Commercial queen bee producers are the cornerstone of the bee industry. These producers sell thousands of queens to large scale migratory beekeepers as well as to small scale beekeepers. The breeding stock used by commercial queen producers influences the quality of honey bees across the country, as they provide stock for beekeepers that supply honey bees to pollinate high-value crops and produce honey and queens, as well as supporting smaller, local markets.
Commercial beekeepers rely on certain types of bee to contribute to the success of their businesses, both economically and genetically.
Our insemination project will focus on the Carnica subspecies of bee that is proven to be cold weather acclimated, gentle, productive, tolerant of pests and diseases, and is highly sought after by both producers and their customer base. This project is designed to address the substantial demand for this type of bee. There is currently a great lack of availability to consistent and sustainable Carniolan breeding stock. The project goal is to establish, maintain, and control a viable breeding population on a commercial scale. Producing healthy Carniolan breeding stock for the commercial producer and their customers will enable increased profits and significantly contribute to the overall diversity of our national honey bee population.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Establish a viable, limited market scale breeding population of insemination controlled Carniolan honey bees. (100 hives to start program, with at least an additional viable 50 Instrumentally Inseminated queens in first year)
- Select for desirable traits from this population, using the following quality metrics: pest level measurements (Varroa destructor), performance evaluation, disease prevalence, temperament, and the unique grey-black color of bees. Utilize selected population as potential breeding stock.
- Provide availability of the best stock by target marketing other commercial queen bee producers.
- Share findings and breeding selection protocols throughout the honey bee industry at conferences and other national meeting forums.