All agricultural industries must address the challenge of prices rising faster for inputs or costs, than for outputs or products (this is commonly referred to as the cost-price squeeze). Continuous productivity improvement is needed to meet this challenge. A key strategy contributing to achieving continuous productivity improvement in all modern, viable industries is genetic improvement.
Identifying the individuals with the best genes is achieved in essentially all livestock industries by the use of advanced statistical methods to analyse pedigree and performance data. Identifying the individuals with the best genes is referred to as genetic evaluation.
This project explored the potential to apply such methods to breeding programs in the Australian honey bee industry. The results of this pilot project show that there is real potential for genetic improvement of production and health traits in Australian honey bees, and that there is scope for applying the advanced statistical techniques currently used in other industries.
The results highlight an exciting and valuable opportunity for Australian honey bee breeders. The report also flags ways implementation of genetic evaluation could be adapted to incorporate tackling major challenges such as Varroa.