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Progressing implementation of genetic selection in Australian Honeybees
Summary RIRDC Project PRJ009276 demonstrated proofofconcept for application of BLUP methods to genetic evaluation of Australian bees. The datasets analysed in that project were small, and limited in detail of pedigree, but results show the existence of useful genetic variation in production and health traits, providing the basis for genetic improvement.
This followup project aims to progress genetic improvement of Australian honeybees for production and health traits through a combination of:
analysis of queen relationships in the breeding program of the Horner family to enable more powerful genetic analysis than was possible in the previous project
working with the Horners with assistance of NSW DPI to collect heath data, including rapid hygienic behavior, for inclusion in this analysis, and other breeders if they can be identified
collection of DNA samples from other breeding programs including the Better Bees program and any others with suitable data to build a relationship map of Australian queen breeding programs. This map will underpin genetic evaluation of queens from different breeding programs, and inform breeders on the degree of inbreeding in the Australian population
working with NSW DPI and others in industry to develop educational material on practical breeding programs
consultation with industry on scope for a coordinated queen evaluation program to extend the work conducted by AQBBA to include more traits, inlcuding recommendations for the collection and management of queen bee breeding data for use in sciencebased breeding programs
if importation of semen is permitted, the project should genotype such semen to allow inclusion of new stock into the relationship map of the population.
The outcomes will be more effective breeding programs for production and hive health.
Program Honey Bee
Research organisation University of New England
Objective summary Implementing genetic evaluation:
1. Collect more data on production and health traits from the Horner family breeding program, and if possible, from queen breeders across Australia.
2. Genotype queens, and funds permitting samples of drones and workers, from the Horners' program, to build a genetic relationship map across their entire program.
3. Using pedigree data and genotypes, analyse the full population in that program, and subject to availability of data, other programs.
This work will deliver a comprehensive genetic evaluation of all traits being collected by the Horners and potentially other breeders, and include all breeding lines recorded. The result will be a complete list of queens evaluated, showing estimated breeding values for each trait.

Extension and education:
4. Contribute to the development of educational material on queen bee breeding, to be developed by NSW DPI. The contributions will include basic material on recording and selection, and on managing inbreeding.
This work will deliver written and video learning material, including demonstrations of breeding program design tools.

Establishing a platform for ongoing genetic evaluation:
5. Genotype imported semen to allow inclusion of the new genetic sources to be properly evaluated in future through inclusion of source pedigree information.
6. Consult with industry and researchers on scope for an expanded queen evaluation program aimed at systematic evaluation of production and health traits under more environments than is conducted at present, including a benefitcost analysis.
This work will aim to deliver a network of industry and research personnel maintaining an ongoing evaluation process.
Project Stage Current
Project start date Saturday, July 30, 2016
Project completion date Monday, December 31, 2018
Journal articles from project Not Available
National priority Frontier technologies for building and transforming Australian industries
Rural priority Adoption of R&D
RIRDC goal HBE-Increase productivity and profitability of beekeepers
Principal researcher Robert Banks
Research manager Dave Alden
Admin contact Kathryn Dougall