Resistant bees in american Arnot forest are much smaller than normal bees

This is about  bees in Arnot Forest, New York State, USA.
There has developed an isolated and resistant wild bee community :
https://www.apidologie.org/articles/apido/abs/2007/01/m6063/m6063.html

The authoritative researcher is Tom Seeley, who has been studying these survivor hives for many years.

Now, Tom Seeley always evasively responded to the repeated questions by Dee Lusby, which cell sizes these wild bees really build.
Again and again he responded very negative to Dee Lusby’s comments on the artificially enlarged cell size of our bees.

Now a very interesting study appeared, in which Tom Seeley was significantly involved. Sasha Mikheyev, Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolution at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) in Japan, is the primary author.

This scientific research from 2015 is about:

Some honeybee colonies adapt in wake of deadly mites

A new genetics study of wild honeybees offers clues to how a population has adapted to a mite that has devastated bee colonies worldwide. The findings may aid beekeepers and bee breeders to prevent future honeybee declines.

To read here:
http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2015/08/some-honeybee-colonies-adapt-wake-deadly-mites

and then Tom Seeley suddenly says that the bees are smaller in Arnot forest:

Tom Seeley said: 
The surviving bees evolved to be smaller, suggesting these bees might require less time to develop. Since the mites infest nursery cells in hives, the shorter development time may allow young bees to develop into adulthood before the mites can finish their development. Mite-resistant honeybees in Africa are also small and have short development times, Seeley said.

,

the full article:

A new genetics study of wild honeybees offers clues to how a population has adapted to a mite that has devastated bee colonies worldwide. The findings may aid beekeepers and bee breeders to prevent future honeybee declines.

The researchers genetically analyzed museum samples collected from wild honeybee colonies in 1977 and 2010; the bees came from Cornell University’s Arnot Forest. In comparing genomes from the two time periods, the results – published Aug. 6 in Nature Communications – show clear evidence that the wild honeybee colonies experienced a genetic bottleneck – a loss of genetic diversity – when the Varroa destructor mites killed most of the honeybee colonies. But some colonies survived, allowing the population to rebound.

“The study is a unique and powerful contribution to understanding how honeybees have been impacted by the introduction of Varroa destructor, and how, if left alone, they can evolve resistance to this deadly parasite,” said Thomas Seeley, the Horace White Professor in Biology at Cornell and the paper’s senior author. Sasha Mikheyev ’00, an assistant professor of ecology and evolution at Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) in Japan, is the paper’s first author.

“The paper is also a clear demonstration of the importance of museum collections, in this case the Cornell University Insect Collection, and the importance of wild places, such as Cornell’s Arnot Forest,” Seeley added.

In the 1970s, Seeley surveyed the population of wild colonies of honeybees (Apis mellifera) in Arnot Forest, and found 2.5 colonies per square mile. By the early 1990s, V. destructor mites had spread across the U.S. to New York state and were devastating bee colonies. The mites infest nursery cells in honeybee nests and feed on developing bees while also transferring virulent viruses.

A 2002 survey of Arnot Forest by Seeley revealed the same abundance of bee colonies as in the late 1970s, suggesting that either new colonies from beekeepers‘ hives had repopulated the area, or that the existing population had undergone strong natural selection and came out with good resistance.

By 2010, advances in DNA technology, used previously to stitch together fragmented DNA from Neanderthal samples, gave Mikheyev, Seeley and colleagues the tools for whole-genome sequencing and comparing museum and modern specimens.

The results revealed a huge loss in diversity of mitochondrial genes, which are passed from one generation to the next only through the female lineage. This shows that the wild population of honeybees experienced a genetic bottleneck. Such bottlenecks arise when few individuals reproduce, reducing the gene pool. “Maybe only four or five queens survived and repopulated the forest,” Seeley said.

At the same time, the surviving bees show high genetic diversity in their nuclear genes, passed on by dying colonies that still managed to produce male bees. The nuclear DNA showed widespread genetic changes, a signature of adaptation. “Even when a colony is not doing well, it can still produce a batch of males, so nuclear genes were not lost,” Seeley said.

The data also show a lack of genes coming from outside populations, such as beekeepers‘ bees.

The surviving bees evolved to be smaller, suggesting these bees might require less time to develop. Since the mites infest nursery cells in hives, the shorter development time may allow young bees to develop into adulthood before the mites can finish their development. Mite-resistant honeybees in Africa are also small and have short development times, Seeley said.

Next, the researchers will study which genes and traits confer resistance to Varroa mites. The findings may help beekeepers to avoid pesticides for controlling mites and to trust the process of natural selection, and bee breeders to develop bees with the traits that have enabled bees to survive in the wild.

The study was funded by the OIST and the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign.

Here is the full study:
https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms8991

also as a pdf for download.

genetic_diversity.jpg

The vast majority of mitochondrial genetic diversity in the old population (blue) has been lost in the modern population (red). The most common haplotype present in many modern bees and one of the old bees is identical to the mitochondrial haplotype 53 of A. mellifera ligustica (Italian). The modern population seems to have descended from a relatively small number of queens.

wild bee hive in Arnot Forest:

tree460.jpg

A comment:

a beekeeper colleague has sent me a very interesting comment about Tom Seeley:

Hello,

Two weeks ago I was in Weimar, germany,  at a bee Symposium, where also Seeley has given some lectures on the resistant bees in Arnot Forest.

I asked him if he knew the bees of Dee Lusby and if the resistance of the bees in Arnot forest was also achieved through small cells.

He replied that he knew the method of Dee but did not have contact with her, but he tested small cells and could not determine resistance in these hives.

He also said that the resistance of Lusbys bees was only due to here africanized bees and had totally different genetics.

In that respect your article surprised  me, since some days ago you
just stated the opposite. It was also incomprehensible to me that the researchers did not team up with beekeepers to further promote bee health and its conservation.

Greeting W.

This is very interesting what Tom Seeley has said in Weimar.
He allegedly tested small cells and then found no resistance among his hives.
BUT he clearly states that the bees are smaller in the Arnot forest:

Tom Seeley said: 
The surviving bees grew smaller, suggesting that these bees need less time to develop. As the mites infest bee brood cells, the young bee can develop through the shorter breeding season before the mites can complete their own development. Mite-resistant honey bees in Africa are also small and have short development times, Seeley said.

.

And this is also highlighted in the research report:

Changes in body size and shape
Having found evidence of selection on developmental genes, we predicted that we would find morphological changes over time. Indeed, there has been an overall reduction in body size (head width: n = 64, t43.3 = -8.0, P = 4.0 × 10-10; intertegular span: n = 64, t62.8 = -8.6, P = 3.35 × 10-12; ………. African honey bees, which show resistance to V. destructor, are smaller than European honey bees honey bees of african descent.

.

And smaller bees require the construction of smaller cells in the brood nest, much like the african bees, which build cell sizes around 4.7mm.

So why Tom Seeley is not able to imitate the situation of the small bees in the Arnot Forest? They are smaller and resistant, but he can not do it!

Now Erik Österlund recently gave a lecture in Graz, Austria,  and Tom Seeley was also among the speakers.
Erik is a vehement advocate of small cells. He told me that he repeatedly asked T. Seeley about cell size of the bees in the Arnot Forest. He squirmed and did not want to make a definite statement, Erik said.
This researcher Tom Seeley is a bit suspicious to me, because I red how he reported that he deliberately killed a resistant hive in Arnot forest in order to examine it. He handled a cyan compound and by his clumsiness he almost poisoned himself, he reports.
Why on earth do you have to kill a survivor bee hive to be able to examine it ???

And now comes the supreme impudence of Tom Seeley. He answered in Weimar to the question of our colleague:

He also said that the resistance of Lusbys bees was only due to here africanized bees and had totally different genetics.

.

Ed & Dee Lusby got their bees analysed in 1986 by Prof. dr. N. Koeniger from  the institute of bee investigations in Frankfurt, Germany.
This has been published on Dee’s website for many years, but again and again the same hostility towards Dee Lusby appeares.
https://beesource.com/point-of-view/dee-lusby/lusbys-bee-biometrics/

Here Professor Koeniger wrote:

We did the biometrics now and it resulted in clear differences of your black bees compared to the usual U.S. mixture. Your bees are quantitatively significant more towards Apis mellifera carnica und Apis mellifera caucasica. The Italian influence is very limited.

.

the original letter:

Prof. Dr. N. Koeniger
INSTITUT FUR BIENENKUNDE
(Polytechnische Gesellschaft)
Fachbereich Biologie der J. W. Goethe-Universitat
Frankfurt am Main

6370 Oberursel 1
Im Rothkopf 5
W.-Germany

May 12, 1986

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Lusby,

Thanks for the letter of March 19th and the samples of bees. We did the biometrics now and it resulted in clear differences of your black bees compared to the usual U.S. mixture. Your bees are quantitatively significant more towards Apis mellifera carnica und Apis mellifera caucasica. The Italian influence is very limited.

We thank you again for your hospitality. Hope to meet you some day again. Attached you will find the values of your samples (cubital index).

Sincerely

N. Koeniger

As Professor Koeniger says, the bees of Ed & Dee Lusby are clearly related to Carnica and Caucasica bees and show a clear difference to usual american bees.

This has been public since 1986 and why does Tom Seeley dare to assert that Lusby’s bees are africanized and that their resistance results in this fact?

Does he do it purposely to discredit her?

2 Antworten auf Resistant bees in american Arnot forest are much smaller than normal bees

  1. S. sagt:

    In response to this note, I will offer that my reading of Tom’s work is that he uses PACKAGE breeder bees as his „control group“ of his managed apiary. He does not hive feral bees from the forest he is studying. This seems crazy and poor research design. Have you read this?

    • admin sagt:

      So I have to say that Tom Seeley is becoming more and more suspicious to me as a bee researcher.
      First, he kills a resistant swarm of bees in Arnot forest to investigate him, then almost poisoning himself due to his felony by using a cyanide compound to kill the swarm of bees, and then he takes commercial breeder bees as a control group to the resistant bees in Arnot forest. Apparently he put a few of these hives on small cells, certainly did not use any foundation without chemical contamination, certainly did not make all the other changes in handling of the bees that we assume and then he says that small cells do not lead to any resistance ,

      Why on earth he does not get bees from Arnot Forest to create a control group and with the help of small cells, just like the wild swarms in the forest do ???

      That would lead to something that all beekeepers could benefit from!

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