Improving honey Bee Health and Pollination Sustainability with Mite-Resistant Bees

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2008: $117,861.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Region: North Central
State: Indiana
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Greg Hunt
Purdue University

Annual Reports


  • Animals: bees


  • Animal Production: preventive practices
  • Pest Management: genetic resistance
  • Production Systems: holistic management

    Proposal abstract:

    Varroa mites are the single greatest pest to beekeeping in the North Central region and worldwide. This project is designed to increase the sustainability of beekeeping and reduce pesticide inputs in bee hives by selecting for winter-hardy, mite resistant bees. This project involves collaboration with Indiana queen producers and beekeepers, but we will also partner with beekeepers and extension specialists in other states, to share knowledge and stocks. We will select for mite-grooming behavior, winter survival and honey production. Grooming behavior is one of the two most important traits conferring resistance to Varroa mites in honey bees but it has not been incorporated into U.S. breeding programs. We will demonstrate the value of northern-bred mite resistant queens and will seek to incorporate another trait (hygienic behavior) that has already been successfully used to increase resistance to mites. The adoption of resistant stock will foster a North Central queen breeding industry. In addition, we will conduct outreach and extension activities to teach beekeepers how to select and breed their own queens.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    In the short-term, this project will increase the awareness of Midwestern beekeepers for the value of resistant stocks of bees, and increase the number of beekeepers capable of producing their own queen bees.

    The primary intermediate-term outcome will be an increase in the sale and use of queen bees that have enhanced resistance to Varroa mites, are adapted to the north central, and are good honey producers.

    Long-term outcomes that follow these will be the fostering of a Midwestern queen breeding industry and an increase in the number of beekeepers that produce their own queens. The adoption of hardy, mite-resistant stocks will improve the sustainability of beekeeping and crop pollination, and reduce the use of pesticides.

    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.