, I focused on Cordovan queens, I am still evaluating this type,,,,,, so far I will say I am not overly impressed.

Offline bwallace23350

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Re: Bee genetics
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2018, 03:54:54 pm »
Around here the feral bees tend to be very dark and a bit more aggressive while the domesticated bees are usually of the Italian variety and much lighter. Over the past couple years my bees have darkened up it seems.

Offline beepro

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Re: Bee genetics
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2018, 07:39:13 pm »
I manage the genetics of my bees by the II method using the Cordovan bees.
Then find out yards to expand them choosing the strongest queen available.  I also source
tf queens to evaluate them before putting the daughters into my breeding program.  All new
queens have to be evaluated against the mites before using them as breeders.  In the end I'm
hoping to find some gentle mite fighting bees without the need to treat them.

Offline omnimirage

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Re: Bee genetics
« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2018, 10:25:39 pm »
bwallace23350, I'm guessing that's because your virgin queens are breeding with the feral drones.


Offline Joe D

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Re: Bee genetics
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2018, 11:22:44 pm »
Van, what problems have you had with the Cordovan bee's.  I have had two Cordovan queens I like them both, one did swarm with no queen cells left in the hive.  that's why I got the second one.  A year or so after that I got a Russian queen from the same breeder.  He has one yard for  each breed and are several miles apart.  He puts his queens in the nucs and you can see, if you go there, what kind of laying pattern she is doing.  So far I have got them for $20. each.  I haven't talked to him lately, haven't been over in his neck of the woods, and he has become the Mayor of his town.  I like both the Cordovan and Russian for the gentleness.  I have worked the Cordovan with shorts and a tee shirt.

Good luck to you and your bees,

Joe D

Offline Van, Arkansas, USA

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Re: Bee genetics
« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2018, 04:34:01 pm »
Beepro, the problems I am experiencing with Cordovans is small winter clusters and subsequent freeze kill.  The Cordovans are incredible gentle.  I purchased some Cordovan queens in August from warm California.  Maybe the queens were banked to long, maybe they are not used to single digits.??   I have 6 Cordovan queens this date, 01/17/18..  However the temp is 2 degrees F for low and I fear more winter kill.  It?s not the low temp that I am worried about killing my bees, it is the humidity of 70% and subsequent condensation.  I have open up the entrance to my hives for ventilation to reduce condensation.  Two degrees F ang high humidity of 70% is very unusual for North Arkansas.  Normal is cold dry air from the North.

Blessings


Offline eltalia

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Re: Bee genetics
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2018, 06:43:44 pm »
I've come across some people arguing to use bee swarms, rather than to buy queen bees. The argument was that, bee swarms have grown strong enough to be able to split off and adapt to one's local environment, whereas queens are often enough not suitable for such and tend to under perform in comparison.

At least here in my part of Australia, people like buying queen bees from the local bee sanctuary, Kangaroo Island, which houses a pure strain of Ligurian Bee.


....errrm, "populist poppycock" to quote one attendant's comment at a QBA gathering
in 2017.  A view I would struggle to argue against as that would mean accepting two
 -at least - known contradictions, being;
1. No european honeybee existed on KI prior to 1884 despite the prolific takeup of Apis
for 60 years prior to.
2. Since 1884 not a single 'rogue' strain of Apis has been introduced into
the local genetics despite the known pecularity of beekeepers to always
seek "better bees".

At best one could say there is a very good chance any Queen from KI owns
unique characteristics - whether those be superior genetics to your local
is highly subjective opinion.... possibly bordering on jingoistic fervour?

Regardless, there is no justifiable case to mount in defending the pricing structure
of these or those others from like 'sancturarys' in West Aussie.
Well, certainly no outstanding attributes logged in commercial use.
Makes good press for the SA and WA g'mnts tho'... heh ;-)

(ref)
https://www.island-beehive.com.au/ligurian-bee-history

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/aen.12124/abstract

Quote
This is all a pretty fascinating topic. How do you guys manage the genetics ..... (edit)

In strongly disagreeing with the use of swarming colonies as a strain I would suggest they
provide an excellent resource in building whole apiaries. Did plenty of that, back in the day,
using queens from selected breeders.
Today I run two lines from breeders well separated geographicly, bringing those queens to
two locations more than 30km apart. Their progeny is then allowed to mix with the localised
 bush "mongrels" giving up what could be known as a "Red Kelpie Mongrel". Whether they
are the best - or better than the local mongrels - cannot be known, but they sure standout
when one sees bees foraging.

Bill

Offline little john

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Re: Bee genetics
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2018, 06:54:49 pm »
Van - you know what you were saying about having as many feet of snow as we get in inches ?  Well, I'll trade you snow against humidity.

70% humidity is a dry winter's day in this area.  Frequently it's well up in the 90's.  And, the water table here is often only a foot below the ground during winter.  My driveway becomes covered in moss, and I've even seen moles wearing life-jackets (ok ... in my imagination).  Bees don't seem to mind these conditions too much though.
LJ
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Offline Van, Arkansas, USA

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Re: Bee genetics
« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2018, 07:30:48 pm »
Good to hear from both you beeks, Bill and LJ

LJ, yes, we have all heard of LONDON FOG, translates to humidity.  You are on a big island surrounded by ocean.  I wish I could trade snow, every night I have to clean entrances so the hives can breathe.  Gonna be another night of 4F , Tuesday 1/16/18......  I believe our water well is 600 ft, beautiful water though.

Etailia, Bill, you have red bees??????Red, counter striped I am guessing.  That would be cool.  Thanks for input on Kangaroo island.  I like to know stuff even if you are across the planet.  Enjoy the warm temps,,,, flowers that I long to see.
Blessings

Online AR Beekeeper

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Re: Bee genetics
« Reply #15 on: January 16, 2018, 09:52:59 pm »
Van;  Those small clusters are caused by the queen not laying properly during the months of July and August.  If you trickle feed a couple of gallons of sugar syrup to keep her laying usually you will go into winter with sufficient bees to overwinter.  I have noticed that the small winter clusters produce much water vapor, more than I see with a large cluster (7 to 8 frames) during the winter.  Leaving the screened bottom board open and top insulation removes the problem with the excess water.

Offline omnimirage

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Re: Bee genetics
« Reply #16 on: January 16, 2018, 10:40:47 pm »
Interesting eltalia. So how come you decided to invest money buying queens, instead of using the queen that came with the swarm?


Offline eltalia

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Re: Bee genetics
« Reply #17 on: January 16, 2018, 11:14:34 pm »
Interesting eltalia. So how come you decided to invest money buying queens, instead of using the queen that came with the swarm?

"invest money"..????.. now don't get me started on the status of that historical fiscal fist of the
backyard bee-owner, but really..??.. 20 odd bucks plus postage, and that's an order of one (1) at
retail...uhh..??..having bought in lots of 50 plus I would call that "invest money" ;-))))
Seriously.
We do know swarms are bulging packages of bees ripe to explode into production, of all resources.
So it makes sense to me to swing that through as fast as over investing maybe up to three (3)
months of time and effort in assessing what you actually have as a colony. And then there is the
element of apiary consistency to consider. Personal choice of mine is to know know which line is
where, as in location.

All that said I am guilty of spending > 6 man-hours filling and sanding a 40yr old whiteant ridden
box... just because I can ;-)

Bill

Offline omnimirage

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Re: Bee genetics
« Reply #18 on: January 16, 2018, 11:37:42 pm »
They cost about $28 from what I've seen including postage. That's a decent sum of money for my poor self especially if I start to think of having one for all my hives, we're talking a good $800 or so.

The swarms can be slow to start up and there is some guess worked involved with them. I don't really know what kind of genetics I'm dealing with, and their tendencies are different as a young swarm hive compared to a fully established honey production hive.

Offline eltalia

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Re: Bee genetics
« Reply #19 on: January 16, 2018, 11:57:40 pm »
Good to hear from both you beeks, Bill and LJ
... back@ya Van :thumbs up:

Quote
(edit)

Etailia, Bill, you have red bees??????Red, counter striped I am guessing.  That would be cool.  Thanks for input on Kangaroo island.  I like to know stuff even if you are across the planet.  Enjoy the warm temps,,,, flowers that I long to see.
Blessings

.... more orange than red Van, I am very sure you guys up there would have similar as essentially they are
merely golden italians with some colloquial language thrown in. It's our "new age" b'keeps naming them
so, and ya know us ol' furtz just gotta go with the flow, so to speak ;-)))
The younguns own a ginger coloured hairy thorax and are quite striking to the eye in resembling tbe collar
ruff on a Kelpie dog, hence the "red kelpie" thing. As foragers they do own a darker wider band of yellow
with very defined black markings.
I don't like to read weeping so I'll stay quiet about our 360+day b'keepin' only to say it was an excellent
2017 with 2018 starting out with what may turn out to be our dryest wet season yet... the bees are
reeling in blossom from all over. Happy Days ;-)))


Bill