I see that the link to the submissions on the Risk Analysis(RA) for the Importation of Carnica semen from Germany and Austria was posted on this Forum. Remember first that this was 2003, but it does show that the Risk Analysis was thorough, and detailed. At the time, I thought that the Import Health Standard(IHS) that resulted from this RA was fair, mitigated the risks we faced to an acceptable level , and it was workable. By workable, I mean that it allow for the importation on a scale necessary to insure that a closed population of carnica type bees could be established then maintained and improved for at least a decade. I sourced the semen from 3 Institutes(2 in Germany and one in Austria). All 3 Institutes ran breeding programs concentrating on Improving Varroa Tolernance(Remember they had been working with Varroa for 16 years before Varroa arrived here in 2000). All the mating were controlled using Instrumental Insemination.
So I will quickly answer the question about Cape Bee Genetics- it is true that Cape Bees were imported into Europe, usually for research purposes under very controlled(usually totally confined) situations, but crazily, Cape Bee Queens could be legally imported into the Netherlands willy nilly, and Europe has no borders, so the Import Health Standard assumed they were a risk, and the conditions on the Queens from which the semen was collected was that the Queens had to have been raised in Germany or Austria, be at least 12 months old(Cape Bee colonies can not survive a European winter), be marked and clipped and Instrumentally Inseminated, and the drones reared from them had to be confined until the semen was harvested.
Back to the Importations, the first importation was in June 2004, then again late August 2004, the next 2 were June 2005 and late August 2005, and the last 2 were in 2006-yes I was rearing significant numbers(at least 100 for each importation) of virgins in June and July! Even though the IHS did not require it, I processed all the semen that was imported, diluting it, homogenising it, recovering it, and the semen diluent I used had a cocktail of grunty antibiotics in it to give me piece of mind about EFB, and they would have given Nosema a. (we didn't know about Nosema c. then) a real fright as well.
The RA took seriously the viral threat, and several submitter voiced concerns about DWV. It was believed that it was probably here already, and one of the consultants Dr. Ball, believed that semen was probably not viable vector for DWV. I knew she was wrong(Dr. Anderson had tested the semen I brought in from W.A. in 1988 and 1989 and found every virus he could test for), but I believed DWV was already here- as I have said before I was already seeing deformed wings in 2003. The truth is that Honey Bee Viruses have a very uniform global distribution, where ever European Honey Bees have gone, they have taken all their viruses with them. Viruses do change, they can become more or less virulent- for example, the IAPV which we claim not to have, is thought just to be a Kashmir variant which we do have. The other truth is that we already have all the real badass viruses we need to wreak havoc on any colonies that come under stress.
Back again to the importations, a RA was completed, the industry was consulted, and an IHS was developed. I adhered strictly to it, and took even more precautions than was required.
Carnica are a very good commercial bee, and I believe NZ commercial bee stocks have been much improved with their inclusion. People go on about the racial hybrids, and blame any nastiness on carnica, but that is totally unfair, both(all 3 races because A.m.m. still plays a big part) are equally to blame. When you cross unrelated individuals you get heterosis(hybrid vigour), it is unpredictable and it will at times enhance defensive behaviour, but you can't blame one race. When I came to the Far North 37 years ago, I faced in some colonies the most viscous bees I ever encountered, they we A.m.l.(Italian) X A.m.m. hybrids. I have never had any carnica crosses that have come any where close to the nervous, nastiness of those first hybrids I encountered. Ligustica and carnica are very closely related- carnica are just the hardier, more cautious version of the Italians. In fact, it can be said that the Italians descended from carnica, because as honey bees moved north and west up into Europe from Asia where they originated, those that stayed in what is the carnica homeland evolved into the carnica we know today, while those that moved down out of the mountains into the Italian lowlands where life was easy, turned yellow and soft,and evolved into the Italians we know today! A.m.m. on the other hand, are more African then they European. They found their way into Europe from Africa, again, as honey bee moved west from Asia, one branch turned south down into Africa, founding the African races, and they colonised there way across northern Africa, then crossed up into Western Europe at Gibralter- and they let you know their roots whenever you work them!
When it comes to race, it comes down to beekeeper preference which type of bee they want to work with. One of the things I wanted to do with the importations was give beekeepers choice- it wasn't the most important reason, the 2 most important reasons for the importations was to increase genetic variation, and improve varroa tolerance.
I guess that is more than enough for 1 post!
Thank you David Yanke. Your candid contributions are much appreciated.