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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Baton Rouge, Louisiana » Honey Bee Lab » Research » Research Project #431854

Research Project: Breeding for Improved Varroa-resistant Bee Stock to Support Honey Bee Health, Crop Pollination, and Honey Production

Location: Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics, and Physiology Research

Project Number: 6050-21000-016-02-T
Project Type: Trust Fund Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Nov 1, 2016
End Date: Oct 31, 2020

Objective:
Stabilize commercially important performance traits (honey production, colony population, overwintering ability and gentleness) in bees with high Varroa Sensitive Hygiene (VSH)-based mite resistance.

Approach:
Milestone 1 (for the first year of work): Selection for high Varroa Sensitive Hygiene (VSH); isolated mating apiary established. Create 100 colonies with Single Drone Insemination (SDI) queens from the best available genetic sources (VSH, Pol-line and field-tested Hawaiian lines derived from VSH). Add Varroa mites to the colonies and assess the expression of VSH by measuring the rate of Varroa reproduction. Produce drone-source colonies from queens with the best complement of traits. Establish an isolated mating apiary with 200 drone colonies from high VSH breeders selected from SDI work. Drone colonies will be individually monitored for presence of original queens and be evaluated for Varroa levels, adult bee populations and honey production. Colonies that perform poorly will have their queens replaced by daughters of the best queens from the program. Propagating the best colonies and culling the poorest will be an ongoing process throughout the duration of the program.