New research on natural selection and honey bee health

An interesting paper by heavyweight apiology researchers Professor Peter Neumann and Dr Tjeerd Blacquière is being published in the mainstream, peer reviewed research journal Evolutionary Applications.

The paper recommends major changes to beekeeping practises in order to address various health issues such as varroa, and in particular a switch to using natural selection rather than tightly controlled breeds of bee. Topics covered include…

  • Problems of inbreeding among conventional queen breeders (they particularly stress this issue, favouring natural mating by the bees and allowing natural selection; the practice of drone culling is singled out for criticism)
  • Treating bees with miticides and ‘horizontal’ transmission of pests by splitting colonies rather than allowing natural swarming hinders natural selection of a sustainable host/parasite balance
  • Chemical treatments and opening hives disrupt the complex ecosystem inside the hive (it’s not just about the bees, it’s the delicate balance of atmosphere and microbiome … or the bien as we’d say)
  • High colony density in apiaries aiding pathogen transmission
  • Migratory beekeeping problems
  • Feeding with a monodiet of low quality sugar solution

I find it remarkably notable that it reads exactly like a list of natural beekeeping principles, but by mainstream scientists, doesn’t it?

Here’s a key excerpt from page 8: …[conventional] “breeding for V. destructor-resistance over >20 years has still not resulted in survival of untreated colonies, but natural selection has delivered multiple times (Rosenkranz et al. 2010, Locke 2016), thereby suggesting that breeders should choose traits favoured by natural selection. This suggests fundamental conceptual flaws in both commercial honey bee queen rearing and breeding.”

Entitled The Darwin cure for apiculture? Natural selection and honey bee health the paper can be viewed in preliminary form here as a pdf (if this link becomes obsolete, search for its permanent DOI: 10.1111/eva.12448 )

Thank you to David Heaf for bringing this paper to our attention.

This entry was posted in Experimentation, Honey bee research, Pests, Publications, Research and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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