Bettabees not breeding queens and up for sale

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Grant

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A company that offers an IVF service for bees is hoping to find a new owner to help make it profitable.

Bettabees is the country's most advanced queen bee breeder and researcher.

It artificially inseminates queen bees in a process similar to in vitro fertilisation in humans.

Bettabees chairman Jason Marshall said the business was now for sale and was not breeding any queen bees.

 
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Alastair

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Without wanting to be too cynical (although I guess I am), looking at the current management they will probably want crazy top dollar for the outfit, when all it is a couple of hundred hives and some insemination gear.
Goodwill can hardly be charged for since it is not a currently functioning business.
The main asset was Franz who did the insemination work and other tasks such as selection, but he got the chop.

Anyone wanting to pick up the torch could just get some insemination gear and start up with their own hives. Good genetics are available.

However the Bettabees management can't make their business viable so anyone starting would have to consider if they can bring something to the table to make it work, that Bettabees could not.
 
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However the Bettabees management can't make their business viable so anyone starting would have to consider if they can bring something to the table to make it work, that Bettabees could not.
+1
plus how many crowds out there have the funds to buy (as many are downsizing), that do not already have their own.
i suspect, like a lot of commercial gear on the market, that its going to wind up in storage.
 
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It is a pity that such companies are closing... The idea of building relations between the company and shareholders looked very interesting.
Artificial insemination is a universal tool for controlled mating. You can inseminate a queen bee with one drone, or drones from one colony, or different colonies - make a mix. and so on... The question is who will be able to work with this tool, and more importantly - to conduct selection, testing, and other actions in the breeding program. You can't buy it. It depends on a person's life experience, his observation and intuition.
If they are closed, does this mean that New Zealand beekeepers do not need breeding material? maybe they are satisfied with their own bees?
 
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Alastair

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We did OK for many years with no AI ( or II ) being done. But as you say, II has it's uses.

We should have some people conducting properly done selection alongside the use of II, but in my view it should be a minor part of our bee breeding. The free mating of bees has saved them from being messed with too much by humans like has happened with say, domestic dogs, suffering all kinds of genetic ailments and huge vet bills because humans have controlled their mating and imposed their own standards on them.

Me, I am concerned about the mongrelisation of our bees there are few if any purebreds left. But there are people doing II it will always have it's place here.
 
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We should have some people conducting properly done selection alongside the use of II, but in my view it should be a minor part of our bee breeding. The free mating of bees has saved them from being messed with too much by humans like has happened with say, domestic dogs, suffering all kinds of genetic ailments and huge vet bills because humans have controlled their mating and imposed their own standards on them.
In nature, bees have one goal. They have to do swarming. The more swarms, the better, which would increase the chances of survival. These swarms should collect enough honey to survive the winter, but not more, so as not to attract predators. At the same time, they must be very angry. the angrier, the better. And in the spring, this process repeats again. As you can see, there is no beekeeper with a bucket for honey in this chain. Man constantly influenced the animals that were next to him. And the more he learned about them, the more perfect were the ways and methods of content. If we take the example of dogs, I am not a dog handler, but I have not seen that the border was guarded by pedigreed dogs. There is a German Shepherd for this purpose. She has a lot of characteristics, such as intelligence, strength, endurance, etc... But she is not suitable as a guide dog. A Labrador copes with this . This cannot be achieved without selection. When mating drones and queens in free conditions, the result will be unpredictable. (except isolated places)
 
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Otto

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Me, I am concerned about the mongrelisation of our bees there are few if any purebreds left. But there are people doing II it will always have it's place here.
Mostly agree with what you have said above @Alastair but not sure what you mean by mongrelisation. All bees we have in NZ are hybrids (or mongrels if you prefer). Bees have been imported numerous times since first being introduced and everything has interbred.

Many beekeepers select on colour and call yellow/orange bees Italians. I have never seen pure A.m. ligustica and don't actually know how closely our "Italians" match them. I don't believe you can select pure Italians from the mix we have here.

Similarly we have "Carniolans" that resulted from several semen imports David Yanke did after Varroa got here. He had an "Italian" breeding population prior to that and started by inseminating Italian queens with the Carnie semen. Selection for Carniolans after that was primarily based on colour but there are certainly yellow bees in the background.

My top criteria for selecting queens to breed from has always been temperament. I just have no desire to work with grumpy bees. Good temperament is also one of the easiest things to make positive progress on when breeding bees. I have always thought colour a very arbitrary selection criteria.
 

Otto

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There are certainly people in NZ that have the ability to do instrumental insemination of honeybees. Any business wanting to use it as part of their selection criteria should be able to either develop the skill set in house or contract someone with the skills to do it for them (although they would have to be willing to pay for the specialist skills required). I don't think Bettabees have this skill set within their business anymore...
 
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I agree with Otto that the strains of bees in New Zealand have never been pure but nevertheless there were some very good strains of bees developed by different beekeepers including myself. These strains were quite consistent and carried many important characteristics such as quietness and high production coupled in many cases with disease and pest resistance. 10 years ago I would get maybe one queen in 100 that didn't meet my colour selection and well over 80% of my hives were good enough to leave to raise their own queens if I was short of cells. Average production showed a steady increase over 50 years.This was all done with open mating. There was a high degree of conformity with all or the majority of hives being full at the same time.
The reality is that now there are so many beekeepers with so many different strains of bees with their hives spread between everybody else's hives that these beautiful quiet productive strains of bees are no longer in the majority and uniformity and conformity are a thing of the past. I am not seeing an improvement through increased genetic diversity but the complete opposite. There are proponents for hybrid vigour. I am not one of them. I remember a time when when you talked about hybrid vigour you were talking about a snotty nasty hive that needed requeening this and nothing much has changed since then.
The best queens have never come from Queen breeders. They often have very good queens but they don't have the ability to find the very best productive hives, neither do the corporate's. Only people who work with their own hives on a regular basis are able to identify the very best and breed from them. I used to select the very best producers out of a thousand hives and then whittle them down to a handful after two full production seasons.I would bring them home and once they were settled and I would work them without a smoker on a grotty day which would usually weed out one of two more. Commercial beekeepers can't always work just on fine days. Now with a lot less hives and a lot more neighbours I'm lucky to find anything. I still have some good hives but it's really hard to find a truly excellent one anymore. This loss might have been worthwhile if we had varoa tolerance to show for it but we don't.
In the past the best strains were shared freely between most beekeepers leading to ongoing improvements.
Now we all share the same mediocrity.Most of the bees aren't terrible but they could be so much better.
 


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