VSH Bees: Is this the future of varroa control?
Follow the links below to speakers at the Hamilton workshop held 26 July 2012
Varroa is the most serious pest of honey bees in the world.
As varroa has spread throughout New Zealand, so, too, has the varroa mite’s resistance to the chemicals used to control it. This resistance to treatment was not unexpected, but it is a serious threat.
In a bid to address this issue for all beekeepers, the National Beekeepers Association (NBA) has initiated a number of research projects designed to develop solutions to the varroa problem.
The VSH Project is the latest is the research programme that the NBA has mounted with help from Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF). The research has been undertaken by Plant and Food Research.
The five year VSH Project was designed to breed a self-sustaining population of bees with a varroa-sensitive hygiene (VSH) trait.
This trait gives the bees an ability to clean their hives of varroa naturally.
Varroa-tolerant honey bees will reduce the need for large amounts of chemicals to be used in the colonies, therefore slowing down the build-up of chemical resistance.
It will also enable North and South Island beekeepers to re-establish or retain organic certification.
The ability to produce a robust population of the selected varroa-tolerant stock and have the beekeeping industry manage this population would enable the genetic variation to remain as diverse as possible.
Dr Mark Goodwin and Michelle Taylor from Plant and Food Research briefed beekeepers on the outcomes of the project.
Breeders Peter Sales and Philip Cropp discussed the future of breeding varroa-resistant bees.
NBA President, Barry Foster, Bee Industry Group (BIG) Chair, John Hartnell and Paul Bolger, Senior Policy Analyst with Ministry for Primary Industries, discussed the industry’s and the government’s on-going agendas when it comes to dealing with one of the most serious issues to threaten New Zealand’s multi-billion beekeeping sector.
Update yourself on what the NBA is doing in terms of varroa control work and make sure you know how best to protect your hives as resistance to varroa treatments continues to spread.