4.1.3. Outcome of genetic evaluation: breeding values

The breeding value states for a particular characteristic (honey production, varroa tolerance, etc.) the extent to which an animal is genetically different from the average of the population. Breeding values can be expressed as the percentage of a moving genetic average of the population. The moving basis is the last-five-year-genetic-average for each trait. Consequently, breeding values usually depreciate, if genetic response is achieved. Because the traits used for honey bee breeding strongly differ with respect to phenotypic variation (honey 0 – 150 kg, gentleness 1-4), their breeding values also differ. To ensure their comparability, breeding values of all traits are transformed by fitting to an identical standard deviation of 10.      

At www.beebreed.eu, several features are available to select queens meeting the specific demands of breeder or buyers of queens:

  • Breeding and inbreeding values of specific queens 
  • List of queens that meet specific requirements (e.g. breeding value for varroa tolerance > 125 % and for other traits ≥ 100 %).  An example is given in Fig. 18.
  • List of queens, including a total breeding value (combination of all traits used    for selection) that meets the specific weighting of the traits in which the breeder or buyer is interested.

A breeding plan program is also available at www.beebreed.eu. Entry of the QID of potential parents makes available an estimation of the inbreeding and breeding values of the expected offspring. This allows breeders to visualize the potential results that a specific cross will produce to avoid inbreeding. Inbreeding has been found to be of crucial importance for honey bee breeding programmes. Additionally, a tool is available to search for the mating station that best suits the individual breeding goal.

Fig. 18. Screen shot from the breeding value database at www.beebreed.eu.

Figure 18