locally adapted strains of honey bee consistently performed better than the “foreign” strains. Honey bee genotypes and the environment In recent years, much attention has been focused on the global problem of honey bee colony losses. Among the many explanations for these losses, variability in the genetic makeup and vitality…
Record-keeping: the selection of local stock The honey bee colonies in our area should be viewed as our resources for selection and improvement. We may only be responsible for a handful of those colonies so there is a great incentive to co-operate and work with other beekeepers in the area…
In the long-term we want to see a bee population that is locally adapted and truly sustainable, that is, for example, one that is not reliant on regular chemical treatments to control varroa.
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A conservation project working with Free Living and managed surviving non treatment colonies to protect a wild population and produce a better local Honey Bee in Northamptonshire.
MIdlothian group helping local beekeepers and novices start beekeeping and bee improvement.
For myself and my local association, Wisborough Green BKA (WGBKA) in West Sussex, where I am Apiary Manager, I usually produce at least 100 queens per year. This is mainly to replace poorer queens in honey producing colonies, provide queens to head nucs for new beekeepers and for members who need queens for a variety of reasons. We try to encourage members to rear their own queens, but sometimes their bees need requeening with better stock. As many beekeepers only have a couple of colonies, they may not have bees that are good to propagate from. A BKA teaching apiary can be a genetic resource to distribute good local stock from.
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If, as an alternative to the importation of queens, we established a National Bee Improvement Programme which selected and propagated the best local bees, a good reason could then be made for not using imported bees. Beekeepers would benefit in two ways, that is, in a reduction in the biosecurity risks associated with imports, and through the opportunity of supporting and participating in a project that could deliver a better-quality bee. Taking part in a scheme to sustainably improve our bees would provide a definite reason to refrain from the use of imported bees.
A key question any individual or group should consider is what method should I/we follow to Improve our bees and to produce queens. There are a few key choices depending on your aims, capacity (time and equipment) and capabilities. I’m assuming the reader is looking for a bee that is native and/or locally adapted.
A small group in Pembrokeshire working for the breeding and conservation of a local strain of black bee