We received a SARE farmer grant from the USDA to research ways to select queen bees for mite resistance. We tested a method for mite resistance selection developed by Erickson, E.H., et al.. Our goal was to use the Alcohol Wash Assay and the Freeze Killed Brood Assay together in a selection program, comparing two different honey bee lines. We hoped to show that the tests helped indicate candidate queens suitable for breeding mite resistance. We ran into some snags with weather and stock suitability, eventually only testing using the AWA. Complete information on our grant: SARE Grant FNE08-631
We ran the assay in 2009: a year with heavy mite-load and generally poor nectar flow. Sampling three times, we collected data on mite percentages for twenty colonies. Pictures of the assay are below, performed step by step. Sample bees are sacrificed using this assay.
We obtained useful results from the assay. Several of the 20 colonies had acceptably low mite percentages and two were also excellent choices for breeder queens. This assay is valuable when run as one of many selection tests--if one has a candidate pool that yields and handles well and also has a low mite percentage based on this test, one may be very sure that the candidates will be good breeders.
This research was conducted with funding from the USDA SARE Program, Northeast SARE. We are grateful to have received support. Thank you. We would also like to thank our technical advisor, and the researchers we contacted who answered questions and provided helpful input.