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Thread: Catherine Thompson's research

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    Senior Member prakel's Avatar
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    Default Catherine Thompson's research

    Did anyone here attend the lecture by Catherine Thompson at the BIBBA AGM? There's a tantalizingly brief mention in Chris Slade's bee blog but as he always makes a big deal of the fact that he can't read his own notes it might be nice to hear a report from someone else.
    Last edited by prakel; 07-04-2014 at 09:30 AM.

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    I was there. I made a few notes would would have liked copies of her graphs to study at home.

    Kate's talk was mainly about ferals which she had collected with a net at the nest entrances. She showed a map of the locations where they had been collected from and, sadly, none were in Wales where ferals seem to abound. The nest entrances faced all directions but SE was the most common.

    She tested them for genetic markers and disease load. Her conclusions were briefly that feral genetics reflected the background population of managed populations and did not show any tendency towards the AMM end of the scale. Managed colonies of native breeders showed much more AMM genetics than either ferals or the background populations.

    Ferals and untreated managed colonies both showed more DWV than treated colonies and 50% of the ferals she studied died out during the project. She concluded that the view that all ferals are recent swarms which will eventually die out due to varroa is probably true.

    The DNA tests were done with 12 bees from each colony and the standard she used for comparison was from samples taken from Colonsay.

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    Hi Rosie,

    Any ferals from Scotland? or any results from the Scottish managed hive samples that had a lot of pure Amm in them

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    Jimbo, the map she showed of the feral sites did not show the Scottish border and, although I tried to work out where it was the slide was removed before I could manage it. However, if Scottish bees were included in the ferals they will all have been close to the English border. I can't remember if she even showed where the purest managed ones were and suspect that information was not included in the stuff she was able to reveal.

    Sorry I can't be more help.

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    Senior Member Jon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rosie View Post
    Her conclusions were briefly that feral genetics reflected the background population of managed populations and did not show any tendency towards the AMM end of the scale.
    Estimating the Density of Honeybee Colonies across Their Natural Range to Fill the Gap in Pollinator Decline Censuses
    RODOLFO JAFFE et al. 2010

    In Europe honeybees sampled in nature reserves had genetic diversity and colony densities similar to those sampled in agricultural landscapes, which suggests that the former are not wild but may have come from managed hives.
    Her findings are reflected in this study which found no difference between ferals and the background population either.
    Last edited by Jon; 08-04-2014 at 03:26 PM.

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    Although disappointing Jon I don't think any of us are surprised by this. It demonstrates how important it is for us to go all out to preserve the stocks that were saved before varroa struck. Wild sources of Amm have all but dried up - at least in England and I suspect elsewhere too. I wish Kate had taken samples from the "Celtic fringes" though because they might have had a better chance of being genuine as they would have been operating closer to the extremes of the honey bee's natural range where Amm traits are more important for survival.

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    Senior Member Jon's Avatar
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    Steve
    I never see ferals in my area, just recently escaped swarms in chimneys or roof spaces.
    They don't last long.
    I sent Kate samples from two of my apiaries. I must e-mail her to see if she can let me know anything about them.
    from what I can gather wing morphometry is dead in the water unless you are talking about a population where beekeepers have never selected based on wings.
    Remember the little coop map with the 100% AMM claim based on wings?

    I had a really interesting conversation last week with a guy from the far western extreme of Donegal.
    They have 70 colonies of dark bees in the area and varroa has not arrived yet.
    I was unaware that Ireland had any varroa free areas left.
    The mites arrives in Sligo/Leitrim in 1998.
    No outside colonies have come into the area in living memory and the guy I spoke to is the only beekeeper under 65
    There are still feral colonies in the trees.
    I spoke to one of the other NIHBS reps about this and we are going to go down and take grafts in a couple of months or ideally get a mated queen to bring back home to graft from.
    He said the bees have never been surveyed either.
    Last edited by Jon; 08-04-2014 at 03:38 PM.

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    I don't think wing morphometry is as dead as you think but I take your poiint that it's easy to rely on it too much. Around here we use it after all other criteria have been satisfied and it's used to confirm that the queen had not had a bad mating. I hope we can continue to use it like that for a number of generations. Even Kate stated it works at the pure end of the scale but is not good at detecting how mongrelised a mongrel colony actual is. That Coop thing was corporate hype and was never taken seriously by any of the queen rearers that I know. We were all waiting for the DNA results but we've given up now. I am not just disappointed that we are still waiting for the results but the standard used was Colonsay. I had hoped it would have been indisputable stocks such as museum samples. Because we can't see any reports we can't tell how a Colonsay standard compares with all the previous work done by Pedersen etc. Also how do local natural ecotypes differ from Colonsay? Stocks that Kate thinks are not pure might just be another amm variation so at this stage I feel just as much in the dark as I ever did.

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    Senior Member Jon's Avatar
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    the Colonsay stock was all brought over by Andrew A from various places in Scotland maybe 30 years ago.
    I agree with you that it is not necessarily a gold standard re UK Amm as I previously posted a video here from the 1930s showing those French Amm 'abeilles vivantes' arriving in the East of Scotland.
    The Colonsay population is relatively recent and made up of bees from different locations.
    It will have adapted and changed to the western maritime climate by now.
    DNA from the bees in the Linnean collection would be a better test for Kate to compare with.

    The Jensen and Pederson study you mentioned in the previous post pointed out that in any Amm regional population there will be huge natural variation - and the variation within populations is greater than between populations in different jurisdictions.
    The author also put down some similarities between regions to an artifact caused by Bibba members swapping queens!

    We don't have a lot of Carnica here. If I have a pure race virgin queen which mates and produces a significant percentage of yellow banded workers I know I have a hybrid colony without going any further. Wing morphometry might well show something but it is not really necessary in a case like this.
    My colonies with all dark workers frequently are near enough 100% according to drawwing but I honestly don't think that tells me much any more.
    Last edited by Jon; 08-04-2014 at 09:02 PM.

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    I have yellow bands cropping up all the time and, like you, I can easily detect them but we also have carniolan influence so we have keep our guard up. Fortunately no wing morphometry has been done around here until 5 years ago and even then it was and still is used sparingly. The only risk we have is with a single queen of Galtee origin that was brought in many years ago and that queen, no doubt, had been selectively bred using at least some wing morphometry. Fortunately it seems we are keeping on top of the carniolan hybrids simply by squishing the nasty ones. We see a definite correlation between wing pattern and gentleness although we do get an odd one with carni-looking wings and gentle behaviour. I have never seen a sample of Amm wings that were nasty though. I also know that if I bring in a colony with good Amm wings from another district they breed true without turning grumpy.

    In a sea of misinformation and lack of knowledge I have to believe what I see myself and I see value in wing testing.

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