The ‘Pol-line’ hygienic Italian queens have a combination of the best traits required for pollination and high honey production. They were developed by the USDA to express Varroa Sensitive Hygienic behavior (VSH) to an optimum degree to control mites and brood disease, while maintaining the high productivity required in today’s challenging commercial beekeeping environment.
Background of the development of Pol-line queens
Bees with the trait of varroa sensitive hygiene (VSH), which have good resistance to the mites, were tested by researchers at the USDA Bee Breeding Lab in Baton Rouge, LA, for several seasons in a commercial migratory beekeeping operation focused on crop pollination. Colonies were created from outcrossed VSH queens (that is, matings were not controlled, a method used by most large-scale beekeepers). Colonies were shipped nationwide and used to pollinate almonds in California, apples in New York, low-bush blueberries in Maine and cranberries in Massachusetts, followed by late summer honey production in New York. VSH colonies performed well in terms of survival, populations of bees, and resistance to varroa mites. The best-surviving VSH colonies from each year were propagated to form the Pol-line breeding population with enhanced genetics for both mite resistance and behavior related to crop pollination. These Pol-line bees are now being marketed by a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) partner (Glenn Apiaries), and the germplasm should improve adoption of mite resistant bees by commercial beekeepers that pollinate crops.
Rapid spring build up
Tracheal mite resistant
Excellent comb builders
Carniolans are known for their winter hardiness and rapid spring build up.They are excellent honey producers and comb builders. They have proven to be exceptionally resistant to tracheal mites.This is our darkest colored line of bees. Our Carniolans have been crossed with VSH bees for enhanced resistance to Varroa mites.
Carniolan Queen Bee. These Queen bees are a very gentle and prolific dark/black bee variety. They are excellent producers and use less propolis that other races of bees and a which is great for comb honey production as the combs/frames have little propolis on them and have nice white capping’s making a very beautiful product! They are raised from select breeder queens and drones that are both Carniolan and the resulting queens and workers are pure Carniolan. They are available in open mated queens that are mated with my survivor stock of my Ohio bees and may also have some Russian and Italian in them as these drones are also in my apiary. It makes for a very nice mix of gene diversity and good traits in a honeybee. If you wish I also offer this queen in a Instrumentally Inseminated Queen that is a pure Carniolan as both drones and queen are Carniolan The hives that are excellent producers and are selected for mite resistance naturally and are NOT chemically treated for mites as genetic selection is a better option than chemicals in the long run as it will not select for stronger mites, but stronger and resistant bees.
Cordovan Italian Queen Bee.
These Queen bees are a very gentle and blond/gold color bee variety of the Italian race. The coloration is caused by a recessive gene and makes the bees all light colored and queens very easy to find! They are raised from select breeder queens and drones that are both Cordovan and the resulting queens and workers are pure Cordovan. They are available in open mated queens that are mated with my survivor stock of my Ohio and may also have some Russian and Carnolian in them as these drones are also in my apiary. It makes for a very nice mix of gene diversity and good traits in a honeybee.The resulting bees from an open mated queen will have color variation in them, but the Queen will be a pure Cordovan. If you wish I also offer this queen in a Instrumentally Inseminated Queen that is a pure Cordovan as both drones and queen are Cordovan and the resulting workers are pure Cordovan also! The hives that are excellent producers and are selected for mite resistance naturally and are NOT chemically treated for mites as genetic selection is a better option than chemicals in the long run as it will not select for stronger mites, but stronger and resistant bees.
Dr. Spivak was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2010
These bees are bred to have a high degree of hygienic behavior known to be effective against diseases of the brood such as American foulbrood and chalkbrood. This trait is thought to be two behaviors acting insynergy, the uncapping of diseased cells, then the removal of the pathogen along with the pupae,effectively disrupting the disease lifecycle. Another trait, Varroa Sensitive Hygiene (VSH) is especially effective at targeting varroa mites. Dr. Spivak played a pivotal role in characterizing this behavior.
Dr. Spivak has been very active for many years in educating and promoting the use of hygienic bees to naturally combat some of the problems facing bees and beekeepers today. She has supplied seed stock to bee breeders around the country to help get a critical mass of resistant bees in the country’s honeybee population. Read more about “New Direction for Minnesota Hygienic Line of Bees”.
Sources of Naturally Mated MN Hygienic Queens
Darrel Rufer – only orders for 50+ queens: (612) 325-1203
Mark Sundberg – large and small orders: (218) 731-5942, firstname.lastname@example.org
Read more about hygienic behavior:
“The Hygiene Queen” By Dr. Marla Spivak and Gary Reuter in Bee Culture, Jan 98
“The Bee Queen” - Minnesota Magazine
“The Life-giving Secret of Bees” - The Rake
The Relationship of Between Suppression of Mite Reproduction (SMR) and Hygienic Behavior, Ibrahim, A. and Spivak, M., American Bee Journal, May 2004
Naturally mated queen sources & package bees
A-Bee Honey – 505-286-4843 – NM, Hygienic Italian and VSH Carniolan queens, nucs and packages, email: Ed@nmhoney.com
Avoyelles Honey Co.- (318) 964-2592 – Louisiana -Hygienic Italian – Queens and packages
Bee Buddies Apiariy – 603-315-5179 – NH VSH queens – email: email@example.com
Bee Happy Apiaries – (530) 795-2124 – Northern California – VSH, New World Carniolan – Packages and Queens
Better Bees – (863) 632-0576 – FL – Survivor Italian Queens – email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bjorn Apiaries – (717) 938-0444 – Pennsylvania – Carniolan, VSH, IHygienic talian. Queens and Nucs – email: MIKEANDIDA@cs.com
Bz Bee Pollination – (530) 787-3044 – Northern California – Italian, VSH – Packages and Queens
Buzz’s Bees – (530) 882-4302 – California – Hygienic Italian Queens and Packages – email: email@example.com
Carney Queens and Honey Farm LLC, (434)292-4428 – Virginia – Hygienic Italian and VSH queens and queen cells, pick-up only.email:firstname.lastname@example.org
Champlain Valley Bees and Queens – (802) 758-2501 – Vermont – VSH – Nucs and queens
Cantu Apiaries – (863) 735-8500 – Florida – Hygienic Italian x VSH – Queens
Coma Apiaries – (530) 547-5773 – Northern California – Hygienic Italian, Cordovan Italian – Queens and packages
Heitkam’s Honey Bees – (530) 865-9562 – Northern California – Italian, and *New World Carniolan, VSH – Packages and Queens email:email@example.com
Honey Land Farms – (352) 429-3996 – Florida – Hygienic Italian, Carniolan , VSH – Queens and packages – email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lamb’s Honey Farm – (409) 384-6754 – Texas – Italian and Carniolan – Queens only
Lohman Apiaries – (530) 476-2322 – Northern California – Carniolan and Italian – Queens and packages
Lucas, Ernie – (805) 914-4053 – Central California – Hygienic Italian and Carniolan Queens, nucs, and queen cells- email: Eebl1710@aol.com
Mikes Bees and Honey – 567 208-9594 – Ohio – email: email@example.com – Naturally mated and Instrumentally Inseminated breeder queens – Custom Instrumental Insemination – Queens only -Ohio Survivor Italian, Carniolan, Russian, Cordovan, MN hygienic
Miksa Honey Farms – (352) 429-3447 – Florida – Carniolan and Italian – email: firstname.lastname@example.org – Queens and queen cells
Northern Queens – (807) 525-6316 – James Plaisted – New York – Carniolan – email: email@example.com
Pendell Apiaries – (530) 963-3062 – Northern California – Cordovan – Queens only
Shamrock – (209) 605-3932 – Northern California – Carniolan, VSH, Cordovan Italian and Hygienic Italian – Packages, Queens and queen cells
WG Bee Farm, North Carolina , 336-635-5821, VSH, Hygienic x Italian, Cordovan x VSH, Carniolan x VSH, Queens & Nucs, email:firstname.lastname@example.org
Zia Queenbee Co – Mark Spitzig & Melanie Kirby – 505-689-1287 – New Mexico – Survivor queens, queen cells and breeder queens based on VSH and New World Carniolan, Nucs, email: email@example.com
Russian Honey Bee Breeders – Certified Queens and Bees
Manley Bigalk Golden Ridge Honey Farm, Iowa (563) 547 4222 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hubert Tubbs, Tubbs Apiaries, Mississippi, (601) 382-2607 email: email@example.com
Naturally Mated Minnesota Hygienic Queens
Darrel Rufer – only orders for 50+ queens: (612) 325-1203
Mark Sundberg – large and small orders: (218) 731-5942, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeff Hull – very limited availability, (218) 205-6426
USDA scientists have imported a strain of honeybee from Russia which are naturally resistant to Varroa mites. The imported queens were selected from bees which had been exposed to mite infestation for nearly a century. If natural selection can produce tolerance to Varroa, then these bees may be our best bet.
The new Russian strain has gone through a quarantine and testing period since 1997, and are now being released to American beekeepers. Ongoing selection for further resistance to Varroa is being carried out by a team of top USDA scientists from the Honey Bee Breeding ,Genetics, and Physiology Laboratory in Baton Rouge, LA.
Pure naturally mated Russian queens are available from the Russian Bee Breeders Association members.
In 1905 the trans-Siberian railroad was completed, opening eastern Russia to the rest of Europe. The European honeybee was imported into this area which had only been inhabited by the Asian honey bee Apis cerana, the natural host of Varroa mites.
The Asian honeybee and varroa mites have co-evolved into a balanced host/parasite relationship without much harm being done. Varroa only reproduces on drone pupae in these bees, and drones are only available part of the year, so high populations of mites never build up.
When the European bees encountered varroa, things were different. Varroa is able to reproduce on worker pupae which allows extremely high numbers of mites to build up. This high infestation eventually kills the colony. Beekeepers have been keeping mite populations down at great effort and expense, using miticides such as Apistan ( fluvalinate). But today, mite resistance to fluvalinate is clearly taking place, and will likely spread across the country just as rapidly as varroa did originally.
Feral bees or bees managed without miticides have intense natural selection pressure, allowing only the most mite resistant colonies to survive. There are at least four resistance mechanisms that scientists have identified. They include, bees grooming mites off themselves and each other, hygienic behavior of removing infested pupae, acceleration of brood development, and suppression of mite reproduction. The ultimate goal of bee breeders is to produce bees with all these traits in a single stock of bees. It’s hoped that the Russian bees will provide resistant genes that will let us take a giant step forward in the breeding effort. An earlier USDA introduction of bees from Yugoslavia did much in enhancing resistance to another serious pest, the tracheal mite.
Russian bee Links
Varroa Sensitive Hygiene VSH
The natural way to control mites and brood diseases
It’s not often in life when an idea comes along that is so good that it can change the world. The development of VSH bees which can reduce Varroa mite populations without chemical treatments is just such an idea. The result of over a decade of research by some of today’s brightest honeybee scientists, VSH is making a difference in the lives of beekeepers all across America.
The creation of the VSH line of bees by the team of scientists at the USDA Bee Breeding Lab in Baton Rouge, is a true scientific success story. Through careful observation and experimentation, they painstakingly came to understand the natural defenses that the bees had hidden away in their genome. Selection for these beneficial genetic traits over many bee generations has resulted in not only resistance to Varroa mites, but also to tracheal mites, American Foulbrood and Chalkbrood. The hygienic behavior of VSH bees, even extends to defense against wax moths and small hive beetles.
Queen rearing is one of those high leverage activities, where small actions can have large consequences. By carefully choosing the proper breeding stock to begin with, entire local populations of bees can be transformed into mite destroying armies, getting the upper hand on the many problems Varroa can cause.
The factor causing slow mite population growth was found to be heritable. The rate of mite population growth was found to be correlated with the reproductive rates of mites, resulting in naming the factor “suppressed mite reproduction” (SMR). It was subsequently discovered that the factor is founded on hygienic activity of adult bees, so SMR was renamed VSH.
VSH activity results in (1) an abnormally low proportion of mites that produce offspring within the population that remains in capped brood and (2) reduction of the brood infestation rate by greater than 70%. The specifics of how hygienic bees detect mite infested brood currently are unknown.
Bees bred to have high levels of VSH tend to keep mite populations below thresholds recommended for treatment with pesticides. Queens from such VSH breeding sources can be allowed to mate freely with non-VSH drones, and the resulting hybrid colonies from these outcrosses will retain lower and variable but generally still useful resistance to V. destructorwhile retaining desirable beekeeping traits such as honey production.
VSH thus is a trait that can be used by breeders to mix with any type of desirable honey bee and is expanding resistance to V. destructor among diverse bee strains. VSH breeding material has been available through commercial sources since 2001.