Friday, February 26, 2010

Dr. Larry Connor, Bee Sexpert

Combined meetings of the Ontario and Ithaca Finger Lakes Beekeeper’s Association

I sneaked in as the lone representative of the Steuben County Honey Bee Association. I felt a little furtive, like a robber bee, expecting at any minute that one of the people would notice I smelled different and they’d started pinching and biting me as they pulled me out of the meeting.

Having customers at work right up to the last minute and locating the meeting with faulty online directions, I arrive late and sat in back. There were approximately 180 attendees, including some vendors

Driving home, I couldn't remember anything I’d learned. ;(.

But I had a recorder! :), and have a poor quality but mostly audible record of Dr. Larry’s Lecture.

Arriving late, I missed the title, but it was about breeding bees for health and mite tolerance—moving away from medicating hives.

Here are a few new pieces of information I learned:

1. In mating, queens fly low and far, up to 6 miles (is this radius or diameter? Either way it’s counter intuitive.) Drones fly high and near.

2. Queens mate with 13 drones on average and can vary from one to (highest known) 45 drones.

3. Queens artificially inseminated with a single drone, but same quantity of semen as multiply mated queens were taken to the Adirondack area by Dr. Tom Seeley for research, by the end of the season, 80% had died from a variety of diseases. This emphasizes the importance of diverse genetics among a queen’s offspring for the health of the hive.

4. What about those bees surviving in the wild?

Dr. Connor says you don’t know how many times that hive has died and been reoccupied with a new swarm.

Mite tolerance may, as suggested by Dr. Tom Seeley, be the result of their isolation.

My un-medicated bees aren’t in isolation. Maybe they should be. If bees in the wild have mite tolerance and disease resistance and if your bees mate with wild drones, that means you will have some degree of tolerance/resistance already in your bees.