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Author Topic: With regards to genetics and mites  (Read 2111 times)
EOC
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« on: November 16, 2007, 02:46:06 PM »

My question:

Is there any possibility that with use of small cell, which to my understanding does not totally eliminate varroa, is there a possibility of mites adapting to small cell and becoming selected for a small cell environment?

Also, is there more than just one trait a queen must have(ie: passing along the small cell "gene") to be effectively considered hygenic?

This may have been better suited for the Pest board, but I ask as Im interested in the genetics behind queen rearing and figured this would be the best forum to ask.

Thanks,
Chad
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« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2007, 03:22:13 PM »

I am entering year 3 of my beekeeping. Small cell has shown me it is quite effective. Michael Bush has been using it for a very long time.  if they are going to adapt, it is going to take them a very very long time. The problem is nature would rather achieve a balance. When small cell is not used with Varroa the hive is destroyed if some other means such as chemicals they will over run the hive. The hive is destroyed and the varroa have lost a food source. With small cell the varroa  are restricted to mainly drone cells and then they cannot mass multiply and overwhelm. So the varroa exist in much smaller to almost non existant numbers. The hive continues.
-edited to add--
The queen really doesn't need any genetic trait. What the queen needs is either good foundation that starts off as small cell or the time to allow the bees to regress.
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnaturalcell.htm

Sincerely,
Brendhan
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2007, 07:03:27 PM »

If anything the mites need to adapt in such a way that they don't kill their host.  It is NOT to their advantage to kill their host.  My guess is the mites will eventually (if we stop treating) adapt to their host where the ones that maintain a population that won't kill the bees are the predominant variety.

All I see is less Varroa mites every year.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2007, 07:34:55 PM »

Chad,

There are a couple aspects to hygienic characteristics.
One is grooming (of the bee's self and of other bees) to remove both tracheal and varroa mites.
Another is uncapping of infected larvae.
Some may say that there are other (propolizing, etc.) characteristics less obvious.

There is an even increasing number of genes that effect these characteristics (once was three, then five, perhaps more next week).  The point is there are interactions between genes that are not always predictable, some characteristics 'cancel' if you will, other characteristics.

What is known at this time is that two types of hygienics are understood at this time.
The lines like Minnesota hygienics contain genetics that are 'recessive'.
This means unless both the queen and her mating drones are both carry this type of gene, the quality quickly tapers off in daughts (like next generation (F1) daughters might not be hygienic at all).

To keep these lines you almost have to buy new queens each year unless you learn how to test for these genes yourself (not hard, just have to make the initiative, and many beekeepers don't).

The second is 'Addative' trait.  This means that the chromosomes have 'parking places' if you will.  
A first generation queen could have 5 spaces.  She mates with a non-hygienic drone, the resulting daughter queen would have 3 hygienic gene spaces occupied (the others with some other trait like better honey gathering), but nearly half as hygienic as her mother.  If she mates with semi-hygienic drone, her offspring might gain another space (4), or loose one/two if non-hygienic (1 or 2).

The point is with additive, you want to saturate the area with hygienic drones and rear from quality hygienic stock.

When it comes to introducing hygienic lines, I like Russians better because the genetics are more residual.  I mean the genetics stay in your bees better, and you have a greater chance of influencing the feral colonies about your yards. They're a darker bee that flies when colder (mates sooner in the spring, and later in the fall) and this means they are in mating population sooner and longer.  

This isn't to say that Russians don't have their own undesirable/desirable characteristics as all bees do.
Good health is always a plus, but your bees need to do work and perform for you.
Russians can shut down in a dearth (or the rumor of a dearth) in the drop of a hat.
This can greatly hinder fall gathering populations and cramp your fall yields.
It can also greatly impact your fall/winter stores. Feeding = welfare bees.  
Some say that shut down is the break in the brood cycle that limits varroa.
So bad can have a good side too.

Keep in mind through everything that mite resistance requires "mite pressure".
Without some degree of mites, the genes that cope with them dissappear.
We need a degree of mites to keep resistance.
(Like an occassional cold keeps you from dying from the flu.)
Our goal is not to eliminate mites entirely (though that would make life easier).
 
You can breed/select your own bees to become more mite resistant.
The original hygienic bee programs started with 'Joe Average' italian bee stocks.
By selection, Hygienic (VSH) characteristics have been found and exploited.
I thought about doing this until I realize how inhumane the results would be.

I could gather every swarm I catch and hive it in my apiary.
Then I could test for the characteristics and dispose of those that do not measure up (say maybe 80%).
If I gather swarms in a 20 mile radius, say maybe 20, killing 16/yr could be devasting in just a few years.

Instead, it would make more sense to gather say 20 swarms a year and hive them.
Then saturate the local mating area with VSH or Russian drones and rear supercedure queens.
The local genetics are kept and the hygienic genes are introduced.
This would result in 20 hives with desirable genes, not just 4.

This of course implies that you are in an area that you can open mate without concern of africanize honeybee genes, else you have must instrumentally inseminate the queens.

-Jeff
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« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2007, 07:36:41 PM »

[All I see is less Varroa mites every year.]

We are all getting older Mike, you might want to check that eyeglass prescription and make sure its current!  cool
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EOC
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« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2007, 10:53:24 PM »

So basically for the hygenic behavior you are saying the genes are additive alleles, and some of the genes have multiple genes affecting one trait?

Interesting. I think I may come up with a pedigree and see what I can do once I get everything up and running. When I get my hives going nex spring Im not really going to focus on honey production but on the breeding lines. Maybe Ill end up with some good stock in a couple years. Thanks for the replies.
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« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2007, 12:17:44 AM »

[So basically for the hygenic behavior you are saying the genes are additive alleles, and some of the genes have multiple genes affecting one trait?]

Absolutely correct.

[...Im not really going to focus on honey production but on the breeding lines.]

Do BOTH.  Take notes on what your production was this year from each hive.
Take into consideration the conditions. Were most things equal between all hives?
Was one more susceptable to drift than another? Were all hives from nucs/packages?
Did you split some but not others? Did one have excessive swarm cells, or even swarm? Do you remember when in the year it happened? Did you feed, how much, was it unseasonable?

There are lots of dynamics to consider and everyone is significant to the over all operation of the hive.
There are some telltale signs that you learn from watching these details.
My best queens come from the first week in May (best from rearing and swarms).
This is when my flow ramps up and the hive gets crowded with nectar and swarms are cast.

The reason this is important is, even if you rear and cultivate the best hygienic stock, it doesn't matter if you type to rear in conditions that aren't favorable for rearing healthy, fertile, well mated queens.  And to note the best conditions you have to know your flow, pollen, and state of health (stress) the colony is in.

These conditions are important to understand for your current hives, any ferals you hive, or any stocks you buy, because they will all be a little different, and often different within the same category. But you study them, you will have a better understanding of what to expect, and what it is you are seeing.

Like Mike said, he is noticing less mites.  The questions I have is to what degree and over what duration. Varroa mites tend to be cyclical. Even within one of my yards it varies (and it varies with the local seasonal peppermint growth, a source of both thymol and menthol, coincidence?)

My seasons are so short, and nectar flows are fast, and pollens change so quickly, I can't develop a yearly yard stick by which to measure everything as evenly as I might like. That is when multiple hives of the same source are nice because you can compare against the group, rather than on the individual basis. Just some pitfalls I had while trying to research, hope they serve as good further points to ponder in your efforts.

-Jeff
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Finsky
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« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2007, 06:38:17 AM »

I am entering year 3 of my beekeeping. Small cell has shown me it is quite effective. Michael Bush has been using it for a very long time.  if they are going to adapt, it is going to take them a very very long time.

I am entering my 46 beekeeping years and I have studied genetics in Helsinki University.

I have not experience on small cells, but I have on natural cells.

Natural cells do not protect bees from mites. All natural beehives vanishes from Finland and over 90% has vanished from other countries.

Africanized bees generated soon tolerance to mites. In every country bees have adapted to live with mite but not to kill them totally.
Mite adapt well in diffrent circumtancies. It has more and more power in worl's beekeeping.

What time it takes, no one knows. There are different strains or mutation among varroa and only some are able to live in Apis mellifera hives.

Quote
The problem is nature would rather achieve a balance.

That is common man's fairytale like "Good has made all species" or "nature knows best". Nature is not going nowhere in balance. All the time nature is changing. Some species add their numbers and some are extincting.

 
Quote
When small cell is not used with Varroa the hive is destroyed if some other means such as chemicals they will over run the hive.

Many small cell beekeepers have lost their hives and their profession.

To many beekeprs Michale is a guru but scientical world does not mention his systems or reports.

*******************

In many rich countries they are working against varroa. Best are Germany, USA and  New Zealand - as far as I know. They try to generate systems how to manage without chemicals.

We have one tough bee breeders which have tried to breed mite resistant bee but he losts every year 100-200 nucs for varroa.

****************
I may read from internet that there are succes in varroa tolerant bee breeding, but the system is not competetive with mite& chemical systems. In hoibby level you may do wha ever but if you have 1000 hives and you sell 1$/lbs raw honey, you drop from competition with natural systems.

************

I have only twenty hives. I drive every week to my summer cottage where bees are. Every can tank of gasoline pays to me 110 US $.

The trip is not worth drive If i go there calculate mites and wonder small cells. Mite is my friend. It killed lazy beekeepers who nursed bees in natural way. Mite killed German Black bee race.After that beekeeping has bees child's activity compared to old good days.

*************

I try to keep my fingers out from natural beekeeping but I must straighten sometimes the information what are delivered as truth.

.


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« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2007, 08:55:42 AM »

I am entering year 3 of my beekeeping. Small cell has shown me it is quite effective. Michael Bush has been using it for a very long time.  if they are going to adapt, it is going to take them a very very long time.


I am entering my 46 beekeeping years and I have studied genetics in Helsinki University.

I have not experience on small cells, but I have on natural cells.

Natural cells do not protect bees from mites. All natural beehives vanishes from Finland and over 90% has vanished from other countries.

Africanized bees generated soon tolerance to mites. In every country bees have adapted to live with mite but not to kill them totally.
Mite adapt well in diffrent circumtancies. It has more and more power in worl's beekeeping.

What time it takes, no one knows. There are different strains or mutation among varroa and only some are able to live in Apis mellifera hives.

AHB have a cell size of 4.62 mm they are smaller bee with none of the hygenic behaviors. AHB are able to deal with Varroa because of their smaller size which is because of smaller cell size.
Quote
Quote
The problem is nature would rather achieve a balance.


That is common man's fairytale like "Good has made all species" or "nature knows best". Nature is not going nowhere in balance. All the time nature is changing. Some species add their numbers and some are extincting.

When the system goes out of balance is when speices go extinct. I figured University would have told you that.
Quote
Quote
When small cell is not used with Varroa the hive is destroyed if some other means such as chemicals they will over run the hive.


Many small cell beekeepers have lost their hives and their profession.

To many beekeprs Michale is a guru but scientical world does not mention his systems or reports.

*******************

In many rich countries they are working against varroa. Best are Germany, USA and  New Zealand - as far as I know. They try to generate systems how to manage without chemicals.

We have one tough bee breeders which have tried to breed mite resistant bee but he losts every year 100-200 nucs for varroa.

****************
I may read from internet that there are succes in varroa tolerant bee breeding, but the system is not competetive with mite& chemical systems. In hoibby level you may do wha ever but if you have 1000 hives and you sell 1$/lbs raw honey, you drop from competition with natural systems.

************

I have only twenty hives. I drive every week to my summer cottage where bees are. Every can tank of gasoline pays to me 110 US $.

The trip is not worth drive If i go there calculate mites and wonder small cells. Mite is my friend. It killed lazy beekeepers who nursed bees in natural way. Mite killed German Black bee race.After that beekeeping has bees child's activity compared to old good days.

*************

I try to keep my fingers out from natural beekeeping but I must straighten sometimes the information what are delivered as truth.

.





I have been going through more reports on Varroa than I can shake a stick at lately. So let me make a few things clear about Varroa in the states. The only species of bee that is naturally immune to to Varrroa is Apis cerana , the eastern European honeybee. This species of bee is not currently in the US. Bees called Hygenics are bees that have been manipulated through breeding and the problem is there is no guarentee that those traits would be passed on to the next generation queen. The report below claims they do but that they cannot deal with high levels of infestation.

Also for clarification the species of Varroa in the US is destructor.  V. destructor for years was thought to be V. jacobsoni and many of the scientific reports list it as such. Those reports name the wrong species of Varroa. Apis cerana is able to handle both.

So lets look at some of the reports.
http://www.entomology.umn.edu/Faculty/spivak/SpivakReuterEconEnt2001.pdf
Varroa destructor Infestation in Untreated Honey Bee Colonies selected for Hygenic Behavior.
Marla Spival and Gary S. Reuter

From the Abstract:
ABSTRACT Honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) colonies bred for hygienic behavior were tested in
large field trial to determine if they were able to resist the parasitic mite Varroa destructor better than unselected colonies of "Starline" stock. Colonies bred for hygienic behavior are able to detect uncap, and remove experimentally infested brood from the nest, although the extent to which the behavior actually reduces the overall mite-load in untreated, naturally infested colonies needed further verification. The results indicate that hygienic colonies with queens mated naturally to unselected drones had signifcantly fewer mites on adult bees and within worker brood cells than Starline colonies for up to 1 yr without treatment in a commercial, migratory beekeeping operation
Hygienic colonies actively defended themselves against the mites when mite levels were relatively low. At high mite infestations ( 15% of worker brood and of adult bees), the majority of hygienic colonies required treatment to prevent collapse. Overall, the hygienic colonies had similar adult populations and brood areas, produced as much honey, and had less brood disease than the Starline colonies. Thus, honey bees bred for hygienic behavior performed as well if not better than other commercial lines of bees and maintained lower mite loads for up to one year without treatment.


From the disertation:
Analysis of Varroa Destructor Infestation of Southern African Honey Bee Population
http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-08082007-153050/unrestricted/dissertation.pdf

The abstract contains the following:
Varroa has not left a trail of destruction in South Africa as had been expected and no large scale collapse of honeybee population occured, despite the majority of beekeepers deciding not to protect their hives with chemical varroacides.


The report focuses on two tpes of bees Apis melifera capensis (The Cape bee) and Apis melifera sculleta (African honey bee). We have AHB here. His report states the hygenics of both sets of bees. Not that the bees brushed off the Varroa but that basically the bees simply removed affliceted brood. The report shows that chemicals were not used and that the bees survived.

Then there was this report which was a study on cell size and Varroa.
The influence of brood comb cell size on the
reproductive behavior of the ectoparasitic
mite Varroa destructor in Africanized
honey bee colonies
http://www.funpecrp.com.br/GMR/year2003/vol1-2/pdf/gmr0057.pdf


From the abstract:
Africanized honey bees are normally kept in hives with both
naturally built small width brood cells and with brood cells made from
European-sized foundation, yet we know that comb cell size has an effect
on varroa reproductive behavior.


So there has been a study to show that cell size does make a difference.


Finsky, we have a saying here in the states. It says never wrestle with a pig in the mud. Because eventually you will realize the pig likes it and you both end up dirty.  grin

Thanks Finsky for the chance to reply.

I am still trying to get a hold of report from Dr. James Tew that he wrote on the effects of Varroa in North America. This is apperently the keystone report for the fear of Varroa in North America. Everyone cites it including Dr. Malcom Sanford in several articles. Yesterday I asked for a copy of this report. Guess what. He doesn't have one and if I find a copy he would like one.

*sigh*

Dr. Otto Boecking and I have been coresponding. It has been enlightening.

Sincerely,
Brendhan
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Finsky
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« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2007, 09:44:39 AM »

Finsky, we have a saying here in the states. It says never wrestle with a pig in the mud. Because eventually you will realize the pig likes it and you both end up dirty.  grin


Yeah! We have too. Don't teach ig to sing because they do not sing.

Thanks Finsky for the chance to reply.


Quote
*sigh*

I surely know that 300 milj. people has sayings. I am ready to teach them more.  I normally use stronger expressions than sigh.

We have: Don't piss against the wind.  Another is that :" Don't teach duck to swim."


Quote
This is apperently the keystone report for the fear of Varroa in North America. Everyone cites it including Dr. Malcom Sanford in several articles. Yesterday I asked for a copy of this report. Guess what. He doesn't have one and if I find a copy he would like one.

I have read all those reasonable reports too. And what ever report you have, it is not a key against to varroa. Varroa does not care what reports people write.

You wrote hat cerana is immune to varroa. You just used wrong word. Varroa is a parasite of cerana. It lives only in drone pupae. But it jumped somewhere near Korea or Japan onto mellifera. It got some mutation which made it capable to use mellifera as host.  Some varroa strains have not such mutations and they are not able to grow in mellifera hive.

Hygienic behaviour and grooming is only one method with which mellifera can control the measure of mites. One important is swarming.

Many mite tolerant mellifera strains have tested, and the have found that the strain is not after all mite tolerant.

The problem with natural beekeepers is that they read resarches only with one eye and seek for evidences to support their belief. So does normal people.

I say that I am expert in digging truth from world and I am 200% sure and you sigh for nothing. Don't underestimate me even if I like to play fool with these guys. I feel responsibility what I write here.

I have never agitated these new beekeepers to do stupid things and put into danger their hives and bees or property. Good helps only those who help themselves. --If you find that kind of writings show me. I have seen so much disasters in beekeeping that I don't want to kick on arse even if a person is my worst enemy.

I have saying If you know little, you know all.  With that saysing I have collected lot of friends in Finland and in workplace. But when stupid perosns have change to spoil the issue with his simple truth, I just open my mouth. I

I know that no man can become a beekeeper during 3 years, no one. I have not met a one.

But I have met huge beekeepers who are experts even if they have not bees. They are tens.

.
OK, I stop should stop teaching bigs to sing

Further more I have a licence to be teacher in biology.
.

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EOC
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« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2007, 11:13:12 AM »

Even when people disagree its good to talk and get the ideas out there.

One thing Ive learned since being in science is that everyone has an opinion and usually your own is wrong. Aside from that biology is a sloppy science, it isnt as cut and dry as chemistry or physics based on the unpredictability of most variables.

Its my firm belief that people who succeed in this world enjoy the process and not just the goal itself. All we as people can do is continue to try to answer the question. Maybe there is an answer and maybe there isnt, however sometimes the journey is worth it.
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« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2008, 07:52:52 PM »

[The only species of bee that is naturally immune to to Varrroa is Apis cerana...]

Gentleman, we need to be careful of our word choice.

Just as there is a difference between bulletproof and bullet-resistant glass, there is a difference between immune and tolerant.

Immune implies that Varroa can not impact the honeybee at all.
Tolerant means Varroa are there with minimal impact.

Keep in mind, Varroa is a vector for many different very contagious diseases.
These diseases are many times more deadly and residual than the mite alone.
Just a few tolerated mites can pass diseases that inhibit good vigor.

This is why even the best genetics has to be backed with nutrition to keep an immunity to disease.
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