The Northern Queen Initiative: Improving Value, Availability, and Production of Mite-Resistant Honey Bee Queens in Northern Climates

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2024: $50,000.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2026
Grant Recipient: Sustainable Beekeepers Guild of Michigan
Region: North Central
State: Michigan
Project Coordinator:
James Lee
Sustainable Beekeepers Guild of Michigan


No commodities identified


No practices identified

Proposal abstract:

This project will address the deficiency in Michigan market
availability of honey bee queens bred for parasite and viral
resistance. Michigan beekeepers depend on importation of honey
bee queens from non-Northern suppliers and breeders that raise
queens and bees that are not adapted to Northern climates. Along
with the challenge of environmental stress, diseases harbored by
the varroa mite plague beekeepers in hobbyist, sideline, and
commercial capacities thus negatively impacting successful
seasonal honey harvests.

The deficiency in locally adapted mite-resistant honey bee queens
compounds the issues beekeepers face in every scale of beekeeping
from 1 hive to 500. The agricultural industry is dependent on
honey bees for sustainability in all facets of the food system.
Large operations cannot dedicate time and resources to the
processes required for selective breeding in honey bees. This
project seeks to improve market availability and access to
sustainable honey bee queens while incentivizing adoption of
stock by reducing time and labor cost associated with adoption.
This project will increase production of queens for all
beekeeping operations by developing a network of capable queen
producers. This project will directly and indirectly influence
regional honey bee mating areas that benefit all beekeepers
regardless of scale.

Project objectives from proposal:

  1. Establish a network of production for selected
    stock to improve Michigan honey bee mating areas and develop a
    sustainable reservoir of selected stocks.
  2. Provide local/regional access to queen stocks
    through local pick up from producers, bee clubs, and overnight
  3. Distribute media and conduct workshops for
    400+ club members and 1000+ media subscribers.
  4. Recruit additional queen producers to amplify
    project objectives and methods and improve regional saturation of
    viable honey bee queen stocks.
  5. Breed lineages established as Northern queens
    producing offspring selected for mite and viral resistance,
    Northern winter survivability, and honey production.
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.