We've worked for 22 years on our honey bee selection and breeding program. The program concentrates on maintaining varroa mite resistant stock that is hardy and productive; no mite treatments are used. We utilize artificial insemination to control matings, enabling us to make bee breeding decisions by making calculated and planned crosses. Selective breeding based on stock evaluation and testing enables us to make progress toward our goals and improve our breeding population.
To produce Varroa mite resistant bees that are robust survivors; to select for high build-up potential, superior honey production, over-Wintering ability, and gentleness. To provide hardy and productive VSH breeding stock to our customers; to help them to produce mite resistant bees. We have been and still are committed to managing all our colonies without any mite treatments.
We've chosen to leverage an evaluation/testing strategy where we use artificial insemination/instrumental insemination to control matings, making carefully calculated crosses with proven lines, while testing the outcome of experimental crosses. This results in the maintenance of our breeding population and assures new genetic expression potential. We are proud to have had a material transfer agreement for germplasm with the USDA Honey Bee Lab in Baton Rouge.
We strive through careful selection, to continue to meet our honey bee breeding goals creating breeder queens that may be used to produce production queens that will head strong colonies that can be managed without the use of mite treatments or in an IPM program if the client is currently treating. We've been working toward this end for the last 21 years.
Evaluating new bee stock for potentially desirable breeding material to use in our program is a "numbers game". The larger a block of stock that can be evaluated and tested, the greater the chance of finding queens that show desirable traits, to use in further testing.
We collaborate with queen producers and bee breeders throughout the U.S.A. and Canada. By testing their stocks and then using the most suitable in carefully planned crosses, we continue to have positive results producing bees with Varroa resistance that make good honey, make healthy brood and are hardy.
Our breeding program incorporates many of the fundamentals of the classic closed population breeding design for honey bees (Page-Laidlaw). Artificial insemination/instrumental insemination is used to cross our breeder queens: the closed population model depends on controlled matings to function properly. Closed population bee breeding allows for steady improvement toward the ideal, without risking the perils that inbreeding and loss of genetic diversity pose to honey bees.
We're continually testing others' survivor bees for potential too. Basically, we test queens from many different sources. If they are productive, survive two Winters, build up well during our short, intense Spring and still manage to remain thrifty for the rest of our season, we consider them as candidates. If they survive and are desirable, we incorporate them into our population. We run similar tests for all our strains, placing emphasis on the traits that are most desirable. Example: for Almond Pollination breeders, more emphasis is placed on brood production and feed efficiency; for honey producers who over-Winter colonies in the North, their breeders would be selected to have more efficient feed-to-stores conversion and tighter clustering.