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sector_ico_Agrifood_trans Agrifood

Pest Resistant Bee Selection and Breeding with Biomarkers (Apiculture Project)

  • Project Leaders: Leonard Foster
  • Institutions: BC Ministry of Agriculture
  • Budget: $62500
  • Program/Competition: Pilot Projects (2010-2015)
  • Genome Centre(s): Genome British Columbia
  • Fiscal Year: 2013
  • Status: Closed

Honey bees contribute nearly $500M in value to fruit crops in BC through their pollination activities. For the past several years, beekeepers in BC are losing an average of one third of their bee colonies – roughly three times the historical average – mostly due to infectious diseases and parasites. The most damaging of honey bee pest is Varroa destructor; it weakens the bees feeding on their hemolymph and it also transmits a variety of fatal viruses. Currently, there are miticides that exist for controlling Varroa, but the mite has developed resistance to many of them. More environmentally friendly methods for beekeeping are under high demand, such as selecting breeding stock that has natural resistance to mites. This study successfully developed a protein test to evaluate and specifically select honey bees for resistance to the parasitic mite Varroa destructor. From spring 2015 this test will be initially offered to bee breeders in BC to allow them to select and propagate resistant honey bees from their own stocks. There is also a real potential for the uptake of this test by the industry users.