Striving for racial purity in bees a pointless, counter productive, seriously bad idea?

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BugsInABox 

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I found the argument interesting that since we (almost) all breed hybrids we cannot expect to breed true. But is that true indefinitely? What happens if I breed 10 generations of say cockapoo?
I think that's the point - you can't. Cockapoo+Cockapoo will not produce Cockapoo.
 

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Antipodes 

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That article uses a Map (Fig. 1) which is now VERY outdated: Just to satisfy my curiosity, does anyone know from where the author has obtained that map, at first I thought a book, but it doesn't look like a scan, so maybe a website - that would hopefully give me the origin of his claims... he could have at least cited the source(s) for his article; by an author not citing sources it creates doubt in the readers mind as to the scientific accuracy of what he's writing. (A book is referenced, but it was published recently in 2015 so it can't be the source of the outdated map).

He could have at least defined the ambiguous phrase "genetically incompatible", which apparently only shows itself (by the spontaneous appearance of aggression) whenever the A. m. Carnica / Ligustica or Buckfast genes have been diluted to around 25% to 16% amongst the colony.

Just noticed "Branch C - South Western sub-species" ... apparently the Carpathian mountains are in South Western Europe, ... I always called those mountains in the South West of Europe the Pyrenees!
What I would like to understand is why, after you get a queen from a commercial breeder, (which produces calm workers), do the bees tend to turn nasty down the track.... a few generations of new queens from the original one? What causes that?
 

Beebe 

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What I would like to understand is why, after you get a queen from a commercial breeder, (which produces calm workers), do the bees tend to turn nasty down the track.... a few generations of new queens from the original one? What causes that?
@Finman has an answer:

Meaning is that during its evolution honeybee has protected itself against robbers.

My opinion is, that calm, nonswarming, nice to human are gene error features and they will be healed in crossings and hybrid matings.
 

pargyle 

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I think that's the point - you can't. Cockapoo+Cockapoo will not produce Cockapoo.
Presumably the offspring will be a Cocka cocka poo poo .... has a certain meliflous ring to it though ? (That's melifluous not melliferous BTW).
 

TryingToLetThemBee 

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Seriously: does anyone have an answer to the basic question, shorn of diploid jargon etc? To put it in the simplest practical terms, if I select for well-behaved productive colonies and breed in isolation will the results be random or will I gradually improve my stock?
 

madasafish 

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Seriously: does anyone have an answer to the basic question, shorn of diploid jargon etc? To put it in the simplest practical terms, if I select for well-behaved productive colonies and breed in isolation will the results be random or will I gradually improve my stock?

Yes.
Even when not isolated.

If I can with 6-8 hives , then anyone can - but if they have less than (say) six hives, it will be a struggle.
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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Are we saying (I'm only about 80% kidding) the Tudors are the Tew-das? <ADD>Almost Tudors of Penmynydd - Wikipedia Well: live and learn!</ADD>
Yes, the Tewdwrs, or whatever way it can be pronounced, married into the line of Deheubarth princes, descendants of Hywel Dda (Hywel the good, who codified the first Welsh laws which actually contained a whole section on bees and mead makers) so my lineage goes much further back than the Tudors, another of my well known ancestors was Rhys ap Gruffudd of Dinefwr (1132-1197) (grandson of Rhys ap Tewdwr), Prince of Deheubarth, Prince of Wales who was also honoured by Henry II by being made Justiciar of South Wales and a Norman Marcher Lord (hence years after his death being known as 'the lord' Rhys) Rhys built Strada Florida Abbey as well as Dryslwyn, Dinefwr, llandovery and Carreg Cennen Castles. He also gave King Richard the first many a good drubbing - capturing many of his castles. Rhys was buried at St David's cathedral where his effigy can still be seen.
 

Ian123 

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What I would like to understand is why, after you get a queen from a commercial breeder, (which produces calm workers), do the bees tend to turn nasty down the track.... a few generations of new queens from the original one? What causes that?
In the uk most beekeepers buying queens in the £30-50 are buying queens already 1 generation removed from the selected breeder so 50% of the genes. Once you start additional generations you are far removed from the original selected stock, and that’s the same for a racially pure bee or a mongrel selected queen.
Seriously: does anyone have an answer to the basic question, shorn of diploid jargon etc? To put it in the simplest practical terms, if I select for well-behaved productive colonies and breed in isolation will the results be random or will I gradually improve my stock?
Simple answer is yes and I’ve done it with varying results. Practically it’s difficult first off there’s the isolation bit, that’s not available to the vast majority in the uk. With mongrel type bees results are random and hard to predict unlike the first cross from pure/strain/line bred. Hence the preference for the later from large scale producers. I’ve also had queens from a very good and thorough breeder of mongrel types. My results from those also varied greatly and whilst some have been good few compared with the mother. Selection/culling is the order but you don’t really get an idea until they’ve built up, so tying up a large amount of equipment if you have any kind of numbers. Most beekeepers you come across also have a reluctance or find any excuse not to squish queens!! Good luck. Ian
 

Beesnaturally 

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No you misread, I don't want to keep or reproduce from sub-standard, there is no point if you want to improve! What I meant in a situation like the Icelandic horses is that the gene pool may remain the same even if you cull the substandard ones. I guess there a lot of variables that may influence including the size of the herd, are the herds separated across Iceland, and so forth.
I think its a good idea to start from basics. The essential process in nature by which populations maintain their fitness is: excess reproduction followed by ruthless culling. In this process those best suited to the environment get to survive and reproduce more often than those less well suited. All populations, it can be seen, reproduce more than they need to simply maintain levels.

Additionally, there are a number of locations in the process where competitions that locate and reward general health locate the best genetic material. Drone competition is probably the key operating system in honeybees.

Honeybee colonies are in competition with each-other as well as other nectar and pollen feeders. They will rob out and kill weak or otherwise vulnerable colonies.

The outcome is a constant shuffling of genes that brings those best suited to the top in each generation. The bottom line is that those genetic components that contribute to a key outcome are more often reproduced. Others are not easily lost, they remain in the population ready to be deployed if and when that is advantageous.

That key outcome is: the most offspring successfully raised in that particular environment. It is best seen in terms of energy: those individuals that are able to turn the available energy into the largest number of successful offspring 'win' life's competition. They get to throw their genes forward into the next generation; and so it goes on, every generation throwing out new genetic combinations to be tested, to win, or to lose. Or to part-win.

This nested set of process is 'natural selection'. It is _essential_ to every single species, because, it is this process that allows populations to adapt to new threats.

Because it is essential, when and if it is obstructed, the inevitable outcome is loss of health and fitness.

Obviously all this is all relevant to all kinds of husbandry, and of special relevance to breeders (including those simply making increase).

What is interesting, to me, is that while breeding is relatively simple in 'closed' populations (those in which all reproduction can be, and is, controlled), things are much harder in free-mating populations. This of course has particular relevance to bee reproduction.

The further complications of the honeybee's special genetic and reproductive arrangements must also be taken into account - that is actually easier than getting your head around the stewing and winnowing of natural selection, I think.

There is a path through all this to get things, more or less, under control in a satisfactory way, and to understanding things like why local bees have advantages, and why bees separate out naturally into 'races' and sub-strains according to their locations.

But it is way easiest to take that path if you start at the beginning and carefully work down.
 
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B+. 

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I think its a good idea to start from basics. The essential process in nature by which populations maintain their fitness is: excess reproduction followed by ruthless culling.
However, beekeepers interfere with nature in so many ways. You can't equate what happens in managed colonies with a natural process.
 

B+. 

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In the uk most beekeepers buying queens in the £30-50 are buying queens already 1 generation removed from the selected breeder so 50% of the genes. Once you start additional generations you are far removed from the original selected stock, and that’s the same for a racially pure bee or a mongrel selected queen.
Simple answer is yes and I’ve done it with varying results. Practically it’s difficult first off there’s the isolation bit, that’s not available to the vast majority in the uk. With mongrel type bees results are random and hard to predict unlike the first cross from pure/strain/line bred. Hence the preference for the later from large scale producers. I’ve also had queens from a very good and thorough breeder of mongrel types. My results from those also varied greatly and whilst some have been good few compared with the mother. Selection/culling is the order but you don’t really get an idea until they’ve built up, so tying up a large amount of equipment if you have any kind of numbers. Most beekeepers you come across also have a reluctance or find any excuse not to squish queens!! Good luck. Ian
Even within the colony, relatedness is complicated by polyandy (multiple mating of the queen).
 

Beesnaturally 

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However, beekeepers interfere with nature in so many ways. You can't equate what happens in managed colonies with a natural process.
Sorry B+ I posted prematurely by mistake. Perhaps the fuller version above starts to make inroads into your point.
 

BeeJam 

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Going back to the post at the start of this thread and the article in the BBKA news, (if that's allowed JBM, your Highness) I must admit to being slightly perplexed. I don't think you'd find anyone arguing that genetic diversity is a bad thing, yet the implication in the article is that pure breeds are not genetically diverse. I'm not sure farmers of pedigree herds of cattle, sheep etc would agree with this.
 

ChrisS 

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What I would like to understand is why, after you get a queen from a commercial breeder, (which produces calm workers), do the bees tend to turn nasty down the track.... a few generations of new queens from the original one? What causes that?
It's called genetic instability, all explained by John Chambers
 

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Seriously: does anyone have an answer to the basic question, shorn of diploid jargon etc? To put it in the simplest practical terms, if I select for well-behaved productive colonies and breed in isolation will the results be random or will I gradually improve my stock?
Your start is very narrow genepool. Then you select from those and it will become more narrow. The result is inbred bees. Who knows what happens but nothing good.
 

ChrisS 

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Going back to the post at the start of this thread and the article in the BBKA news, (if that's allowed JBM, your Highness) I must admit to being slightly perplexed. I don't think you'd find anyone arguing that genetic diversity is a bad thing, yet the implication in the article is that pure breeds are not genetically diverse. I'm not sure farmers of pedigree herds of cattle, sheep etc would agree with this.
Pure breeds of cattle, sheep, dogs etc are not genetically diverse. Quite the opposite - breeders go to great lengths to avoid propagating any genes that differ from the "norm" for that breed. This works because most mammals have quantitative genetic traits (think Mendel's pea experiments, or why humans have blue or brown eyes). The problem comes when this inbreeding results in side effects such as deafness in pedigree dalmatians.

Honeybees ARE genetically diverse thanks to their reproductive mechanisms, evolved over millions of years: haplodiploidy, multiple matings, genetic recombination 20x higher than any other animal etc. Very importantly most honeybee traits are qualitative, resulting from combinations of many gene loci, as John Chambers describes. These mechanisms give them the ability to rapidly adapt to local conditions. Importing other races of honeybee is a bit like chucking a large rock into their gene pool.
 

madasafish 

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Pure breeds of cattle, sheep, dogs etc are not genetically diverse. Quite the opposite - breeders go to great lengths to avoid propagating any genes that differ from the "norm" for that breed. This works because most mammals have quantitative genetic traits (think Mendel's pea experiments, or why humans have blue or brown eyes). The problem comes when this inbreeding results in side effects such as deafness in pedigree dalmatians.

Honeybees ARE genetically diverse thanks to their reproductive mechanisms, evolved over millions of years: haplodiploidy, multiple matings, genetic recombination 20x higher than any other animal etc. Very importantly most honeybee traits are qualitative, resulting from combinations of many gene loci, as John Chambers describes. These mechanisms give them the ability to rapidly adapt to local conditions. Importing other races of honeybee is a bit like chucking a large rock into their gene pool.

So are you implying that "other races of honeybees" are incapable of adapting to local conditions?

I understand Italians don't adapt well to UK winters - raising lots of bees and eating all their stores- but I would have thought after a few generations has mated with local bees - or died out - the net result would be a locally adapted bee?

Or does local adaptation take a large number of generations to achieve?

(I write as one who has bought queens raised in the UK and they have adapted so well to local conditions that my yields exceed others with more local bees who get -put frankly - piss poor results. I fail to believe it's because I am a better beekeeper!)
 

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I found the argument interesting that since we (almost) all breed hybrids we cannot expect to breed true. But is that true indefinitely? What happens if I breed 10 generations of say cockapoo?
How could you do that? A cockapoo bred with a cockapoo would be a cockapoocockapoo
 

Antipodes 

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Your start is very narrow genepool. Then you select from those and it will become more narrow. The result is inbred bees. Who knows what happens but nothing good.
Like this....

 

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