J. Apic. Res. Special Issue - Honey bee genotypes and the environment

Honey bee genotypes and the environment

In recent years, much attention has been focused on the global problem of honey bee colony losses. Among the many explanations for these losses, variability in the genetic makeup and vitality of honey bee populations might help to explain some of the variability in honey bee colony losses experienced in different regions. This has led to the innovative honey bee Genotype-Environment Interactions (GEI) experiment carried out by members of the international honey bee research association COLOSS. The results are published today in a Special Issue of the Journal of Apicultural Research.

A total of 621 colonies of 16 different genetic origins were set up in 21 apiaries in 11 different European countries managed by 15 research partners. Each location housed the local strain of bee together with two of “foreign” origins. The colonies were set up in the summer of 2009 and were managed and evaluated according to a standard protocol used by all participants until 2012.

IBRA Science Director Norman Carreck says: “The results of these experiments show that the locally adapted strains of honey bee consistently performed better than the “foreign” strains. This may seem logical to many bee scientists, but may come as something as a shock for many beekeepers who believe that purchased queens are likely to be in some way “better” than the bees that they already have in their own hives. There is growing evidence of the adverse effects of the global trade in honey bees, which has led to the spread of novel pests and diseases. These papers which provide evidence that locally-adapted honey bee strains consistently perform better than imported strains may thus strengthen local bee breeding programmes, and encourage the use of locally bred queens over those imported from elsewhere”

Norman Carreck, Science Director, IBRA +44 (0)791 8670169 Email: carrecknl@ibra.org.uk

1. Papers in the Special Issue of the Journal of Apicultural Research can be viewed at:-
2. COLOSS is a honey bee research association formerly funded by the European Union COST Programme (Action FA0803) and currently by the Ricola Foundation – Nature & Culture, which aims to explain and prevent massive honey bee colony losses. The association does not directly support science, but aims to coordinate international research activities across Europe and worldwide, promoting cooperative approaches and a research programme with a strong focus on the transfer of science into beekeeping practice. COLOSS has 300 members drawn from 63 countries worldwide. Its President is Prof. Peter Neumann of the University of Bern, Switzerland. COLOSS has funded the Open Access publication of the papers from the GEI Experiment. Website http://www.coloss.org/
3. The International Bee Research Association (“IBRA”) is the world's longest established apicultural research publishers and promotes the value of bees by providing information on bee science and beekeeping worldwide.
4. IBRA publishes the peer reviewed scientific journal the Journal of Apicultural Research, founded by IBRA in 1962. It includes original research articles, theoretical papers; scientific notes and comments; together with authoritative reviews on scientific aspects of the biology, ecology, natural history, conservation and culture of all types of bee. The ISI Impact Factor (2012) is 1.926 and the ISI 5-year Impact Factor is 1.447:- http://www.ibra.org.uk/categories/jar
5. IBRA publishes Bee World, founded by the Apis Club in 1919. This is now an accessible and topical journal containing the latest bee research, news, reviews and other relevant information for the bee scientist, beekeeper, and anyone with an interest in bees: http://www.ibra.org.uk/articles/Bee-World
6. IBRA publishes and sells books on bee science, bee conservation and beekeeping and also provides bee information services. IBRA is a Registered Charity, and its Council of Trustees boasts some of the world’s leading bee scientists.
7. Membership of IBRA costs just £36.00 annually. Membership benefits include receipt of four quarterly issues of Bee World and discount on all IBRA publications.

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IBRA Press Release GEI May 14.pdf