Breeding Exceptional Bees

“The Saskatraz project has been very successful at breeding [honeybees] for increased honey production, wintering ability, tracheal mite and chalk brood resistance. Our stock demonstrates some tolerance to varroa, but can be improved by further breeding efforts.”

That succinctly sums up the findings in the Saskatraz project which wrapped up last year. Colony collapse disorder is a big problem around the world and IAF supported this work to help the industry find a solution.

There is a lot more information about this applied research project online (www.saskatraz.com) for those of you who may be interested in all the nitty gritty details.

But what does a Saskatchewan-based bee breeding project have to do with beekeeping in BC? As University of British Columbia researcher, Dr. Leonard Foster, notes, they have clearly developed some very good bee stock.

“I imagine this stock would be fantastic for beekeepers in the Peace River region and those north of the Okanagan,” says Foster.

BC breeders are already assessing the stock from projects such as Saskatraz with the aim of establishing a Canadian bee stock that can survive our weather, pests and diseases.

“The west coast has a different environment, so we still need to trial and assess even the best stock from across Canada,” says Gabriola Island breeder, Brenda Jager. “Thankfully, we do not need to start from scratch.”

Funding: $366,729 through former federal adaptation programming; provided by industry-led councils in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Alberta, British Columbia and the Yukon. (W0107 SK0234CO)