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Penn State and PA Beekeepers cooperate to start the “Pennsylvania Queen Project”

Posted: November 4, 2010

There has been considerable research demonstrating the benefits of both increasing genetic diversity of our honey bee stocks and selecting for strains of bees that are resistant to the effects of Varroa and other diseases.

Furthermore, there has been increasing interest among beekeepers to develop local breeding programs, in order to potentially develop lines of bees that are more suitable for different climates and reduce dependence on importing bees from other regions in the US.  Organized local breeding programs have been developed in many states, including Ohio, West Virginia and several others.   Pennsylvania beekeepers will also join these efforts and will begin to evaluate different stocks of honey bees as a first step in developing more sustainable beekeeping practices with bee stocks which will not only survive but will thrive in our Commonwealth.  Our efforts will evaluate many different traits such as: Varroa, Nosema and other disease levels, honey production, gentleness, brood pattern and build-up, but most importantly the ability to thrive without the use of chemicals.  Penn State researchers at the Center for Pollinator Research, Christina Grozinger, Maryann Frazier and Elina Lastro Niño have offered to spearhead this program and plans are being made to identify queen breeders within Pennsylvania who will develop and participate in a standardized evaluation program.  The best strains will then be used to cross breed and develop the stock that will be distributed back to the breeders for ongoing evaluations and be used to strengthen the gene pool.  Regional coordinators will be selected and will help to keep the program consistent with the other regions around the State. 

We are envisioning three stages for this program.  First, we would like to develop a webpage (hosted on the Center for Pollinator Research website: http://ento.psu.edu/pollinators) which will contain information about state and regional bee breeders for beekeepers interested in purchasing local bees.  If you would like to have your information included on this website, please contact Christina Grozinger (cmg25@psu.edu).  Secondly, we will host a two day queen breeding workshop at Penn State in late May 2011.  This will be targeted to beginner and advanced beekeepers who are interested in learning how to rear their own queens.  Space will be limited to 12 participants.  If you are interested in participating in this workshop, please contact Elina Lastro Niño (eul125@psu.edu).  Finally, we plan to develop a network of queen breeders who are interested in participating in the breeding program.  If you are interested in being involved, please contact Warren Miller at superbee22@hotmail.com.  This network will establish standardized evaluation protocols and initiate stock evaluations and breeding next summer.   This program will be coordinated and overseen by Warren Miller and the regional coordinators in cooperation with the Penn State researchers.