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first let me explain a little about the way I have done my breeding and selection and compare it to some of the different ways it is done in USA. The first big difference is that bees are naturally occurring in the the UK environment. In US all species have been imported. In UK the natural population formed as the last ice sheet retreated, giving rise to a single race of A. m. mellifera bees. This single race did not consist of identical stocks, but local variations would arise, due to local conditions. This means that the bees formed a patchwork of strains (all within the race) with some blurring of the edges of the individual patches (if you like... a continuum of strains). Although many bees that were imported into USA were also A. m. mellifera, they were a small number of strains and were not a continuum. As the imports were relatively late, there was not time for a 'naturalisation' before many other races and strains were introduced. What hybridisation did take place, caused poor temper and as the A. m. mellifera got the blame for this, they have been largely reduced and diluted over the last century or so. The American continent is large and has many regions of different climate, so there has been a tendency to import races that fit these conditions. I used the word 'tendency' because many bee races and strains have been imported into unsuitable areas as well. So in US there are many races and strains with no particular pattern to their arrangement, with a consequent high level of hybridisation. This is offset in some very small (geographically) local breeding systems where deliberate attempts are made at purity. When I select male and female lines that I want to cross, they are already fairly closely related (do not confuse this with being inbred) and the resulting offspring are also fairly closely related to both female and all male parent strains. In the case of breeding in USA, there are some programs that follow similar lines to what I do myself, but there are other programs that create deliberate hybrids or try to implant particular traits from one race to another. So without a smooth continuum and with low mating frequency numbers the diversity among US bees is more 'granular' and also very limited in numbers. having said that the numbers are not so low as to represent a genetic bottleneck. There is a book that will give a good deal of insight into all of this... It is called Background to Bee Breeding and is written by John Atkinson, I should really address him as Sir John, but he never did get the knighthood that he deserved. You can also get some 'between the lines' information from back issues of the 'Bee Keepers Quarterly' as John writes a regular feature titled 'Breeding Matters' (and you can read that two ways, both of which are right).

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