Use and trial of test parameters for the selection of a Varroa-tolerant honey bee in practice

Funding code:   03UM008
Involved employees:   Dr. K. Ehrhardt, Prof. Dr. K. Bienefeld
Co-operation partners:   LLH Kirchhain
Duration:   2003 - 2007
Financing:   German Federal Ministry for Consumer Protection, Nutrition and Agriculture (BMELV)

The originally favoured calculation of a trend parameter using only the initial infestation and the temporal development of the mite infestation count has not proven itself. In addition to the low heritability, the task of recording would have been a very high workload for the beekeeper. To estimate the initial infestation of a colony, the natural mite fall (number of mites/day) is to be recorded when the goat willow catkin is in flower. At the beginning of July, the final infestation is to be determined via the direct removal of one or more bee samples (mites / gram of bees). As part of the project, a normally distributed characteristic is to be developed from the two values that characterises the development of a Varroa infestation. The heritability of the new inspection criterion and the genetic correlation with hygienic behaviour is to be estimated.

A breeding programme, that is the efficient use of available resources to achieve the maximum breeding progress per year, has never been done for the honey bee. Taking into account breeding objectives, the weighting of the selection traits, population parameters, biological requirements of the species and the quantity of test stands usually limited in number, a population structure is to be proposed that is expected to bring about the highest possible response to selection. The simulation software is specifically designed to examine possibilities for shortening the generation interval of the paternal lineage.


  • Garrido, C.; Büchler, R.; Bienefeld, K.; Erhardt, K. (2005) Breeding for tolerance against Varroosis - Factors influencing colony survival without treatment in a long term-term survey. Proc. 39. Intern. Apimondia Congress, Dublin, Apimondia Publishing House, Bukarest, P 76.
  • Büchler, R.; Garrido, C.; Bienefeld, K.; Ehrhardt, K. (2006) Tolerance mating stations - drones fitness for vital colonies. Apidologie 37(5), 623 - 624
  • Garrido, C.; Büchler, R.; Ehrhardt, K.; Bienefeld, K. (2006) Susceptibility on virus infections of different bee strains - A field study.  Proc. of Second European Conference of Apidology  (EURBEE), Prague, 10.-14.9.2006 p 19.
  • Ehrhardt, K. Bienefeld, K. Reinsch, R. , Büchler, R., Garrido, C., (2007) Genetic parameters for Varroa resistance in the honeybee. Proc. 40th. Apimondia  International Congress, Melbourne, p 145-146.
  • Meixner, M., Büchler, R.; Garrido, C., Bienefeld, K., Ehrhardt, K. (2008) Breeding for vitality- establishment of a new breeding concept for the future. Proc. European Conference of Apidologie, pp 68-69
  • Büchler, R.; Garrido, C., Ehrhardt, K., Bienefeld, K. (2008) Selection for Varroa tolerance: concept and results of a long-term selection project. Apidologie 39(5), 598