Advancing expertise in Honey Bee Stock Improvement Techniques: Stock Selection, Germplasm Cryopreservation and Instrumental Insemination

Progress report for WPDP19-22

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2019: $71,500.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2022
Host Institution Award ID: G236-20-W7504
Grant Recipient: Department of Entomology, Washington State University
Region: Western
State: Washington
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Walter Sheppard
Department of Entomology, Washington State University
Co-Investigators:
Susan Cobey
Washington State University
Dr. Brandon Hopkins
Washington State University
Dr. Timothy Lawrence
Washington State University
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Project Information

Abstract:

Honey bees are the most important pollinator of agricultural food crops, and the world’s food supply depends upon a healthy honey bee industry.  Programs to select and breed honey bee stocks that are productive and less susceptible to diseases and pests are needed.  Combining improved cryopreservation technology with the use of instrumental insemination (II), it is now possible to enhance honey bee genetic diversity, enrich selection for managed pollinators and to breed “through time and space” to incorporate progeny testing methods used in breeding other agricultural animals.

Honey bees mate in flight with multiple drones.  Controlling mating is essential for a breeding program, and II of queens provides this capability.  Currently, II in the US is largely restricted to research institutions, but the procedure is highly desired by the beekeeping industry.  Cryopreservation of bee semen has also been reserved to research groups like the WSU bee program.  However, recent inclusion of honey bee semen from US commercial stocks in the National Animal Germplasm Program, has demonstrated its potential for mainstream use in bee breeding.

A detailed manual on the technique of II will be developed along with three training videos.  The manual will be a accompanied by an updated version of Susan Cobey's award winning video on II (Cobey 1998).  A second video will be completed on honey bee selection, augmented with graphic art and video enhancement to explain concepts and methodologies to conduct successful breeding programs.  The third video will be centered on cryopreservation, and its use in breeding programs and conservation.

The project will culminate in a conference bringing together researchers, industry queen producers and extension specialists.  The goal of the Conference/Workshop will be to train the audience in the practical use of these methods so that they, in turn, can train beekeepers, queen producers and growers.

Project Objectives:
  1. Preparation of Instrumental Insemination Instructional Manual

            Text Writing - May 2019 -  Sept 2020.

            Photography and Graphics - May 2019 - Sept. 2020

            Publication 2021

Progress:  The writing of this manual is progressing, this includes step by step details of the techniques, the collection of semen from drones and the insemination of queens. Of critical importance to include for success are the specialized beekeeping practices required for the care of queen and drones, to the establishment of laying inseminated queens in colonies. Photographs of most of these procedures have been prepared, although another active bee season is needed to complete these. Illustrations and graphics will be made to provide more detail, where needed.  We anticipate having this work completed in 2021 and published prior to the Honey Bee Breeding Conference in 2022.

       2.  Preparation of Instructional Videos/Training DVDs

  1. Instrumental Insemination Text Re-Writing April 2019 - 2020.

           Photography and Graphics - May 2019- Sept. 2020

            Publication 2021

Progress: The video, Instrumental Insemination, the script and filming have been completed and the video is in the editing phase. This is expected to be completed and available in spring 2021.

    B.   Honey Bee Breeding and Practical Selection Methods

            Photography and Graphics  May 2019- Sept. 2020

             Publication 2021

Progress: In 2020 –  the video Selection Methods For Honey Bee Breeding, was completed and posted online.

We have completed and released this video, Selection Methods For Honey Bee Breeding. The video provides an overview of basic honey bee genetics and a pragmatic approach to selection methods based upon behavioral traits at the colony level. Essential practices to rear high quality queens and drones, and how to increase control of mating areas are also emphasized. In this video we hoped to capture the in flight mating behavior. We successfully identified a drone congregation area and developed camera techniques to pivot and spin cameras to view the mating of a tethered virgin queen suspended and elevated on a 30-40 foot boom lift. Additional funding, $10k from WSU BioAG, supported this graphic augmentation effort. We were unable to adequately shoot this aspect due to the weather conditions, availability of the video crew and equipment. Overall, the video is a success and was awarded a Bronze Award for Educational Video from the Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals.This video is currently, posted free online, and has received 2.4k views. The video is also featured in a Podcast discussion, Beekeeping Today Podcast, presented by Bee Culture Magazine. Links to the video and podcast follow. 

YouTube:

https://youtu.be/R8-9DgXcrfI

Vimeo:

https://vimeo.com/380776410

Beekeeping Today Podcast Discussion  http://beekeepingtodaypodcast.com

 http://beekeepingtodaypodcast.com/developing-a-breeding-program-with-sue-coby-dr-tim-lawrence-and-dr-steve-sheppard-s2-e24

 

      C.  Honey Bee Germplasm Cryopreservation

Photography and Graphics May 2019 – September 2020

Publication 2021

Progress:  The third video, Honey Bee Germplasm Cryopreservation, is in the writing phase with plans to be filmed in the 2021 spring/summer season and completed in the fall. The WSU CAHNRS Communication Specialists; Video Producer/DirectorDarrell Killgore and Video Specialist Matt Ziegler are filming the footage and putting this video series together.

  1. Honey Bee Breeding Conference 2021

Workshop and presentations on reproductive technologies (instrumental insemination and germplasm cryopreservation) and on Honey Bee Selection and Breeding methods.

The conference will include presentations by the co-PI’s of this grant and invited specialists and queen producers using advanced breeding methods.

Location – Washington State University campus, Pullman, WA

Progress:  Due to Covid 19 restrictions and the difficulty of travel - we anticipate deferring the Honey Bee Breeding Conference until 2022.  Planning and organization for the conference is on-going with discussions of topics to present and potential speakers to invite.  A key component of this conference will be the on-site demonstrations and interactions in sharing information to advance techniques and methodologies.

 

Education & Outreach Initiatives

develop and distribute videos on honey bee breeding, germplasm cryopreservation and instrumental insemination
Objective:

to provide means for beekeepers to select and breed honey bee queens of high quality adapted for their particular needs

Description:

to date - the video on honey bee selection and breeding has been completed and distributed as planned. The video provides an overview of basic honey bee genetics and a pragmatic approach to selection methods based upon behavioral traits at the colony level. Essential practices to rear high quality queens and drones, and how to increase control of mating areas are also emphasized.

Outcomes and impacts:

We have completed and released this video, Selection Methods For Honey Bee Breeding.  Overall, the video is a success and was awarded a Bronze Award for Educational Video from the Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals.This video is currently, posted free online, and has received 2.4k views. The video is also featured in a Podcast discussion, Beekeeping Today Podcast, presented by Bee Culture Magazine. Links to the video and podcast follow. 

YouTube:

https://youtu.be/R8-9DgXcrfI

Vimeo:

https://vimeo.com/380776410

Beekeeping Today Podcast Discussion  http://beekeepingtodaypodcast.com

 http://beekeepingtodaypodcast.com/developing-a-breeding-program-with-sue-coby-dr-tim-lawrence-and-dr-steve-sheppard-s2-e24

Educational & Outreach Activities

2 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
8 Webinars / talks / presentations

Participation Summary:

15 Extension
30 Researchers
550 Farmers/ranchers
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.