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Title: Status of breeding and use of Russian and VSH bees world-wide

item Danka, Robert

Submitted to: International Congress of Entomology
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/20/2016
Publication Date: 9/25/2016
Citation: Danka, R.G. 2016. Status of breeding and use of Russian and VSH bees world-wide. International Congress of Entomology.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Research at the USDA Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics and Physiology Laboratory produced two types of honey bees (Apis mellifera) with resistance to Varroa destructor. Colonies of these bees host mite populations that remain small enough to allow beekeepers to eliminate or reduce miticide treatments. Selection of Russian honey bees focused on reduced mite population growth, high honey production and tracheal mite resistance. Bees with enhanced expression of the trait “Varroa sensitive hygiene” (VSH) were produced by selecting for suppressed mite reproduction. Russian bees and bees with high VSH are being used successfully in the USA, with some beekeeping operations having eliminated miticide use for more than 10 years. Use of Russian bees currently is limited by queen availability; use of VSH bees is limited by the difficulty of measuring the trait, and by lack of breeding into a recognized stock. Russian bee genetics have been incorporated into breeding programs in Canada and Europe, and bees with VSH-based resistance are being pursued by breeding programs in Europe and New Zealand. The early adopters of resistant bees tend to be dedicated, proficient, smaller-scale beekeepers. There is growing interest in using resistant bees, including by larger-scale beekeepers, as these early successes are recognized. It seems likely, however, that risks associated with adopting resistant bees means that extensive use of such bees in commercial beekeeping likely will not occur until bees with consistently high resistance are available or until miticide treatments become unreliable.