Canada Seeks to Breed Stronger Honeybees

honeybee genetics photo

Image credit: cygnus921, used under Creative Commons license.

From tough love beekeeping to reviving the native black honeybee, there are many folks who believe that the answer to saving the bees lies in either breeding for better genetics and/or encouraging nature and evolution to do the same. One program in Canada is setting out to actively breed better, more resilient bees—and it is enlisting the help of its local beekeepers to do so. reports that researchers from the universities of Manitoba and Guelph are seeking to breed better bees, with the hope of building up resistance to disease and mites. The program is also looking at ways to better manage bee colonies, and to screen new products for disease and mite control.

With Global losses of bee colonies ranging from 10 to 30 percent in Europe, 30 percent in the United States, and up to 85 percent in Middle East, there is good reason for researchers to be pushing hard for a breakthrough. While no magic bullet has yet been found, Rob Currie, entomology professor at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, revealed that they had cut losses of bees that were deliberately exposed to diseases in tests from 75 percent to about 40 percent.

But this is far from purely an academic lab exercise—Ottawa has agreed to provide $244,000 to the Ontario Beekeepers' Association to experiment with different methods of caring for bees, including varying the kinds and amounts of food bees are given, as well as looking at how bees are transported for pollination.

More on Bees, Beekeeping, and Genetics
Tough Love Beekeeping Lets Weak Bees Die
Could Reviving the Native Black Honeybee Save UK Beekeeping?
Honeybee Shortage Worries Farmers in Japan
Bees on the Brink : Discovery News

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