• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Snow queens: Breeding bees to survive Alaska winter

 
Milo Jones
Posts: 101
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I found this interesting: Snow Queens

He is breeding for smaller bees like Perone:

One of the primary things Malone emphasized about his bee breeding strategy, and one of the things that make him controversial among traditional beekeepers, is that he is breeding small cell bees. He trains his bees to build comb cells that are about half a millimeter smaller. This leads to the queen laying smaller eggs and hatching smaller bees.

Proponents of small-cell bees say that they are healthier and can more easily fight of diseases. Small-cell hives purportedly have fewer Varroa mites in their colonies because the mites have a harder time breeding in the smaller cells.

Malone explained that smaller cells mean more bees can be born per square inch, and they can expand their population faster. Additionally, he said, “It’s a better division of labor. A more dynamic division of labor.” More bees are specialized in cleaning, more in foraging, and so on. According to Malone, a larger number of bees means work is done more efficiently and every task is completed. It’s just like hiring a larger workforce.

The physiology of the bee is different, too, he argued. “The wing muscles of a small cell and a large cell bee are the same size. The wings are the same size.” But the body sizes are different, he explained. “Those wings and those muscles serve the small cell bee much finer than the large cell bee.”

Malone claims that by breeding small cell bees, he has stronger stock for going into the winter.


But it appears he is using a standard hive size?

At the beginning of winter he packs as many bees as he can into his nucs. He said that they overwinter better there because the smaller box size means the bees can more easily cluster together to stay warm and reach their food at the same time. He also started with a Russian stock of bee that eats less food in the winter.
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3356
Location: woodland, washington
75
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
that is interesting. anybody know how far north feral colonies have survived?
 
Dan Boone
gardener
Pie
Posts: 1693
Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a) ~39" rain/year
179
forest garden trees woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here's an updated link, since that old one is broken: http://www.anchoragepress.com/news/snow-queens-breeding-bees-survive-alaska-winter

anybody know how far north feral colonies have survived?


I grew up on the Yukon River about 120 miles south of the Arctic Circle. Interior climate, hard by the border with Canada. Definitely no feral honeybees, although we had plenty of native pollinators including bumblebees.

Interestingly in the late 1970s we did have one local beekeeper, a man named Dick Cook, who raised his bees at Sheep Creek on the Tatonduk River about ten miles from the Yukon. (This is hundreds of miles north of Anchorage, where the beekeeper referenced in the article is.) He was what you might call semi-successful at keeping his bees through the winter. I say "semi" because he had a lot more failures than successes. His big problem was that predators (especially bears) would eat his hives when he wasn't present to defend them. I'm not sure if he ever got the same hive through two successive winters, but I believe he wintered them successfully in more than one year. (This is in a place where winter temperatures can drop below 70 below, and routinely drop below fifty below, or did back then anyway.)
 
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic