Conserving diversity and vitality for honey bee breeding
Marina D Meixner, Cecilia Costa, Per Kryger, Fani Hatjina, Maria Bouga, Evgeniya Ivanova, Ralph Büchler
Beekeepers in Europe, North America and other parts of the world have repeatedly been afflicted by elevated and sometimes unexplained colony losses. Multiple factors have been considered in connection with increased winter losses. In addition to national programmes investigating possible causes for increased honey bee mortality, scientists collaborate at an international level on different aspects of bee health within the COLOSS network. Within this network, Working Group 4 explores aspects of genetic diversity in relation to the vitality and health of honey bee populations. In this paper, we briefly review the genetic diversity of honey bees in Europe, discuss the effects of beekeeping and selective breeding on honey bee populations under the aspect of genetic diversity and bee health, and review the current status of EU legislation with respect to protection of native bee populations. We introduce and discuss recent approaches in honey bee selective breeding to improve disease resistance by introducing traits related to colony vitality. Finally, we present the aims of WG4 within the COLOSS network and briefly introduce our experimental approach.