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).
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.
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%).
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).
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.