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.