Recommendations for Queen Breeders
Over the last 10 years several of us have been breeding bees for varroa resistance in Europe, Africa and South America (Kefuss et al. 2003). From our own personal experiences with different races of bees, we would like to make the following suggestions to aid commercial queen breeders in their selection programs for varroa resistance:
HIVES WITH QUEENS USED FOR BREEDING SHOULD NEVER BE TREATED AGAINST VARROA
The presence of drones from susceptible hives will be counter-productive to any genetic advances made in a selection program. If the varroa treatments are stopped in all hives, the drone problem will be eliminated trough natural selection. Dead hives don´t furnish drones.
As pointed out by R. Büchler (2003) "Live and let die
(i.e. Bond test
) is the only direct selection criteria for the kind of bee we are looking for. All the other criteria used in respective selection programs are indirect characters which can be doubtful and misleading."
Most beekeepers prefer not to loose hives, but may have their hives located near those of others who don´t select. One solution for them is to incorporate queens with reduced varroa receptivity and sensitivity in all of their hives. Drones from these queens will probably mate with virgin queens from the other beekeepers in the area and help shift the gene pool towards better varroa tolerance and perhaps resistance. This way the beekeeper can maintain genetic pressure on the open breeding population.
At Pacific Queens in La Cruz, Chile, frames of highly infested worker brood (40 or more varroa per 100 cells) are placed in colonies that have low or no varroa infestations. This speeds up the selection programm and eliminates about 90% of the breeder colonies within 6 months. The remaining 10 % of the colonies show lower receptivity and sensibility to varroosis. This very destructive method shortens the "Bond test
". We named this testing procedure "Bond´s accelerated test
) i.e. survive or die now
. If not enough breeding material exists in reserve, a test queen can be transferred to a healthy colony just before its colony dies out.
" reduces testing time and labor, we think it is cheaper than other methods of selection. It is a simple technique that queen breeders can use to speed up any varroosis resistance program (Kefuss et al 2003).
Büchler, R. (2003)
Kefuss J., Taber III S., Vanpoucke J. and Rey F. (2003)
Breeding for varroa resistance: How we do it. Paper no. 187, XXXVIIIth Apimondia Congress, Ljubljana, Slovenia.