Florida Extension Beekeeping Newsletter
Apis--Apicultural Information and Issues (ISSN 0889-3764)
Volume 13, Number 4, April 1995
Copyright (c) 1995 M.T. Sanford "All Rights Reserved"
IFAS SOFTWARE AND MEDIA
The new catalog of IFAS (University of Florida College of Agriculture)
Software and other media has just been published. It includes a wealth of
material that the Cooperative Extension Service and others in the college
have put together over the years. The cornerstone continues to be a CD-ROM,
available for $125 to Florida residents or as a one-year subscription,
guaranteeing two (2) updates ($200 for Florida residents).
This CD-ROM database includes most of the publications available from
the extension apiculturist. It also contains an enormous amount of
information on beneficial insects, citrus, dairy, energy, soil, turfgrass,
water quality and other topics. Elsewhere in the catalog, not on CD-ROM, are
the insect and nematode control guides, and the hugely popular color sheets,
showing a wide variety of insects. Finally, there is a list of software,
including Profitability Model for a Mid-Sized Beekeeping Operation, produced
by myself using Multiplan 1.0 ($25 for Florida Residents). For further
information and to obtain a copy of the catalog, contact IFAS Publications,
University of Florida, P.O. Box 110011, Gainesville, FL 32611-0011, ph
QUEEN REARING RESOURCES
Invasion of the African or Africanized honey bee, now called the AHB by
some, continues. There have now been five confirmed finds in California.
This makes four states in total which are affected by this controversial
insect. Fortunately for Florida, the invasion has not advanced eastward as
rapidly as predicted. For possible explanations of this phenomenon, see the
July 1994 APIS.
The AHB invasion has produced somewhat of a renaissance in the art of
queen rearing. This has been compounded by Varroa mite infestation in most of
the U.S. The long-range solution to this parasite, now under control by
chemical application, is also considered to be honey bee breeding (See May and
July 1993, and January 1995 APIS).
Dr. Keith Delaplane in the April 1995 American Bee Journal published
some observations on the basics of queen rearing. His remarks are based on
the G.M. Doolittle's classic book Scientific Queen Rearing (1888). According
to Dr. Delaplane, the concepts are: (1) motivating a colony to rear numerous
queens, (2) providing the colony female larvae, of the beekeeper's choice, to
rear queens, and (3) providing ideal mating conditions for the new queens.
Two (2) new resources have appeared that are designed to help the
beekeeper develop the queen rearing skills outlined by Dr. Delaplane. The
first is the second edition of Rearing Queen Honey Bees by Dr. Roger Morse.
According to Dr. Morse, "Queen rearing requires attention to detail. Queens
vary greatly in size and weight; the greater the weight, the more ovarioles a
queen has and the more eggs she will lay. The size of the queen is a direct
result of how well she is fed and cared for during her growth and development,
especially during the larval stage." [Editor's emphasis].
It is the section on stock selection and improvement that is really the
basis for this second edition. Dr. Morse urges beekeepers not to be sold a
bill of goods by those whose promotional skills are superior to their queen
producing abilities. And he suggests that selection be confined to honey
production and disease resistance. Breeder queens should also be chosen that
have a good brood pattern. As Dr. Morse says, "A good queen has a compact
brood nest. In colonies with good brood patterns, eggs are adjacent to eggs,
larvae to larvae, and pupae to pupae."
The chapter on Rearing Queens and Managing Africanized Bees also
emphasizes stock improvement by describing experiences of beekeepers in areas
influenced by Africanization. As part of this discussion, Dr. Morse attempts
to define the word "Africanized." He says the term is used in Brazil to
differentiate honeybees from Africa from stingless bees that are native to the
Americas. He concludes that Africanized bees "have been crossed with the
original European bees. They are predominantly African." [Editor's emphasis].
"Their size and behavior is (sic) similar to that of the bees on their native
continent. On the average, Africanized honey bees are about ten percent
smaller than their European counterparts, as are African honey bees."
Rearing queens in AHB areas is only somewhat different from techniques
used with European bees, according to Dr. Morse. Specifically, this includes
using larger mating nuclei, taking care to locate colonies away from human
habitation and dressing adequately to work with these sometimes very defensive
insects. Rearing Queen Honey Bees is available from WICWAS Press, P.O. Box
817, Cheshire CT 06410-0817 for $14.95 plus postage, ph 203/250-7575.
Dr. Marla Spivak and Gary Reuter of the University of Minnesota have
recently produced a videotaped short course titled Successful Queen Rearing.
Again, a major reason for its development is the impact of the AHB. This
insect is not expected to survive in the temperate climate of the midwest. As
a consequence, the authors say that the "..primary goal of this course...is to
teach northern beekeepers methods of rearing their own queens so they have
alternative sources of European queens." There is nothing very radical in
this idea they claim, as Canadians have done it successfully for many years
ever since closure of the U.S. border caused a queen shortage in that country.
The authors encourage experimentation and conclude with the words of C.L.
Farrar: "Poorly reared queens of productive stock generally will be inferior
to well-reared queens from less productive stock."
The video is a little over 13 minutes long and takes the student through
the basics of queen rearing according to the Doolittle method. Specific
techniques include establishing starting and finishing colonies, confining
breeder queens to get correctly aged larvae for transferring (grafting), and
introducing sealed, ripe queens cells into nuclei.
Although the video is good quality, it is the accompanying manual that
really stands out. This ambitious, oversized publication includes excellent
graphics showing detailed plans of a push-in cage, larval grafting
(transferring) tool and pollen trap; cell bar frames; two kinds of swarm
boxes; several types of mating nuclei; and starting and finishing colony
Examples of record sheets to keep track of one's rearing efforts and
other tips such as marking queens are also included in the manual. Finally, a
calendar of queen rearing events is presented, along with a scheduling
"wheel." Three circular paper wheels can be cut out and mounted together
which, like a circular slide rule, will tell the producer what must be done
during a calendar year, when given a starting or ending date. The manual and
video are available for $45.00 from University of Minnesota Extension Service,
Distribution Center, 20 Coffey Hall, 1420 Eckles Ave., St. Paul, MN 55108-
6069, ph 612/625-8120.
In the above short course, Dr. Spivak liberally credits her queen
rearing mentor, Steve Taber. And although not a new resource, Mr. Taber's
book, Breeding Super Bees, published by the A.I. Root Co. in 1987 is one any
aspiring queen producer should always have on hand. In contrast to the other
resources outlined elsewhere in this newsletter, Mr. Taber's book is not so
much a "how to" volume, but rather reflects his own experiences in several
geographic areas, including Madison, WI, Baton Rouge, LA and Tucson, AZ.
Two areas of Mr. Taber's book deserve particular attention. The first
has to do with his ideas on nutritional management. These hark back to the
resources listed elsewhere, both emphasizing well-reared queens by well-fed
colonies. The other concerns bee breeding and selection, somewhat
controversial topics not covered in much detail by many resources on queen
Mr. Taber addresses the nutritional problem by asking a rhetorical
question, when do queen rearing colonies need to be fed protein (pollen).
Artificial feeding of queen rearing colonies is required when there are no
drone larvae present, is Mr. Taber's unequivocal response. He suggests,
therefore, that 25-50 drone cells be scattered throughout brood comb. As a
corollary, he also states that the amount of stored pollen is a poor indicator
of colony nutritional status. Thus, he concludes: "...successful queen
rearing is directly related to drone rearing....Ample pollen enables bees to
rear drones. Bees need a plentiful supply of a balanced diet year around and
if there is a shortage they must be fed." [Editor's emphasis]
The protein source in Mr. Taber's recipe (13 pounds of pollen per 2.75
pints of water per 13 pounds of sugar with applicable amounts of TM-25 and
fumagillin) consists strictly of bee-collected pollen. He does not mention
pollen substitute, but states: "In my opinion, the questions on pollen
feeding and nutrition are foremost in areas of needed bee research....Since
clear answers...have not been made available, arbitrary decisions on diet
mixes, preparation and feeding have been the result." For other information
on this subject, I still have available reprints of my 1992 Bee Science paper,
"A Florida Honey-Bee Feeding Study Using the Beltsville Bee Diet," that I will
send out on request.
In contrast to the two other resources mentioned above, Mr. Taber's book
goes into much more detail concerning bee breeding and stock selection. He
advocates the use of single-drone instrumental insemination (SDM) as the
preferred way to ensure maximum gene frequency change. In combination with
SDM, a "closed population breeding" plan would ensure needed changes in the
bee population, he says. These include resistance to pests and diseases and
genetic manipulation of the AHB. However he says that an important
theoretical problem still must be faced. This is the retention of sex alleles
in the mating population. (For another analysis of this and other limitations
to bee breeding, see the September 1992 APIS)
Mr. Taber says: "...concepts...in the closed population breeding scheme
are difficult to understand....However, both the methods used and the results
obtained are very easy to understand." [Editor's note: Instrumental
insemination instruction is available by contacting Susan Cobey, Department of
Entomology, The Ohio State University, 1735 Neil Ave., Columbus, OH 43210, ph
Because of all the potential problems and limitations, Mr. Taber
concludes "...it's best not to breed for honey production." "Of course," he
adds, "my position is not supported by others....However the only published
work on this...showed only a slight increase in honey production over 13 years
of selection." Breeding Super Bees is available from A.I. Root Co., P.O. Box
706, Medina, OH 44258, ph 216/725-6677. It sells for $8.99 including postage.
In the March 1995 APIS, I discussed the "pollinator's bible,"
Agriculture Handbook 497, Insect Pollination of Cultivated Crop Plants, by
S.E. McGregor. Well, my pronouncement that it was not available was somewhat
premature. Copies are still floating around. WicWas Press continues to sell
them for $20.00 plus shipping and handling; see address above. And the
Weslaco Bee Laboratory also has copies available at no charge while they last.
To request a copy, contact Dr. Anita Collins, 2413 E. Highway 83, Bldg 205,
Weslaco, TX 78596, ph. 210/969-4870.
Malcolm T. Sanford
Bldg 970, Box 110620
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611-0620
Phone (904) 392-1801, Ext. 143
BITNET Address: MTS@IFASGNV; INTERNET Address: MTS@GNV.IFAS.UFL.EDU
APIS on the World Wide Web--http://gnv.ifas.ufl.edu/~entweb/apis/apis.htm
Copyright (c) M.T. Sanford 1995 "All Rights Reserved"