Overview 2018

US breeding program

In Hawaii we had a quite turbulent year. At the start of the year we were very happy to present the breeding program to the Brandpunt-TV crew which made the effort to join us to Hawaii and Baton Rouge and made a nice overview of activities and progress.

As can be seen in the documentary (link on our website), their visit coincided with a large increase of activity of the Kilauea Volcano. Large flows of magma erupted from a large area, destroying more than 700 homes. David Thomas, the beekeeper that houses our program, had to remove a large amount of honey production colonies out of the active area. The colonies in our breeding program were fortunately not affected and during the summer, the magma flows came to a stop.

Originally, a normal colony on Hawaii had to be treated against Varroa around 4 times per year – as there is no winter, the mites can multiply in the brood all year round. Half of the colonies in the program are now treatment free, while the other half is down to, on average, a little bit more than 1 treatment per year. The average amount of mites per 100 bees has been steadily decreasing, to below 2% on average. This is very nice as this is below the to-be-treated-against-Varroa level of 3%.

2018 was a bad year from the weather point of view (yes, even on Hawaii): there was a record level of rain which hampered a normal honey flow. Fortunately, 2019 looks to become a more normal year, which will enable us to do more selection on the amount of honey a colony collects – also an important trait for a commercial honey bee.

EU breeding program: Buckfast, Carnica and Black Bee

More than one hundred beekeepers are now actively running the selection program in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, France, Luxemburg, The Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland. Almost 700 colonies were prepared, infested with mites and assessed on their resistance level. 189 colonies were identified as highly resistant (≥50% of reproducing mites removed from the brood). Of these, a third of the colonies removed all of the mites and are considered 100% resistant.

To enable the distribution of the resistant stock to a larger number of beekeepers and also to produce production colonies of the participating beekeepers in our program, isolated mating stations have started to use highly resistant queens of our selection program as a basis for the production of their drone producing colonies (usually 20-40 colonies per station).

Beekeepers can bring their virgins to these stations where they are naturally mated with the highly resistant drones.

Especially the Bayern Buckfast group is already very active with the supply of queens to three stations: Karwendel, Leyhörn and Ammergebirge in Germany.

There is also a station running in Luxembourg, which was joined by a  newly complemented station in Belgium (Sélange-Arlon), just on the other side of the border.

After the Hawaii trip, the Brandpunt TV-crew were eager to make a second documentary of our activities in the Netherlands (see also the website). In this documentary Gerbert Kos and members of the Marken mating station are explaining what is entailed in the project and how the mating station of Marken works.

In this documentary the importance of the pollination tasks of honey bees was also explained by our partner Bejo Zaden in Warmenhuizen.

2018 was the first year for the Black Bee group in Belgium joining our program. A total of 34 colonies were counted for VSH and already 8 colonies were found to be highly resistant – a very nice score for a first year!

The large growth in participating beekeepers has been made possible by the recruitment of two new project leaders.

Guillaume Misslin, both a very experienced bee breeder and a trained molecular biologist, joined Arista in April (made possible by financial contributions from the Adessium and the Dioraphte foundations). As he already participated in our program he was quickly up to speed and is now supporting the groups in the German speaking areas (Germany, Switzerland, Austria) and the Carnica groups in the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Guillaume was also active in the Barbados project.

The second project leader we were able to recruit in 2018 is Sacha d’Hoop de Synghem. Sacha is a graduated Bioengineer and beekeeper. His recruitment is made possible by financial contributions of the Walloon Government to the newly created entity Arista Bee Research Belgium.  Sacha quickly took up the massive amount of organizational and training tasks which resulted in an even higher number of participating beekeepers in Belgium (>60).

Terschelling project

On the island of Terschelling a Black Bee project was started with the cooperation of all beekeepers on the island. Many of the colonies on Terschelling seem to be quite “black”, judging by their colour.

However, Buckfast bees and Carnica bees have also been held on the island for quite some time. So, we started a small project to see whether there are still enough relatively pure colonies to start a Varroa resistant Black Bee breeding program.

For this, Merel Rookmaker and Bart Lubbers, students of the Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences sampled all the colonies on the island and used the “fingerprint” of the wings of the worker bees to determine how “black” the bees are. From the 150 sampled colonies, 30 colonies were considered black enough (with 65-92% of the workers fully black and the remaining workers close to this) to keep. The queens of the other (less black) colonies will be replaced with daughters of these black queens during the coming year. This selection process will be repeated to further increase the purity. At the same time, we will start monitoring the mite-growth in the colonies to get an idea on the current level of resistance. This will enable us to prepare ourselves for the Varroa-resistance-selection-part of the project.

Genetic Marker project

2018 was the first year of the “RAAK” project, the consortium with Inholland University of Applied Sciences, Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences, the company Bejo Zaden BV and Arista Bee Research. The different partners each have their own expertise and tasks in the project.

Arista Bee Research is responsible for the creation and identification of colonies that have very low and very high levels of VSH. From each of these colonies, 50 bees are collected and stored for analysis. We were able to collect samples from more than 50 colonies with either very low or very high VSH.

This is enough to start the next phase of the project: the extraction and sequencing of DNA which Inholland and Bejo Zaden have now started to work on. Once sequencing has been done, we can start comparing the low and high VSH colonies looking for differences between the DNA sequences.

Van Hall Larenstein started the phenotyping of the behaviour which means that we will confirm that it is indeed VSH behaviour (removal of the infested pupae/mites from the brood) in the highly resistant colonies, by investigating captured video of bees on Varroa infested frames of brood. 

Barbados project

We were able to conclude all the needed measurements on 10 untreated colonies in Barbados. The results over the year are quite stable: relatively low mite levels on the bees as well in the brood, clearly showing high levels of resistance. The USDA is now investigating the bee-samples we took for virus levels and possible Africanization.

We will be compiling the data in a publication which will give a more detailed overview in the results and conclusions. The project has been made possible by financially contributions from the Bayer Bee Care centre.

Arista Academy

During the last few years we compiled a lot of knowledge and “do’s and don’ts” relating to our selection program. At the same time there are a lot of beekeepers that would like to start participating in our program or that would like to further develop their skills.

So, with the help of a new volunteer, Marjolein Bemelmans, we have started to build a comprehensive training program; “Arista Academy”. We will work hard to make the program available for participating beekeepers in the spring of 2020.

Arista Cloud

As we now have shown that the Arista selection method is working, it is time to further expand the breeding program.

In line with the increasing number of beekeepers, the number of project leaders, technicians and staff members will also have to grow. This also implies further investments in the establishment and furnishing of a European center with offices, lab, apiaries and training space as well as investments in equipment such as insemination sets, microscopes, incubators and freezers.

So, we are currently very busy for the launch of a new sponsorship program, tailored towards companies, governmental institutions and communities: the “Arista Cloud”.

By adopting one or more Arista hives with a Varroa resistant queen, one would become both a participant and a sponsor of the Varroa resistant breeding program.

Such a hive would be fully maintained by Arista & partners and will be monitored for (lack of) Varroa infestation, honey collection etc. Both Arista and the sponsor can follow the hive on an internet-dashboard to see how the hive is doing. The colonies in the hives contribute in two different ways to the program: Firstly, the drones from these colonies will distribute the Varroa resistance by mating with queens in the neighborhood of the hive (up to 10 km from the hive). Secondly, Arista will select the best queens and re-use them in the breeding program to produce the next generation.

We will further update you with more details on this Arista Cloud program once we have completed our logistic preparations. We are working hard to breed queens, prepare special designed computer monitored hives, etc. . Interested parties can already contact us for more information.



Brandpunt+ Hawaii

Please watch the documentary of Brandpunt+ (KRO-NCRV) of our Varroa Resistant breeding project on Hawaii (English subtitles).

This breeding project has been made possible by a cooperation of the USDA in Baton Rouge, Hawaii Island Honey Company, Project Apis m. and Arista Bee Research.

To help us to continue our projects, you can support us by making a donation.
Thank you very much for your interest & support!

https://brandpuntplus.kro-ncrv.nl/
https://www.ars.usda.gov/southeast-area/baton-rouge-la/honeybeelab/
https://www.projectapism.org/
https://aristabeeresearch.org/donors/



Growth and good progress in 2017

Boxmeer, May 17th, 2018.

Full resistance in the US Breeding program
In the US we have been working very hard to establish a breeding centre for Varroa resistant bees, in close cooperation with Bob Danka from the USDA in Baton Rouge (supplying pre-selected semen from the USDA bee-stock and financially supporting the program), Danielle Downey from the non-profit organization Project Apis m. (financial support and administration) and David Thomas from the Hawaii Island Honey Company (infrastructure, personnel and financial support).

A dedicated laboratory was built on the Big Island of Hawaii. On Hawaii we have a long season, enabling us to produce and select multiple generations per year.

With the financial support we have been able to recruit and train 4 employees, so since last year we are able to run the program “full throttle”. We have 200 small colonies for housing our inseminated queens and 600 large hives to house our breeders and drone supplying colonies. All these colonies are tracked with our in-house developed “Queenbase” software application.

In addition, David Thomas is running all his honey production colonies in Hawaii (several thousand) with queens from the breeding program. The progress made in the program is very encouraging and also gives us a lot of information which we use in the EU breeding program (and vice versa).

With commercial queens, colonies on Hawaii required treatment up to 4 times a year (brood in the colonies year round, so a “Varroa-paradise”), in contrast, the bees from our program are currently treated less than 1 time per year on average. The best lines reach full resistance and keep the mite infestation levels very low during a full year – without any treatment.

We are now working on establishing these high levels of resistance in a broader selection of our lines. Furthermore, we also have to ensure that the lines perform well from a honey harvest and pollination point of view and that they perform well in the commercial operations on the mainland of the United States (so field-trials are being performed).

The very good results on Hawaii show us that fully Varroa resistant bees are feasible and encourage us all to keep working hard – both in the US and in the EU.

Strong growth in our EU-breeding program
We started our first year – 2014 – with 6 breeders in our breeding program. The number of breeders has grown since then from 16 in 2015, to 35 in 2016 and up to 66 in 2017! In Europe, we currently have participating groups in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, France, Luxemburg, The Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland.

With the growing number of breeders and breeding groups, the number of colonies being tested in the program increased to 390 in 2016 and grew further to 646 in 2017. 134 of these colonies showed high resistance against Varroa (> 75% of the reproducing mites are removed from the brood). Colonies with this level of resistance do not need treatments against Varroa. Twelve colonies did not have any reproducing mites at all in their brood (after receiving 100 to 200 mites two weeks earlier and then checking 300-400 brood cells) and are considered fully Varroa resistant (100% VSH). As these are in most cases one-time measurements, we will perform additional measurements on these colonies and use them in 2018, to confirm their level of resistance. The queens of these highly resistant colonies are usually inseminated with just a single drone. These single drone inseminated queens allow us to make quick progress in our breeding program, but they can only be housed in small hives and have a limited life expectancy, because of the limited amount of semen they received. We are now in a position where we can also start to produce more multi (8-12) drone inseminated queens, using the material from our resistant single drone colonies. These multi drone inseminated queens can be housed in regular sized hives and we will start evaluating these queens on other important traits, like honey production and winter-survival.

We will continue to look for extra financial resources so we can further increase the number of beekeepers and colonies in the program in order to obtain the needed high diversity in the resistant pool of colonies.

Carnica, Buckfast and now also Black Bees
We started our program with Buckfast and Carnica beekeepers. These two races represent a large proportion of the honeybees in Europe and so the majority of our current program consists of different lines from these races.

However, there are local native sub-species in Europe that are considered important, given their unique set of traits and genetic background. One of these races is the Black Bee (Apis mellifera mellifera) which is one of the ten recognized European bee sub-species. With the popularity of the Buckfast and Carnica, and the extinction of feral, natural wild colonies due to Varroa, several of the Black Bee populations are considered endangered and could also benefit from a Varroa resistant breeding program. So in 2018 Arista will start working with the Belgian Black Bee group Mellifica.be in creating a first set of single drone inseminated queens, which will be tested and selected for using our established method.

Furthermore, the beekeepers on the island of Terschelling (the Netherlands) have joined up with Arista to create a Black Bee breeding program on the island, making the island a reserve for Black Bees. This breeding program will also include the selection of Varroa resistant lines, using our selection method. In 2018 we will find out how pure, how “black” the bees are on the island. Based on the findings, we will make a plan to establish a pure, Varroa resistant, Black Bee population.

Genetic Marker projects
As we now get a first base of fully resistant colonies, it becomes possible to start projects based on these bees. The standard method which we use to select for Varroa resistant colonies is quite labour intensive. It would be a big help if we could test and screen our bees with a simple (genetic) test – if only such a test would exist…

To develop such a test, it is necessary that we improve our understanding of the underlying genetics of the Varroa resistant behaviours, like Varroa Sensitive Hygiene (VSH: the detection and removal of the mites from the brood). For this reason Arista formed a consortium with the Inholland University of Applied Sciences (Amsterdam) and Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences (Leeuwarden, Velp) and the company Bejo Zaden BV. Last summer, together, we managed to get a “RAAK-pro” project proposal approved and we have now started to work towards finding a genetic marker for the resistant behaviour. Arista will supply the bees for the project and will support Van Hall Larenstein with analysing the behaviour (“phenotyping”) of the bees. Inholland and Bejo Zaden will look for the genetic background of the behaviour (“genotyping”) by comparing bees that do and do not perform the specific behaviour. This project is supported by a committee composed of members of the NBV (Dutch Beekeepers Organization), BBV (Buckfast Beekeepers Organization), VCI (Carnica Beekeepers organization), the Laboratory of Genetics from the Wageningen University and the BVNI (Professional Beekeepers organization).

Arista has also started to support the BeeStrong project of the INRA institute in Avignon, France. 40 Arista colonies were counted last summer for VSH and bee samples were taken for genetic analysis at INRA.

Barbados project
There are a few places in the world where it is believed that honeybees have become resistant against Varroa, without the help from humans. Barbados may be one of these places. When Varroa established itself on the island in 2002/2003, the bee population crashed and most of colonies collapsed. Most of the colonies on Barbados are “feral”, so unmanaged colonies, living in the rainforest. A small number of beekeepers catch swarms of these feral colonies to populate their hives. Most of these managed colonies also collapsed, because beekeepers did not treat against Varroa.

Interestingly, after several years the beekeepers again started to get phone calls, asking them to come remove swarms. Now, around 15 years after the first outbreak of Varroa, the population is considered to be fully recovered and beekeepers catch swarms and collect honey from their colonies, just like before the Varroa reached the island.

With the financial support of Bayer, Arista is now establishing a small project on the island. This project has the aim of establishing and following an apiary with colonies for one season and regularly determine mite levels on the bees and in the brood to establish the level of Varroa resistance. Furthermore, we will try to get a first indication which trait (possibly VSH?) the bees are using to keep Varroa at bay. In addition we will check the haplotypes of the bees, to exclude the possibility that the bees now present on Barbados are immigrated Africanized bees.

At the last visit, 10 colonies (untreated) were investigated on mite levels. The colonies showed very low mite infestation levels in the brood and most of the colonies also had low levels of Varroa infestation on the bees. So first data indicate indeed high levels of resistance. Will be continued…

Personnel & organization
In addition to the financial support that was established for the genetic marker, Barbados and US-Hawaii projects, both the Adessium foundation and the Dioraphte foundation have started to financially support our breeding program! These are important contributions as we can now build a small organization that can support the quickly growing group of beekeepers in our program.

The combined funding enabled us to have BartJan Fernhout move from the Board to the position of program director and to recruit Guillaume Misslin as a project leader. In addition, the Van Hall Larenstein (VHL) University of Applied Sciences is recruiting a project technician for the RAAK-pro project, which will be working with VHL students at the Arista location.

We are very happy that Prof. Jacques van Alphen has filled the vacated Chairman position in the Board. Jacques van Alphen brings with him a large amount of experience and scientific knowledge, as he spent his whole professional life working on insect-parasite interactions.

Furthermore, the Wallonia government in Belgium has approved the funding of a project leader for Arista! To achieve this, we founded a legal entity “Arista Bee Research Belgium”. This enabled us to recruit Sacha d’Hoop de Synghem who will be dedicated to work in the Wallonia area while working closely together with the Arista team in the Netherlands.

And last but not least we have been able to rent part of a house with a large garden, giving us space for an office-lab and an apiary.

We are very excited that we can now really start pushing towards our goal: Varroa resistant bees that thrive and keep themselves healthy, without relying on chemical treatments. For this we will further work on expanding the donor base, the professional support and the number of participating beekeepers and beekeeping organizations. The ultimate goal is that all beekeepers in the US and the EU can stop all chemical treatments against Varroa, while strongly improving the health of their colonies and strongly reducing the number of colony losses. This would ensure an uninterrupted supply of honeybees supporting the agricultural industry with pollination services and honey production. It would also support the recovery of the native local European subspecies of honeybees and the re-establishment of natural populations.



Further expansion in 2016

Arberg, November 2016.

New Buckfast group in Bavaria (Germany) got off to a flying start.

In Bavaria (South of Germany) an already very active Buckfast-Beekeeper and Breeder group (having grown from 100 to 500 members during the last 5 years – buckfast-bayern.de) has joined the other Arista VSH Buckfast and Carnica groups in the search for Varroa resistant lines.

Josef Koller, the chairman of this group, has been working on breeding Varroa resistant bees for 20 years. In recent years he has been supported by a growing number of interested people (one of them being Ralf Höling). Through his concept, he succeeded in selecting colonies that survived untreated for years. However, so far it had not been possible to make offspring inherit this trait consistently.

So, inspired by the stories from the already established Arista members, it was decided to start a Single Drone Insemination VSH project. Many emails were sent during the winter and so the group started very well prepared in the spring of 2016. More than 40 test colonies were created, using mainly two Buckfast lines that had proven to have the lowest mite counts during the previous years.

The  large experience in the group with Varroa counting (determining infestation levels), combined with the Arista experience paid off as large amounts of mites were harvested, with newly constructed buckets and many kilograms of powdered sugar, to infest the 40 test colonies.

Early August the group (combination of beekeepers, family, friends and Arista volunteers) came together for three days and established the level of VSH for each colony by counting the reproducing and non-reproducing Varroa’s in the brood.

It became clear early on that all the years with few or no treatments whatsoever (with the consequential colony losses) paid off, as in their first year, half of the tested colonies already expressed high levels of VSH. With these good results in mind, the group immediately took action and organized another insemination session in the fall to produce offspring from the colonies that were found to have the highest VSH level. 93 colonies were created and these colonies will be available in the coming years to produce drones for new Buckfast combinations.

After this very good start, the group in Bavaria with coordinator Stefan Luff, as well as the neighboring Buckfast-Süd group, are preparing themselves during this winter for the coming year, to expand the number of colonies and lines in the program.



Good results continued in 2015

Boxmeer, June, 2016.

Existing Buckfast group (Belgium/Luxemburg/France/Netherlands/Germany/Austria)

The group, established in 2014, continued in 2015 with both the pure Buckfast lines as well as the Buckfast-USDA crossed lines. More than 160 colonies were created and tested over the course of the year. In Altea, Spain, our breeding station became fully operational.

New breeders joined the team and a new group of extra volunteers was recruited to count the growing number of colonies – spending a week of their holidays to help us out!

Whereas in 2014 we had 10% of our pure Buckfast colonies in the high-VSH segment, the 2015 score was 23 of the 94 colonies (more than 20%) in this segment of 75% VSH and higher, showing a successful selection. Also in the Buckfast-USDA based lines the high VSH could be confirmed with 40% of the colonies in the high VSH segment (27 of 68 colonies).
1 Altea - Counting

New Buckfast VSH groups in the Netherlands

We are very happy to welcome two highly experienced, existing Buckfast breeding groups; the Buckfast breeding group Marken and the Buckfast breeding group Flevo. These Dutch groups have established mating stations in Marken and the Flevopolder.

Both groups started in 2015 to screen their breeding stock for regular hygienic behaviour, as there are indications that colonies with high levels of regular hygienic behaviour are more likely to also show the VSH trait.

From the best scoring colonies, 24 single drone colonies were established and counted. Two colonies were identified with high VSH (=>75%), 4 colonies had intermediate levels of VSH.

As the two groups started with completely new Buckfast lines, this is an important achievement as it will broaden our (genetic) base of high-VSH Buckfast.
2 Marken - Flevo-counting

New Carnica VSH group in the Netherlands

A very important and broadly used bee race is the Carnica bee. While already cooperating with the Kirchhain Institute in Germany (which uses Carnica), we were also able to establish a group of experienced Carnica breeders in the Netherlands, to join the Arista Bee Research program. The group created and tested 59 colonies in their first year of using the Single Drone VSH method. The very good news is that we were also able to clearly demonstrate VSH behaviour in the Carnica bee. We were able to find 13 colonies with intermediate VSH levels and 4 colonies had high levels of VSH (≥75%).
3 SDI-camo-minis -  Queen marked

Inholland University of Applied Sciences

The Inholland University of Applied Sciences (located in Amsterdam) has joined ABR and will strengthen the existing collaboration between the Genetics department in Wageningen University, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Arista Bee Research. While we have our third student working on VSH in the department of Genetics in Wageningen, now also students of the Inholland University of Applied Sciences have joined our program. These students will help us test the large number of bee samples being collected from the test colonies in the search for a VSH-marker (a test that could determine the VSH level by doing a lab-test instead of the labour intensive counting we currently do).
4 InHolland

VSH third generation breeding in US supported by Arista Bee Research

While our first visits to the USDA in Baton Rouge were used to learn the VSH methodology from our US colleagues, it also became clear that they are very much interested in the breeding experience that exists in Europe. For that reason, the USDA and a commercial beekeeper from Hawaii have requested Arista Bee Research to support the creation of a third generation VSH bee for use in the US. A collaboration agreement with the USDA and donations from the commercial beekeeper make it possible to do quarterly visits and give ongoing remote support.
5 Hawaii a





Press Release

Great step forward in breeding Varroa Resistant Honeybees

Boxmeer, February 12, 2015. Honey bee populations worldwide, important for pollination of our food crops, are being challenged by a highly damaging mite: Varroa destructor. In an effort coordinated by the Arista Bee Research Foundation a group of European beekeepers has, during last spring and summer, bred a first generation of European honey bees that can detect the Varroa mite, clean out infested brood and by doing so are expected to keep the number of Varroa mites under control. This is an important step in breeding healthier, Varroa resistant honey bees that can much better survive in an already challenging environment.

The Varroa mite creates a hole in the armor of the bee and directly weakens the bee by sucking out hemolymph (“insect blood”). In addition, viruses and bacteria can now enter through this hole causing diseases and even an early death of the bee. Chemical treatments are used on colonies, but this is laborious, has variable results, can leave residues and does not only effect the mites but can also harm the bees. Untreated colonies often collapse within 2 years from the consequences of the fast growing Varroa population. The Varroa mite is therefore considered to be the largest contributor to winter losses.

VSH-illustration-MdJThe United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has shown that it is possible to select honey bees with Varroa Sensitive Hygiene (VSH) behavior: these bees can detect reproducing Varroa in brood. As these VSH bees remove the infested brood, no Varroa offspring is produced. Selection has only been limited to this trait and no resources were available yet to structurally integrate this trait in a broader base of the honey bee population.

In the spring of 2014, the European team created more than one hundred small colonies, a quarter with a USDA-VSH background and the others with a European background. The queens were artificially inseminated with only one drone, instead of the approximate ten which are normally used, ensuring that all worker bees had not only the same mother, but also the same father, so that they inherit the same traits. The EU queens and drones were selected from colonies with lower amounts of Varroa and good hygienic behavior.

After an extra infestation with Varroa mites, the colonies were investigated at the end of the summer for the fraction of non-reproducing mites in the brood, this being the key measurement for establishing the level of VSH. In total more than 20 colonies were identified with high levels (more than 75%) of the VSH behavior. Half of these colonies are from the European background, so these results show that the VSH behavior, previously shown in the USDA research colonies, is also present in European bees. The results also show that VSH behavior can be brought to a high level in a short period of time using the Single Drone Insemination technique.

The next step in the breeding program, starting in the 2015 season, will be to further select towards 100% VSH in the EU breeding stock. Once this level is reached, normal sized, multi-drone colonies will be created and thoroughly tested on other important traits like honey production, gentleness and swarming tendency. Also the selection has to be done in as many different lines of honey bees as possible to ensure a rich biodiversity and to enable its broad application in the beekeeper community worldwide.

About the Arista Bee Research Foundation

The Arista Bee Research Foundation was established at the end of 2013 with the goal to breed healthier, Varroa resistant, honey bees. The foundation is a non-profit organization, scientifically supported by senior researchers from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA, Baton Rouge), the Kirchhain Bee Institute (Germany), the Hohen Neuendorf Bee Institute (Germany) and the Wageningen University (The Netherlands). The Arista Bee Research foundation is looking for financial support to enable the continuation of this important work.

www.aristabeeresearch.org





Queens raised in Altea

Altea, December 2014. After transferring the VSH-selected Single Drone Inseminated queens to Altea in Spain, we started to raise daughter queens from them.

However, several challenges had to be overcome during the first couple of weeks. After an electricity outage (UPS was already ordered but still on its way…) we lost half of the queen-cells in the incubator.

Ants Formistop Mating Station

After re-drafting and creating the first set of colonies we realized we had another unexpected enemy: very small, but very aggressive ants (!). These small ants attacked the small colonies – they attacked the young bees, killed them, and used them for food. In some cases we could still locate a few of the older bees with the queen, escaped from the hive. So we installed specially designed ant-stops (see photo), which are filled with oil to prevent the ants reaching the small hives.

Fortunately the weather was good and we could continue breeding young queens. We now have 25 queens with brood. These colonies will be used to supply drones in the 2015 VSH breeding program.

Queen with Brood Apiary



Best high-VSH colonies transported to Spain

Boxmeer, Altea, September 2014. The best 12 high-VSH colonies have been successfully cool-transported (15⁰C) to Spain (together with colonies that will supply bees for the propagation). After a week of getting used to the higher temperatures we have inspected all colonies (no losses!) and have started to create offspring of these special bees.

Koerier Lading
Arrived Inspection