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

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BugsInABox 

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No. Heritability determines the transference of a quality from one generation to the next.
I don't know why you're so fixated on heterosis.
I'd really like to see this pedigree before commenting further
Are we at cross purposes. I'm not wondering about heritability per se but just whether heterosis can explain ....

[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?
I don't think I've understood that it can't.
 

Wilco 

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Bit rusty on my genetics but:

Breeding a docile queen with an aggressive drone; possible outcomes for progeny are
more aggressive than the drone
like the aggressive drone
an average of the two
like the docile queen
more docile than the queen

Heterosis; when you breed two individuals and the offspring exhibits a trait to a greater degree than the average of the parents. In my world, we typically use this term when mating two individuals of known and good phenotype (usually both pedigree). It applies to their offspring. Typically, if those offspring are mated with each other to try and improve the exhibition of the exaggerated/enhanced trait, the effect of heterosis is lost and they frequently perform worse than before.

Outbreeding depression; when you breed two individuals and the offspring exhibits a trait which is inferior to either of the parents.

So a key question here is: are we considering docility or aggression to be the more advantageous trait and in what environment.... The kept bee and the feral bee occupy slightly different ecological niches. For the beekeeper, docility is a positive trait, for the feral bee, aggression is.

Another question to ask is: when we get aggressive descendents from the feral-docile mating, are we considering them aggressive as they are more grumpy than the docile one was as a result of cross breeding, are they grumpy like feral ones due to dominance or more grumpy than the feral stock, potentially due to heterosis (assuming aggression is a positive trait for the feral bee). I would hazard that this is different for pretty much every mating and it's likely to be a mix of heterosis, outbreeding depression and just good old crossbreeding mixing up the traits. This is just considering one trait with a two known parents rather than the situation with bees where you have a mother and many fathers...

Going back to the cockapoo question; a cockeduppoo (sorry but personal opinion) is a crossbreed not a breed, i.e. it is produced by crossing two pedigree individuals of different breeds. A breed occurs when the offspring exhibit a consistent set of traits (mating a F1 cockeduppoo with another F1 cockeduppoo will ususally not produce puppies that all look the same as each other or even all look like their parents). However, if repeated generations are bred from that line, selecting for the preferred traits of a 'cockapoo', they will eventually breed 'true', at which point it would be considered a breed. Unless you are doing AI or have a guaranteed isolated mating site, this is probably impossible with bees.


TLDR: It could explain it but depends on a lot of other assumptions. :D
 

BugsInABox 

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Hmm, thanks for that. Food for thought. The idea of aggression being relative seems to make absolute sense and I suppose could explain a part of the so common anecdotal reports of aggression in F1 offspring. Given such reports are so common though I find it hard to settle on the idea it can be so often due to a random trait lottery which is why I wondeted about heterosis as a consistent mechanism.
Interesting conversation - thanks all.
 

Ian123 

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However, if repeated generations are bred from that line, selecting for the preferred traits of a 'cockapoo', they will eventually breed 'true', at which point it would be considered a breed. Unless you are doing AI or have a guaranteed isolated mating site, this is probably impossible
Very true and rather like the process/line beeeding done by buckfast.
Hmm, thanks for that. Food for thought. The idea of aggression being relative seems to make absolute sense and I suppose could explain a part of the so common anecdotal reports of aggression in F1 offspring. Given such reports are so common though I find it hard to settle on the idea it can be so often due to a random trait lottery which is why I wondeted about heterosis as a consistent mechanism.
Interesting conversation - thanks all.
F1 or first cross bees don’t normally show aggression. Rather beekeepers misconceptions when they buy a queen of a certain type. What they buy is normally the f1 for £30-50. So what they are reporting aggression in is actually crosses 2-3-4, so far removed from the original. As an example I’ll purchase an island/isolated mated queen so pure/line bred. I can plonk that queen anywhere in Surrey/Berks raise some queens and within reason expect those queens to be decent and express the good qualities of the mother. I have had cases of poor queens but rather suspect that’s due to the quality of the breeders and is not the norm. Good breeders through records/experience provide breeders that will breed true or express the desirable traits in open mated offspring. That’s your first cross, I think this is what b+ refers to as replicators. Am happy to admit am not up on the genetics but that’s some practical experience. Ian
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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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?
Is that an actual truth though - or just the usual 'fact' bandied about by the usual suspects with their own agenda to push?
 

madasafish 

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Is that an actual truth though - or just the usual 'fact' bandied about by the usual suspects with their own agenda to push?

As no-one appears to have studied it and the most vociferous commentators appear to have never kept "exotic"## bees for any length of time, one can safely (?) assume it is bull excrement.

## their words, not mine.
 

mbc 

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The question of stability in following generations is largely down to compatibility between the virgin queen and the drones she mates with, when does a background population of localised bees become compat
Now I DO raise Queens from FI queens - even Buckfast ones - and open mate them.
Not a lot - small scale 15-30 a year.
Generally the results in terms of behaviour and yields are acceptable. Approx 90% of the first generation are perfectly fine.
I cull the nasty/runny ones.

I try to produce as many of my own bees' drones to reduce the impact of " locally adapted" horrible nasty bees.

For a hobby beekeeper it keeps my costs down and the results are perfectly usable. But try that with the following generation and failure rates rise from around 10% to around 40% so it's time to buy another couple of F1 Qs - and raise Qs from the better of the two.

It's not breeding - I have far too few hives and not enough skills/equipment but it keeps me in usable Qs with minimal cost and maximum pleasure.

If anyone suggests I try breeding from our local stock, my answer is I'll be too old and incapable of beekeeping or be dead before I get any good ones.:eek:
Fair enough apart from the bit about your own drones, first they'll be a confused jumble of flying gametes not sure which way is forward or back as with every other buckfast drone, secondly the idea of influencing queen mating with six drone colonies in a well populated beekeeping area is delusional. I have several hundred colonies strategically placed to try and influence what drones get to do their business with my virgins and still get cross matings and sometimes have to abandon mating apiaries as other beekeepers unknowingly(I hope!) move in with non native bees.
This wailing about the nasty unproductive nature of the local mongrel stock while pumping buckfast genes into the mix smacks of the pot calling the kettle black to me.
 

BugsInABox 

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Is that an actual truth though - or just the usual 'fact' bandied about by the usual suspects with their own agenda to push?
As no-one appears to have studied it and the most vociferous commentators appear to have never kept "exotic"## bees for any length of time, one can safely (?) assume it is bull excrement.

## their words, not mine.
Or more charitably it could be false impressions formed due to relative rather than absolute observation.
Another question to ask is: when we get aggressive descendents from the feral-docile mating, are we considering them aggressive as they are more grumpy than the docile one was as a result of cross breeding
 

TryingToLetThemBee 

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Bit rusty on my genetics but:

Breeding a docile queen with an aggressive drone; possible outcomes for progeny are
more aggressive than the drone
like the aggressive drone
an average of the two
like the docile queen
more docile than the queen

Heterosis; when you breed two individuals and the offspring exhibits a trait to a greater degree than the average of the parents. In my world, we typically use this term when mating two individuals of known and good phenotype (usually both pedigree). It applies to their offspring. Typically, if those offspring are mated with each other to try and improve the exhibition of the exaggerated/enhanced trait, the effect of heterosis is lost and they frequently perform worse than before.

Outbreeding depression; when you breed two individuals and the offspring exhibits a trait which is inferior to either of the parents.

So a key question here is: are we considering docility or aggression to be the more advantageous trait and in what environment.... The kept bee and the feral bee occupy slightly different ecological niches. For the beekeeper, docility is a positive trait, for the feral bee, aggression is.

Another question to ask is: when we get aggressive descendents from the feral-docile mating, are we considering them aggressive as they are more grumpy than the docile one was as a result of cross breeding, are they grumpy like feral ones due to dominance or more grumpy than the feral stock, potentially due to heterosis (assuming aggression is a positive trait for the feral bee). I would hazard that this is different for pretty much every mating and it's likely to be a mix of heterosis, outbreeding depression and just good old crossbreeding mixing up the traits. This is just considering one trait with a two known parents rather than the situation with bees where you have a mother and many fathers...

Going back to the cockapoo question; a cockeduppoo (sorry but personal opinion) is a crossbreed not a breed, i.e. it is produced by crossing two pedigree individuals of different breeds. A breed occurs when the offspring exhibit a consistent set of traits (mating a F1 cockeduppoo with another F1 cockeduppoo will ususally not produce puppies that all look the same as each other or even all look like their parents). However, if repeated generations are bred from that line, selecting for the preferred traits of a 'cockapoo', they will eventually breed 'true', at which point it would be considered a breed. Unless you are doing AI or have a guaranteed isolated mating site, this is probably impossible with bees.


TLDR: It could explain it but depends on a lot of other assumptions. :D
 

TryingToLetThemBee 

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REALLY helpful: thanks. Just a couple of things 1) I am not sure aggression serves any positive function in a feral colony (defensiveness I can see) in the UK with wild predators extinct and golf courses everywhere: we are in the anthropocene, and nowhere more than here. But I take the point.

Now, on cockapoos, you just did a Pearl Harbor moment. Hiroshima is your destination :) . My cockapoo is dumb as a brick (useful in a domestic pet: more content), affectionate beyond belief, non-aggressive (but barks when, and only when, he is "in charge of security") and healthy. He's castrated, and I would never breed a pet anyway, but I would repeat the experience of buying him 1,000 times over if I lived that long.
 

ChrisS 

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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!)
No, I'm not saying other races are incapable of adapting. They are all the same species. By (not very accurate) analogy, a dachshund can mate with a greyhound - but the offspring are unlikely to be much good at either winning races or going down badger burrows.

Genetic studies show that AMM split from AM Carnica and Ligustica around 300,000 years ago. AMM has had all that time to evolve and adapt to local north-western European conditions including ice ages, and it has done that very well as proved by its continuing presence. Then along came humans and started meddling with its gene pool by reintroducing genes that hadn't been wanted or needed for 300k years.

So I think there are two factors to consider. Any honeybee has the genetic mechanisms for local adaptation, and it can happen in surprisingly few generations. But the AMM gene pool has a head start for the UK climate so we should try to make best use of it.

I used to buy 'Buckfast' queens from Ged Marshall. Lovely ladies, descended from Keld Brandstrup's imported strain and bred & mated in Ged's isolated apiaries. But all our local beekeepers know that once you let them breed with the local oiks, their daughter and especially grand-daughter colonies can be very unpleasant.

I'm now 5 generations on from Ged's queens. I can't control the local drone population so I just select and breed my queens on the basis of temper, frugality and yield. I'm definitely seeing an improvement across all my colonies and it's now very rare to get a nasty one. But they are all mongrels with variable colour. I have a theory that the local gene pool is boosted by feral colonies who produce strong Suffolk lads!

Now I'm trying to persuade our local beekeepers to go down the same route and stop buying in queens. It's a challenge though!
 

B+. 

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No, I'm not saying other races are incapable of adapting. They are all the same species. By (not very accurate) analogy, a dachshund can mate with a greyhound - but the offspring are unlikely to be much good at either winning races or going down badger burrows.

Genetic studies show that AMM split from AM Carnica and Ligustica around 300,000 years ago. AMM has had all that time to evolve and adapt to local north-western European conditions including ice ages, and it has done that very well as proved by its continuing presence. Then along came humans and started meddling with its gene pool by reintroducing genes that hadn't been wanted or needed for 300k years.

So I think there are two factors to consider. Any honeybee has the genetic mechanisms for local adaptation, and it can happen in surprisingly few generations. But the AMM gene pool has a head start for the UK climate so we should try to make best use of it.

I used to buy 'Buckfast' queens from Ged Marshall. Lovely ladies, descended from Keld Brandstrup's imported strain and bred & mated in Ged's isolated apiaries. But all our local beekeepers know that once you let them breed with the local oiks, their daughter and especially grand-daughter colonies can be very unpleasant.

I'm now 5 generations on from Ged's queens. I can't control the local drone population so I just select and breed my queens on the basis of temper, frugality and yield. I'm definitely seeing an improvement across all my colonies and it's now very rare to get a nasty one. But they are all mongrels with variable colour. I have a theory that the local gene pool is boosted by feral colonies who produce strong Suffolk lads!

Now I'm trying to persuade our local beekeepers to go down the same route and stop buying in queens. It's a challenge though!
A couple of observations:

First: Amm may be around but is hardly thriving. Environmental change isn't the only reason. Beekeepers favour traits not evident in Amm (which is why I keep saying there is a huge selection programme needed before beekeepers will accept them).

Ged lives just up the road from me. His apiary is anything but "secluded". He relies on breeding material from Keld Brandstrup and floods the areas with lots of colonies to influence the mating of his queens.

Beekeepers like to think they're "selecting" but if they've no data to back up that selection, it's not leading anywhere - especially with no control over the mating.
 
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madasafish 

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There are 111 apiaries within 10km of me according to BeeBase.

I think I know 5-6 of them, maybe a few more.
Two are members of our local Association.

No chance of me influencing anything local.

:cool:
And as MBC suggesting I am making the feral population worse by using Buckfasts when there are 110 local beekeepers doing their own thing!
Fortunately I have a sense of humour even if warped. :eek:
 

BugsInABox 

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And as MBC suggesting I am making the feral population worse by using Buckfasts when there are 110 local beekeepers doing their own thing!
Fortunately I have a sense of humour even if warped.
But that's an argument like continuing to drive an unnecessary & large SUV gas guzzler to Aldi 'cos you're neighbour isn't vegan.
 
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B+. 

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There are 111 apiaries within 10km of me according to BeeBase.

I think I know 5-6 of them, maybe a few more.
Two are members of our local Association.

No chance of me influencing anything local.

:cool:
And as MBC suggesting I am making the feral population worse by using Buckfasts when there are 110 local beekeepers doing their own thing!
Fortunately I have a sense of humour even if warped. :eek:
Beebase could have been designed by a 5 year old. It is just not fit-for-purpose. I am registered on it but I set all my apiaries to zero hives. It was just too much work to maintain them...and therein lies the problem: the data is unreliable/inaccurate.
 

Beebe 

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By (not very accurate) analogy, a dachshund can mate with a greyhound - but the offspring are unlikely to be much good at either winning races or going down badger burrows.
....but neither of them will be any less able at making honey.
 

Beebe 

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Is that an actual truth though - or just the usual 'fact' bandied about by the usual suspects with their own agenda to push?
Before I became a member of this forum and was just looking in, I remember one person repeatedly posting that they were regularly requeening their hives because they wouldn't "tolerate" "angry" colonies. Buying first generation queens maybe doesn't guarantee that your bees will be "calm".
Personally, I think that being feisty is half of what bee-ing a bee is all about.
 

TryingToLetThemBee 

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Before I became a member of this forum and was just looking in, I remember one person repeatedly posting that they were regularly requeening their hives because they wouldn't "tolerate" "angry" colonies. Buying first generation queens maybe doesn't guarantee that your bees will be "calm".
Personally, I think that being feisty is half of what bee-ing a bee is all about.
Ozarmor suit and it's all academic anyway. Best purchase I made. Sorry OTP.
 

drex 

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Each to their own. Personally I would not buy an imported bee. In my early days I bought a couple of Buckfasts from someone on here. I did not like the idea of it totally.
I now raise my own queens mainly because I enjoy it and have learned a lot about queen rearing and grafting because of it.. I am happy with my bees as I do not chase large crops. Any with undesirable traits get squashed. Temperament ( both mine and the bees) has improved over the years.
 

madasafish 

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But that's an argument like continuing to drive an unnecessary & large SUV gas guzzler to Aldi 'cos you're neighbour isn't vegan.
Conflating two issues does not make them comparable.
My local feral bees are hopeless.
So I am diluting the gene pool by rearing from Buckfast Queens.?
And anything I do with 110 other apiaries# around will have ZERO effect.

On that basis, I would not keep bees according to your argument.

# 1 in nearby Cheshire is a honey farmer who will dwarf whatever I do.
 
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