Demonstrating Russian Queen Bees Resistance to Mites to Benefit Midwest Beekeepers

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2013: $22,490.50
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Region: North Central
State: Iowa
Project Coordinator:
Jason Foley
Foley's Russian Bees

Annual Reports


  • Animals: bees


  • Animal Production: livestock breeding
  • Crop Production: application rate management
  • Education and Training: demonstration, mentoring
  • Farm Business Management: e-commerce, value added
  • Pest Management: biological control, genetic resistance, integrated pest management
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture, transitioning to organic
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, sustainability measures

    Proposal summary:

    Instrumental insemination is a technique that though delicate has proven to increase the production and availability of queen bees. In 2012 Jason Foley naturally produced over 50 queen and nucleus hives to aid local beekeepers with a 98% success rate. This has prompted local bee clubs to request that Jason Foley demonstrate that Russian queens can be instrumentally inseminated to increase their availability, maintain hive health through natural chemical free methods and still maintain honey production. This project will provide instrumental insemination education training to Jason Foley so he may train others in Iowa on the process and provide genetic stock to naturally fight mites and curb death losses. Through training and education it is anticipated that resistant queen production would be increased from 50 in 2012, to 150 in 2013, for use in demonstrations and education to other beekeepers in Iowa. This project will increase the rate at which beekeepers can acquire the Midwestern reared resistant queens.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This proposal is to provide 150 resistant, quality queens to local honey producers as a demonstration to increase pollinator resilience and increase the resistant honeybee industry. These resistant queens genetically have the capability to breed bees that remove the verroa mites from the hive. The verroa mites weaken the hive resulting in increased death loss. The resistant queens will be raised without chemical treatments and can also produce hives that can be chemical free. The project partners have agreed to provide two Russian queen samples to bee clubs willing to track and assess the survivability of hives over the winter, comparison of honey reserves over winter and perform verroa mite analysis.

    The project partners will meet with various Iowa and Midwest beekeeping organizations to promote the resistant quality queens and disseminate information and sample queens to the bee clubs. Many Iowa bee clubs have already expressed interest in the resistant queen rearing project and are supporting this application.

    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.