Standard methods for rearing and selection of Apis mellifera queens
Ralph Büchler, Sreten Andonov, Kaspar Bienefeld, Cecilia Costa, Fani Hatjina, Nikola Kezic, Per Kryger, Marla Spivak, Aleksandar Uzunov and Jerzy Wilde.
Here we cover a wide range of methods currently in use and recommended in modern queen rearing, selection and breeding. The recommendations are meant to equally serve as standards for both scientific and practical beekeeping purposes. The basic conditions and different management techniques for queen rearing are described, including recommendations for suitable technical equipment. As the success of breeding programmes strongly depends on the selective mating of queens, a subchapter is dedicated to the management and quality control of mating stations. Recommendations for the handling and quality control of queens complete the queen rearing section. The improvement of colony traits usually depends on a comparative testing of colonies. Standardized recommendations for the organization of performance tests and the measurement of the most common selection characters are presented. Statistical methods and data preconditions for the estimation of breeding values which integrate pedigree and performance data from as many colonies as possible are described as the most efficient selection method for large populations. Alternative breeding programmes for small populations or certain scientific questions are briefly mentioned, including also an overview of the young and fast developing field of molecular selection tools. Because the subject of queen rearing and selection is too large to be covered within this paper, plenty of references are given to facilitate comprehensive studies.