Breeding for hygienic behaviour in honeybees (Apis mellifera) using free-mated nucleus colonies.
Pernal, S.F., Sewalem, A., and Melathopoulos, A.P. (2012). "Breeding for hygienic behaviour in honeybees (Apis mellifera) using free-mated nucleus colonies.", Apidologie, 43(4), pp. 403-416. doi : 10.1007/s13592-011-0105-x Access to full text
Gains in hygienic behaviour based on maternal selection of queens were evaluated among four commercial beekeeping operations in northern Alberta, Canada over four generations. While the proportion of breeding colonies expressing the trait increased with each subsequent generation, levels of hygienic behaviour among progeny remained relatively unchanged. Estimated breeding values for the final generation of progeny confirmed only a slight effect of selection; the expected average increase in the removal of frozen brood in the next generation was determined to be 0.17% at 24 h and 0.34% at 48 h. This modest increase may be explained by the low (24 h, h 2=0.17) to moderate (48 h, h 2=0.25) heritability of hygienic behaviour in our population. Our work implies that year-to-year comparisons of breeding colonies may not be an accurate predictor of selection gains within honeybee populations and that honey producers in this region may need to focus selection within elite breeding populations.
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