Building Comb from Castle to Castle: Collaborations between Queen Breeders & Researchers for supporting Adaptive Reproductive Practices

Project Overview

Project Type: Local Ed & Demo (formerly RGR)
Funds awarded in 2022: $100,000.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2025
Host Institution Award ID: G224-23-W9216
Grant Recipients: Zia Queenbees Farm & Field Institute; New Mexico Community Capital
Region: Western
State: New Mexico
Principal Investigator:
Melanie Kirby
Zia Queenbees Farm & Field Institute

Information Products


  • Animals: bees


  • Animal Production: animal protection and health, genetics, Comparative studies on management; genotype x environment case studies
  • Crop Production: beekeeping, pollination, pollinator habitat, pollinator health
  • Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, focus group, mentoring, networking, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, study circle, technical assistance, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: farm-to-institution, Diversified bee breeding paradigms
  • Pest Management: biological control, disease vectors, genetic resistance, integrated pest management, prevention, weather monitoring
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, integrated crop and livestock systems, organic agriculture, permaculture, transitioning to organic
  • Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, infrastructure analysis, leadership development, partnerships, quality of life, social networks, sustainability measures, urban/rural integration

    Proposal abstract:


    Building Comb from Castle to Castle: Interdisciplinary approaches between Queen Breeders & Researchers for supporting Adaptive Reproductive Practices

    is a cross-country project of the Adaptive Bee Breeders Alliance which is rooted in 2 previously funded WSARE Farmer grants: The Southwest Survivor Queenbee Project (FW 07-32) and The Rocky Mountain Survivor Queenbee Cooperative (FW 12-096). These initial and secondary farmer-inspired projects focused on bringing queen honey bee producers together to develop regionally-fortified genetic pools for sharing enduring stock lines. Both projects created networks of beekeepers in diverse communities which helped to raise awareness of distinct bee breeding practices and challenges in the American west. They have inspired the formation of The Adaptive Bee Breeders Alliance (ABBA) which includes beekeepers from New Mexico, California, Oregon, Texas and North Dakota, Massachusetts, New York and Florida.  ABBA participants are appreciative of scientific inquiries and review. As such, ABBA has connected with diverse scientists focused on complementary bee research in Texas, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Michigan, Indiana, and Georgia working to support healthy bees across our great country. Building Comb from Castle to Castle project shares collaborative findings and media guides helping to build  bridges between the field and the lab that can help us become better producers and stewards. This project includes genetic stock analysis for both Mitochondrial (maternal) assessment and genomic techniques to understand drone fertility in each of the participating producers breeding areas, Instrumental Insemination (I.I.) training in advanced breeding techniques for sharing across distances and times, cryopreservation of honey bee germplasm for inclusion in the USDA American Honey Bee Germplasm Respository Program, determining drone congregation area research with UAVs, and mentorship educational outreach opportunities via webinars and in-service workshops to support continued professional growth of both producers and researchers which enhances quality of life and market availability for changing times and climes.



    Project objectives from proposal:

    Building Comb from Castle to Castle: Interdisciplinary approaches connecting Queen Breeders & Researchers for supporting Adaptive Reproductive Practices is a multifaceted interdisciplinary project that:

    • increases knowledge of both producers, scientists, and agriculture professionals through joint participation in field assessments and scientific analysis for evaluation and result integration.
    • develops partnerships between producers and the scientific community for nurturing industry support and integration adding to the collective body of knowledge
    • creates collaborative producer driven research queries to develop approaches for adapting to variable environmental challenges
    • processes producer queries through facilitated academic participation regional
    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.