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Posts posted by Otto

  1. Sorry - forgot to give the authors credit!



    Web Link: Management increases genetic diversity of honey bees via admixture - HARPUR - 2012 - Molecular Ecology - Wiley Online Library


    Also check the perspective written on this article by Benjamin Oldroyd (Domestication of honey bees was associated with expansion of genetic diversity - OLDROYD - 2012 - Molecular Ecology - Wiley Online Library).


    Humans have been keeping honey bees, Apis mellifera, in artificial hives for over 7000 years. Long enough, one might imagine, for some genetic changes to have occurred in domestic bees that would distinguish them from their wild ancestors. Indeed, some have argued that the recent mysterious and widespread losses of commercial bee colonies, are due in part to inbreeding. In this issue of Molecular Ecology, Harpur et al. (2012) show that the domestication of honey bees, rather than reducing genetic variance in the population, has increased it. It seems that the commercial honey bees of Canada are a mongrel lot, with far more variability than their ancestors in Europe.

    • Like 1
  2. Published in "Molecular Ecology"


    Haven't read it yet - hopefully get the chance a little later today. I believe it is free access.



    The process of domestication often brings about profound changes in levels of genetic variation in animals and plants. The honey bee,Apis mellifera, has been managed by humans for centuries for both honey and wax production and crop pollination. Human management and selective breeding are believed to have caused reductions in genetic diversity in honey bee populations, thereby contributing to the global declines threatening this ecologically and economically important insect. However, previous studies supporting this claim mostly relied on population genetic comparisons of European and African (or Africanized) honey bee races; such conclusions require reassessment given recent evidence demonstrating that the honey bee originated in Africa and colonized Europe via two independent expansions. We sampled honey bee workers from two managed populations in North America and Europe as well as several old-world progenitor populations in Africa, East and West Europe. Managed bees had highly introgressed genomes representing admixture between East and West European progenitor populations. We found that managed honey bees actually have higher levels of genetic diversity compared with their progenitors in East and West Europe, providing an unusual example whereby human management increases genetic diversity by promoting admixture. The relationship between genetic diversity and honey bee declines is tenuous given that managed bees have more genetic diversity than their progenitors and many viable domesticated animals.

  3. When I read this in the paper yesterday - I remembered the web site of the person in the lime light and have previously listened to a radio broadcast with him. I am and wondering how I could get in on the "free" advertising with one of the widest read newspapers in NZ.:oops:

    I can confidently say you will not get a reply from him to back up his assumptions of CCD. There is an element extracting an income from well to do JAFA's (no offence to others here) feeling they are doing their bit for the bees and the "green movement".

    I gotta say if I'm going to try to get 'free advertising' it wouldn't be in this form. Surely people would rather get a beehive from someone who can keep it alive! No matter how you spin it - this isn't CCD.

    There are people here that say we have all the ingredients for CCD in NZ - I'm not so sure. For me all the evidence points to CCD being a cumulative results of the many different stressors (diseases, pesticides, nutritional etc) bees are faced with in the USA. We may have Varroa and the odd area of monoculture etc but there are still quite a few stressors to bees that we are thankfully free of.

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  4. It all points to some chronic hive neglect to me. I would be very surprised if this was anything other than death at the hands of Varroa and it's entourage of viruses.

    Gotta say... five times a year for a city hive? Not enough attention by far I would have thought.

    Couldn't agree more. For my money an urban hive needs to be checked a minimum of every two weeks during Spring and early summer - you just don't want hives in suburbia swarming. It pisses off the neighbours.

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  5. not quite what i meant.

    people don't always think of bees as wild animals. especially in the media they are always shown as belonging to someone.

    wasps people think of as being wild. ie there no wasp farmer to blame!

    That makes more sense. Was a little confused by the sudden switch to wasps. I agree wasps are wild animals and I guess bees are pretty much all managed by someone now. Unfortunately means that people can find someone to blame if they have a bad experience with bees. In that regard it becomes important to make sure bees being kept in urban areas are of a suitably gentle, non-aggressive breeding.

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  6. but in the minds of city folk all bees come from your hive, therefore your responsible.

    its a tough nut to crack.

    i remember back in primary school, we had wasps by the ton. in classrooms, everywhere.

    I think you'll find that this attitude is changing a little. Bees (and their supposed disappearance) have had much positive publicity in recent years.

    Wasps are a problem everywhere, especially in late summer and autumn, and are a completely different problem. The children at my sons school certainly know the difference between wasps and bees.

  7. When we were there a couple of weeks ago a ? staff member told us that they have an adrenaline injection pen on site as there is at least one child very allergic to nuts, dangerously allergic.

    Yes, that's correct. I'm still hoping the hive gets to stay put.

  8. If your child is allergic to bees, they are always at risk whether there is a hive at their school or not.

    Yes, this was one of our arguments. Last year an AFB rob out was found in North East Valley - between 1 and 2km from the school. Every beekeeper within a 5km radius of this got sent the letter that this was found. I discussed this with Frans at the time and he said that 38 letters were sent to beekeepers for that AFB incident. That means a minimum of 38 registered apiaries in that area, plus feral colonies (which we still have).

    If the bees stay in the school we will also put up a 2m light shadecloth screen to force the bees to fly straight up on leaving the hive.

  9. i think the biggest concern would be that someone has not been stung before so does not know if they are allergic or not.

    I tried to explain this - if you have not been stung you cannot be allergic. You can only get an allergy response to something you've been exposed to before - in the case of bee stings, you have to have been stung before.

  10. If this school is anything to go by - schools are very active in managing allergies. For any child with a serious allergy the principal and relevant teacher sits down with the parents and they come up with an allergy management plan which can include epipens. The teachers are fully instructed on how these need to be used too. They go through all the potential places/events where their allergy could be an issue and work out how to manage the risk.


    There are no children at this school with known bee allergies. The problem is the 'possible allergy'. I have a pretty good understanding of how the immune system allergies work and as far as I am concerned there isn't really any such thing as a possible allergy - you are either allergic or not. There are certainly degrees of severity with allergies though. It is tough trying to explain this to people who refuse to listen though!


    The parent that is concerned is supposedly allergic to bee stings and therefore seems to think their child will also be. A specific allergy is NOT a heritable trait. A propensity to get allergies is certainly linked to genetics (e.g. hayfever often runs in families) but specific allergies require an individual's immune system to have seen the allergen before.

  11. Bit slack on the updating front.


    I moved a proper hive into Opoho School during Bee Week 2012. It currently sits in the schools garden area. A little up in the air as to whether or not it will stay there at this point as there is one parent of one child at the school who is taking it upon themselves to try and derail the project.


    On the positive side - I have had two sessions going through the hives with some of the school children. The first was a five minute peak in the hive (was a bit rushed for time). Last Friday five students joined me for a full hive inspection. The hive is currently a single 3/4 box, 8 frames and a 2-frame feeder. It is doing very well and is in need of some extra space. It had 6 frames of mostly brood, the two side frames both had quite a lot of honey and pollen. We've had some great weather recently and it showed - all the brood frames had a nice rim of pollen and honey around them. No sign of any disease. The kids all saw what the queen, eggs, larvae and sealed brood looks like. I had slipped a monitoring tray under the hive the day before so we also did a natural mite fall check and found six mites (treatment will go in this week). I think I could easily have spent an extra hour answering questions. Really good fun all up.


    As for the concerned parent mentioned above - we already have a neighbouring property lined up to accommodate a school hive if we can't work out a way to keep the hive on school grounds. It will of course need to be a different hive.

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  12. I assuming you mean "Perizin"? This is a coumaphos based treatment not available in NZ. I kinda hope it stays that way too. Coumaphos is an organophosphate and isn't particularly good for bees. Varroa are resistant to it in the USA.

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  13. I'd go through and do a full brood inspection on the hives. This needs to be done to check for AFB and while you do it you may well spot the queens.


    Separate the two boxes (put the top one beside the hive), go through each frame in the bottom box, then go through the top box, shaking the bees from the frames into the bottom box as you go. When you finish some liberal use of smoke should push the bees down into the bottom box and you can put the excluder on and the top box back into place.


    Should improve the odds of the queen ending up in the bottom box and seeing her if she's still on one of the frames in the top box as there are many less bees on the frames.

    • Like 2
  14. Native bees are very different to honeybees. They tend to be solitary, making small nests in places like clay banks. No, varroa does not affect them in any way. Their life cycle is completely different to that of Apis mellifera so Varroa can never jump across that species barrier.

    Consider that there are a number of different varroa species that parasitise honeybees. These all parasitise different sub-species of Apis cerana and only two have been shown to be able to jump the species barrier to the very closely related Apis mellifera.

  15. Haydon, the generations only turnover when a queen is replaced.


    Yes correct - sorry I think the point was that in a lab they can vey quickly replicate multiple generations to show the intergenerational traits much faster than with many other suitable studies.


    Bees as do Humans -- yes it would be very easy to do bees a diservice - but I think at a microscopic gentic level it might be quite relevant as functionality of genetics processes might work the same - the phsyical effects of passed down genes will manifest in the physical biology which are of course quite different between bees and humans.

    It sound like bee genitics are close (70 - 75%) the same as humans. is that close ???

    If you're comparing people and bees with bacteria - yes it's close. If you're comparing people, chimps and bees then no, not so close. Bees do share many genetic pathways and cellular mechanisms with people though.

    Like Dee said - it is when the queen is replaced that counts. I would probably say the overall ability of the queen to do her job in a hive is what counts. The questions that then arise for me are:

    Does feeding sugar alter this?

    Does feeding sugar change the make-up of what the queen is fed by workers?

    I haven't studied the literature (if there is any) but I would be surprised if there were significant differences. Then again, I've been surprised before:) (this conversation seems to be lacking smiley faces).

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  16. It seems to me and my Wife who has a very good detailed medical and physiological knowledge on such possible effects that the sooner keepers stop feeding bees highly refined sugars (stop it by leaving on enough honey each season..) then maybe the better chance we have of keeping our genetic bee stocks stronger.

    It is probebly time that we raised our game and realise that not only are highly refined sugars bad in humans, a simple creature with a complex but fragile social structure like a bee has every chance of a slow break down in strength of the colony and genetic traits by feeding these types of processed food.

    I've always viewed it as feeding sugar is done to keep a bee colony alive. Every bee colony kept alive will increase the available genetic pool.

    I think no-one would question that honey collected by bees is a better food source for them than refined sugar. While honey is mostly simple sugars it contains small amounts of many other goodies for the bees.

  17. I plug both smoker entrances with a wad of green grass when I finish with the bees - kills the fire very quickly through lack of air. By the time I have packed the other gear back into the car it's dead and cooling quickly. I would prefer to get a metal box to put it in but haven't got round to buying one. Too many other things to buy.

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