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THEWINSTONCHURCHILLMEMORIALTRUSTOFAUSTRALIA

ReportbyTIFFANEBATES

2009ChurchillFellow

AUSTRALIA,THELASTHONEYBEEOASIS:
BREEDINGHONEYBEESRESISTANTTOVARROAMITES.


IunderstandthattheChurchillTrustmaypublishtheReport,eitherinhardcopyorontheinternet
orboth,andconsenttosuchpublication.

IindemnifytheChurchillTrustagainstanyloss,costsordamageitmaysufferarisingoutofanyclaim
orproceedingsmadeagainsttheTrustinrespectoforarisingoutofthepublicationofanyReport
submittedtotheTrustandwhichtheTrustplacesonawebsiteforaccessovertheinternet.

IalsowarrantthatmyFinalReportisoriginalanddoesnotinfringethecopyrightofanyperson,or
contain anything which is, or the incorporation of which into the Final Report is, actionable for
defamation, a beach of any privacy law or obligation, breach of confidence, contempt of court,
passingofforcontraventionofanyotherprivaterightorofanylaw.

Signed:TiffaneBates Dated:10October2010

TiffaneBatesChurchillFellow2009
Australia,thelasthoneybeeoasis:BreedingHoneybeesresistanttoVarroamitesi
TABLEOFCONTENTS

INTRODUCTION.............................................................................................................................1

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS........................................................................................................................1

EXECUTIVESUMMARY...................................................................................................................2

HIGHLIGHTS......................................................................................................................................2
RECOMMENDATIONS..........................................................................................................................2
DISSEMINATIONANDIMPLEMENTATION.................................................................................................2

THEJOURNEY.................................................................................................................................3

PROGRAMME....................................................................................................................................3

AUSTRALIA,THELASTHONEYBEEOASIS:BREEDINGHONEYBEESRESISTANTTOVARROAMITES...5

THEIMPORTANCEOFHONEYBEES...........................................................................................................5
HONEYBEESUNDERTHREAT..................................................................................................................5
AUSTRALIA:THELASTOASIS.................................................................................................................6
MYINTEREST....................................................................................................................................7
WHYBREEDFORRESISTANCETOPESTSANDDISEASES?...............................................................................8
TOLERANCEORRESISTANCE?................................................................................................................8

LEARNINGFROMPEOPLEINTHETHICKOFIT.................................................................................8

NEWZEALAND..................................................................................................................................9
UNITEDSTATESOFAMERICA...............................................................................................................10
CANADA..........................................................................................................................................12
EUROPE..........................................................................................................................................13
UNITEDKINGDOM.............................................................................................................................16

BEEKEEPINGWITHVARROA..........................................................................................................16

HOWAREPEOPLECOPINGWITHTHEDAYTODAYANDTHEBIGPICTURE?.......................................................16
THEPRESSURESOFLIVINGWITHVARROA................................................................................................17
VARROAMANAGEMENTTOOLS............................................................................................................18

ANDNOWINAUSTRALIA..............................................................................................................23

CHALLENGESFORAUSTRALIA...............................................................................................................23

TiffaneBatesChurchillFellow2009
Australia,thelasthoneybeeoasis:BreedingHoneybeesresistanttoVarroamitesii
THEGOODNEWS...............................................................................................................................24
WHATAREWEDOINGALREADY?..........................................................................................................25

CONCLUSIONS...............................................................................................................................25

WHATISSUCCESS?............................................................................................................................25
THESCIENCEINDUSTRYVOID...............................................................................................................25
WHATABOUTAUSTRALIA...................................................................................................................25

DISSEMINATION...........................................................................................................................26

RECOMMENDATIONS....................................................................................................................27

WORKSCITED...............................................................................................................................28

GLOSSARY.....................................................................................................................................31

CONTACTS&ORGANISATIONS......................................................................................................34

FURTHERREADING.......................................................................................................................36

LISTOFFIGURES
Figure1Countriesvisited.......................................................................................................................3

Figure2HoneybeewithparasiticmiteVarroadestructoronitsthorax(PhotoUSDAPhotoUnit).......5

Figure3Industryresponsefollowingvarroaincursionandchemicalmanagement(timingis
approximateanddependentonmultiplefactors).................................................................................6

Figure4GlobalincursionofVarroadestructorontoApismelliferasince1950s...................................7

Figure5ParticipatinginclosedpopulationmatinginNewZealand......................................................9

Figure6AHawaiianQueenCo.breedingapiary..................................................................................10

Figure7Largescalebeekeeping&masstransportationinCalifornia..................................................11

Figure8Science/Industrycollaborations:DarrylRuferandMarlaSpivak...........................................12

Figure9Mixingbeestomakehomogenisedpackagesforvarroaresistantexperiments:TerryHuxter
andTiffaneBates..................................................................................................................................12

Figure10StaffatKirchhainBeeInstitutemonitoringbeesfortheCOLOSSgenotypeprogramme
(RalphBchlerandassistant)................................................................................................................13

TiffaneBatesChurchillFellow2009
Australia,thelasthoneybeeoasis:BreedingHoneybeesresistanttoVarroamitesiii
Figure11MatingnucleushivesanddronecoloniesatKirchhainBeeInstitute,Hessen,Germany....14

Figure12TendingBuckfastbeestreatedwithsyntheticchemicals,bredforgentlenessandhoney
production.............................................................................................................................................15

Figure13Englishhoneybeeonthistle.................................................................................................16

Figure14ThefirsttimeIsawvarroainNZ(PhotoKatieLee)..............................................................17

Figure15varroamitewhichhasbeenfeedingonbeepupa(PhotoUSDAphotounit)......................17

Figure16BeesharvestingsunflowernectarandpolleninFrance.Thegoldenvalleysarevery
beautiful,butthebeekeepermovedhishivesbecausehewasnervousthatthechemicaltreatments
onthiscropwerepoisoninghisbees....................................................................................................18

Figure17Experimentalqueen,BatonRougeUSDA.............................................................................19

Figure18EvidenceofVSHinKettleValley:broodwhichhasbeenuncappedandisbeingresealed.20

Figure19Varroainfectedbee(PhotoRobManning)...........................................................................20

Figure20TrappingdroneswithaheliumballoonandqueenpheromoneintheformerEastGermany
todeterminethepercentageofmarkedexperimentaldronesrepresentedinthematuredrone
stock......................................................................................................................................................22

Figure21Naturallyoccurringdronebroodinacolonywithvarroadestructor:agoodwaytocheck
formitesistobreakopendronebroad................................................................................................23

Figure22Frameofbeeswithparasiticmitesyndrome(PMS)causedbyheavyvarroainfestationand
aweakcolony.......................................................................................................................................26

TiffaneBatesChurchillFellow2009
Australia,thelasthoneybeeoasis:BreedingHoneybeesresistanttoVarroamitesiv
INTRODUCTION

Letouradvanceworryingbecomeadvancethinkingandplanning
SirWinstonChurchill

Thehoneybee1isunderthreatthroughouttheworld.Worldbeepopulationsareintroubleformany
reasons and at the forefront of these is the parasitic mite Varroa destructor. Australia is now the
onlycountryremainingwithalargebeeindustrywhichisfreeofvarroa.Itisonlyamatteroftime
untilitarrives.Weneedtogetprepared.Thisparasitewilldecimatebothferalandcommercialbee
colonies.Foodproducerswillnolongerbeabletorelyonpassivepollinationfromferalcoloniesand
commercial beekeepers will struggle to keep up with pollination demands. Countries which have
reliedonchemicaltreatmentsarefindingmanyproblemsincludingmite/chemicalresistance.People
areturningtobreedingresistance.Thisprojectinvestigatescurrentbreedingprogrammesinseveral
varroa infested countries around the world and provides recommendations as to how we in
Australia can prepare for the inevitable arrival of a pest which will radically change the way we
conductagricultureinthiscountry.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Firstly I would like to thank the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust for the incredible opportunity that is my
Fellowship experience. In particular Meg Gilmartin and Helen Bolton for their support and never ending
humour.

Icanhardlyexpressmygratitudetoeverypersonwhoshowedmearound,sharedtheirresearch,time,food,
ideas,preciousenergy,laughsandcontacts.ThankyoutoeveryoneIvisited,itwasanabsolutepleasureto
workwithyouallandIhopetohavetheopportunityagainsoon.AndaparticularthankstothefamiliesthatI
stayedwith,yourpatiencewithanotherbeeconversationismuchappreciated.

NatarshaBates,getsaspecialTa.Withoutherthisreportwouldneverhaveseenthelightofday.Herhelp
andcarethroughoutmyentireFellowshipearnsherthetitleofcastofthousands.

Huge thanks to the uncountable people in the bee industry who have enthusiastically encouraged me to
embarkonthisjourneyastheydoinallthemadcapideasIputforward.Especially,butcertainlynotlimitedto;
Rob Manning and Boris Baer for their glowing references; and for their letters of recommendation; Des
Cannon,JohnDavies,PeterDetchon,DaveLeyland,DougSommervilleandMaxWhitton.

WhilstIwasawaytwohardworkingguysweretakingcareofmygirlsforme.BigthankstoRonClarkandColin
Fleayforcaringformybeesduringthewinter.

Mytripwouldnothavebeenpossiblewithoutthepatienceofmypersonaljourneyplanners,Qantasagents
MelissaHanleyandSueCrockett.

AndahugethankstomyfriendsandmyTom,yourloveandpresenceduringthismadnessthatisrunninga
beebusinessismorevaluablethanIcansay.SpecialthankstoTomSalmon,LisaBrideson,JamievanEgmond
andSebastianJoneswhowentaboveandbeyondthecalltohelpmyshiftmybeehivesbeforeIleftAustralia.

1
AnyreferencetobeesorhoneybeesinthisreportreferstotheEuropeanhoneybee,Apismellifera

TiffaneBatesChurchillFellow2009
Australia,thelasthoneybeeoasis:BreedingHoneybeesresistanttoVarroamites1

EXECUTIVESUMMARY
MsTiffaneBates
3TateStreet,WestLeederville,Perth6007,WesternAustralia0433368340
SelfEmployedApiaristwithBeeHerd&ApiaryManager,CIBER,UniversityofWesternAustralia

Thisprojectinvestigatescurrenthoneybeebreedingprogrammesinseveralcountriesinfestedwith
parasitic mite Varroa destructor and provides recommendations as to how we in Australia can
prepare for the inevitable arrival of a pest which will radically change the way we conduct
agricultureinthiscountry.

HIGHLIGHTS
NewZealandwasmyfirstexperienceofbeekeepingwithvarroamites.
Hawaii, home to world famous queen producers Kona Queens: I watched them send 5,000
queensinoneafternoon.VarroamitehasjustbeendiscoveredonTheBigIsland.
I worked in the northern US and Canada with Sue Cobey, Liz Huxter and Marla Spivak, very
dynamicandinspiringbeekeepersinvolvedinbeebreedingresearch.
Exploring vast acres of almond orchards in California with Randy Oliver whilst covering topics
fromepigeneticstohowtomanagebearsinyourbeeyard.
The overwhelming wealth of knowledge of my Baton Rouge USDA lab hosts. Being part of a
fantasticconversationwithresearchersJeffHarrisandBobDankaaboutthemeaningofsuccess.
A month in Europe and the UK opened my eyes to what can be done through extensive
Europeanwideresearchprojectsandlongtermnationalbreedingprogrammes.
InFranceGillesFertintroducedmetotheconceptofabeekeepingconsultant.

RECOMMENDATIONS
We need to learn from overseas mistakes, not repeat them. Especially in relation to chemical
dependenceanduse.Gettingonthechemicaltreadmillshouldbecarefullyconsidered
We must develop a strategy to most effectively and efficiently get varroa resistance into a
commerciallyviablebeepopulationwhichisthenutilisedbytheindustry
We should improve the hygienic behaviour and general disease resistance of our existing
Australianbeestocks
Itiscriticalthatweimproveunderstandingbetweenscienceandindustry
WecanprepareIntegratedPestManagementtechniques
AchangeinpublicperceptionofthevalueofbeesforAustraliawouldbenefitfutureplanning
Importingsemenoranygermplasmshouldbeconsideredverycarefullyinviewofdisease
transfer(egviruses)andecotypesuitability

DISSEMINATIONANDIMPLEMENTATION
SincemyreturntoAustraliaIhave:
o participatedinanindustryandresearchgatheringinCanberraonnonchemicaland
minimalchemicaluseoptionsforvarroamanagement
o beeninvolvedinthedevelopmentofaHoneyBeeIndustryandPollinationContinuity
StrategyforAustraliainanticipationofapossiblevarroaincursion.
o givenpresentationsonmyFellowshipexperiencesandfindingsatCIBERandSymbioticA
attheUniversityofWesternAustralia
o beeninvitedtospeakwithProfessorLynBeazley,TheChiefScientistofWestern
AustraliaaboutthethreatstohoneybeesinAustralia.
o sentvirginqueenstoRottnestIslandaspartoftheBetterBeesWAbreedingprogramme
o IwillcontinuetobeinvolvedwithbreedingandresearchwithinAustralia
TiffaneBatesChurchillFellow2009
Australia,thelasthoneybeeoasis:BreedingHoneybeesresistanttoVarroamites2

THEJOURNEY

BritishColumbia UK
Minnesota Germany
California France

Portugal
Louisiana
Hawaii

Perth NZ
Hometown


Figure1Countriesvisited

PROGRAMME
March2010NewZealand
MarkGoodwin&MichelleTaylor,Horticulture&FoodNZ
DavidYanke,DaykelApiary
Jane&TonyLorimer,HillcrestApiaries

April2010Hawaii
MariaDerval(Didi)Diaz,UniversityofHawaii
GusRouse,KonaQueens
MichaelKrones,HawaiianQueenCo.
RichardSeigel,VolcanoIslandHoney
EthelVillalobos,UniversityofHawaii
DarcyOishi,USDAHawaii

May2010NorthAmerica;California,BritishColumbia&Louisiana
RandyOliver,ScientificBeekeeping
RayOlivarez,OlivarezHoneyBees
EricMussen&SueCobey,UniversityofCalifornia,Davis
Liz&TerryHuxter,KettleValleyQueens
AndonyMelathopoulos,Agriculture&AgriFoodCanada,BeaverLodge

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TomRinderer,USDAHoneyBeeBreeding,Genetic&PhysiologyResearchUnit

June2010USA(Minnesota),Germany,Portugal,France
MarlaSpivak,UniversityofMinnesota,USA
DarrelRufer,RufersBees,Minnesota,USA
RalphBchler&MarinaMeixner,KirchhainBeeInstitute,Germany
FernandoDuarte,QuintadasFerrarias,Portugal
YvesleConte,INRA,France
JohnKefuss,Independentresearcher&beekeeper,France
JeanFranoisMallein,Independentapiculturist,France
GillesFert,BeekeepingConsultant,France

July2010UK
WilliamHughes,UniversityofLeeds
BillCadmore,YorkshireBeekeepersAssociation
ClivedeBruyn,BBKACommitteeMember,Essex
SandraKinchin,FERANationalBeeUnit,York
JohnWhent,PearTreeHoneyFarm,Richmond

TiffaneBatesChurchillFellow2009
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AUSTRALIA, THE LAST HONEYBEE OASIS: BREEDING HONEYBEES


RESISTANTTOVARROAMITES2

THEIMPORTANCEOFHONEYBEES
Imagineaworldwithoutbees.Aterribleprospectcertainlyforthoseofuswholovehoney,andthe
familiesmakingtheirlivingfromthesehardworkinginsects,butisitsoseriousforeverybodyelse?

IthasbeenestimatedthattheEuropeanhoneybee,Apismelliferaisinvolveddirectlyorindirectlyin
65%ofagriculturalproductioninAustraliaalone(RIRDC,2010).Athirdofallweeatcomesdirectly
or indirectly from beepollinated crop plants (Graham, 2005). This includes crops such as almonds
andcanola,aswellashoneyandpollen.Stockfodderplantsincludingalfalfaandcloveralsorequire
pollination by bees. This list of massive dependence on bees does not even include the textile
industryornativeflorarequirements.

Thevalueofthehoneybeecontributiontohorticultureandagricultureworldwideiscloseto$US60
billionperyear(Benjamin&McCallum,2008).Honeybeesarecurrentlyacrucialcomponentinthe
human food chain. And let us not forget the cultural and historical importance of this small
companion which has, for so many thousands of years been our supply of candle light and
sweetness.RememberalsotheunendingfascinationwiththehummingmysterythatistheHive.

HONEYBEESUNDERTHREAT
There are reports from many countries of massive
andinexplicablelossesofbeecoloniesoverthepast
fewyears.Thereisagreatdealofresearchgoinginto
the cause of these colony collapses. Most scientists
now agree that it is more likely that interactions
between different pressures are overloading the
bees and there is not just one reason for the high
mortalities (Moritz, Miranda, Fries, Le Conte,
Figure2 HoneybeewithparasiticmiteVarroa
Neumann,&Paxton,2010).
destructor onitsthorax(PhotoUSDAPhotoUnit)
Meanwhile the known diseases and pathogens are intimidating enough, Nosema apis, N. ceranae,
Varroa destructor, American and European Foul Brood, Small Hive Beetle, to name just a few. In
addition we are not just expecting our bees to while away their hours collecting honey in a back
gardenasnaturalselectiontakescare oftheirdiseaseresistance.Beesarenowfarmedonahuge
scale and only those colonies with the highest honey production and gentlest temperament are
chosen.Consequentlylosstodiseaseisnoteconomicallyviableandcoloniesare,ingeneraltreated
with synthetic chemicals against loss to pathogens. Many bees are now dependant on beekeeper
managementandsomecountrieshavelittleornowildbeepopulations.

2
AnyreferencetobeesorhoneybeesinthisreportreferstotheEuropeanhoneybee,Apismellifera

TiffaneBatesChurchillFellow2009
Australia,thelasthoneybeeoasis:BreedingHoneybeesresistanttoVarroamites5

Varroadestructor
Thissmallparasiticmiteiswidelyconsideredthemostseriousthreattoprofitablebeekeeping.Itis
an external parasite which feeds on adults and larvae (Figure 2). The mites weaken the colony by
reducing the fitness of individual bees and therefore the colony, as well as acting as a vector for
variouspotentviruses.

The Asian honeybee, Apis cerana is the original host of varroa and the mite has switched to the
Europeanhoneybeeonlyinthelast60years(Solignac,etal.,2005).Thehostparasiterelationshipof
A.melliferaandvarroahasnotyetproperlydevelopedandmostcoloniesarekilledbytheparasite.

Worldwide the mite is predominantly controlled by treatment with synthetic chemicals. There are
severalothervarroamanagementstrategieswhichwillbediscussedlaterinthisreport.

Acute Chronic
Stage Stage
varroaincursionintoferal
&managedcolonies

varroasightedin
managedcolonies
chemicalmanagement
implemented
feralcoloniescollapse
varroafromferalstransfers managedcolonies
tomanagedcolonies begintorecover
chemicallytreated
managedcolonies withchangein
varroadevelopsresistance management
collapsing
tochemicaltreatments

023 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40

Yearsfollowingincursion

Figure3Industryresponsefollowingvarroaincursionandchemicalmanagement(timingisapproximateand
dependentonmultiplefactors)

AUSTRALIA:THELASTOASIS
Varroa has spread throughout the world and now threatens bee populations on every continent
exceptAustralia(Figure4).ThroughluckandexcellentbiosecuritymeasuresAustraliais,asfarwe
know,freeofthevarroamite.However,withourclosestneighboursinfestedwithvarroaandthe
very isolated islands of Hawaii recently affected, we are feeling the pressure. Exactly how varroa
invades each country is not known but the arrival of swarms into Australia via sea traffic is
disturbingly real. A often repeated quote from eastern states honeybee researcher Ben Oldroyd
statesitisunlikelythatAustraliawillremainfreeofthemite(Oldroyd,1999).

TiffaneBatesChurchillFellow2009
Australia,thelasthoneybeeoasis:BreedingHoneybeesresistanttoVarroamites6


Figure4GlobalincursionofVarroadestructorontoApismelliferasince1950s3

The importance of honey bees has become very apparent in the last few years as world bee
populationsarethreatened.In2008theFederalgovernmentreleasedareportMoreThanHoney
which encapsulated the value of the bee industry to Australia and recommended $50 million be
invested in the future of apiculture in Australia (House of Representatives Standing Committee on
Primary Industries and Resources, 2008). This position was reiterated in August 2010 in another
report Pollination Aware, which also described the threat to Australian crops by exotic pests and
diseasesofhoneybees(RIRDC,2010).

Australiaiscurrentlytheonlycontinentonwhichalargeferalpopulationofhoneybeesstillsupplies
passiveorincidentalpollinationtoagriculturalcropsandotherflora.Othercountriespayforhivesto
do this work. The beekeeping industry in Australia is relatively small and if ferals were to be
eradicated by a pest such as varroa, it is possible that there would not be enough managed bee
coloniesavailabletoprovideadequatepollinationtoallcropsinpeakseasons(RIRDC,2010).

Accordingtomanyofouroverseascolleagues,inAustraliaweliveinabeekeepingparadisewitha
huge floral nectar supply from our Eucalyptus species, very long seasons and of course as yet, no
varroa.

MYINTEREST
As a beekeeper in Australia, I am aware that it is only a matter of time before we are faced with
varroa in this country. I therefore applied for a Churchill Fellowship with the intention of learning
abouttheglobalexperiencewithbreedingresistancetovarroaandbringingthisinformationhome.
Obviously the subject is extremely broad; spanning over 50 years since the first infestation of A.

3
(Allsopp,2006;Navajas,etal.,2010;Solignac,etal.,2005;Anderson&Trueman,2000;Zhou,etal.,2004;
Abrol,etal.,2006)
TiffaneBatesChurchillFellow2009
Australia,thelasthoneybeeoasis:BreedingHoneybeesresistanttoVarroamites7

mellifera,withthousandsofbeekeepersinvolved,andacomprehensivestudyisunmanageableina
3 month period. So I framed the question to my own area of interest, queen bees. I am a fourth
generationbeekeeperandhavebeenworkinginWAwithbeesoffandonforover15years.Inow
havemyownbeebusinesscalledBeeHerdandspendtimematingandbreedingqueenbees.Iam
also the research apiary manager with the Collaborative Initiative for Bee Research (CIBER) at the
University of Western Australia and act as an intermediary between the researchers and various
beekeepers.

WHYBREEDFORRESISTANCETOPESTSANDDISEASES?
What does it mean to breed for resistance to varroa mites and why should we breed when the
chemicalsareavailabletotreatthispest?

There are various registered chemicals with which beekeepers can treat their colonies for varroa
mites.Earlyonthesesyntheticmiticideswereveryeffective(LeConte,Ellis,&Ritter,Varroamites,
2010).However,inthelasttwentyyearstwoproblemshavearisen:inmanycasesthemiteshave
developedresistancetothechemicals,andsecondlyresiduesofthesechemicalsareaccumulatingin
the wax, pollen and even in the honey. These residues can result in a decrease in colony health
(Frazier,Mullin,Frazier,&Ashcraft,2008;Johnson,Ellis,Mullin,&Frazier,2010).Anotherconcern
perhaps is that many cosmetic products contain wax, pollen or honey and therefore possibly
chemicalresidues.Withthisinmind,thechallengeistofindtraitsandorbeestockthatcansurvive
varroainfestationandproducehealthy,activecolonieswhilstreducingchemicaluse.Cruciallythese
beesmustalsobecommerciallyviableintermsofproductionandtemperament.

TOLERANCEORRESISTANCE?
Diseaseresistanceinhoneybeescanbedefinedastheabilityofabeepopulationtosurvivewithout
therapeutictreatmentsinagivenenvironmentandmanagementsystem(Bchler,Berg,&LeConte,
2010).Theconceptcanalsobereferredtoasdiseasetolerance;theabilityofahoneybeecolonyto
coexist with an infestation of the mite (in this case) (Goodwin & Taylor, 2007) Breeding for
tolerant bees and resistant bees seem to be interchangeable terms around the world. As the
mostcommonlyusedtermisresistanceintheliterature,Iwillusethattermfromhereon.

LEARNINGFROMPEOPLEINTHETHICKOFIT
EachcountryandpersonIvisitedofferedadifferentlearningopportunityandwayoflookingatthe
question of how to breed a varroa resistant bee. My observations ranged from individual
beekeepers using natural selection to large scale government funded operations with impressive
resourcesanddecadesofresearchonthesubject.Nosingleplacehadfoundtheultimateanswerto
suitallsituations;everyplacehadamazingideas,knowledgeandinnovations.ThebriefdescriptionI
givehereinnowaydoesjusticetothevastamountofinformation,timeandpatiencecontributed
byeverypersonImet.

Thissectiondescribestheapproachesandmygeneralexperienceofeachlocation.Italsogivesmy
reasonsforvisiting.Ihavenotexpressedopinionsgivenbyindividualsunlessbackedupbypublished
research. I have also not given my opinion as to whether or not the work is successful, as this is
complex and subjective. I have rather grouped my opinions and observations at the end of this
TiffaneBatesChurchillFellow2009
Australia,thelasthoneybeeoasis:BreedingHoneybeesresistanttoVarroamites8

sectionandintheconclusionsandrecommendations.InadditionthereweresomanymoreplacesI
shouldhavevisited;itfeltlikeanavalancheofpossibilitiesonceIwasonmyway.

NEWZEALAND
I visited New Zealand because it is our closest, culturally similar neighbour and bee breeders here
gavemeaninsightintohowwemightreacttoandmanagethecomingofVarroa.NewZealandhas
hadvarroaforaround10years,whichwasthetimeittooktheUSAmitestodevelopresistanceto
themainchemicaltreatmentsusedformitecontrol(Figure3).Therearerumoursthatthisisstarting
tohappenintheNorthofNewZealand.

NotallnewsinNewZealandpostvarroaisbad:peoplespokeof30%increasesinhoneyyielddueto
removalofferalcolonycompetition.NewZealandalsoexperiencedamarkedincreaseinpollination
revenue for the beekeeper as crops such as kiwifruit require 100% pollination by insects and feral
beeswerenolongeravailabletodothis.ThehighmarketvalueofManukahoneyhasalsohelped
theeconomicsurvivaloftheNZindustry.(Somerville,2008)

ThetwomajorgroupsinvolvedinbreedingforvarroaresistanceinNZareTheHorticultureandFood
ResearchInstitute(HortResearch)nearHamiltonandDaykelApiariesinthefarnorth.Thereisalsoa
groupintheSouthIslandstartingupabreedingprogrammeinpreparationforthearrivalofvarroa
inthesouthernSouthIsland.Ivisitedthetwoformerorganisationsaswellasacommercialhoney
producerinvolvedintheHortResearchproject.

TheHorticultureandFoodResearchInstitute
At the request of the NZ bee industry the Horticulture and Food
Research Institute are currently running a breeding programme to
identify varroa resistant stock. Bee stock was collected from a
selectionofbreederswithinthecountry.Thematingoccursviaboth
artificialinsemination(AI)andnaturalclosedpopulationmatingona
remoteislandofftheCoromandelPeninsular(Figure5). Figure5Participatinginclosed
populationmatinginNew
DaykelApiaries Zealand
Daykel Apiaries in Northland is run by commercial queen producer David Yanke. David has bred
queensinNZforover30yearsandafterthearrivalofvarroadecidedtocommitpartofhisbusiness
tobreedingbeeswithvarroaresistance.HeutilisedRussianbeestocksknownasPrimorsky,which
have developed natural resistance to varroa in reaction to the mites presence in Russia since the
1960s(Figure4).Davidimportedsemenfromthisstockandcarefullycombinedthegeneticmaterial
with a test population from his own apiary. He uses artificial insemination for the breeding
programme,butmateshisproductionqueensnaturally.

HillcrestApiaries
JaneandTonyLorimerarehoneyproducerswhobreedtheirownqueenbees.Jane,alongstanding
presidentoftheNationalBeekeepersAssociationofNewZealand,isaidingHortResearchwiththeir
researchintovarroaresistance.

TiffaneBatesChurchillFellow2009
Australia,thelasthoneybeeoasis:BreedingHoneybeesresistanttoVarroamites9

UNITEDSTATESOFAMERICA
The USA is home to the some of the largest beekeeping operations in the world, with some
operationsofwellover50,000beehives.Thecountryhasexperiencedhugebeelossesoverthelast
fiveyearsandisnowinasituationwherevarroamitesaregenerallyresistanttothemajorityoflegal
miticides(Figure3).andchemicalresiduesinwax,pollenandhoneyareatalarminglyhighlevels

SimilartoAustralia,NorthAmericaisnotthenaturalhomeofthehoneybee.Nowthattheirborders
areaclosedtoqueenimportation,thefewlargescalequeenproducerssupplymuchofcountryfrom
afewbreederqueens.Thisisreducingthegeneticdiversityofthebeepopulationandpossiblythe
abilityofthebeestodefendagainstpathogensandchangesinclimate(LeConte&Navajas,Climate
change:impactonhoneybeepopulationsanddiseases,2008).

Hawaii
Apremiersiteofworldqueenbeeproduction,Hawaiiwasonlyinvadedbyvarroainthelasttwoto
threeyears.TherearethreelargequeenbeeproducersontheBigIslandofHawaiiandvariousother
honey harvesters (Figure 6). The other islands, including Oahu, are home to hobbyists and small
scaleoperations.

In 2009 existing Hawaiian stock was tested for the varroa


resistant trait, Varroa Sensitive Hygiene (VSH), by the Baton
Rougeresearchlabonthemainland(referredtolater).Thelab
foundthatsomelevelofthistraitisalreadyinexistenceonthe
Big Island (Danka, Harris, & Villa, 2010), which could greatly
benefit their breeding programmes as these bees will already
beadaptedfortheHawaiianclimate.

Figure6AHawaiianQueenCo. Hawaiianbeekeepersareattemptingtomanagevarroawithout
breedingapiary the use of synthetic chemicals. They have received permission
from the USDA to use a version of formic acid specially
formulatedforhotclimates.Thequeenbreeders;KonaQueens,HawaiianQueensCo.andOlivarez
Honey Bees are participating in breeding strategies which involve importing semen from resistant
linesonmainlandUSAandcombiningitusingAIwiththeirexistingstock.TheUniversityofHawaiiis
involved in these projects and is working with the Hawaiian Department of Agriculture to ensure
beekeepersreceivethebestadviceandassistance.Theresultsofthisapproachwillbetestedwhen
theferalcoloniesstarttocollapseinthethirdorfourthyearafterincursion(Figure3).Itwillbevery
usefulforAustraliatowatchwhathappensastheHawaiianclimateposeschallengessimilartoour
own(refertothesectiononChallengesforAustralia).

California
Californiaisanexcellentplacetobeabeekeeper:aniceclimate,goodresourcesandaccesstosome
ofthecountrysoldestqueenproducingfamilies.Itisalsothesiteofthelegendaryvastmonoculture
that is the California almond industry, which only exists because of honeybees. Utilitsing over a
millionbeehivesayear,thealmondpollinationattractsbeekeepersfromalloverthecountry(Pettis
& Delaplane, 2010) (Figure 7). Hundreds of packages of bees are also imported annually from
TiffaneBatesChurchillFellow2009
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Australia for almond pollination. Could production of this size be


maintainedwithouttheuseofchemicals?Thisisaquestionaskedby
manyconcernedaboutvarroamanagementintheUSA.

Whilst in California I visited a small scale commercial beekeeper, a


largequeen beeproducerandtheUniversityofCaliforniahoneybee
research department. I barely scraped the surface of the knowledge

baseinthisstate.Unfortunatelyrestrictedbytime,Icouldonlytake Figure7Largescalebeekeeping
advantageofthefollowingexperiences. &masstransportationin
California
ScientificBeekeeping,GrassValley
ThesmallnortherntownofGrassValleyishometobeekeeperandentomologist,RandyOliver,from
ScientificBeekeeping.Heisonaselfdeclaredmissiontodoasmuch,learnasmuchandeducateas
much as he can. I could not possibly encapsulate all the areas in which Oliver is involved in this
report so will summarise with a quote from his website: ...bee scientists in general are telling us
thatweneedtomovebeyondthenumbskullbeekeepingpracticeofthrowingamitebombintoour
hivesonceayearuntilitsineffective,butratherstartpracticingsmartbeekeeping,orIPM,centered
aroundfightinbeesthatkickmitebuttwithonlyoccasionalhelpfromus(ScientificBeekeeping).
IPMisintegratedpestmanagementandwillbediscussedlater.Oliverisalsobecominginvolvedwith
beeepigeneticsinvestigations(seeGlossary).

UniversityofCalifornia,Davis
UCDavisisthesiteofresearchofsomeofthegreatbeesciencemindsofourtime.Researchersat
Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility are among other things, currently addressing
concerns about Californias almond industry and national bee health. I met with Dr Eric Mussen,
Extension Apiculturalist who believes that resistant stocks are a better long term solution than
currentlyavailableshorttermfixes(UniversityofCalifornia).Mussenhasbeeninhisroleformany
yearsandisonthepulseofwhatishappeningintheUSindustry

SomeweekslaterItravelledtoCanadawithSueCobeyofUCDaviswhoisaworldleaderinartificial
inseminationofhoneybees.SuehasbeendevelopingtheNewWorldCarniolanstrainofbeesince
the1980s,usingstockfromallovertheUSA.Ithasprovedtobeproductive,hardy,gentleandhighly
disease resistant. Generally Sue is involved at UC Davis in identifying, selecting and improving
honeybeestocksshowinggooddiseaseresistance(UniversityofCalifornia).

OlivarezHoneybees,Orland
Brothers Ray and Russell Olivarez have queen bee operations in Hawaii and California. They have
hundredsofbreederqueensandsellthousandsofproductionqueensamonth.Theycurrentlytreat
their colonies with the commonly used varroa chemicals but are also working with Marla Spivak
from the University of Minnesota to improve their varroa monitoring techniques and therefore
widentheirknowledgeforstockselection.

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USDA,BatonRouge,Louisiana
Baton Rouge, Louisiana is home to the USDA Agricultural Research Service, Honey Bee Breeding,
GeneticsandPhysiologyLaboratory.Thelabisinvolvedinaplethoraofresearchprojectsaimedat
minimisingproblemsthatthreatenhoneybeeproductivity,andimprovingbeestocksforbeekeeping
(USDA Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics & Physiology Research Unit, 2010). They also aim to devise
solutionsbasedongeneticresistancetospecificparasites.

One such parasite is Varroa destructor. Two breeding approaches were adopted by the lab more
than20yearsago:TheRussianHoneybeeProgramandtheVarroaSensitiveHygiene(VSH)Program.
TheformerutilisedexistingstockfromRussiawhichshowedevidenceofresistancetovarroa.The
Varroa Sensitive Hygiene (VSH) Program isolated and identified this particular measurable
characteristic of varroa resistant bees (Harbo & Harris, 1999). These two research projects have
producedbeeswhichrequiresignificantlyreducedvarroatreatments(Rinderer,Harris,Hunt,&de
Guzman,2010).

UniversityofMinnesota
Using a different approach, the team at the University of Minnesota
have developed bees which have greatly reduced varroa loads
compared to others under similar conditions (Spivak & Reuter, 2008).
Since1994leadresearcherMarlaSpivakandcolleagueGaryReuterhave
been working in collaboration with local beekeepers including Darryl
Rufer to breeding resistance in bees via hygienic behaviour (Figure 8).
One benefit of this characteristic is that it is simple to measure in the
field.

Thisresearchgroupisnowworkingtowardsrefiningefficientandsimple
monitoringtechniques,developingcertificationforspecifictraitssuchas
Figure8Science/Industry hygienic behaviour and aiding beekeepers with sampling so they can
collaborations:DarrylRufer makemoreinformedbreedingchoices.
andMarlaSpivak

CANADA
KettleValleyQueens,BritishColumbia
FollowingawelltimedphonecallbyRandyOliverIfoundmyself
driving with Sue Cobey, researcher at UC Davis, to Grand Forks,
British Columbia. A collaborative project is underway in Grand
ForksbetweenAgricultureandAgriFoodCanada,representedby
researcherAdonyMelathopoulos,BeaverLodge,Albertaandlocal
beekeepers Liz and Terry Huxter from Kettle Valley Queens. Sue Figure9 Mixingbeestomake
Cobey was asked there to contribute her artificial insemination homogenisedpackagesforvarroa
skills and I participated as a curious and enthusiastic assistant resistantexperiments:TerryHuxter
andTiffaneBates
(Figure9).

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To trial potentially Varroa resistant stock combinations in the field, this collaboration between
science and industry was making full use of the Huxters commercial operation and the research
knowhow of the Agriculture and AgriFood Canada lab. One of the stock traits being selected for
wastheVSHtraitidentifiedbytheBatonRougelab.

EUROPE

ThehoneybeeisendemictothemajorityofEuropeancountriesandhascorrespondinglyadaptedto
a broad range of different conditions. There is therefore a much higher capacity within the
population for honeybees to adjust to changes in conditions, whether climatic or via pathogen
introduction(LeConte&Navajas,2008).AsBchler,BergandLeConte(2010)suggestthisdiversity
providesarichsourceofmaterialfromwhichtoselectforvarroaresistantstock.

GenerallybeekeepersinEuropehavesmallnumbersofhivesandcanconsequentlyundertakehighly
intensivebeekeepingmanagement,enablingthemtoreducetheirrelianceonchemicaltreatments.
Europeishometomanylongrunningbreedingprogrammes,bothattheindividualandlargescale,
national level. In response to large colony losses the focus of many of these programmes has in
recent years shifted from economics and beekeeper convenience, to disease survival and colony
fitness(Bchler,Berg,&LeConte,2010).

COLOSS(PreventionofCOlonyLOSSesNetwork)
TheCOLOSSNetworkisworldwideandinvolves53countries.4TheNetworkwassetupinresponse
to large colony losses worldwide and its scientific members are attempting to identify and
investigate why this is occurring. Its aim is to find the best ways to develop and disseminate
sustainable management strategies. I have included COLOSS in the European section because it
came to my attention there and so far the majority of the organisational roles are filled by
Europeans.

The COLOSS genotype environment interaction test was of


particularinteresttome.ThisEuropeanwidecollaborationaimsto
trial different bee strains under variable conditions to test their
resistance and vitality (Network). Colonies from 17 different
European countries are assigned to variable locations, and
predetermined management and selection tools are repeated by
eachparticipantonthevariousstrainstheyreceive(Figure10).Coloniesaremonitoredcloselyand
survivalratesandamyriadotherinformationisrecorded(Bchler, Figure10 StaffatKirchhainBee
Berg, & Le Conte, 2010). Colonies from both the German lab at Institutemonitoringbeesforthe
Kirchhain and from Yves Le Contes experiments are involved in COLOSSgenotypeprogramme
thetrials(discussedbelow). (RalphBchlerandassistant)

4
www.coloss.org
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Germany
Germanyhasalonghistoryofnationalbeebreedingprogrammes.Matingstationsoccurthroughout
the country where beekeepers can bring their virgin queens to be naturally mated on location by
drones from colonies managed by the bee institutes. I was taken to several of these stations by
researcher Ralph Bchler from the Kirchhain Bee Institute. The German bee monitoring project
(Arbeitsgemeinschaft Toleranzzuht) is a recent long term study undertaken to understand
periodicallyhighwinterlossesofhoneybeecoloniesinGermany(Genersch,etal.,2010).Referto
Kirsten Traynors excellent article in the November 2008 ABK for a full description of this
programme.5

KirchhainBeeInstitute,Hessen
The Kirchhain Bee Institute is involved in
multiple areas of bee research as well as
training, disease monitoring and raising
public awareness. Their research covers
suchsubjectsasbreeding,beeimmunityand
pesticide tolerance (Figure 11). Director
Ralph Bchler plays a significant role in the
German and European breeding
programmesandinresearchintobeehealth
in Europe. Researcher Marina Meixner
heads the Diversity and Vitality Section of
COLOSS and amongst other activities works
Figure11Matingnucleushivesanddronecoloniesat withbeekeepersonvarroamanagement.
KirchhainBeeInstitute,Hessen,Germany
Whilst in Kirchhain I also spoke to Tilly
Kuhnert who was the AI expert involved with the West Australian Department of Agriculture and
Food bee breeding programme in the 1980s. I was pleased to be able to tell Tilly that the
programmeisstillrunningbutnowinprivatehands.

QuintadasFerrarias,Aljezur,Portugal
During the Fellowship I took a two week detour to southern Portugal to visit my father. After 40
years as a beekeeper himself, my father could not resist accompanying me to investigate a
beekeepingoperation(QuintadasFerrarias)inthenearbytownofAljezur.TheownerofQuintada
Ferrarias,localFernandoDuarte,runs2,000honeyproductioncoloniesinandaroundthesouthof
Portugal, harvesting mainly wild lavender. The bees are the local Spanish/Portuguese race. The
coloniesaretreatedbiannuallyforvarroawitharotatingapplicationofsyntheticchemicals.

Portugal is involved in the previously mentioned COLOSS programme via researcher Antonio
Murilhas.

5
(Traynor,2008)
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France
NationalInstituteforAgriculturalResearch,Avignon
The French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) is world renown for their work on
varroa resistant bees. Bee research, under the Directorship of Yves Le Conte, is divided amongst
three teams: Biology, ecology and pathogens; Pollination; and Ecotoxicology. Since 1994 Yves Le
ContehasbeencollectingFrenchferalorabandonedhoneybeecoloniesthathavesurvivedwithout
varroatreatment.Yvesbelievesthatthenaturalselectionprocessisadvantageousasitselectsfor
sustainable hostparasite equilibrium (2007). A breeding programme has been running for many
years and Yves now has colonies which have survived without treatment for more than a decade.
ThebeesbredbyYvesarepartoftheCOLOSSprogrammepreviouslydiscussed.

JohnKefuss,Toulouse
FiftykilometresoutsideToulouseJamesBondisatworkinthebeeindustry.BeekeeperJohnKefuss
initiatedabreedingstrategyin1993whichhehaschristenedTheBondTest.Thisliveorletdie
approachselectscolonieswhichsurvivevarroawithouttreatment.Thebeekeepercanthenimprove
colonyproductionandtemperamentfromtheresultingstock.

John also promotes the soft Bond test for those beekeepers without a financial buffer to survive
thelossofalargenumberofcoloniestovarroa.Thissoftversionenablesthebeekeepertoselecta
proportion of their colonies for sacrifice to the test based on the cost of sampling, and not
experienceacripplinglosstovarroa.

Johnsellsbreederandproductionqueensandsemenallovertheworld.

JeanFrancoisMalleinandPhilippeHuau,Giroussens
Close by in Giroussens, JeanFrancois Mallein and Philippe
Huau are slowly building a queen breeding operation. These
twoyoungmenarestartingoutintheindustrywhensomany
are throwing up their hands in despair at the challenges in
modernbeekeeping.ThebusinessisrunusingBuckfaststock
(Figure12)andinseminationexpertsareregularlybroughtto
France from Poland to help with stock maintenance and
Figure12 TendingBuckfastbees
improvement. Mallein and Huau use synthetic chemicals for
treatedwithsyntheticchemicals,
varroatreatment.
bredforgentlenessandhoney
production
GillesFert,ThePyrnss
Gilles Fert has been breeding and producing queen bees in the Pyrnss Mountains for over 25
years.Heisalsoabeekeepingconsultant,withpartofhisbusinessdedicatedtoadvisingapiaristsall
over the world. Gilles believes that the quality of the queen is the major determinant for the
dynamismofthecolony(Fert,2008).TwentyyearsagoheimportedCaucasianbeesfromGeorgia,
RussiaandinthelasttwoyearshasbeenusingPrimorskistockwhichisadvertisedasresistantto
varroa.Gillesonlytreatswithsoftchemicalsandisafirmadvocateofadequatenutritionforbee
health.

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UNITEDKINGDOM
TheUKhashadvarroaforlessthan20years.Therearemanyenthusiasticadvocatesofbreedingfor
varroa resistance in Britain; most recently in August of this year, Swindon beekeeper Ron Hoskins
publicisedhisdevelopmentofavarroaresistantBritishbee(DevonBeekeepersAssociation).

UniversityofLeeds,Yorkshire
The University of Leeds houses a group of dedicated social insect scientists headed by Dr William
Hughes.HoneybeeprojectsincludeinvestigationofdiseasetransmissionbyKatRobertsandlooking
forevidenceofwildbeepopulationsintheUK.TheapiaryattheUniversityisrunbyBillCadmore,
ViceChairmanoftheYorkshireBeekeepersAssociation.

WhilstinLeedsIattendedTheGreatYorkshireShowandwas
invited on a fieldtrip by National Bee Unit agent Sandra
Kinchin. The National Bee Unit is part of The Food and
Environment Research Agency (FERA) which carries out
extensivebeemonitoring,samplingandresearchthroughout
the UK. Sandra also took me to meet John Whent of Pear
Tree Honey Farm. John is one of the UKs largest honey
producers. He took us to see a yard of bees which he has
Figure13Englishhoneybeeonthistlenevertreatedforvarroaandwhichheisnowmonitoring.The
mostsuccessfulcoloniesfromhisobservationswillbeutilisedinhisfuturebeestocks.

ClivedeBruyn,Essex
ItwasrecommendedthatIvisitClivedeBruynwhilstintheUK.Awelltravelledbeekeeper,Clive
wasinYorkshireatthetimeandwillingtogotothepubforachat.Abeekeeperofsome50years,
hehasstudiedvarroaintheUKsincetheirarrivalin1992.ClivewasadvisortotheNationalBeeUnit
formanyyearsandonthecommitteeoftheBritishBeekeepingAssociation.In1993hecowroteThe
NewVarroaHandbook,buttoldmethatmuchhaschangedinvarroamanagementinthesincethen.

BEEKEEPINGWITHVARROA

HOWAREPEOPLECOPINGWITHTHEDAYTODAYANDTHEBIGPICTURE?
In the previous section I described some visionary projects and folks who are committed to
sustainable, long term ways of approaching bee health and management. These approaches take
timeandmoneyandarethereforearenotpossibleforeveryone.

Sowhatareotherpeopledoing?Sofarthevarroamiteispredominantlymanagedinthesameway
asanyotherstockdisease,thatis,withsyntheticchemicalssuchascoumaphosandfluvalinate.Until
recentlyonlythosepeoplewhopreferrednottousechemicalsorbelievedthatthiswasnotalong
term solution concentrated on any other option. However it is becoming clear that that as mites
become more virulent and chemical residues in hives increase it is no longer possible to rely on
governmentregisteredchemicalsastheonlymeansofvarroamanagement.

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THEPRESSURESOFLIVINGWITHVARROA
Asabeekeeper,thefirsttimeIsawvarroaitwasinconceivabletome
that working with that in my hives could become normal and
manageable (Figure 14). However, for much of the world this is just
how it is. There is a whole generation of beekeepers who havenever
workedanyotherway.Itisnownolongerpossibleforbeekeepersto
justharvesthoneyorcheckcoloniesonceayear;varroahaseradicated
passive beekeeping. This section describes the extra pressures these
beekeepers live with and how these pressures affect treatment
decisions.

Figure14ThefirsttimeIsaw
Economics
varroainNZ(PhotoKatieLee)
In some ways varroa can be seen as an economic disease. Many
beekeepers will be reluctant to integrate a bee stock into their operation, no matter how varroa
resistant, if the bees are sting a lot or are less productive. Similarly, when business owners make
decisions about management, the cost of changing the way things are done or implementing
anothertimeheavypracticesuchasvarroasamplingisoftennoteconomicallyviable.

Ithastakensometimeforgovernmentstoacknowledgetheimportanceofthebeekeepingindustry
totheeconomichealthofacountry.Lackofvalueforthisrelativelysmallagriculturalindustryhas
oftenresultedinlowfundingforresearchandassistanceforbeekeepersincrisisperiods.

Viruses
The effect of varroa on a bee colony is quite complex. The
presence of varroa alone rarely kills a colony except at very
high populations. Unfortunately varroa can also transmit
virusessuchasDeformedWingVirus(DWV)frombeetobee
when the mite feeds on the bees haemolymph (Oldroyd,
1999)(Figure 15). This added stress can reduce vigor and
longevity,meaningthedifferencebetweenacolonysurviving Figure15 varroamitewhichhasbeen
through the winter or not (Le Conte, Ellis, & Ritter, Varroa feedingonbeepupa(PhotoUSDAphoto
mites,2010). unit)

Myriadotherdiseases
Of course varroa is not the only disease bees have to survive and manage. Each country has an
individualcollectionofdiseases,eachwithdifferentcolonythresholdeffectsdependingonclimate
andbeekeepingstyles.

ColonyCollapseDisorder(CCD)
For the last four years Europe and America have been losing colonies in huge numbers. This
mysterious phenomenon has been termed CCD. More and more research is pointing to colony
collapses resulting from interactions between different stressors. (Le Conte, Ellis, & Ritter, Varroa
mites,2010)

TiffaneBatesChurchillFellow2009
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Largescaleindustry
Insomeplacesbeekeepingbusinesseshavebecomeverylarge;intheAmericasparticularly,70,000
beehives are being run by one business. In these cases colony stress can be increased by long
distance travel, high competition in apiaries and unskilled apiary labour. The challenges of disease
managementfortheselargescaleoperationsareamplified.

Chemicals:Resistance,residuesandcocktails
Thesyntheticchemicaltreatmentswhichmadevarroajust
another management issue for so many years are now
almost useless in many places because the mites have
developed resistance to these chemicals (Figure 3). In
desperation for their businesses some beekeepers have
resorted to using very high levels of chemicals or even
mixinguptheirownconcoctions.IncountriessuchasNew
Zealand and Portugal which have had varroa for less time
thanothers,thesechemicalsappeartobestilleffective.

Chemical residues have been found even in hives which


have only ever been treated with the correct and legal
chemicaltreatments.Inmostcasesresiduesareinthewax
and pollen (as the treatments are fat soluble), but are
sometimes even in the honey (Figure 16) (Mullin, et al.,
2010). Beekeepers in countries with varroa now need to
Figure16Beesharvestingsunflower replace their comb much more regularly than in the past.
nectarandpolleninFrance.Thegolden This has the dual purpose of reducing contaminated wax
valleysareverybeautiful,butthe anddiseasebuildupinthecomb.
beekeepermovedhishivesbecausehe
wasnervousthatthechemical
VARROAMANAGEMENTTOOLS
treatmentsonthiscropwerepoisoning
hisbees. Livingwithvarroaisdifficultandrequiresmanagement;this
iscertainlyclear.Fortunatelytherearemanywaystobea
successfulandsatisfiedbeekeeperwithvarroa.Unfortunatelytheyallcomewithsomecostintime,
moneyorboth.Thenextsectionprovidesabrieflookatthevarietyoftreatmentsavailable.There
aremanypublishedworksonvarroatreatmentssoIwillbebriefforthemostpart.Themainfocus
ofthissectionisonbreedingasamanagementtool.

Chemicaltreatments
The chemical treatments include synthetic or hard chemicals, and soft chemicals. The former
include fluvalinate, flumethrin and coumaphos. Soft chemicals include formic acid, thymol and
oxalicacid.Manyofthesoftchemicalsarecomplicatedordangeroustouse,requireveryspecific
climaticconditionsandmustbeusedinconjunctionwithmitemonitoring.Someofthesetreatments
candamagethecolonyifusedincorrectlyandtherearestillunansweredquestionsabouttheirlong
termeffectonthecolony(Mullin,etal.,2010).

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Biotechnicaltreatments
There are many simple and successful methods of biotechnical varroa treatment involving the
physicalmanipulationofahivetoreducethevarroapopulation.Themostcommonversionisbrood
removal, particularly drone brood which is more susceptible to mites (Goodwin & Taylor, 2007).
Mitesaretrappedinthebroodandkilledfollowingremoval.Suchbiotechnicaltreatmentsareoften
verytimeconsuming.

Doingnothing/Naturalselection
Varroa and A. mellifera have not been in relationship for very long and we have inhibited natural
selectionbyusingchemicaltreatments.Itisrarethereforeforhoneybeesandvarroatohavefound
abalancedhostparasiteequilibriumsuchasexistsbetweenApisceranaandvarroa(LeConte,Ellis,
& Ritter, Varroa mites, 2010). However, there is evidence of bees with naturally occurring varroa
resistance(LeConte,deVaublanc,Crauser,Jeanne,Rouselle,&Bcard,2007).

Breeding
I discussed earlier in the report why I chose to investigate
breeding and why I believe it is the only long term option for
varroa treatment. Resistant bees can and have been successfully
bredandusedinconjunctionwithothertreatmentsorultimately
alone. My goal here is not to advocate for a specific breeding
programme,mosthaveadvantagesanddisadvantages.HereIwill
aimtogiveanoverviewofwhatispossibleandtheprosandcons
ofdifferentbreedingstrategies.

Thecomplicationsofbreedinghoneybees
Honeybees are not a simple animal to breed. It is difficult to Figure17 Experimentalqueen,
BatonRougeUSDA
controltheirdietorforagingbehaviour,andinteractionsbetween
bees within the colony are very complex. Added to these are the difficulties of any other animal
breeding programme: economic costs, loss of some characteristics by the selection of others, and
thepressuresofindustrypolitics.

Thebreedingtools
Many different breeding programmes are running in the world, each with a slightly different goal,
methodandchallenges.However,manyofthesamebasictoolsareavailable.Theuseofthesemay
dependonmoney,time,locationandpolitics.Artificialinseminationiscommonlyusedintheinitial
phasesofabreedingprogrammeandofteninanongoingwaytomaintaintraitsandstock.Thisis
especialcriticalifaclosedpopulationisrequired.AIisalsoveryusefulforfasttrackingatraitwith
singledroneinseminations.

Many breeding programmes also utilise offshore islands to benefit from natural mating and still
ensurestockintegrity,includingRottnestIslandinWesternAustralia,MercuryIslandinNewZeland
andNorderneyintheNorthSea.

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Whyarecoloniesresistanttovarroa?
Beesaroundtheworldhavedevelopedavarietyofwaysbywhichtheylivesuccessfullywithvarroa
inthecolony.Varroaresistantcoloniesinhibitthegrowthofthevarroapopulationtosuchadegree
thatthecolonyisabletosurvivelongterminahealthy,productivewaywithouttreatment.Fewif
anyofthemechanismsofresistancearefullyunderstoodbutmanycanbeselectedforinabreeding
population. These mechanisms include: grooming of adult
bees; regular swarming; damaged brood removal (hygienic
behaviour and VSH (Figure 18)); early hatching of worker
bees or drones; low mite population growth and reduced
mite reproduction. Selecting for bees with virus resistance
wouldalsoimproveacolonysabilitytothriveregardlessof
varroainfestations.

Thereisagreatdealpublisheddetailingthesemechanisms
and related breeding programmes. I recommend the Figure18 EvidenceofVSHinKettleValley:
Apidologie review articles by Ralph Bchler and Tom broodwhichhasbeenuncappedandis
Rinderer(Bchler,Berg,&LeConte;Rinderer,Harris,Hunt, beingresealed
&deGuzman)forfurtherinformationonthissubject.

Strategiesforresistancebreeding
Therearethreeconceptualapproachestoselectingbeesforabreedingprogramme:
Selectcolonieswithaspecifictrait
Focusonastockofbeeswithknownresistanceanddevelopthisforyourrequirements,
Selectcolonieswhichsurvivevarroauntreatedoveralongperiodfromwithinmanagedor
feralpopulations.

Whatsworkinginresistancebreeding
Various breeding programmes have produced colonies which can survive for many years without
varroa treatment (Bchler, Berg, & Le Conte, 2010; Rinderer, Harris, Hunt, & de Guzman, 2010;
Goodwin & Taylor, 2007). Stock from many of these is being widely utilised by the beekeeping
community.AnumberofmethodsusedtoachievethisresultstoodoutonmyFellowshipincluding:
1. Closed breeding programmes such as Sue Cobeys New
WorldCarniolianline.Selectionforeitheraspecifictraitor
stock line is achievable within a closed breeding
programme.Oneofthedownsidesofthisstyleofbreeding
is the high level of resources required initially and for
maintenanceofthestockovertime.
2. Selectingforaspecificcharacteristicwithanaccompanying
sampling technique also improves the tool box for
IntegratedPestManagement(seetheIPMsectionbelow).
3. Utilising existing resistant stock via queen or semen Figure19Varroainfectedbee
importation can speed up and help to focus the breeding (PhotoRobManning)
process. Time is crucial when facing a varroa crisis.

TiffaneBatesChurchillFellow2009
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Unfortunatelyimportationofgeneticstockcarriestheriskofunknownpathogensortraits
coming with the stock. In addition the benefit of using bees adapted to their region
(ecotypes)maybeimportantforresistance.
4. Varroabreedsandmultipliesonthelarvaeofbees.Anabsenceofcappedlarvaeinthehive
reduces the breeding period of the varroa and shortens the time over which the mite
population can expand. Regions with a cold climate have the advantage of a period in
winterwhenthequeennolongerlayseggs.InpartsofGermanyanextrabroodlessperiodis
artificiallyinitiatedpartwaythroughtheyearaspartoftheirmanagementpractice.
5. Itfollowsalsothatbeebehaviourwhichreducestheamountofbroodinacolonyormakes
the colony broodless for a period, is an advantage when resisting varroa. There are some
honeybee races which show higher levels of natural tolerance than others due in part to
such behavioural characteristics. Africanized bees for example swarm very readily and
Carniolanqueenslaymoreconservativelythanqueensofotherraces.

Suchnaturalselectionisausefulstrategyinbreeding.TwoofthebeekeepersIvisitedhavetaken
advantage of naturally selected mite resistance in their breeding populations. Yves Le Conte has
identifiedsurvivingwildcoloniesandbredfromtheseandJohnKefusshasallowedhiscoloniesto
manage varroa without treatment and then bred from the survivors (the Bond Test) (Kefuss,
Vanpoucke,Bolt,&Kefuss,2009;LeConte,deVaublanc,Crauser,Jeanne,Rouselle,&Bcard,2007).
AsimilarmethodhasalsobeensuccessfullyadoptedbyIngemarFriesinSweden(Bchler,Berg,&Le
Conte,2010).HowevertheBondTestcanbeexpensiveintermsofmoneyandmorale,asmanaged
colonieshaveoftenbeenselectedforhighproductionandgentlenessatthecostofhardiness.

Anyone who runs a successful breeding programme with specific goals must decide how to utilise
the resulting stock. For some breeders it is enough to have bees which do not require varroa
treatments.Otherswantorneedtoinvolvethewidercommunityintheiraccomplishment.Thisof
courseinvolvesmanyfactors,oneofwhichisdispersalofstock.Thesaleofinseminatedqueensand
production daughters is one way to distribute stock to the industry, as was done by Marla Spivak
withherhygienicbees(Spivak&Reuter,NewDirection,2008).Anotherisforthebeekeepertomate
theirownqueenswiththedronesfromresistantbreedercolonieswiththeaddedadvantageofnot
completely replacing the beekeepers own bees. Beekeepers can do this themselves by buying a
breeder queen and using her drones to mate with their virgins. National initiatives such as the
Germanmatingstationsappeartobeveryeffective.

Challenges
Beesexistthatcansurvivewithouttreatmentforvarroamites.However,beekeepersmaynotutilise
such resistant stock for various reasons. Most often the reason is economic, sometimes political,
sometimespractical,andofteninvolveswhatIcallthescienceindustryvoid(seebelow).Itisnota
coincidence that chemical treatments have been the varroa management tool of choice. They are
usuallyeasier,cheaperandgivefasterresultsthanbreeding.Selectingstockfromsurvivingcolonies
canpresentaproblemascoloniescanbehealthyforovertwoyearsandsubsequentlycollapse(Le
Conte&Navajas,Climatechange:impactonhoneybeepopulationsanddiseases,2008)(Figure3).

Breeding takes a lot of time, patience and resources; three things which are not always available
whentryingtorunaneconomicallyviablebusiness.Evenifthebreedingisdonebysomeoneelse,
TiffaneBatesChurchillFellow2009
Australia,thelasthoneybeeoasis:BreedingHoneybeesresistanttoVarroamites21

changing management practices to incorporate resistant stock or implementing IPM can be a


challengeformanypeople.Thefollowingaresomeofthereasonswhyabeekeepermightchooseto
continuetousetheirexistingvarroamanagementsystemevenifpresentedwithbeestockthatis
resistantintheapiariesofthebreeder:
Theresistantstockproduceslesshoneyorpollen
Thebeestendtobemoreaggressive
Thebeekeeperdoesnotwanttocompromisethebreedingstocktheyhavedeveloped
Theresistantstockisfromapiarieswithverydifferentclimates

Unknowns
Itisnowcomingtolightthattheremaybeotherchallengestoaddtotheabovelist,suchasecotype
specific resistance is one. I heard many stories backed by research on my Fellowship of bee stock
thatwashighlyresistanttovarroa.Ioftenheardacorrespondingstoryfromsomeonewhohadused
that same stock in a different area which did not survive varroa infestations. This experience was
repeatedtomeanecdotallyagainandagainaroundtheworld.Howthiswillaffectthedispersalof
resistantbeestocksisnotyetclear.

Beekeepersalsoseemedunsureasto whysomeresistantstockshadsurvivedfornearly adecade


withouttreatmentthensuddenlyexperiencedlargelossestovarroa.It
ispossiblethatanextrastresssuchasaclimatefluctuationoccurred
and the colonies couldnt cope. Nobody had an absolute answer for
thisquestion.

Thereisnowasignificantamountofresearchshowingthathighlevels
of chemical residues exist in the wax of most colonies in varroa
infestedcountries(Mullin,etal.,2010).Thereissomeconcernabout
thepotentialimpactthisishavingondevelopingbees(Frazier,Mullin,
Frazier,&Ashcraft,2008).Beebreedersarestartingtoaskquestions
about the effects of these residues on queen and drone viability.
Similar questions could be posed regarding the effects of soft
chemical treatments such as formic acid (Johnson, Ellis, Mullin, & Figure20Trappingdrones
Frazier,2010). withaheliumballoonand
queenpheromoneinthe
Research is being undertaken at the Kirchhain Institute into the formerEastGermanyto
quantityofdronesneededinanareatogetasufficientproportionfor determinethepercentageof
genetictransferoftraits(Figure20).Thereislessferalinterferencein markedexperimentaldrones
Germany than Australia but a much higher density of managed representedinthemature
colonies. dronestock.

Another layer of colony complexity that is only just starting to be understand is the effect on bee
colonies of epigenetics (where nongenetic factors cause the organism's genes to express
differently). Nutritional cues present in royal jelly have been shown to alter gene expression
(Kucharski, Maleszka, Fort, & Maleszka, 2008). What this translates to in the colony is that a
fertilizedbeeeggcanbecomeeitheraqueenoraworkerdependingonwhatsheisfed.Howmany
otherchangesarehappeninginthehivethatwecannotunderstand?
TiffaneBatesChurchillFellow2009
Australia,thelasthoneybeeoasis:BreedingHoneybeesresistanttoVarroamites22

IntegratedPestManagement
IntegratedPestManagement(IPM)isatoolusedgenerallyin
agriculturewhenafarmerwantstominimisetheirchemical
use (The Food and Environment Research Agency, 2009).
IPMutilisesavarietyoftechniquestokeeppestpopulations
at a level which does not have a detrimental economic
effect;thiscanalsoincludeusingresistantbeestocks.Colony
monitoring is a critical part of successful IPM (Figure 21),
leading to the farmer only treating stock when certain pest
thresholdsarereached(Goodwin&Taylor,2007).UsingIPM
could also benefit beekeepers who are working in places Figure21 Naturallyoccurringdronebrood
where varroa is resistant to the approved chemicals.Many inacolonywithvarroadestructor:agood
beekeepersarenowusingthisformofmanagementanditis waytocheckformitesistobreakopen
dronebroad
proving to have huge potential for the future of varroa
controlworldwide.

2010ChurchillFellowDanielMartinfromVictoriawillgototheUSAthisyeartoinvestigateIPMfor
varroacontrol.

ANDNOWINAUSTRALIA
Australia is the last beekeeping oasis. However it is now accepted that the question of if we get
varroaislongredundant;itisnowjustamatteroftime.

CHALLENGESFORAUSTRALIA
Eachcountryhascomplexpolitical,economicandculturalclimateswhichinfluencedecisionsabout
theirfutures.OneofAustraliasbiggestchallengeswillbetonegotiateallthesecomplexfactorsso
that the decisions we make about varroa will be realistic and successful. As I have previously
discussed the arrival of varroa will bring with a whole gambit of problems some of which are
particulartoAustralianconditions:

Wenowfacethechallengeofpreparingourbeepopulationsforvarroa.Selectingfor
resistancetoapestwedonotyethaveisauniquetestofqueenbreederinnovation.No
varroafreetestingtechniquescurrentlyexistforthemajorityofthevarroaresistanttraits
asthereareforotherdiseases.
Alargeproportionofourindustry(particularlyinWesternAustralia)usestheItalianraceof
bee.Italiancolonieshaveshowntobeparticularlyvulnerabletovarroaasthequeensare
prolificbroodproducersandhavealonglayingperiod(Tarpy&Lee,2005).Thesetraitsare
of course fantastic for production but will also encourage large varroa population.
Unfortunately the races which are naturally more tolerant of varroa (eg Caucasians,
Carniolans)aregenerallynotheattolerant(Graham,2005).
ManybeekeepersinAustraliadonothaveabroodlessperiodintheirhivesasthewinters
arenotparticularlyharshorlong.Again,thisresultsinalongbreedingperiodforvarroa.

TiffaneBatesChurchillFellow2009
Australia,thelasthoneybeeoasis:BreedingHoneybeesresistanttoVarroamites23

The extreme heat in many areas could make it difficult to use currently available soft
chemicals as such as Formic acid which are most effective in cooler climates (Wright &
Villalobos,2009).
Itisalsoimportanttonotethatmanytreatmentsandmanagementtechniqueswhichwork
in one climate and with one race of bee, do not necessarily work with another. Mark
GoodwinofHortResearchNZremindedusofthisatatalkhegaveinCanberralastmonth.
Thecombinationofareducedorstressedbeeindustryandcrashingferalcoloniesmayresult
ininsufficientpollinationavailabilityforagriculturalcrops,particularlyduringpeakperiods.
Raisingmuchneededfundsforapestthathasnotyetarrivedpresentsitsownchallenges,as
doesmotivatingthebeekeepingandpollinationindustriestoprepareforvarroawhenthey
havesomanyotherpressuresontheirbusinesses.
Inadditionwemaygetastrainthatisalreadyresistanttothecurrentchemicaltreatments.

THEGOODNEWS
Rarelyisitsuchabenefittobelast:weareinanunusualpositionofbeingforewarnedaboutthe
arrivalofamajoragriculturalpest.Comparedtothecountrieswhichreceivedvarroatwentyoreven
tenyearsago,wehaveaplethoraofvarroatoolsavailableforouruse.Theseinclude:

Manyexamplesofwhatnottodo
Severalalternativestosyntheticchemicals
Varroaresistantbeestocks
Varroaresistantbeetraitsandbreedingresearch
IntegratedPestManagementtechniques
Samplingtechniques
Thresholdconcepts
Amappedbeegenome
Knowledgeofviruses(particularlyregardingsemenimports)
Apartiallymappedvarroagenome
Incursionplans

The good news is that some of the alternatives to synthetic chemicals are economically viable in
otherpartsoftheworld.Wehavetheopportunitytolearnfromotherpeoplessuccessesaswellas
mistakesandtimetotailorthisknowledgetoourAustralianclimaticandbeekeepingrequirements.
Australia may benefit from being a relatively small industry which may make it a little easier to
communicateandmakedecisions.Individualbusinessesarealsorelativelysmallwhichmayenable
morebeekeeperstousemorecomplexmanagementtoolsaretheownerismoreoftentheoperator
inthesecasesandwilltakemorecare.

Justtoremindusthatthereisasilverlining,thearrivalofvarroahasalsohadadvantagesforsome;
beekeepers get higher honey yields without competition from feral colonies, they are paid higher
ratesforpollinationcontracts,andmanywhowerenotuptotheextramanagementchallengehave
left the industry. The latter point may not seem like an advantage, but it ultimately benefits the
industryasawhole.

Andthebestnewsisthatpeoplearestartingtomovealready,priortothecrisisandchaos.
TiffaneBatesChurchillFellow2009
Australia,thelasthoneybeeoasis:BreedingHoneybeesresistanttoVarroamites24

WHATAREWEDOINGALREADY?
Ofcourseourfirstdefenceagainstavarroaincursionisthevigilantbiosecurityprogrammesrunning
ineachstate.Therearealsotrainingcourses,brainstorms,andresearchprojectsgoingonallover
thecountry.Theseinclude:

TestingAustralianstockforvarroaresistanceattheUSDABatonRougelab
(Oldroyd/Rinderer,currentproject)
Findinghygieniclinesofbeesinexistingbreedingprogrammes(e.g.Manning,RIRDC2008)
SouthAustralianbeekeeperBenHoopersworkwithvarroamanagementsupportedbya
2010NuffieldScholarship
TheBetterBeesfortomorrowprojectrunthroughCIBERinWAsupportedbya2010ARC
linkagegrantwithBetterBeesWA

Thereisabigpushtoincreasepublicandpoliticalawarenessoftheimpactsvarroawillhaveonthe
whole country and through this an understanding of the value of bees to Australia. I am hopeful
thatwewilllearnfromthemistakesandassistanceofothercountriesandcomethroughavarroa
incursionwithastrongbeeindustry.

CONCLUSIONS

WHATISSUCCESS?
There are now various populations of bees in the world that do not require treatment for varroa
mites. However, nowhere is there wholesale acceptance of these stocks by the bee industry.
Perhaps we have been asking the wrong question and been satisfied with the wrong indicator of
success.Maybeweneedtochangethequestion,focusonadifferentendpoint:itdoesnotappear
tobeenoughtobreedabeewhichcansurvivevarroamite.Forthewholebeeindustrytothrivewe
mightneedadifferentquestion,specificallyhowdowemosteffectivelyandefficientlygetvarroa
resistanceintoacommerciallyviablebeepopulation?

THESCIENCEINDUSTRYVOID
IbelieveoneofthereasonsthatresistantstocksarenotutilisedbytheindustryisaphenomenonI
havecoinedthescienceindustryvoid.Differentmotivatorsbetweenscienceandindustryseemto
create a slightly different focus when it comes to resistance breeding usually related to the
economicviabilityofthebees.Beekeepersthinkthatscientistsdontunderstandthebigpictureand
scientists think the same of beekeepers. Time and again I had conversations which involved a
beekeeperoraresearchersayingwhatscientists/beekeepersjustdontunderstandis...

There will never be a silver bullet or super bee which can fulfil everyones requirements under all
conditions.Inmyopinionitiscrucialforthesuccessofavarroamanagementprogrammethatthe
understandingandfocusofallstakeholdersareascloselyalignedaspossible,includingquestionsof
whatissuccessandwhatarehealthybees.

WHATABOUTAUSTRALIA

TiffaneBatesChurchillFellow2009
Australia,thelasthoneybeeoasis:BreedingHoneybeesresistanttoVarroamites25

Basedonwhathasandishappeningthroughouttheworld,
itistemptingtosaythatchemicalsshouldnotbeusedand
bees could then find a natural balance with varroa over
time. The strongest will survive and we are currently
selectingforweakbeesbytreatingdiseasewithchemicals.
This is certainly true. However, this does not consider the
realityofhumannature,businesssurvivalandfoodsupply
forthecountryinvolved.Ifbeekeepingisyourbusinessand
you are faced with colonies looking like the one in Figure
22,nottreatingthematallwouldbeahardactiontocarry
Figure22 Frameofbeeswithparasitic
out.Ifyouareagovernmentemployeeandarefacedwith mitesyndrome(PMS)causedbyheavy
the decision to let a few years of crops fail whilst the bee varroainfestationandaweakcolony
populations recover, you would need to have a very good
backupplantopropose.

I think that encouraging Australians to follow the path of synthetic chemical use is very unwise.
However,Iamrealisticaboutthepressurewewillbeunderwhenvarroahitsthechronicphaseand
our managed colonies start to die in large numbers (Figure 3). I am hoping we will have some
alternativeoptionstopresentatthattime.Itisimportanttonotethatifsomethingdoesntworkthe
first time, people remember that for decades. How a product or issue is presented can make or
breakitsfuture.

FinallytwothingsreallystoodoutduringmyFellowship:
1.IPMhasgreatpotentialtoreducerelianceonchemicals;and
2.easyandstandardisedsamplingsystemsmustbeusedinconjunction.Thisenablesbeekeepersto
treatforthediseasenotforfearofthedisease.

DISSEMINATION

SincemyreturntoAustralia:
IhaveparticipatedinanindustryandresearchgatheringinCanberraonnonchemicaland
minimalchemicaluseoptionsforvarroamanagement.
IaminvolvedinthedevelopmentofaHoneyBeeIndustryandPollinationContinuityStrategyfor
Australiainanticipationofapossiblevarroaincursion.
IhavegivenpresentationsonmyFellowshipexperiencesandfindingsatCIBERandSymbioticA
atUWA.
IhavebeeninvitedtoconsultwithProfessorLynBeazley,ChiefScientistofWesternAustralia
aboutthethreatstohoneybeesinAustralia.
IhavesentvirginqueenstoRottnestIslandaspartoftheBetterBeesWAbreedingprogramme.

ThereissomuchinterestinbeesatthistimeandIplantocontinuetodisseminatethepossibilities
fordiseaseresistanceandopportunitiesforAustraliathroughpresentations,industryandresearch
consultationsandpublication.Iwillalsocontinuetobeinvolvedwithbreedingandresearchwithin
WesternAustraliaandhopefullyfurtherafield.
TiffaneBatesChurchillFellow2009
Australia,thelasthoneybeeoasis:BreedingHoneybeesresistanttoVarroamites26


RECOMMENDATIONS

Weneedtolearnfromoverseasmistakes,notrepeatthem,

especiallyinrelationtochemicaldependenceanduse.
Gettingonthechemicaltreadmillshouldbecarefullyconsidered

Weshouldimprovethehygienicbehaviourandgeneraldiseaseresistance
ofourexistingAustralianbeestocks

Weneedtodevelopastrategytomosteffectivelyandefficientlygetvarroa

resistanceintoacommerciallyviablebeepopulationwhichisutilisedbytheindustry

Itiscriticalthatweimproveunderstandingbetweenscienceandindustry

WecanprepareIntegratedPestManagementtechniques

AchangeinpublicperceptionofthevalueofbeesforAustralia

wouldbenefitfutureplanning

Importingsemenoranygermplasmshouldbeconsideredverycarefullyinviewof
diseasetransfer(egviruses)andecotypesuitability

TiffaneBatesChurchillFellow2009
Australia,thelasthoneybeeoasis:BreedingHoneybeesresistanttoVarroamites27

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GLOSSARY
AcutestageTheinitialstageofvarroamiteinfestationinapopulationofhoneybeecolonies.Large
numbersofferalcoloniesactasamajorsourceofmiteinvasiontomanagedhives.Invasionresults
inrapidincreasesinmitenumbersinhives(Goodwin&Taylor,2007)

AfricanisedbeehybridoftheAfricanhoneybeewithvariousEuropeanhoneybees.Thesebeesare
farmoreaggressivethantheEuropeansubspecies.CommoninCentralandSouthAmerica(Animal
HealthAustralia,2010)

AIArtificialinsemination

Apiarycolonies,hives,andotherequipmentassembledinonelocationforbeekeepingoperation

ApismelliferaTheEuropeanhoneybee

ApisceranaTheAsianbee,theoriginalhostofvarroa

Artificialinsemination(AI)Themechanicalintroductionofselecteddronesemenintotheoviducts
ofavirginqueenusingspecialinstruments

AsianhoneybeeApiscerana

Thosecolonieswhichsurviveareresistanttothemitethroughnaturalselection.

Broodjuvenilebeesnotyetemergedfromthecell:eggs,larvae,andpupae

BuckfastbeestrainofA.melliferaoriginallybredanddevelopedbyBr.AdamatBuckfastAbbey,
England;resistanttotrachealmiteAcarapis woodi; low resistance to varroa(deGuzman,Rinderer,
Delatte,Stelzer,Beaman,&Kuznetsov,2002)

CarniolanbeeGentlegrayishblackhoneybeeoriginallyfromCarniolanMountainsinornear
Austria.

CaucasianbeeGentleblackhoneybeeoriginallyfromCaucasusareaofRussia

ChemicalresistanceWhereapestsuchasvarroabecomesmoreandmoreabletowithstanda
pesticidethatisbeingused,sothatthechemicalnolongerkillsmostofthepestpopulation.Varroa
hasdevelopedresistancetoarangeofchemicalcontrolsubstances(Goodwin&Taylor,2007)

ChronicstageThestageofvarroamiteinfestationinapopulationofhoneybeecoloniesfollowing
theacutestage.Dieoffofferalanduntreatedcoloniesresultsinlessmiteinvasionandmore
predictableincreasesinmitenumbersinmanagedhives(Goodwin&Taylor,2007)

Closedpopulationmatingcontrolledmatingofqueensanddronesinanenvironmentthatisclosed
togeneticmaterialfromtheoutside;oftenoccursonanisland

COLOSSNetworkPreventionofCOlonyLOSSesNetwork

TiffaneBatesChurchillFellow2009
Australia,thelasthoneybeeoasis:BreedingHoneybeesresistanttoVarroamites31

DiseaseresistanceTheabilityofanorganismtoavoidaparticulardisease;primarilyduetogenetic
immunityoravoidancebehavior

Ecotypeageneticallydistinctgeographicvariety,populationorracewithinspecies,whichisadapted
tospecificenvironmentalcondition

Epigeneticsinheritedchangesinphenotype(appearance)orgeneexpressioncausedbymechanisms
otherthanchangesintheunderlyingDNAsequence;nongeneticfactorscausetheorganism'sgenes
tobehave(or"expressthemselves")differently.

EuropeanhoneybeeApismellifera

FERATheFoodandEnvironmentResearchAgency,UK

Feralwildorunmanagedbeecolony

Formicacidanorganicacidusedasavarroacontrolsubstance.Itishighlyvolatile,somustbe
appliedinformsthatprolongevaporation(Goodwin&Taylor,2007)

Genotype(1)Thegeneticmakeupofanindividual.(2)Thecombinationofgenesatasinglelocusor
atanumberofloci.Geneticistsspeakofonelocusgenotypes,twolocusgenotypes,andsoon.

Germplasm:Allthehereditarymaterialthatcanpotentiallycontributetotheproductionofnew
individuals.

Haemolymphthecirculatingfluidor"blood"ofinsects

Hardchemicalsyntheticchemicals;egfluvalinate,flumethrinandcoumaphos

HygienicbehaviourTheuncappingandremovalofdeadlarvaeandpupaebyadultbees(Spivak&
Reuter,NewDirection,2008)

INRAFrenchNationalInstituteforAgriculturalResearch

IntegratedPestManagement(IPM)apestcontrolstrategythatusesavarietyofcomplementary
strategiesincluding:mechanicaldevices,physicaldevices,genetic,biological,culturalmanagement,
andchemicalmanagement.Thesemethodsaredoneinthreestages:prevention,observation,and
intervention.Itisanecologicalapproachwithamaingoalofsignificantlyreducingoreliminatingthe
useofpesticideswhileatthesametimemanagingpestpopulationsatanacceptablelevel.

Incursionthearrivalofanorganism,especiallyapestordisease,withinacountryafterithascrossed
theborder

IPMIntegratedPestManagement

ItalianbeeAcommonraceofbees,Apismelliferaligustica,withbrownandyellowbands,fromItaly;
usuallygentleandproductive,buttendtorob.

MiticideAchemicalorbiologicalagentwhichisappliedtoacolonytocontrolparasiticmites

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NaturalselectionSelectionthatoccursinnatureindependentofdeliberatehumancontrol;
evolutionarymechanism

NewWorldCarniolansAbreedingprogramoriginatedbySueCobeytofindandbreedhoneybees
fromtheUSwithCarniolanandothercommerciallyusefultraits.

OrganicchemicalInrelationtomitecontrolsubstances,chemicalsfoundinnature;softchemicals;
formicacid,thymolandoxalicacid(Goodwin&Taylor,2007)

Primorskibeesstrainofhoney bees from the Primorsky region of far-eastern Russia with strong
resistance to varroa (Rinderer, et al., 2001)

RIRDCRuralIndustriesResearchandDevelopmentCorporation,Australia

RussianbeesPrimorskistrainofA.mellifera

ScienceIndustryVoidPhenomenonofmisunderstandingbetweenindustryandscience

SoftchemicalsOrganicchemicals;egformicacid,thymolandoxalicacid

SoftBondTest

Stock

SyntheticchemicalInrelationtovarroacontrolsubstances,chemicalsnotfoundinnature;hard
chemical;egfluvalinate,flumethrinandcoumaphos(Goodwin&Taylor,2007).

Temperament

ToleranceInassociationwithvarroa,theabilityofahoneybeecolonytocoexistwithaninfestation
ofthemitewithoutperishing,oratleastharbourahigherpopulationofmiteswithoutdamage
(Goodwin&Taylor,2007)

Treatment

VarroadestructorexternalparasiticmiteofA.ceranaandA.mellifera;originalhostA.cerana

VarroaSensitiveHygiene(VSH)hygienicbehaviourtraitidentifiedbyBatonRouge(Harbo&Harris,
1999)

VSHVarroaSensitiveHygiene

UCUniversityofCalifornia,USA

USDAUnitedStatesDepartmentofAgriculture

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CONTACTS&ORGANISATIONS
AUSTRALIA RayOlivarez FRANCE
OlivarezHoneyBees
HoneyBeeR&D 6398CountyRoad20 GillesFert
RIRDC OrlandCA BeekeepingConsultant
POBox4776 UnitedStates95963 64300Argagnon
KingstonACT2604 www.ohbees.com/index.php France
Australia www.apiculture.com/fert/
www.rirdc.gov.au DrEricMussen
ExtensionApiculturist YvesleConte
DrBorisBaer HarryH.LaidlawJr.Honey DirectorofResearch
Coordinator BeeResearchFacility Bees&Environment
CollaborativeInitiativefor BeeBiologyRoad INRA
BeeResearchCIBER UC,Davis UMR406,SiteAgroparc,
ARCCenterofExcellencein OneShieldsAvenue DomaineStPaul
PlantEnergyBiology DavisCA 84914Avignon
TheUniversityofWestern UnitedStates95616 France
Australia beebiology.ucdavis.edu http://www.avignon.inra.fr/avig
CrawleyWA6009 non/les_recherches__1/liste_de
Australia SueCobey s_unites/abeilles_et_environne
www.ciber.science.uwa.edu.au BeeBreederGeneticist& ment
Manager
MaxWhitten JohnKefuss
HarryH.LaidlawJr.Honey
Director BeeResearchFacility Researcher&Beekeeper
TheWheenFoundation UC,Davis LeBorn
France
P.O.223
RichmondNSW2753 CANADA JeanFranoisMallein&
Australia PhilippeHuau
www.wheenfoundation.org.au Liz&TerryHuxter Apiculturists
KettleValleyQueens AltigooApiculture
DrRobManning 4880WellRd. 11,cteduTigou
ApiaryResearchOfficer GrandForksBC 81500Giroussens
DepartmentofAgriculture CanadaV0H1H5 France
andFood kettlevalleyqueens.com www.altigoo.com
3BaronHayCourt
SouthPerthWA6151 AndonyMelathopoulos GERMANY
Australia ApicultureBiotechnician
www.agric.wa.gov.au AgricultureandAgriFood DrRalphBchler
Canada Director
POBox29Beaverlodge KirchhainBeeInstitute
CALIFORNIA Alberta LandesbetriebLandwirtschaft
CanadaT0H0C0 Hessen
RandyOliver Erlenstrae9
ScientificBeekeeping 35274Kirchhain
14744MeadowDrive Germany
GrassValleyCA bieneninstitutkirchhain.de
UnitedStates95945
www.scientificbeekeeping.com DrMarinaMeixner
Researcher
KirchhainBeeInstitute
TiffaneBatesChurchillFellow2009
Australia,thelasthoneybeeoasis:BreedingHoneybeesresistanttoVarroamites34

NEWZEALAND RichardSiegel USDA,ARSHoneyBee


464013PuaonoRoad Breeding,Genetics&
MichelleTaylor&Mark VolcanoIslandHoney PhysiologyLaboratory
Goodwin HonokaaHI JeffHarris
ResearchScientists UnitedStates96727 ResearchEntomologist
HortResearchRuakura http://www.volcanoislandhoney BobDanka
EastStreet .com/ ResearchEntomologist
Hamilton3214 LiliadeGuzman
EthelVillalobos
NewZealand ResearchEntomologist
www.hortresearch.co.nz Entomologist
LanieBourgeois
DepartmentofPlantand
ResearchMolecularBiologist
DavidYanke EnvironmentalProtection
H.AllenSylvester
DaykelApiary Sciences
ResearchGeneticist(Insects)
Paranui,RD3 UniversityofHawaii
JosVilla
Kaitaia HonoluluHI
ResearchEntomologist
NewZealand UnitedStates96822
GaryDelatte
http://www.queenbees.co.nz/ www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/peps/ind
ex.htm
ResearchAssistant
GarrettDodds
Jane&TonyLorimer
DarcyOishi ResearchAssistant
HillcrestApiaries'Kahurangi
BiologicalControlSection MandyFrake
oPapa'
Chief ResearchAssistant
RD3,Hamilton3283
NewZealand PlantPestControlBranch
HawaiianDepartmentof MINNESOTA
Agriculture
1428S.KingSt DrMarlaSpivak
HAWAII HonoluluHI Professor,Apicultureand
GusRouse UnitedStates96814 SocialInsects
hawaii.gov/hdoa TheBeeLab
KonaQueens
POBox768 UniversityofMinnesota
CaptainCookHI 219HodsonHall
UnitedStates96704 1980FolwellAve.
www.konaqueen.com St.Paul,MN55108
www.extension.umn.edu/honey
MariaDerval(Didi)Diaz bees/index.html
LOUISIANA
UniversityofHawaii DarrelRufer
3050MaileWay TomRinderer RufersBees
WaimeaHI ResearchLeader&Geneticist P.O.Box394
UnitedStates96822 USDA,ARSHoneyBee HemphillTX
www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/wrightm Breeding,Genetics& UnitedStates75948
/Honey_Bee_Home.html PhysiologyLaboratory
1157BenHurRoad PORTUGAL
MichaelKrones
BatonRougeLA
HawaiianQueenCo.
UnitedStates70820 FernandoDuarte
POBox652 www.ars.usda.gov/Main/site_m
CaptainCookHI QuintadasFerrarias
ain.htm?modecode=641330
UnitedStates96704 BarradaIgrejaNova
00
www.hawaiianqueen.com 8670Aljezur
Portugal

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Australia,thelasthoneybeeoasis:BreedingHoneybeesresistanttoVarroamites35

UNITEDKINGDOM SandraKinchin JohnWhent


DrWilliamHughes SeasonalBeeInspector PearTreeHoneyFarm
ReaderinEvolutionary FeraNationalBeeUnit PearTreeHouse,The
EcologyandSociobiology (NBU) Curtain,Eppleby
TheEarthandBiosphere CentralScienceLaboratory Richmond
Institute NationalBeeUnit,Sand NorthYorkshireDL117AX
UniversityofLeeds Hutton UnitedKingdom
LeedsLS29JT York
UK NorthYorkshireYO411LZ
www.fbs.leeds.ac.uk UnitedKingdom
www.nationalbeeunit.com
BillCadmore
ApiaryManager,University
ofLeeds
ViceChairman,Yorkshire
BeekeepersAssoc.
www.yorkshirebeekeepers.org.
uk

FURTHERREADING
deBruyn,Clive&Mobus,Bernhard(1993).TheNewVarroaHandbook.Mytholmroyd,UK:Northern
BeeBooks.

Wilson,Bee(2004).TheHive:TheStoryoftheHoneybeeandUs.London:JohnMurray

TiffaneBatesChurchillFellow2009
Australia,thelasthoneybeeoasis:BreedingHoneybeesresistanttoVarroamites36