February 10, 2017

I was taught instrumental insemination by Sue Cobey in the summer of 2014.  Prior to learning "II" we'd purchased II'd breeding stock exclusively from outside sources to bring in high concentrations of resistant genes and lay the foundation for our bees. With superb instruction from Sue, we've had great success with our initial practice of II. Many of our II'd queens have outperformed their open mated sisters, likely because of drone selection and sound insemination procedures. We have inseminated some phenomenal queens within our own lines, as well as II'd some unrelated stock back to our drones. My most recent project is crossing Purdue universities' Mite Biter line with semen from our VSH Italian drones.  I'm very interested to see what comes of it. The Purdue queen which was II'd in 2015 was very dark in color. Her offspring are uniformly colored like darker Italians. My thought process was that if VSH bees are highly resistant to mites, adding allogrooming to their genetic makeup,...

February 10, 2017

Varroa Sensitive Hygiene is a fascinating genetic trait that allows worker bees to detect female mites that are reproducing beneath a capped cell. It's likely the bees detect reproductive mites by smell. The worker bees uncap and remove a large percentage of pupae which were infested with reproductive mites, and throw them outside the hive. The female mite must then find another cell to occupy, and start over. The life cycle of the mite is disrupted by these natural resistance mechanisms as opposed to using chemical miticide applications.  It's not that VSH bees have no mites, but they naturally keep the mite population in check and very often well below a treatment threshold. We have been using instrumentally inseminated VSH breeding stock for years to solidify the gene in our breeding population. Our original VSH breeder queens were supplied by Tom Glenn. We have also added Pol Line Hygienic Italians to our stock in addition to VSH. After Tom retired we purchased II'd VSH queens from...

February 5, 2017

Sustainable beekeeping has become a topic of discussion in recent years, and rightfully so.  Beekeeping used to be much easier and worry free, but times and our environment have drastically changed.  Now we have plenty to worry about; mites, small hive beetles, pesticide exposure, and starvation from reduced forage. These worries motivate us to examine what makes a beekeeping operation sustainable.  After a quick google search, I determined the definition of sustainable to be "capable of being sustained" or "the capacity to endure."  What makes a beekeeping operation sustainable?  The first thought that comes to my mind for larger operations is profitability. If they are not able to yield an income to fund their operation and yield a profit for their efforts, they will at some point cease to exist. For smaller operations money is also a factor, but can be a non issue for many hobbyists. What made my operation sustainable?  What factor shifted my beekeeping from an expensive hobby, to p...

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