February 26 FREE – Varroa Sensitive Hygiene (VHS) Genetics in Bees

VSH Bees – Moving from Selecting Lines to a Stock of Bees
7 p.m., Mandell Hall, Room 114, Delaware Valley College Campus
Join Dr. Jeff Harris, assistant professor of apiculture in the Department of Biochemistry, Entomology and Plant Pathology at Mississippi State University, for a VIDEO-link seminar on beekeeping.  (19 miles from Philadelphia – 700 E Butler Ave., Doylestown, PA 18901 Get Directions call 1.800.2.DelVal

Seminar Summary
Although queens produced from pure lines of Varroa sensitive hygiene (VSH) bees retain a useful level of resistance after they have been mated with other bee stocks, their level of resistance is diminished to about half.  Additionally, pure VSH lines suffer from narrow selection that has reduced their genetic variability, and many purebred VSH queens need to be supported heavily for their colonies to survive.  Jeff believes that by narrowly focusing on a single trait, his previous breeding efforts missed the chance of producing a more sustainable stock with the VSH trait selected along with a suite of other important traits.  This talk will provide his new goals of producing a uniform stock of bees with a higher expression of VSH while retaining as much genetic variation as possible.

Difficulties in selecting for VSH traits have made breeding for resistance to varroa mites difficult.  Some new strategies will be offered as alternatives to the detailed selection of complex behavioral traits.  With these approaches, it is hoped that beekeepers, beginning with already selected stock can focus on measuring mite population levels as a primary selection tool to enhance resistance to varroa mites (or any disease being considered).  A strategy for eliminating the most susceptible bees from the breeding pool while retaining colonies that have some resistance will be emphasized as an approach to keeping multiple resistance traits in the population.

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