Latitudes

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Tyson Kaiser
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Latitudes

Postby Tyson Kaiser » Thu May 21, 2015 7:46 am

The prospects of the ease of creating reliably TF stock is directly proportional to the latitude of the beekeeper. Northern stock reproduces at a much slower rate than Southern, for this reason the majority of queen and package rearing areas are in the moderate climates of California and Georgia, allowing for a longer breeding period. More breeding periods means faster adaptation to external and internal pressures and that is why we see TF operations in colder regions at a much higher failure rate than warmer climates- the generational adaptations are slower and overwintering is hard on any bee.

You might think that this is untrue because Russian cold weather bees have been known to resist varroa pressure, but they have been exposed to the parasite for longer than the rest of the world, starting around 1954. This still proves the generational theory that adaption is relatively rapid through a number of cycles. More cycles, faster adaptation.

AHB has presented Southern California with an added boost with robust sub-species genetics that deepened the gene pool considerably. There is a lot to understand and explore with AHB genetics and varroa resistance is the biggest part of it.
Last edited by Tyson Kaiser on Thu May 21, 2015 7:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Solomon
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Re: Latitudes

Postby Solomon » Thu May 21, 2015 1:39 pm

Hmm, you make some good points.

I wonder about the term "reliably treatment-free." What is "reliably treatment-free?" Certainly there is some typical loss rate in mind. Zero losses are impossible over the long term. Not treating and keeping a sustainable population is the goal. For some who are scared of splitting, a sustainable population is impossible. For others who practice advanced efficient methods of increase, 90% yearly loss wouldn't be insurmountable. All this is without buying new bees.

As far as cold weather bees, you are right. If you look at the loss map from this last year :

Image

The worst losses are in the northeast, and Oklahoma for some odd reason. However, there is no hard and fast rule. There are outliers everywhere.

For more northern people, I would definitely recommend learning some of those advanced efficient methods of increase, like the Ben Harden queen rearing method, using queen castles, and making nucs part of your operation. You know what you're up against, prepare for it. Get ahead rather than always trying to keep up.
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COAL REAPER
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Re: Latitudes

Postby COAL REAPER » Thu May 21, 2015 2:17 pm

global wind patterns also play a part. beekeeping season in the NW kicks off much sooner than NE. and that is evident by the losses map as well. NE sees lots of artic air coming down from canadia, whereas NW gets some more of a tropical flow from the south.
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Nate K
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Re: Latitudes

Postby Nate K » Thu May 21, 2015 7:02 pm

I didnt realize PA was that bad, but I find myself in that region.

A lot of the conventional beekeepers I know didnt see losses that bad. Increase and increase! Thats all i can do i guess..
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Solomon
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Re: Latitudes

Postby Solomon » Thu May 21, 2015 7:14 pm

Somebody did though, a lot of somebodies.
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Tyson Kaiser
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Re: Latitudes

Postby Tyson Kaiser » Thu May 21, 2015 7:16 pm

Solomon wrote:I wonder about the term "reliably treatment-free." What is "reliably treatment-free?"


What I mean about reliably is a TF line of stock that has reproducible results outside of the bee yard they were developed in, such as B. Weaver and a few others. What's not reliable about B. Weaver is temperament, we still see hot bees from them occasionally. Reliable in this sense would be potentially commercially viable.

Solomon wrote:The worst losses are in the northeast, and Oklahoma for some odd reason. However, there is no hard and fast rule. There are outliers everywhere.


Remember, the losses on this map are experienced by commercial operations primarily and don't take into consideration TF outcomes at all. I reported my TF experience in the survey but really that's a drop in the bucket compared to the overall US honey bee industry. My point is that success in encouraging bees to resist varroa pressure will decrease by order of magnitude the colder the climate, given fewer breeding cycles. The upshot is I believe varroa tolerance is inevitable, it will just take a very long time, which is exacerbated by reliance on treatments. Treaters are really just slowing down adaptation rates by stubbornly refusing to allow bees to adapt.
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Tyson Kaiser
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Re: Latitudes

Postby Tyson Kaiser » Thu May 21, 2015 7:24 pm

COAL REAPER wrote:global wind patterns also play a part. beekeeping season in the NW kicks off much sooner than NE. and that is evident by the losses map as well. NE sees lots of artic air coming down from canadia, whereas NW gets some more of a tropical flow from the south.


True the NW has more favorable temperatures and lower overwintering loss rates, but still has a short breeding cycle. I used to live in Seattle and the breeding window for bees is pitifully short, about 2 months, the latter part of the season given over to accumulating resources in advance of long wet winters.

I'm thinking less about losses and more about breeding cycles but it's difficult to ignore overwinter loss rates as they directly set back TF stock that otherwise may have survived to resist varroa. Kirk Webster has shown this to be the case, his journey took 10 years.
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Solomon
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Re: Latitudes

Postby Solomon » Thu May 21, 2015 7:30 pm

Tyson Kaiser wrote:What I mean about reliably is a TF line of stock that has reproducible results outside of the bee yard they were developed in, such as B. Weaver and a few others.


See, I'm not sure how well that works. Because even the most commercially viable bees still die at some measurable rate. And when they are raised in Texas and get shipped to Maine, it's even worse. I have refused to ship queens when I could make much more money that way because I don't feel I can guarantee performance in who knows where. But when locals come to my house and buy bees from me in person and live just an hour or so down the road, I can guarantee performance, and survival is excellent. See what I mean?
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Tyson Kaiser
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Re: Latitudes

Postby Tyson Kaiser » Thu May 21, 2015 7:49 pm

I don't mean to ship genetics all over the nation, I think bees should be sold by latitude as well. I intend to sell only to Southern California, eventually. All beekeeping is local still holds here, and commercial practices aren't part of the equation. Commercially viable TF bees would need to remain treatment free. I have some belief that such a "product" will be in demand more as time goes on. Commercial guys need to change their practices first, however.
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Solomon
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Re: Latitudes

Postby Solomon » Thu May 21, 2015 8:04 pm

There is an upside and a downside to that. The upside is that fewer and fewer commercials are around to do the same old stuff. The downside is that where there's money involved, there are people who will do what it takes to get their hands on it.
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Re: Latitudes

Postby lharder » Thu May 21, 2015 9:37 pm

Probably latitude doesn't really cut it as a predictor. In my town in the valley bottom, we are zone 6, while up in the hills its zone 3, a big difference. In the west there are huge differences because of rain shadows on the windward side of mountain ranges. If we left things alone, I suspect the genetic diversity in the west would get very large and interesting with all the different climatic zones.

On the northern edge of bee range, it could be that winter stress is just too much on top of varroa. Varroa may well redefine sustainable habitable range for bees at least in the short term. I think Kirk Webster is located in zone 4 so at least that is possible. Using bee houses to reduce winter stress may be necessary for treatment free. I don't know what the northern range of feral bees would be but its possible that but it may be possible the where there aren't any feral bees, treatment free may be more difficult.

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Re: Latitudes

Postby Solomon » Thu May 21, 2015 9:43 pm

If anything, I increase winter stress. This last year, I didn't use any entrance reducers, and no insulation or wrap. Temps to -20F.
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Re: Latitudes

Postby lharder » Fri May 22, 2015 4:23 pm

Every species has a range. If they were infinitely adaptable, everything would be everywhere. There is a hard physiological based range, then competition, predators, parasites etc whittle down that range some more. Introduce new biological factors and range can contract or expand depending. At the edge of a given range, species are living on a knifes edge. In these environments, additional stress usually results in death.

So if you were wintering bees in a place that had a real winter (Canadian Prairies) zones 2 and 3, you wouldn't be subjecting your bees to more stress as there is no genetic room for them to adapt. There will never be a honey bee in the tundra. If it was possible, they would already be there.

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Re: Latitudes

Postby Nate K » Wed Jun 17, 2015 1:12 pm

I would like to propose an opposing view for discussion;

That genetic adaption happens faster in northern climates.
Being that the south has less stressors(no winter) on bees, the bees multiply faster, without having winter to cull them.
No winter(less stress) means bees are more easily able to survive. The number of bees fighting for a suitable home though goes through the roof though. So environmental adaption needs to happen.

My point is the weak are more quickly culled in the north. Therefore we would get stronger bees faster than the south, that has more bees.
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Solomon
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Re: Latitudes

Postby Solomon » Wed Jun 17, 2015 1:37 pm

Nate, let me offer a counter point to your opposing view.

Firstly, the idea that less reproduction results in greater adaptation, just doesn't seem to hold intuitively. If you want adaptation, you need reproduction. That's the mechanism, the reproduction, or lack of it in comparison to another population. Reduced reproduction results in reduced adaptation, that's fundamental behind the concept of natural selection. Those who have greater reproductive success become the dominant population.

Secondly, just because there's no winter does not mean it is more easy for bees to survive. In Arkansas, I lost as many hives in summer as winter. So instead of having one yearly harsh season to deal with, I had two. If it didn't rain enough, a lot of the feral population died, resulting in reduced swarming and reproduction for several years following.

I believe it is the north (there's not a whole lot of global south to talk about) that has the harder time in adaptation due to harsh conditions and low rates of reproduction. Varroa resistance seems to have been developed far more rapidly in warmer climates, and has a consistently harder time developing in cooler ones. As I have said for some time, to succeed, one must cause the bees to reproduce at a greater rate than natural, which is much easier to do in warm climates, and it happens much easier naturally in warm climates.
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Re: Latitudes

Postby Nate K » Wed Jun 17, 2015 2:51 pm

Agreed Solomon, the larger the baseline population, the deeper the gene pool and larger population, the greater chance a species has to adapt. Less population=less adaption.


The environmental stress and reproductive stress change depending on location, and are not isolated factors, but directly correlated.
Any high stress environment, south, north, west, wherever it may be, play a role in hastening adaption and create the bees we are all looking for.
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brothermoo
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Re: Latitudes

Postby brothermoo » Wed Jun 17, 2015 3:57 pm

Perhaps the two regions offer different genetic bottlenecks, so to speak... More genetic options from the stocks in south to adapt quicker and yet more decisive culling of less-than-favourable genetics by winters in the north.

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Solomon
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Re: Latitudes

Postby Solomon » Wed Jun 17, 2015 4:17 pm

I would estimate that selection is strong for frugality, cluster management, buildup timing, and buildup speed in the North.

In the South, I would estimate more focus on continual brooding.

You can see why southern packages and queens don't do well in the north.
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Re: Latitudes

Postby lharder » Sun Jun 21, 2015 6:49 pm

Another month and I'll get some mite resistant queens from Saskatchewan if I successfully navigate the permit system. The breeder doesn't know why they are resistant, just my kind of bees. They are likely raised in zone 3/4 conditions.

The queens I'm getting from quebec are likely zone 4/5 bees. I'm getting 3 lines of bees from there. Lets hope some northern diversity helps me out.


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