WSU Old World Honey Bee Germplasm Importations
& Queen Availability
Maintaining genetic diversity in a honey bee breeding population is critical to colony fitness. The US. honey bee population was established from limited shipments of honey bees (primarily from Europe) before the Honey Bee Act of 1922 restricted further importation. Cumulatively, the effects of a small founder populations and genetic drift, and historical and ongoing queen breeding practices relying on a small number of breeder queens represent genetic bottleneck events with the potential to reduce genetic diversity. The goal of the WSU Germplasm Importation Project is to enhance the U.S. Honey Bee gene pool with the importation of bees from their European native range.
In 2008, the WSU honey bee program began overseas collection and importation of semen from three European honey bee subspecies, Apis mellifera carnica, A.m. caucasica and A.m. ligustica, under permit from USDA-APHIS. This germplasm was used annually to instrumentally inseminate virgin queens initially derived from US commercial strains of Carniolan or Italian honey bees. The imported semen undergoes viral screening, and inseminated queens are quarantined in isolation until released by USDA-APHIS. Since 2011, aliquots of all released semen has also been maintained in cryogenic storage. The cryopreserved semen continues to be used for backcrossing and further enhancement of the proportion of Old World parentage.
New World Carniolan (NWC) Breeder Queen Availability
The New World Carniolan (NWC) breeding program, founded in 1982, is heading into its 40th generation. Modeled on the Page-Laidlaw Closed Population Breeding concept, the program was modified to establish and maintain a Carniolan population to provide quality queens to the industry. The NWC was initiated at Vaca Valley Apiaries in California by Susan Cobey and Tim Lawrence and moved with Cobey to several Universities. Since moving to WSU, the NWC has been enhanced with the incorporation of Apis mellifera carnica germplasm from Europe into the breeding population.
To ensure the long term future of the NWC breeding program, a Certified NWC Producer Partnership has been established with Strachan Apiaries and Buzz’s Bees to maintain program and provide NWC breeder queens to the industry. Strachan Apiaries and Buzz’s Bees have taken on the role of Certified NWC Producer Partners and are officially producing instrumentally inseminated NWC breeder queens with the continuing support of Susan Cobey and Steve Sheppard at WSU.
Instrumentally inseminated NWC breeder queens available from these certified Producer Partners.
Please contact the above Producer Partners for pricing and availability. They can provide a list of NWC queen producers who use certified NWC breeder stock to supply open-mated producer queens to beekeepers nationwide.
Italian Breeder Queen Availability
An update is coming soon.