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Blessed are the Bee Makers

To all of the great and aspiring queen rearers and breeders, past present and future, I humbly submit my thanks and appreciation.
Just one question I have as it pertains to my own quest for the perfect queen. Have you ever felt like you were domesticating a feral life form into something that could not live without man's intervention? I think that we have placed not only our bees but our planet in such great jeopardy through our ignorance and short-sighted gains. The apiary is a microcosm of all that is wrong mixed with all that could be right with our world. This is the rub,  the chasm, the canyon. The discontent of honest effort with shortsighted anticipation, and the results of such efforts. What am I doing I ask myself over and over?  What is our end game and how are we ever going to achieve it.
I would like a bee that lives through the difficulties of my marginal environment. I would like my bees to be vibrant and healthy. Docility is nice but not required, hygienics an absolute must, and survivability tantamount to all other selections.

Sascatraz queens in Manitoba has 1500 specimen queens to select and choose from each year. Out of this perhaps 20 make it to the selection committee. 1.35 percent.Dang. from here further observation, through a whole year into the second year for further evaluation. Out of that 20 now we are down to 10. From that 10 they might raise 50,000 queens to be open mated. Maybe like Dr. Latshaw they instrumentally inseminate 500 of their perfections so that others might breed this perfection in their yards and climates. I am amazed at the skill and knowledge these practitioners of the bee arts have. They truly will forget more than I will ever know about bees. The Weaver family in Texas, an amazing story of going treatment-free, and the losses and the love and courage it took for them to carry on, knowing what's right and making it so for them. The Oliveraz Queen operation huge beyond my understanding raising some first-rate queens as well. The above mentioned may very easily reach over 1 million queens for sale each year.  More than this is from our smaller commercial operations the folks with 300-1000 hives who probably raise another 5 million nationwide. That's 6 million out of almost 20 million hives going at once in the USA.
Then there are the sideliners raising enough queens to make nucs, increase and overwinter banking. perhaps another 2 million queens here. then all the hobbyists and their swarms.
 So if we follow the path from package to the breeder as we climb up the ladder we see a very small window of genetic opportunity and diversity. Have we played out our hand? I see it over and over the breeders and queen shops are always looking for a unique genetic, perhaps decades of selection for one trait or another then conglomerated up to be added to the alleles salad. Over easy with a twist.
So what I'm questioning in myself is can I bring anything to the table in the quest for better mellifera. I don't know.

The commercial outfits take good care of their bees yet they have different stresses than non-migratory commercial and sideliners do. They treat their colonies upwards of 4 to 5 times a year for mites.
The question arises are we breeding for treatment resistance. Meaning are we treating so heavily that the queens that do survive are resistant to the formic or other treatment combinations. Are we breeding super mites in this as well? Each year they have to increase the treatment strength and frequency of treatments. Stronger survivor mites and queens that can survive the stronger treatments. Is this a better queen? The selection of breeder queens obviously includes mite and disease resistance. Curiously, the virus load in these operations goes up as we treat for mites. In particular, using formic acid it has recently been shown to increase virus loads in Europe. My own experience is similar I had treated with a formic flash at 65% 60 ml this went up to 90 ml over a 2 yr period. By the end of the 3d season, I had minimal results with formic requiring me to use non-organic methods. I do not think we give our queens enough time under the mite stress without treatments to adapt. Those that do suffer a 50 % loss.  Clearly, we have a situation that is vastly more complex and in the long run dangerous to the future. Additionally, we have certainly created the requirements for a domesticated life form by their dependence on man to survive.

No answers here, I'm just trying to formulate the correct questions in my own mind as that is usually where the answer lies, in the question itself. Yet, I wonder about the biome inside the box is a mirror of the outside the box environment and have we doomed the future of our bees to the point where no matter what we breed or do unless we are in rare pockets of isolation we are raising poor stock.

I mean if we just left alone our treatments and importations, stopped moving bees around the country, could we let the bees breed themselves a solution. That will never happen, but even if it did, could it work? Again, no answers here.

Most of the mated queens I have bought are nowhere near as good as the ones I raise. Not because I am a rock star breeder, just that something seems to go wrong with the queens by being banked or mailed that they never really recover, so all I have done is added some genetic to the soup that I think can help with that process.

I know this for sure, you must have an active hand in your bees, even if the action is non-invasive. You must not baby the weaker colonies, you must embrace the selection process of nature and your instincts. The ignorance of backyard hobbyists is not helping anything as they are everywhere, the ignorance of a lot of commercial folks as well isn't helping. The ignorance of our science is inexcusable and the worst of all. Grants for ill-advised and worthless theorems, while no one addresses the chicken poxed elephant in the room.
I can only do my best with my stock to encourage through the selection of a trait or two to develop.  I see the ads for some disease-resistant, gentle, great producers, non-swarming. The reality is they don't really have one of these as dominant.
Overbreeding is how I think we got into a lot of our current genetic mess with the bees. Our greener on the other side mentality and our egos certainly have played a part. IE apis scuterella. Yet, it will be up to us to work it out, the lessons, the failures, the retooling, the blind alleys, the hunches, the dumb luck, the coincidences, all lead us forward. As we slowly ascend to our rightful place in the universe as stewards of life so to follow the queen rearers and breeders, I say to you, as I say to myself often, do as befits not as methinks, and may the blessings of our creator assist you in this endeavor, for blessed are the bee makers.


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