Knowledge available through fundamental research
There are several research groups at universities and institutes which are, with a relative small staff, responsible for a large number of bee and bee related topics (behavior, pollination, various diseases). Some of them do, in addition to education, especially fundamental research on the Varroa destructor and Varroa resistant traits of the honeybee. This research is mainly financed by public funds and subsidies.
No budget for applied research
Normally (large) companies invest in applied research. Such research is financed by the sale of the products developed. Although the honeybee plays a very important role in agriculture, most beekeepers and breeders are volunteers. In the sector of pollination and honey production there are professional beekeepers and small companies who manage larger numbers of bee colonies. But also these professionals often get their breeding material from the breeding groups that are mainly organized by volunteers. So within the beekeeping community almost no budget is available for doing applied research or breeding Varroa resistant bee lines.
Purpose of the Arista Bee Research Foundation
There is more and more knowledge about Varroa resistance, but no structural approach with sufficient budget to actually convert this knowledge in widely applicable lines of Varroa resistant honey bees. That’s why Arista Bee Research was founded. The Foundation aims to bring this knowledge together, to bring together budget through donations and sponsorship, and subsequently support and execute targeted breeding programs for Varroa resistant honeybees.
The complete Varroa resistant breeding program as planned by the Foundation is laid down in a Varroa Resistant Breeding and Selection program. The supervision of this program is provided by a Scientific Committee. The program of projects can be found on the website under ‘projects’.
By combining existing and new knowledge and resources we will be able to select much healthier honeybees with a strong (natural) Varroa resistance. This healthier bee will be able better to survive and thrive in a demanding environment and ensure that its main task, the pollination, can be performed.
As indicated, there are no commercial parties active on the market for breeding-material and pure bee-breeds are generally made available at a low fee. The Arista Bee Research Foundation will therefore look for donations and sponsorship of the program. New methods and new breeding material will, in a controlled way, free of charge, be made available to the research and beekeeper community. The Arista Bee Research Foundation is a non-profit organization.
A wide cooperation is needed to link the available scientific knowledge (at universities and institutes) to practical breeding programs (mostly staffed by volunteers). The Arista Bee Research Foundation will take care of the organization of these Varroa resistant breeding programs and will support cooperation between breeding groups, institutes and universities. The Foundation itself will use a mix of paid workers, volunteers (mainly beekeepers) and students. This ensures continuity, involvement in the beekeeping community, sufficient capacity and a good link with universities and research institutes.
The new Foundation will in the course of the first year, if enough funds are available, look for a suitable and affordable location. This location will be a major center and meeting place for the various groups, staff and volunteers. At this location there will be general workspace and laboratory capacity for the more technical work (such as artificial insemination). The location should also be able to accommodate an important part of the bee colonies. A location on the ‘Utrechtse Heuvelrug’, in the middle of the Netherlands and in between the universities of Utrecht and Wageningen, is preferred.