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Dispersing genes

It is relatively easy to create varroa resistant bees. I have been telling my story since 2001. The tough part is how do we get the resistant bees so widespread that an average beekeeper can let his/her queens to mate free… and use no treatments, year after year.

The question is: What is the most efficient method to disperse varroa resistance genes?

I know, It takes years.

It needs education of queen rearing skills.

It needs a ground-breaking change in attitudes towards treatments.

It will not happen in a year or decade.

But nevertheless, we need to start thinking about it.

Here are my thoughts of the steps towards a world without treatments:

  1. Mating stations start using varroa resistant drones

This is already done in Germany and other Central European countries in some mating stations. The Central European beekeepers are privileged: there is a wide network of mating stations all over Europe. The system is well organized and has been working for decades.

In theory everything should go well. New resistant drone lines are introduced each year. More and more resistant queens and hives, scattered around the whole continent, is an inevitable result.  But will it get us to the goal?

Couple thing worry me. Firstly: Are there enough enthusiastic beekeepers taking their queens to mate with varroa resistant drones? We may see only small spots or corners of the continent getting the needed dominance of varroa resistant free flying drones. Secondly: The beekeepers involved may not catch the required enthusiasm about treatment free beekeeping, they may simply need better varroa resistance and continue with treatments.  Money talks. At least today the percentage of queens mated with varroa resistant drones is low, normal non-resistant drones dominate in mating stations.

Finland is in a different situation: We don´t have such network of mating stations

2. Individual beekeepers create a dominance of varroa resistant drones in their beekeeping area

Josef Koller ROOTs breeding system was based on free mating. The basic idea was of small circles, starting in one yard left without treatments, uniting eventually to larger areas of varroa resistant drone dominance. There are hobbyists working this way. Unfortunately they do not have many hives and thus their ability to create dominance, even in smaller areas, is limited.

Words of advise: Varroa resistance cannot be achieved with free mating. Starting with scratch without drone dominance (or controlled mating) varroa resistance cannot be achieved or maintained.  I dare to declare this as a proven fact. You are free to disagree, but remember, I have tried it myself and almost killed all my hives before changing my way to work.

3. Creating one larger area of varroa resistant drone dominance.

This could be done by a beekeeping association or similar. One larger area of such kind, maybe 1000 hives, would be noticed by the beekeeping community and probably by the media, too. This could have an influence on the attitudes towards treatments, both public and beekeepers.   

4. All commercial queen breeders start to use varroa resistant material only

This could be an efficient method, but would lead to massive inbreeding, at least today. There are too few stocks available. But another problem is lacking demand for varroa resistant stocks. Beekeeper education in crucial: we need to spread the information of the developments and possibilities of varroa resistance breeding. We need more Randy Olivers.

5. The use of chemicals in beekeeping is restricted by law

Although I agree this should be done, it is not likely to happen.

Winter feeding, about 20 litres.

On a personal level I´m sick and tired of producing honey. Plus I´m getting older each year. How to get rid of honey production and all the hard beekeeping work, but nevertheless continue with varroa resistance breeding and secure the future of my 20 years breeding work?

 Is it possible to find a system where I could share all my breeding material for free and benefit one way or the other?  Like LINUX, the free operating system invented by a Finn, Linus Torvalds.  If money were not an issue, what would be the most efficient method to spread the varroa resistance genes of my bees into the whole Finnish honeybee population?

Please share your views!

I can come up with several ideas.  For instance, I could try to find 40 enthusiastic beekeepers all around Finland and “borrow” each of them one hive in that condition, signed on paper, that he/she promises to raise at least 10 queens of that hive each year and agrees to pay me for the insemination of these daughter queens.  Insemination would be easier than to arrange 40 mating stations. Controlled mating is needed to maintain the varroa resistance genes of the breeding material. 40 beekeepers working for a shared common goal.  It would be a great start.  But how realistic it is to succeed?

What is your idea? Please make a comment!

Log hive bees use mostly the entrance I made…
Plywood landing board is collecting debris from the hive, including mites. It has become increasingly hard to find mites here.

Varroa resistant bees, when do you know for sure you have them?

What are the crucial signs which undoubtedly prove that you really have varroa resistant bees?

  1. Somebody said that a good sign is when other beekeepers who have got queens of your stock start talking about varroa resistance. They might or might not mention your name.  They might post pictures, make remarks on their social media postings or even Pedigrees, and with a good luck, start selling queens with your name.

 

  1. Mites disappear. Although the usual misunderstanding is that when somebody is breeding for varroa resistance, he or she must have very few mites, if any.          That is wrong. In the first 10 years of breeding, probably with any method but surely with Hard-Bond-Method, there are a lot of mites: mites kill hives, mites on bees’ backs, mites in brood, dead mites on hive bottoms… and mites crawling on drones when taking semen for insemination.   But then the situation becomes like what normal beekeepers have: there are mites, you know it, but you do not see them.

I have been regularly watching hive bottoms and entrances all these years. It is just so crazy when one sunny day you realize: Why aren´t there any mites here where there used to be, always one, two or 5.

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  1. Brood areas become uniform again. This was a big surprise for me too. Everybody, even researchers,  are talking about bees taking out infested brood, VSH bees, which they of course do if necessary, and brood areas look spotty, but in the end, the REALLY varroa resistant bees have such a brilliant ability to react to mites that mites are removed well before emerging bees are about to hatch. And therefore, brood areas look normal again. I have had a hunch of this for a long time.

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Two incidents come to my mind. Once I had a conversation with BartJan Fernhout from Arista research. He said, as an opinion, that when we have a fully varroa resistant bee the evolutionary cost will be minimal. With the cost is meant the price bees have to pay for their resistance: when they work with mites, then there is less time to work with honey.  The reason why the cost will be minimal, BartJan reasoned, is because bees keep the mite levels so low, it does not affect their honey gathering abilities.  Then I remember visiting Heimo Kangasaho for the first time. Heimo has been without treatments since 2001. His brood areas looked good, uniform large brood areas. At that time (2015) I had all brood areas full of holes. There are holes now too, but usually only to disrupt mites reproducing, bees open and close infected cells.

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  1. Your total honey crops are rising. I have figured this to be the ultimate proof. And now I mean the total honey crop from all hives, not average. When bees survive and live happily with mites, you can make nucs, nucs get stronger on a normal pace, bees start wintering well again and before you know it you have more honey than you can easily sell.  Average honey crop may vary according to year. The toughest years are about 5-10 years after treatments are stopped.  My hive count went from 150 to 4 before the turn.

 

  1. Fewer mites in sugar rolls. This is true, but I do not know where the limit between good varroa resistance and poor resistance is: 1% infestation, 2% or 3%. I have a hunch that 5% infestation on live bees is too much. Such hives die in winter.

I have a confession to make: I have not made one single sugar roll this summer. I know.  I am lazy. But when you start realizing that your bees are not going to die because of mites, you lose interest in sugar rolls, and all other measuring for that matter too.

 

  1. Your bees become calm again. My great idol Paul Jungels said once that varroa resistance breeding is making bees more angry, prone to sting, at least to some extent. I had seen the same phenomena and figured that more highly developed sense of smell could be the reason; bees get more easily irritated. But what you know, now I must admit that we were all wrong! When the bees handle varroa, they are as calm as ever.  In my diary (2001-2019) I have told how my bees became EXTREMELY angry, almost unbearable, for couple weeks in mid-summer. Then, just as surprisingly, they calmed again.                                                                          18.8.2010 I wrote:”Once again the hives were extremely angry in the beginning of summer (one month earlier than last year!?). All hives were almost impossible to handle even with good protective clothing, but after that short period of time they are behaving normally. The interesting thing here is that last autumn I sent queens to 8 beekeepers for a test. These hives were not treated either, but the mite levels were very, very low. These beekeepers have not seen anything unusual; the hives are “behaving absolutely normally”. What is causing this period of madness? One hypothesis is that the hives react to the mites and become angry. Then they throw out the mites and calm down.”

    (http://buckfast.fi/publications/). What happened I do not know to this day, but it sure looked like they had serious issues with mites, which made them like killer bees, and I mean literally, and then by autumn they had handled mite situation somehow and were calm again.

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  1. Your queens sell all over Europe with a 500 € price tag. I set the price when I had 4 hives, and the purpose was to stop selling queens. Did not happen.

 

 

  1. Your bees are scientifically proved to be resistant. It may happen that the researchers do not mention your name in the publication, but the point is as the headline says, YOU know. It does not matter that the rest of the world does not know. Or does it?               Terje knows what I mean.

 

Juhani Lundén

 

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Wild bees

I think it was year 2015 when I had my last serious winter mortality. Lost about 60-70% of my hives in winter and more in the next summer. I was so beaten that did not have the strength to melt the more than 100 boxes which I had carried home from the yards. Ended up storing them in a barn near a place where I had no bees left anymore.

The boxes were well forgotten by me.

Every now and then when I passed that barn, I saw bees flying around, and soon started to get swarms near that barn.  One was sitting on the wall, a very funny looking thin layer of bees in an area of a shopping bag. A tiny swarm.  Next year one was hanging in a spruce nearby, a slightly bigger one.   Then again on the barn wall, this time different side, smallish too.

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They all got laying queens, which made me wonder where were they coming from?  I had no bees anywhere near there. And they sure did not look like my bees, and were clearly more aggressive.  I started asking beekeeping friends, but nobody knew anyone who had bees so near that a swarm with a laying queen could end up there. And why always that same spot?  If there were a hive or couple hives 2 km away nobody knew about, why would they throw a swarm each year near that barn?  Tried to check literature and got this idea that 2 km is about the max a laying queen flies. Correct if I am mistaken.

Sometime during this 5-year period when opening the barn door, and taking a short peak, I saw wax pieces all over the barn floor. Mice, I thought, although I had covers on all stacks and the barn floor was level and in good shape.  I could not see bees going into the boxes. No swarms living here.

Today I visited that barn again. The idea was that because the price of beeswax has risen noteworthy, I thought it is time to clean up the mess and start melting those boxes. Another reason was that because for the first time in 5 years I had bees again on this location, I thought it would be nice that possible diseases in those boxes would not contaminate the nucs I had brought there end of July 2020.

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Oh no! I noticed bees flying in. Robbers was my first thought. But when looking more closely there were quite a lot of bees with pollen loads. What? No?

Yes, there was a swarm living in a stack of boxes from those dead hives back in 2015. One stack had removed slightly, just enough to make an entrance. There were brood in four boxes, so it was quite a nice colony.

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But then I noticed something I have never seen before: remains of a colony which had been living under the roof tree.  Which explained the was debris on the floor and the swarms coming each year. Just about that size, which could have given those smallish swarms of the previous years. And it is just above the door, in a dark spot hard to discover, when only doing a quick look from the door.

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Checked for the queen but did not find her. Ended up doing a walk away split. Gonna check after a week and transport them to a proper yard, give some cleaner frames and food for winter.

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The most interesting question is: How on earth have they been able to cope in the Finnish weather and winter this long without any treatments? They are not my bees. Is this a sign, that wild bee population is forming in Finland too?  Is a thriving wild bee population (resistant drones) necessary for the transfer to treatment free beekeeping?  So far there has been very little proof of a permanent wild bee population in Finland. Our winters are getting warmer.

The change may be closer than we realize.

Juhani Lundén,

just a stubborn beekeeper who decided to stop treatments

Genes and Races

One of the most widespread legends in beekeeping is that when you cross almost anything with Carnica bees, the result will be angry bees, almost unbearable mongrels.

That was true. However, it is not true anymore.

In 2006 I had the honour to meet Harald Singer, the son of the world-famous bee breeder Wolfgang Singer. When we sat down in the restaurant table, I told him about my experiences of their Carnica queens.  Hunajayhtymä Ltd. had been importing of Carnica Singer queens for years and in the early 1990s I bought 5 of them.  Tradename “Carnica-Singer” was painted with red on the cages.

These Carnica Singer queens surprised me. They had all max 5- 6 frames of brood (Jumbo frames) in the peak season.

“Impossible!”, answered Harald.  “Our queens make a big brood area.”

 

For a second I had doubts about the origin of my Singer queens, and had there not been the name “Carnica-Singer” on the cages and had the importer not been Hunajayhtymä, the largest beekeeping company in Finland with years of co-operation with Singer, the doubts could have been justified.  But now this contradicting information had to be solved otherwise.

And the answer is breeding.

Wolfgang Singer vaimoineen

Picture: Liane and Wolfgang Singer

Bee breeders have been selecting for good honey crop, good temper and low swarming for a long time. Genes enabling these qualities have multiplied in population long enough: different races have become almost indistinguishable.  Today, one could argue that colour remains the only thing to separate a Carnica from Buckfast.  Crossing good breed Buckfast with good breed Carnica results in marvellously good bees.

 

Heidrun Singer

Picture: Heidrun Singer in continuing the work of her parents.

The best Finnish Italian bees are remarkably close to good Buckfast and good Carnica bees in their performance qualities. And with ”good” I mean bees bred by distinguished breeders, not cheapest ”race” queens found in Internet.  If only there were more serious breeders, we could see a third race become identical twin. Today in Finland we have a situation where the Italian bees of Finland are too much considered as something permanent and immortal. From the 1950s the Finnish bee breeders have bred for winter hardiness and for lower consumption. The excessive egg laying and lavish spending of stores have been rooted out. Finnish Italian bees have raised well deserved interest among bee breeders in Central Europe.

It is no secret that genes from “original” black bees, Apis mellifera mellifera, made this change.  Not original, because honeybee in Finland in not indigenous, they have been imported by man late 16th century, mainly from Estonia and Sweden.

 

Large brood area is the main factor influencing honey gathering ability of a beehive.  Singer Carnica was bred for a good honey crop and, little by little, selection pressure changed the nature of Carnica Singer. They were no longer small brood area bees.

Originally Carnica bees had yellow markings in upper corners of abdomen. Today these yellow, or leather brown, markings are almost extinct, thanks to tightened and unnatural race breeding instructions. (Naturgeschichte der Honigbienen by Friedrich Ruttner, 2. Auflage, pages 90 and 94)

beeraces

Years later I made another experiment with Carnica bees, bought 6 queens, this time of German origin. They were exceptionally good bees. I cannot say anything bad. Large brood areas, good temper, excellent honey crop and no inclination to swarm.   If I had not known their origin, I would have had difficulties separating them from dark line (Primorski) Buckfast.

When we breed for certain qualities, certain genes become more widespread. This a general phenomenon.

 

 

 

sled_dogs_hero

Picture: Alaskan sled dog

Another example comes from the world of dog breeding in Northern America.

https://bmcgenet.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2156-11-71

“Alaskan sled dogs are a recognized population of dogs of Northern breed ancestry. While not recognized by the American Kennel Club as a distinct breed, consistency in behaviour has led to them being informally referred to as a ”breed”. The Alaskan sled dog is comprised of several different lineages, optimized for different racing styles. The Alaskan sled dog is unique in that it is not confined to a breed standard of size or appearance, as are most AKC-recognized breeds. Rather, they are a mixed breed dog. We know little about the starting stock of Alaskan sled dogs.”

Siberian Husky is a recognized breed by American Kennel Club(AKC). Alaskan sled dog, however, is not, because of its mixed and unknown origin.

Those Alaskan sled dogs which have been bred for long distance races resemble Siberian Husky dogs in their genes.  

The race definition of Siberian Husky (AKC): “The Siberian Husky, a thickly coated, compact sled dog of medium size and great endurance, was developed to work in packs, pulling light loads at moderate speeds over vast frozen expanses.”

Siberian-Husky-On-White-01

Picture: Siberian Husky

 

 

It is important to take care of various bee races. Many of them are endangered. But we must bear in mind that if we keep bees in modern beehives and universally favor the same beekeeping goals, good honey gathering, good temper, low swarming etc, we might be doing a disservice.  It is more important is to protect endangered genes than races. Other solution is to keep bees in nature like hives, for instance log hives.

Race is a man-made definition; gene is a creation of nature.

48h kennot klubi

48 h kennot klubi aloittaa toimintansa heti kunhan korona virus hässäkkä helpottaa. 

 

Kerhon tarkoituksena on:

  • edistää hyvän mehiläisaineksen leviämistä
  • varroaa paremmin kestävän mehiläisen levittäminen
  • emonkasvatustaitojen kehittäminen

Kerhon jäsen sitoutuu:

  • myymään muille jäsenille 48h ikäisiä emokennoja tai toukansiirtoon soveliaita toukkakakun paloja
  • lyhyesti esittelemään toukansiirtoihin käytetyn pesän (pyydettäessä)

Kerhon toimintamuodot:

  • emokennojen osto, myynti ja vaihdanta
  • emonkasvatus aiheisten tapaamisten järjestäminen
  • kennojen lähettämistapojen kehittäminen
  • emonkasvatuskurssit
  • yhteiset paritustarhat

 

Huomioita:

Emokennojen/toukkakakun palojen hinnoittelun saa kukin jäsen itse vapaasti määrätä.

Kennojen hinta voi muodostua perusmaksusta ja kappalehinnasta. Kappalehinta voi joko laskea tai nousta lukumäärän kasvaessa. Hinnoittelun avulla on mahdollista estää turhat tilakäynnit kiireiseen aikaan ja se, että kennoja ei haaskata tai käytetä kaupallisiin tarkoituksiin.

Pesän esittelyksi luetaan:

  • lyhytkestoinen avaaminen (jos emokennot haetaan paikanpäältä)
  • sukutaulun esittäminen
  • pesän arvostelutietojen jakaminen

Paritustarhaan saa tuoda parituspesiä ennakkoilmoituksella rajallisen määrän. Parituspesät tulee olla täytetty ilman kuhnureita, tai siinä on oltava kuhnurisulkuristikko. Paritustarhan tarjoaminen muiden käyttöön on vapaaehtoista ja ilmoitetaan keväällä. Paritustarhojen tarkoitus on tuoda vaihtoehto keinosiemennykselle ja mahdollisuuden käyttöemojen pariutumiseen.

 

Klubin ”jäseneksi” pääsee kuka vaan, ilmoittautuminen vetäjälle riittää.  Virallista yhdistystä ei ole tarpeen perustaa.

 

Juhani Lundén

0500-632401

juhani.lunden@outlook.com

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Kuva yllä: Juhani Lundén                                   Kuva alla: Lauri Ruottinen

48 kenno

 

 

I have a dream

 

Actually, I have a problem. A huge one.

I have no successor of my work, no guarantees of future continuation of my breeding work and I have failed to get more treatment free (=TF) beekeepers in Finland.

The more I think of this dilemma the more I have been considering one way to get things better:

48 h queen cells.

 

When I first read the BeeSource thread started by Seth Charbonneau about 48 h queen cells my reaction was that “why 48h cells, when a piece of comb with 6 h larvae on it will do the same”. But will it?

Let’s make a comparison, pros and cons:

48 h cells                                                                                                                                            Pro

-certainty of success even for a beginner

-safer shipment

Con

-price per larvae higher

 

Pieces of comb with 6h larvae

Pro

-cheaper per larvae

 

Con

-impossible for a beginner

-impossible without queen rearing skills

-destroyed combs

 

If we make the comparison with laying queens, the advantages of 48h queen cells are lower price and safer introduction to almost any hive without queen. That is an advantage specially with TF bees, which are expensive.

 

Treatment free beekeeping is a new idea. It is however, getting more and more popularity specially among new, young and starting beekeepers. Therefore 48 h cells are a better solution than 6h larvae on comb pieces.

Will dispersal of 48h cells solve my problem? No, but when more beekeepers can get and test varroa resistant bees then it is more likely that some of them will start building their enterprise as TF, and some of them will be a passionate breeder for generations to remember.

 

Production:

The cell production is pretty much covered in beekeeping books. Production of queen cells for sale/dispersal can easily be fitted among the production of your own queens.

Shipment:

Seth Charbonneau drilled holes in a block of foam and wrapped it in plastic. It was a copy of what Joe Latshaw uses.

photo 1

 

Sam Comfort used to use JZBZ queen boxes with the cells placed in protectors and seems to be moving to just putting the cell in a protector in a bag.

Sam Comfort cell and cage

 

John Kefuss model made of foam insulation. The cells are slightly pressed and thus make their own slots into the soft material.

John Kefuss cell shipment

 

My wooden, experimental, has not been in use. Was thinking of strapping some tape around.

IMG_20200228_134848

 

In the end I´m with Sam: The easiest way is just put the cells with protectors in a plastic bag with some moisturized soft tissue paper or fabric.  In Finland there is a limit for the thickness of a letter. An express letter is fast and cheap way to ship, delivery guaranteed for the next day.

 

The ideal solution would be to combine the 48h cell production and markets with teaching of queen rearing skills among a beekeeper’s club and with a suitable area for controlled mating.

The biggest problem to make Treatment Free Beekeeping a real option for all is not the absence of varroa resistant bees, but the dispersal of good genetic material.

In 48h cells we might have the answer.

 

Juhani Lundén

 

 

Here is some reading:

http://www.wicwas.com/sites/default/files/articles/Bee_Culture/BC2012-06.pdf

 

http://www.wicwas.com/sites/default/files/articles/American_Bee_Journal/ABJ2009-01.pdf

 

http://www.wicwas.com/sites/default/files/articles/American_Bee_Journal/ABJ2010-10.pdf

 

 

Seth’s original opening post and replies:

https://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?345379-The-use-of-48hr-queen-cells-to-spread-resistant-genetics

Racist

Beekeepers are racists. Not about humans I hope; but about bees they keep.  If you ask a beekeeper in Finland what kind of bees they have, the answer comes right away.

“I have Italian bees!”

“I have Carnica bees!”

“I have Nordic black bees!”  etc

The answer comes with no hesitation even if the bees have been free mated ever since they were bought, sometimes many decades earlier.

In the world of any other domestic animal you would be listed as a lunatic in no time if you insisted your animals to be of any particular race after several free matings.  “What a moron…”, someone would mumble, and people around you slowly walk away.

But back to meeting other beekeepers. You have by now got to know the bee race of your companion.  If you then kindly try to keep up the conversation and talk about importance of mating, the answer is ready:

There are only Italian bees in our neighborhood, they keep pure.”

“And they are yellow!”

In this argument it is best to stop the conversation to keep everybody happy unless this all has happened on a beekeeping course, which is often the case with me. People have come to that course to learn something, and if I drop them to reality concerning their beloved pets, I´m not the wise guy.  Just doing my job.

Yellow color is actually the most widespread color among the bee races of the world. Italian bees are not the only yellow bees in the world.

As unbelievable as it sounds the Nazi regime had influence in beekeeping too. The German society was brain washed from top to bottom with race ideology. There was an Aryan human master race (blond hair and skin, blue eyes, athletic, brave mind) and same thinking was applied to animals, like bees. There are still laws in some parts of Austria saying that you can keep only Carnica bees.

 

Black bee and Carnica bee by Goetze 1942

 

A group of Finnish beekeepers visited a beekeeper near Vienna. His bees looked very much like Buckfast. I was working as the interpreter, and someone in our group said I should ask about the race. “These are Carnica bees”, the Austrian beekeeper answered with a wide grin on his face.

At that moment we understood the name of the game.

 

There is absolutely nothing wrong if someone wants to have pure race bees, but what is a pure race?

Race is a man-made definition. It is a definition of what have the bees in a particular geographical area looked and how they behaved in the past.  What color they were and how long hair, tongue, wings and wing veins they had.  Sometime in the past, originally and by nature, without human interference.

Who made these race definitions and when?  It depends. For instance, the definition of Italian bees was made year 1806 by Marquis Massimilliano Spinola (1780-1857). The definition of Carnica bee is much younger. It was made by a German entomologist August Pollman as late as 1879.  The oldest definition was made by Carl von Linné year 1758, the original black bee of Western Europe is named after him: Apis mellifera mellifera LINNAEUS.  Macedonian bees got their description 1988.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with definitions, but it is important to understand that they simplify complicated things. In the border area of different geographical races there were always intermediate forms, which fit neither of the races on two sides of the border.

 

 

History of race breeding

History of race breeding is short. Thanks to BeeSource user Bernhard Heuvel from Germany I found a very interesting writing made by Sigrun Mittl, Dipl.-Biol. from his web site bienen-dialoge.de.

“Die Reinzuchtbelegstellen der Stämme der Dunklen Biene Apis mellifera mellifera und der Kärntner Biene Apis mellifera carnica zwischen 1934 und 1945 und die Geschichte der Zucht in dieser Zeit mit Ausblick in die Zeit danach – Teil 1”   *)

 

In the next paragraphs I quote some points of the early steps of race breeding in Europe according to this article in web.  According to the writer this article is based mainly on the original beekeeping journals of that time.

 

Problems arising

The first ones to notice problems ahead were German K. Hoffmann, the director of the Royal Bee Institute in Erlangen, and U. Kramer from Switzerland. They recognized the problem of bee imports from particularly Southern Europe to Central Europe which had been going on since 17. Century.  New bee races like Apis mellifera ligustica, A.m.carnica, A.m.anatolica, A.m.syrica had made the local black bee almost extinct by the late 19th Century.  Quote: “Die wilden Importe haben dafür gesorgt, dass die einheimische Dunkle Biene nahezu ausgerottet wurde.”

 

Hoffmann wrote 1909: “Beekeepers curiosity and unplanned search and import of new bees has created a situation where we have an increasing disease problem and our natural bees is bastardized.“

Dr. Kramer had already 1898 remarked that “The imported new bees are crossing with our local bees and jeopardizing its future”. He even wrote a book, “Race breeding for the Swizz beekeepers” where he emphasizes the importance of mating stations in order to maintain the purity of the local black bee.

 

 

Professor Enoch Zander (1914) writes: “Because of the massive bee imports of the last 50 years there is practically no pure bees left”.

 

These men were pioneers of pure race breeding. They saw the problem which partly was because bees were domesticated animals as well as wild animals. Their passion was the conservation of local indigenous bee. This all led to the formation of the first mating station and breeding program of the black bee Apis mellifera mellifera. Bees were finally seen as a part of the nature, not just domesticated animals.

The first mating station started to operate in summer 1908 in Ohrwaschl. This was largely due to the Erlangen Bee Institute which had been established the year before (1907). Both Zander and Hoffman were working there.

Picture of Erlangen Bee Institute

https://www.google.fi/maps/place/Ohrwaschl/@49.0918083,5.5064509,4.5z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x47a1fd4167086bef:0x4d21fd48bb2bc6cb!8m2!3d49.5622962!4d11.0719488

 

Hoffman wrote about their breeding plans: “The queen breeding will be done with our own methods and what we have learned from colleagues in America, Switzerland and Austria.”

 

Queen rearing skills were at that time no doubt in a higher level in US, but race breeding started in Europe.

 

The aim was to re-establish and maintain the original black bee. Prof. Zander oversaw the documentation. He kept the Pedigree, breeding records of breeders and drone lines, and their evaluations, and published information about how the work had progressed.  For years Zander tried to do this with several different strains like Siegfried, Wilhelmina, Dora and others, but the 1928 made he the decision to concentrate only in the breed “Nigra”.

Here´s an example of his notes from year 1918: “Queen rearing has been done, despite many problems, with utmost carefulness and with excellent results. Nigra line Nr75 was used as a drone line, queen number 346, 8. Generation and daughter of Nr248, born 1915, and it made 52,2 Pounds of honey 1916- and 100-Pounds honey 1917, and still 1918 is the best colony of all.”

The work of Zander and Hoffman finally lead to the country wide recognition.  Mating stations were formed all over Germany, “Reichsfachgruppe Imker” was formed 1934 (-> until the end of war 1945). It was the predecessor of the Deutsche Imkerbud, which we know today. Opposition was heavily supressed.

 

The leaders, including prof Zander, started to use Nazi language, weather conviction or sympathy we will never know.

 

Mating stations in Germany 1935

 

Juhani Lundén

*) https://bienen-dialoge.de/die-reinzuchtbelegstellen-und-die-zucht-von-apis-mellifera-mellifera-und-apis-mellifera-carnica-zwischen-1934-und-1945-mit-ausblick-auf-die-zeit-danach-teil-1/

 

https://bienen-dialoge.de/wp-content/uploads/SigrunMittl_Die-Belegstelle-f%C3%BCr-Dunkle-Bienen_Ohrwaschl-und-ihre-Geschichte-bis-1948_Februar2019-1.pdf

 

About pure races, to be continued…

To me as a beekeeper, if we talk about real things, or pure races in this case, nothing would be more clear than the fact that Italian bee is a pure race. I´d be happy to be wrong about Iberian bee, it might as well be a hybrid, as it seems, BUT ITALIAN BEE IS A HYBRID?

This study just demonstrates so well the fact that race is a human definition, nothing more. Bees have lived millions of years without knowing anything about races.

There might be a lesson to learn for us humans in this

SCIENTIFIC STUDY OF THE WEEK:

Hybrid origins of honeybees from Italy (Apis mellifera ligustica) and Sicily (A. m. sicula).

Author information

1
Centre de Biologie et de Gestion des Populations, Campus International de Baillarguet, 34980 Monferrier-sur-Lez, France.

Abstract

The genetic variability of honeybee populations Apis mellifera ligustica, in continental Italy, and of A. m. sicula, in Sicily, was investigated using nuclear (microsatellite) and mitochondrial markers. Six populations (236 individual bees) and 17 populations (664 colonies) were, respectively, analysed using eight microsatellite loci and DraI restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) of the cytochrome oxidase I (COI)-cytochrome oxidase II (COII) region. Microsatellite loci globally confirmed the southeastern European heritage of both subspecies (evolutionary branch C). However, A. m. ligustica mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) appeared to be a composite of the two European (M and C) lineages over most of the Italian peninsula, and only mitotypes from the African (A) lineage were found in A. m. sicula samples. This demonstrates a hybrid origin for both subspecies. For A. m. ligustica, the most widely exported subspecies, this hybrid origin has long been obscured by the fact that in the main area of queen production (from which most of the previous ligustica bee samples originated) the M mitochondrial lineage is absent, whereas it is present almost everywhere else in Italy. This presents a new view of the evolutionary history of European honeybees. For instance, the Iberian peninsula was considered as the unique refuge for the M branch during the quaternary ice periods. Our results show that the Apennine peninsula played a similar role. The differential distribution of nuclear and mitochondrial markers observed in Italy seems to be a general feature of introgressed honeybee populations. Presumably, it stems from the social nature of the species in which both genome compartments are differentially affected by the two (individual and colonial) reproduction levels.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10886654

 

Kestävämpiä mehiläisiä -projekti

Aloite kaikille niille mehiläishoitajille, mehiläishoitajien ryhmille ja yhdistyksille, jotka haluaisivat paremmin varroa punkkia kestäviä mehiläisiä, mutta eivät tiedä miten asiassa voisi edetä:

Taustaa:

Varsin yksimielisesti mehiläishoitajat mielellään näkisivät, että heidän hoidokkinsa kestäisivät punkkia, ja miksei muitakin tauteja, paremmin. Joillakin on myös tilanne, että nykyisin käytössä olevat torjunnat ovat syystä tai toisesta menettäneet tehoaan, mikä on ilmennyt siten, että torjuntoja on vuosikymmenten kuluessa jouduttu lisäämään tai monipuolistamaan. Nykyinen jatkuvien torjuntojen tie on kierre, jossa tilanne vähitellen pahenee ja syynä siihen pidetään virusten ärhäköitymistä.  Onkin todistettu, että punkkia kestävien mehiläisten yksi salaisuus on viruskestävyys. Myös saastuneiden sikiöiden kennojen aukaisu ja sikiöiden poistaminen on yksi selviytymiskeino. Mehiläisten geneettinen kestävyys on ainoa pitkäkestoinen ratkaisu.

Olen vuodesta 2001 alkaen riskeerannut koko mehiläishoitourani yhden kortin varaan: ensin vähensin ja sitten 2008 lopetin torjunnat kokonaan, lujasti uskoen siihen, että kaikki pesäni eivät kuolisi. Näin myös kävi, mutta läheltä piti.

Nyt mehiläisemojamme viedään useisiin Euroopan maihin. Muutamat suurtuottajat Etelä-Euroopassa kasvattavat kymmeniä tuhansia jälkeläisiä Lundén Resistant Queens -siitosemoista.

 

Emojen tuotantokapasiteettimme on erittäin rajattu, koska pesämäärämme on vieläkin hyvin pieni. Hunajatulot ovat romahtaneet pesämäärän mukana, verrattuna vuosikymmenen takaiseen, vaikka pesäkohtainen sato ei juurikaan ole huonontunut. Kustannukset olisi kuitenkin katettava jotenkin, ja siksi emojen hinta on nostettu Suomessa ennennäkemättömälle tasolle, 500 euroon emolta.

Hinta voi tuntua korkealta, mutta on otettava huomioon ne uhraukset, joita niiden aikaan saaminen on aiheuttanut. Jo viisi vuotta sitten laskin, että menetykseni tämän projektin ansiosta ovat n. 300 000 euroa. Siitosemomme ovat keinosiemennettyjä ja niille myönnetään takuu: jos emo kuolee varotoimenpiteistä huolimatta asetuksessa tai pian sen jälkeen, niin uusi emo lähetetään korvauksetta.

 

Ehdotan seuraavanlaista konseptia:

  • Mehiläishoitajien rinki ostaa minulta vähintään 2 siitosemoa
  • Emojen toimitukset tapahtuvat heinä- syyskuussa 2020
  • Seuraavana kesänä 2021 mehiläishoitajien rinki kasvattaa yhdestä emosta tytäremoja ja toisesta emosta kuhnureita, jotka tulen keinosiementämään vakiohinnalla, joka kattaa myös matkakulut.
  • Tämä toiminta voi jatkua seuraavina vuosina, sillä erolla, että myöhemmin on enemmän mahdollisuuksia siitosyksilöiden valintaan. Myös risteytyksiä ringin hoitajien omien mehiläisten kanssa voidaan harkita.

Emot maksavat siis sen 500€ kappaleelta ja se sisältää arvonlisäveron. Keinosiemennystä on yleensä tehty tuntilaskutuksella, mutta jotta tämä toimintatapa yleistyisi olen aluksi valmis ottamaan riskin: hinta olisi kiinteä 40€/emo, joka sisältää matkakulut ja arvonlisäveron.  Vain sillä ehdolla, että siemennettäviä emoja olisi vähintään 10 kpl ja että apunani on yksi henkilö, joka on tottunut emojen käsittelijä.

Yksi pulma on matkassa: siemennettävälle emolle pitää antaa CO2 kaasutus edellisenä päivänä. Tämä pulma voitaisiin ratkaista siten, että tulisin jo edellisenä päivänä ja yöpyisin jonkun kotona tai vaihtoehtoisesti jossain läheisellä, edullista aamiaismajoitusta tarjoavalla tilalla rinkiläisten kustannuksella. Minuutin kaasutus on helppo tehdä itsekin, mutta vaatii n. 100€ arvoisen regulaattorin SodaStream pulloon. Näitä voi tilata Kari Pirhoselta p. 044-5337022.

Oma riskini on kaksiosainen: Ensinnä se todennäköisempi, että kuhnurit ovat laadultaan huonoja. Silloin aikaa tuhraantuu paljon laskettua enemmän. Ja toiseksi se epätodennäköinen, että joku mehiläishoitajien porukka Ivalon Lapista innostuu asiasta, jolloin palkkioni kuluu matkakuluihin. Mutta jostain on lähdettävä liikkeelle.

Varroaa kestäviä mehiläisiä on ympäri maapallon. Niitä on syntynyt itsekseen ja niitä on syntynyt ihmisen jalostamana. Varroaa kestävä mehiläinen jalostuu itsekseen noin kymmenessä vuodessa, jos torjunnat lopetettaan. Tämä on se helppo osa tätä ongelmaa.  Vaikeaa on se, miten varroaa kestävien mehiläisten levittäminen kaikkien hoitajien keskuuteen käytännössä tapahtuisi.  Tätä asiaa ei kovin moni maailmanlaajuisestikaan ole vielä miettinyt.

Tämä projekti olisi ensi askelia kohti mehiläishoitoa ilman punkintorjuntaa koko Suomessa.

 

Näen tällaisella toiminnalla monia muitakin positiivisia puolia.

-Se tuo mahdollisuuden päästä käsiksi kohtuullisella kustannuksella Suomen olosuhteissa parhaaseen varroaa kestävään mehiläismateriaaliin. Tuo mahdollisuus aukenee myös niille, jotka eivät vielä kasvata itse emojaan.

-Se lisää mehiläishoitajien yhteistyötä ja yhteisöllisyyttä. Jatkossa ”emorinki” voisi olla pontimena muuhunkin yhteistyöhön, esim. oman puhdasparitusalueen perustamiseen.

-Se lisää emoringin jäsenten emonkasvatustaitoja, joita voidaan pitää kannattavan mehiläishoidon kulmakivenä.

 

Ruovedellä 30.10.2019

Juhani Lundén

0500-632401

Kuva alla: mehiläiset poistavat kuhnuritoukkaa kennosta

bees removing a drone larvae

UUSI BUCKFAST LOGO pienempi

Smelting and circulating beeswax

 

Beeswax is one of the key components in beekeeping, bees work and live on it every day. This is the reason why I have decided to have my own wax circulation. I don´t want to use any other wax but my own. The risk for chemical, for instance fluvalinate, remainders is small but existing. In recent years there has been paraffin scandals, too.      Luckily, in Oitti there is a company called “Lahtisen Vahavalimo”, a family business founded in year1908. https://www.lahtisenvahavalimo.fi/ This company is probably one of the few still around, which has got a golden medal from Viipuri country fair of their high-quality beeswax foundation. Dating back in those days when Viipuri was part of Finland…

Lahtisen Vahavalimo has a service that you can get your own wax melted, purified, disinfected and pressed to foundation, whatever size you choose, if you have about a lot of 100 kg. They make only 5,3 mm foundation.

All structurally worn out and excessively dirty frames are smelted. It depends on the beekeeper where to draw the line: bees clean all frames how bad they might look like. Personally, I have a practice that if there is unhatched brood in the frame, these frames will all be smelted. But little poop here and there will just be scraped away with a hive tool, likewise small areas of mold.

Honey cappings are smelted of course too, and if you are making candles it is worth doing capping wax separately, it is the most attractive and best smelling wax.

DSC04851

All frames which have been in circulation too long, and therefore have become very dark because of the cocoon rests of bee larvae, are melted. The frame in the picture is not dark enough.

My stainless-steel wax smelter has a 100-liter water tank, wood is burned underneath. The steam is conducted to the container above. It holds about 100 frames at a time, and when in full swing, it takes one hour for one round.

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The smelted frames are scraped clean with a hive tool. Many beekeepers wash them in hot water with caustic soda, I don’t anymore.  Washing makes them brighter, but it is not worth the trouble. But you must remember my attitude towards diseases: I need varroa mite pressure, Nosema apis pressure and AFB/EFB pressure to be able to breed a bee which handles them all. I do not pamper my bees.

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The scraped frames need to be dried thoroughly before storage. I used to stack them crosswise on top of each other, but that was no good, they got moldy. Now I keep the boxes on their sides for weeks, even months, depending on the weather.

DSC04846

The smelted wax is drained into 20-liter containers and cooled under insulating blankets for two days. Then the blocks are cleaned by scraping the dark layer, dirt and pollen residues, from underneath the wax block.  The frame container is lifted aside for cleaning. Water is drawn off to avoid wintertime freezing damage.

DSC04844

This time my half days work yielded 24 kg wax.

Juhani Lundén

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