Using innovative breeding technologies, this project will help secure Australia’s honey bee population and transform their performance.

Pollination of crops by honey bees and production of honey is worth $14.2 billion in annual economic value to Australia. To efficiently achieve this, beekeepers need to breed the best quality bees for crop pollination and honey production. Using innovative breeding technologies, this project will help secure Australia’s honey bee population and transform their performance. The Program will focus on identifying and selecting traits of importance to beekeeping, horticulture and broad acre industries (dependent on pollination services) and will develop a national database to assist beekeepers choose their breeding stock according to these traits.

The strength of this project is its ability to leverage benefits across two industries – beekeeping and agriculture. Through research, partnerships and education the project will generate gains for beekeepers in honey production and improve productivity and profitability for primary producers in pollination-dependent industries.

Extensive research into current honey bee breeding programs, including into the needs of beekeepers and agriculture, will lead to identification of the genetic traits that drive economic performance through honey production, bee health and pollination efficiency.

The project will:

  • Facilitate an economic evaluation of the feasibility and sustainability of a national bee breeding scheme through collaboration with established international R&D programs on bee genetics and genomics.
  • Conduct genetic and genomic analysis to establish pedigree and genetic merit of bees and hives
  • Implement standardised selection criteria that enables accurate assessment of bees and hives to improve honey bee genetic performance, decrease costs, reduce the impact of disease, increase the amount of honey produced and increase the value of hives as pollination units
  • Evaluate new technologies for performing standardised hive assessments
  • Develop a database of genetic merit to assist queen breeders with marketing their stock and help beekeepers make purchasing decisions; this will also act as a proof of concept around a database of this capacity

Partnerships will be developed between researchers, beekeeping industries and agriculture with the aim of improving beekeeping profitability and ensuring security of pollination.

Education within this project will focus on removing barriers to the adoption of improved selection procedures and delivering extension programs that increase the capacity and skills of queen bee producers, beekeepers and pollination contractors.

Project funding

This project is supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment as part of its Rural R&D for Profit program.

Under the Rural R&D for Profit program, AgriFutures Australia received:

Grant funding: $1,646,838

Partner cash contributions: $1,357,500

In-kind contributions: $736,223

Total project resources: $3,740,561

Project partners

Contact

Paul Blackshaw
Project Manager
0427 546 643
paul.blackshaw@agrifutures.com.au

extensionAUS Professional Beekeepers
Website: www.extensionaus.com.au/professionalbeekeepers
Facebook: @PBeekeepers
Twitter: @PBeekeepers
LinkedIn: extensionAUS Professional Beekeepers

Resources

Plan Bee – Australian honey bee genetic improvement program

Plan Bee aims to foster a sustainable national genetic improvement program using innovative breeding technologies to transform the performance of honey bees in Australia.

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Have your say on queen breeding

We need the opinions of Australian beekeepers and queen producers to help us to develop this important program for industry. Complete the industry survey to let us know what traits are important to you.

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Plan Bee National Honey Bee Genetic Improvement Program

Nadine Chapman from the University of Sydney talks about the National Honey Bee Genetic Improvement Program.

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Temper, temper

No one likes a cranky colony. It seems simple enough to just select the nicest hive and use it to breed from, but measuring temperament can actually be quite difficult.

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How is Plan Bee different from previous breeding programs?

Many breeding programs have contributed to the industry, so how is this one different?

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Workshop: Plan Bee Standardised Trait Selection Manual

Plan Bee is developing a Standardised Trait Selection Manual for the Australian beekeeping industry in consultation with bee breeders from around the country. This video captures the final industry workshop and offers an opportunity for beekeepers unable to attend to join the discussion.

Watch Video

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