Methods for Practical Field Selection of Honey Bee Colonies, and the Rearing of Queens and Drones

There is increasing interest in honey bee stock improvement in response to the continuing high annual loss of colonies and the desire to minimize in-hive chemical treatments to control bee parasites and diseases. In addition, the African honey bee poses a serious concern for beekeepers and the public at large. Individual beekeepers, small groups of beekeepers, beekeeping clubs, commercial queen producers, and beekeeping organizations are attempting to address these challenges. Honey bees are unique in that selection is primarily based upon behavioral traits at the colony level. The colony is a dynamic and complex social unit, highly responsive to changing environmental conditions. Sensitive to inbreeding, colony productivity and fitness are dependent upon the maintenance of adequate genetic diversity. A colony is a dynamic unit, and selection is based upon evaluating several traits under changing conditions. A unique challenge for the breeder, is to select for uniformity and consistency while maintaining adequate genetic diversity to ensure fitness. The video that our team produced provided a straightforward methodology to select productive colonies with reduced incidence of pests and diseases, from within large populations while avoiding inherent inbreeding problems. The basic concepts presented establishes a guideline to apply to the interests and needs of a variety of honey bee breeding programs.

Grant Information

  • Project ID: 170
  • Project Status: Complete


  • Principal Investigator(s): Lawrence, T.
  • Investigator(s): Cobey, S., Sheppard, W.
  • Grant Amount: $9,982



Selection Methods for Honey Bee Breeding (video, 28 minutes)