Kirchhain, Germany
Kirchhain, Germany

Time filter

Source Type

Costa C.,Italian Agricultural Research Council | Buchler R.,Bee Institute | Berg S.,Bayerische Landesanstalt fur Weinbau und Gartenbau | Bienkowska M.,Research Institute of Horticulture | And 23 more authors.
Journal of Apicultural Science | Year: 2012

An international experiment to estimate the importance of genotype-environment interactions on vitality and performance of honey bees and on colony losses was run between July 2009 and March 2012. Altogether 621 bee colonies, involving 16 different genetic origins of European honey bees, were tested in 21 locations spread in 11 countries. The genetic strains belonged to the subspecies A. m. carnica, A. m. ligustica, A. m. macedonica, A. m. mellifera, A. m. siciliana. At each location, the local strain of bees was tested together with at least two "foreign" origins, with a minimum starting number of 10 colonies per origin. The common test protocol for all the colonies took into account colony survival, bee population in spring, summer and autumn, honey production, pollen collection, swarming, gentleness, hygienic behaviour, Varroa destructor infestation, Nosema spp. infection and viruses. Data collection was performed according to uniform methods. No chemical treatments against Varroa or other diseases were applied during the experiment. This article describes the details of the experiment set-up and the work protocol.


Hatjina F.,Hellenic Institute of Apiculture | Costa C.,Italian Agricultural Research Council | Buchler R.,Bee Institute | Uzunov A.,Faculty for Agricultural Science and Food | And 21 more authors.
Journal of Apicultural Research | Year: 2014

Adaptation of honey bees to their environment is expressed by the annual development pattern of the colony, the balance with food sources and the host - parasite balance, all of which interact among each other with changes in the environment. In the present study, we analyse the development patterns over a period of two years in colonies belonging to 16 different genotypes and placed in areas grouped within six environmental clusters across Europe. The colonies were maintained with no chemical treatment against varroa mites. The aim of the study was to investigate the presence of genotype - environment interactions and their effects on colony development, which we use in this study as a measure of their vitality. We found that colonies placed in Southern Europe tend to have lower adult bee populations compared to colonies placed in colder conditions, while the brood population tends to be smaller in the North, thus reflecting the shorter longevity of bees in warmer climates and the shorter brood rearing period in the North. We found that both genotype and environment significantly affect colony development, and that specific adaptations exist, especially in terms of adult bee population and overwintering ability. © IBRA 2014 .


Costa C.,Italian Agricultural Research Council | Panasiuk B.,Research Institute of Horticulture | Meixner M.,Bee Institute | Kryger P.,University of Aarhus | And 14 more authors.
Journal of Apicultural Research | Year: 2014

Honey bee colonies exhibit a wide range of variation in their behaviour, depending on their genetic origin and environmental factors. The COLOSS Genotype-Environment Interactions Experiment gave us the opportunity to investigate the phenotypic expression of the swarming, defensive and hygienic behaviour of 16 genotypes from five different honey bee subspecies in various environmental conditions. In 2010 and 2011, a total of 621 colonies were monitored and tested according to a standard protocol for estimation of expression of these three behavioural traits. The factors: year, genotype, location, origin (local vs. non-local) and season (only for hygienic behaviour) were considered in statistical analyses to estimate their effect on expression of these behaviours. The general outcome of our study is that genotype and location have a significant effect on the analysed traits. For all characters, the variability among locations was higher than the variability among genotypes. We also detected significant variability between the genotypes from different subspecies, generally confirming their known characteristics, although great variability within subspecies was noticed. Defensive and swarming behaviour were each positively correlated across the two years, confirming genetic control of these characters. Defensive behaviour was lower in colonies of local origin, and was negatively correlated with hygienic behaviour. Hygienic behaviour was strongly influenced by the season in which the test was performed. The results from our study demonstrate that there is great behavioural variation among different subspecies and strains. Sustainable protection of local genotypes can be promoted by combining conservation efforts with selection and breeding to improve the appreciation by beekeepers of native stock. © IBRA 2014.


Francis R.M.,University of Aarhus | Kryger P.,University of Aarhus | Meixner M.,Bee Institute | Bouga M.,Agricultural University of Athens | And 14 more authors.
Journal of Apicultural Research | Year: 2014

The COLOSS GEI (Genotype-Environment Interactions) Experiment was setup to further our understanding of recent honey bee colony losses. The main objective of the GEI experiment was to understand the effects of environmental factors on the vitality of European honey bee genotypes. This paper aims to describe the genetic background and population allocation of the bees used in this experiment. Two wing morphometric and two genetic methods were employed to discriminate bee populations. Classical morphometry of 11 angles on the wings were carried out on 350 bees. Geometric morphometry on 19 wing landmarks was carried out on 381 individuals. DNA microsatellite analysis was carried out on 315 individuals using 24 loci. Allozyme analysis was performed on 90 individuals using six enzyme systems. DNA microsatellite markers produced the best discrimination between the subspecies (Apis mellifera carnica, A. m. ligustica, A. m. macedonica, A. m. mellifera and A. m. siciliana) used in the experiment. Morphometric methods generally showed an intermediate level of discrimination, usually best separating A. m. siciliana and A. m. ligustica from the remaining populations. Allozyme markers lack power to discriminate at the level of individual bees, and given our sample size, also fail to differentiate subspecies. Based on DNA microsatellites, about 69% of the individuals were assigned to the same subspecies as originally declared, and 17% were found to belong to a different subspecies. Fourteen percent of the samples were found to be of mixed origin and could not be assigned to any subspecies with certainty. We further discuss the caveats of the methods and details of the sampled bees, their origins and breeding programmes in their respective locations. © IBRA 2014.


Meixner M.D.,Bee Institute | Francis R.M.,University of Aarhus | Gajda A.,Warsaw University of Life Sciences | Kryger P.,University of Aarhus | And 20 more authors.
Journal of Apicultural Research | Year: 2014

Diseases are known to be one of the major contributors to colony losses. Within a Europe-wide experiment on genotype - environment interactions, an initial 621 colonies were set up and maintained from 2009 to 2012. The colonies were monitored to investigate the occurrence and levels of key pathogens. These included the mite Varroa destructor (mites per 10 g bees), Nosema spp. (spore loads and species determination), and viruses (presence/absence of acute bee paralysis virus (ABPV) and deformed wing virus (DWV)). Data from 2010 to the spring of 2011 are analysed in relation to the parameters: genotype, environment, and origin (local vs. non-local) of the colonies in the experiment. The relative importance of different pathogens as indicators of colony death within the experiment is compared. In addition, pathogen occurrence rates across the geographic locations are described. © IBRA 2014.


Buchler R.,Bee Institute | Costa C.,Italian Agricultural Research Council | Hatjina F.,Hellenic Institute of Apiculture | Andonov S.,Faculty for Agricultural Science and Food | And 15 more authors.
Journal of Apicultural Research | Year: 2014

The survival and performance of 597 honey bee colonies, representing five subspecies and 16 different genotypes, were comparatively studied in 20 apiaries across Europe. Started in October 2009, 15.7% of the colonies survived without any therapeutic treatment against diseases until spring 2012. The survival duration was strongly affected by environmental factors (apiary effects) and, to a lesser degree, by the genotypes and origin of queens. Varroa was identified as a main cause of losses (38.4%), followed by queen problems (16.9%) and Nosema infection (7.3%). On average, colonies with queens from local origin survived 83 days longer compared to non-local origins (p < 0.001). This result demonstrates strong genotype by environment interactions. Consequently, the conservation of bee diversity and the support of local breeding activities must be prioritised in order to prevent colony losses, to optimize a sustainable productivity and to enable a continuous adaptation to environmental changes. © IBRA 2014.


Buchler R.,Bee Institute | Andonov S.,Faculty for Agricultural Science and Food | Bienefeld K.,Landerinstitut fur Bienenkunde Hohen Neuendorf e.V. | Costa C.,Italian Agricultural Research Council | And 6 more authors.
Journal of Apicultural Research | Year: 2013

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. Copyright © IBRA 2013.


Meixner M.D.,Bee Institute | Pinto M.A.,Polytechnic Institute of Bragança | Bouga M.,Agricultural University of Athens | Kryger P.,University of Aarhus | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Apicultural Research | Year: 2013

The natural diversity of honey bees in Europe is eroding fast. A multitude of reasons lead to a loss of both genetic diversity and specific adaptations to local conditions. To preserve locally adapted bees through breeding efforts and to maintain regional strains in conservation areas, these valuable populations need to be identified. In this paper, we give an overview of methods that are currently available and used for recognition of honey bee subspecies and ecotypes, or that can be utilised to verify the genetic origin of colonies for breeding purposes. Beyond summarising details of morphometric, allozyme and DNA methods currently in use, we report recommendations with regard to strategies for sampling, and suggest methods for statistical data analysis. In particular, we emphasise the importance of reference data and consistency of methods between laboratories to yield comparable results. © IBRA 2013.


Heidinger I.M.M.,Bee Institute | Heidinger I.M.M.,Bavarian State Institute for Viticulture and Horticulture | Meixner M.D.,Bee Institute | Berg S.,Bavarian State Institute for Viticulture and Horticulture | Buchler R.,Bee Institute
Insects | Year: 2014

We used radio-frequency identification (RFID) to record the duration and frequency of nuptial flights of honey bee queens (Apis mellifera carnica) at two mainland mating apiaries. We investigated the effect of a number of factors on flight duration and frequency: mating apiary, number of drone colonies, queen's age and temperature. We found significant differences between the two locations concerning the number of flights on the first three days. We also observed an effect of the ambient temperature, with queens flying less often but longer at high temperatures compared to lower temperatures. Increasing the number of drone colonies from 33 to 80 colonies had no effect on the duration or on the frequency of nuptial flights. Since our results agree well with the results of previous studies, we suggest RFID as an appropriate tool to investigate the mating behavior of honey bee queens. © 2014 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


PubMed | Bee Institute and Bavarian State Institute for Viticulture and Horticulture
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Insects | Year: 2015

We used radio-frequency identification (RFID) to record the duration and frequency of nuptial flights of honey bee queens (Apis mellifera carnica) at two mainland mating apiaries. We investigated the effect of a number of factors on flight duration and frequency: mating apiary, number of drone colonies, queens age and temperature. We found significant differences between the two locations concerning the number of flights on the first three days. We also observed an effect of the ambient temperature, with queens flying less often but longer at high temperatures compared to lower temperatures. Increasing the number of drone colonies from 33 to 80 colonies had no effect on the duration or on the frequency of nuptial flights. Since our results agree well with the results of previous studies, we suggest RFID as an appropriate tool to investigate the mating behavior of honey bee queens.

Loading Bee Institute collaborators
Loading Bee Institute collaborators