EurBeST

European honey Bee breeding and Selection Team



Welcome


English 
Mission
Selective breeding is a powerful tool to improve the economic basis of beekeeping and to cope with challenges to honey bees due to parasites, diseases, climatic and environmental changes. We know from our own apicultural and research experience and from the scientific literature about the selection progress in productivity, gentleness and resistance to the parasitic varroa mite (Varroa destructor) that can be achieved by modern selection methods, and also about the development of high levels of varroa resistance under natural infestation pressure.
Regarding the importance of the interactions between genotype and the environment or the productivity and survival of European bee colonies, selection might not be focused on just a few commercial lines to be spread over whole Europe with the risk of extinction of local races and ecotypes. Instead, we will focus on the most effective selection methods and marketing structures for a wide spectrum of European bee races and ecotypes, and beekeeping traditions as well as ecological and environmental circumstances.
As nearly all queens used in commercial operations are open mated, the spread of varroa resistance at the level of local populations depends very much on the drone populations. Wherever resistance could develop under natural conditions, it was based on untreated colonies which were allowed to swarm and to adapt their seasonal brood activities. However, in contrast, the success of commercial beekeeping depends very much on strong and non-split colonies with limited infestation levels. Therefore, the establishment of mite resistance in commercial populations depends on selective breeding supported by an adaptation of colony management and treatment procedures. We would like to demonstrate how this can work in practice and which technical and economical consequences derive from this.
Scope
The EurBeSTeam comprises bee experts (scientists, commercial beekeepers, breeder associations, apicultural experts) from 11 European countries with direct personal contacts to beekeepers and stakeholders from all over Europe. It also involves experts in statistics and agro-economy. The expert team is closely linked with the COLOSS Research Network for Sustainable Bee Breeding (RNSBB). Partners are also involved in the EU SMARTBEES project, the French BEESTRONG project and the German GESEBI project.
The EurBeSTeam also involves representatives of the breeder associations AGT and GDEB as the two biggest and most experienced breeder associations for the selection of commercial Carnica (Apis mellifera carnica) and "Buckfast" bees. The team can build on the cooperation with the network of breeders established within the SMARTBEES project under the lead of the coordinating partner which reaches out to all natural European honey bee races and has access to several naturally varroa resistant populations.
All of the partner institutes are involved in applied research on varroa resistance reaching from the study of naturally selected European breeds, the investigation of relevant resistance traits such as Varroa Sensitive Hygiene (VSH), Suppressed Mite Reproduction (SMR) and recapping, to the utilisation of molecular genetic tools to improve performance testing, breeding value estimation and the maintenance of mating stations and artificial insemination. Furthermore, most of the partner institutes are experienced in the training of beekeepers.
Thanks to the wide cooperation of experienced partners, the team guarantees a comprehensive evaluation of the EU market for honey bee reproductive material regarding also the CAP measures related to apiculture. As far as possible, all existing structures and networks to breed and disseminate varroa resistant honey bees will be considered in order to strengthen the cooperation among beekeepers and breeders and to develop sustainable and effective infrastructures for the promotion of resistant and commercially attractive honey bee stocks.
The study will be carried out involving beekeepers and training centres in at least the following countries: Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Poland and Spain. This selection of sample countries reflects the relatively high potential of southern European countries for cost effective queen production due to an early beginning and long season as well as different experiences in selection and beekeeping techniques. This selection also ensures the involvement of the main European bee races: Carnica (Apis mellifera carnica), Cecropia (A. m. cecropia), Iberica (A. m. iberiensis), Ligustica (A. m. ligustica), Macedonica (A. m. macedonica) and Mellifera (A. m. mellifera), as well as the commercially widespread synthetic race "Buckfast".
Français 
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Español 
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Deutsch 
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Polska 
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Eλληνικά 
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