Honeybee sperm bank
Year after year, varroa mites let thousands of bee colonies to die. Although beekeepers can treat their bee colonies through (in most cases) acid treatment, but that is expensive, takes a lot of Beekeepers time and it`s difficult – and does not always work. Trought varroa mite bees get more viruses and other factors together make it difficult to honey bees. Especially difficult to Beekeep is in the United States, because they dont still not fully understend, Colony Collapse Disorder.
Now, American scientists have found a new way to save the honey bee. The researchers led by Susan Cobey of the Washington State University to build a honeybee sperm bank, with which they would like to breed bees resistant to varroa and diseases.
Of course the idea to breed more resistant insects is not new, Greg Hunt and Jennifer Tsuruda (Purdue University) have narrowed the search for genes that give honeybees behaviors that make them resistant to varroa mites. However, there have been difficulties, as the bees, especially in the United States, have a very small gene pool.
The reason for that is in the early years of the 20th Century, due to prevent varroa mite presence they ban all imports of bees in North America.
The import ban was effective – at least until 1984. But then varroa mite manages to come to North America. In the meantime, however in America, the gene pool of honey bees had not been freshened up, so that the bees were susceptible to all sorts of threats from the environment.
Since 2008, the U.S. Scientists are now investigating sperm of honey bees from around the world to find the “best” genes. Italian bees are, for example, as a very fast multiplier, which is good for breeding and can lead to faster refresh the gene pool.
Is sperm bank and new genetic material of bees solution in 21 century?
Hard to say, especially on long term, because it`s hard to beat nature. There are too many open questions what can bring to the honeybee population new genetic material. Also chemistry is just a short term solution for treating varroa mite, maybe we have to look into a new way of beekeeping. Maybe we have to change the technology of Beekeeping and bring more knowledge, from bee biology field to Beekeepers.
Source: www.welt.de and www.purdue.edu