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Author Topic: Black Drones -- Genetics?  (Read 1586 times)
Kris^
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« on: April 30, 2006, 11:35:39 PM »

When I looked in hive 2 today, I saw the queen walking across a frame.  She's a creamy yellow-tannish color, long and plump and no discernable striping.  Also on the same frame were drones, a dozen or two -- all completely jet black, from their big black eyes to the black feathery parts at the ends of their abdomens.  They REALLY stood out.  I didn't see any "normal" colored drones, like in the other hives.  The workers look like those in the other hives, though, although some of them have a very clear and distinct yellow and black striping.

What would be the genetics behind this, and what might it mean for future matings in my beeyard?

This queen is the offspring of a marked fertilized queen I got in a package in spring 2004.  In spring 2005 I split that hive and placed the queen in number 2.  That hive swarmed in early summer (I think) and the marked queen went with the swarm.  The remaining virgin queen presumably mated with drones from hives outside my yard, and the colony wintered over well.  It's come on like gangbusters this year, filling two brood boxes and a super with brood (not that that's what I wanted, but there you go . . .), and filling another super with nectar and capping it off already.

If the queen was impregnated by black feral bees, why would the genetics be expressed so vividly in the drones?  What about the workers?  Do these drones contain the full genetics of the ferals?  Doesn't the queen also contribute her genetics to half of the drone population?  If these drones mate with the virgin queen that recently hatched in my cutdown split. will the genetics be expressed so strongly?

And what are these black bees, anyhow?

-- Kris
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Jerrymac
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« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2006, 12:26:49 AM »

Perhaps they are feral drones from some feral hive someplce around there. Remember the drones you see in a hive might not have come from that hive, they are free to go to other hives.
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manowar422
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« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2006, 01:10:39 AM »

Kris^

Since your once virgin queen open mated with a bunch of Tom,
Dick, and Hairy drones (pun intended), it's like Forest Gump's
box of chocolates, "ya never know what your gonna get."

Jerrymac is right though, the drones my not be related to the
queen at all.

Virgin queens are said to fly farther from the hive
when seeking drone congregation areas, than do the drones
from the same hive (Drones fly much shorter distances to congregate)
thus lessening the chances of cross breeding. Your drones could
mate with their sister, but the chances are very slim.

I have brood emerging now from a swarm captured April 3rd.
I put them on drawn comb and the First Lady went to laying
straight off. Upon doing routine inspections three days ago,
I spotted newly emerged nurse bees with two other color patterns
 besides the standard Italian coloration prevalent in the hive.

I read some discussion about the "mix" of sperm over the queen's
egg laying life-time, but obviously there will be coloration changes
as sperm "donated" from drones of various coloration are depleted
and others begin to be put to use. It will be interesting to watch
the different patterns emerging as the queen ages.

IMO just another fascinating aspect of these tiny creatures we enjoy.
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amymcg
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« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2006, 06:20:54 AM »

My drones are all jet black with no striping.  My queen looks like yours Kris, a nice dark tan color. My workers look like normal Italians.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2006, 08:14:53 AM »

>If the queen was impregnated by black feral bees, why would the genetics be expressed so vividly in the drones?

It would not.  The drones are only the genetics of the queen.  The eggs are uferrtilized, so the genetics of the drones the queen mated with are not at all involved.

Drones drift a lot.  The drones in a hive are not necessarily from that hive. Odds are most of them are from somewhere else.

> What about the workers? Do these drones contain the full genetics of the ferals?

Only if the queen does.

> Doesn't the queen also contribute her genetics to half of the drone population?

No, she contributes ALL of the genetics of the drones raised in that hive and none of the genetics of most of the drones that now LIVE in the hive because they came from somewhere else.

> If these drones mate with the virgin queen that recently hatched in my cutdown split. will the genetics be expressed so strongly?

Your virgin queen will be whatever color she is and all her drones will be haploid clones of her regardless of what drones she mates with.  Her workers, on the other hand, will get half their genetics from whatever drones the queen mates with.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2006, 08:40:34 AM »

also remember one thing, the queen you bought was probably open mated also and if her mother was open mated and so on, then you could get allot of colors, "Heinz 57's" Wink ..... allot of queen rearers sale Italian's or other breeds and open mate them so you don't really don't know what the breed is except what they call them when you buy them. Some buy breeder queens and try to keep their line's close but when open mated they can't guaranty it....

example: I bought a Kona Italian queen last year and this spring the bee's replaced her, the kona queen was bright gold, her daughter was dark and had stripe's, guest this was their Carniolan side.....
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2006, 01:47:41 PM »

>also remember one thing, the queen you bought was probably open mated also and if her mother was open mated and so on, then you could get allot of colors, "Heinz 57's

But the drones will still all be clones of each other and identical in color.
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Michael Bush
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Kris^
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« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2006, 02:30:32 PM »

So I learned something new.   Cheesy   Drones will move willy-nilly among hives, even if they are from outside the yard?  The guard bees don't challenge them?  Any reason why they would choose to squat in one hive exclusively?  These black drones were in the super-strong hive with a laying queen from last summer, and I saw none of them in any of the other hives.

But why then do the feral bees tend to be black?  Are they a hold-over from the few old German bees that perhaps didn't get decimated by the varroa?  I read on Wikipedia that these black bees were from the Alpine area, but the Nazis made an effort to eradicate them because they didn't produce up to modern standards.  Anyone else heard of this?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apis_mellifera_mellifera
http://www.apis-mellifera-mellifera.de/

-- Kris
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2006, 03:28:43 PM »

>So I learned something new.  Drones will move willy-nilly among hives, even if they are from outside the yard?

Exactly.

> The guard bees don't challenge them?

Not unless it's late fall.

> Any reason why they would choose to squat in one hive exclusively?

They just drift.

>These black drones were in the super-strong hive with a laying queen from last summer, and I saw none of them in any of the other hives.

Don't know, but they drift a lot.

>But why then do the feral bees tend to be black?

I don't know.  It didn't used to be that way.  Most used to be leather colored Italians around here.  Now they seem to be black.

> Are they a hold-over from the few old German bees that perhaps didn't get decimated by the varroa?

Don't know.

http://www.bushfarms.com/images/BlackBees.jpg

Here's a picture of my bees.
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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"Everything works if you let it."--Rick Nielsen
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