Rearing Varroa Hygienic Queens: An experiment in queen rearing and development
Honeybees are now being selectively bred that hygienically remove mite-infested pupae from capped worker brood. This ability is called varroa sensitive hygiene behavior, and bees expressing high levels of this behavior are called VSH bees. For several years the Queen Rearing Initiative wing of the PCBA has purchased instrumentally inseminated queen bees and grafted their offspring to increase the availability of these VSH traits to members and the region.
Another characteristic of VSH bees is a reduced fertility of mites, when compared to non-VHS bees. In a colony, mite fertility is reduced several weeks after introduction of VSH queens in to non-selected colonies. This led to the original name of the trait, Suppressed Mite Reproduction (SMR). This is due to the finding that the primary mechanism of the trait is the removal of infested pupae from capped brood cells.
The QRI is a major investment and effort on the part of the club to improve the ability of local honey bee stock to resist pests such as the varroa mite and better survive the New England winters. We are currently finishing our fourth year of service. We have had four instrumentally inseminated queens as part of our program.
This objective is dependent on the general availability of Queens and Drone offspring that are mite resistant and that come from stock that is able to successfully overwinter here. By flooding an area with drones that have the DNA of their strong, hygienic, and northern breed Queens (they carry only their queen’s DNA), they, and their Queens will help to spread the DNA, even through the wild honey bee population, through swarms and the mating of resistant drones with other queens.
It should be clear to us all that this initiative requires not only the financial support of the club, but widespread participation over a number of years to reach our goal.
The QRI has been supported financially by the PCBA and club members – but now the club and the QRI Team ask for your participation by actually using the Club’s QRI Queens to build strong, resistant and winter tolerant hives.
Please support the goals of this club and buy and use the Club’s fabulous QRI Queens.
Thank you for your support,
~The QRI Team