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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Breeding programme

Successful selection efforts rely on a systematic breeding programme

The overall aim of our breeding activities is the improvement of the bees’ tolerance against Varroa, their resistance against diseases in general, and the improvement of honey production and behaviour.
The AGT population currently consists of nearly 2000 colonies. The close cooperation of a large number of breeders and testers facilitates the achievement of sustainable breeding progress. We also cooperate closely with apidological institutes and use modern techniques based on the latest scientific knowledge.

How do we run the breeding programme?
All of our member beekeepers routinely complete a full performance test that also includes Varroa tolerance traits, based on the standards described in the AGT manual of methods.

Each testing period lasts one year and is followed by wintering those colonies that showed the most promising performance without any treatment (vitality test).

All data collected during the performance test and the assessment of Varroa tolerance are registered at the end of the year and processed into a final estimation of breeding values. The resulting breeding values and confidence intervals of each tested trait are published in the AGT breeding registry.

Breeding values are the basis for selection. Animals with the highest breeding values are selected and systematically mated. Each breeder selects the best performers from his stock as mothers (2a) for the next generation.

The top queens are selected to establish drone mother colonies (4a) at the mating stations or for insemination.
The aim of selected mating is to compensate weaknesses of one mating partner with better performance of the other mating partner. The offspring will give rise to a new generation of queens, and the entire process will start over: performance testing including Varroa tolerance traits, data recording, estimation of breeding values and selection.

Consequently, breeding progress will be achieved within the AGT population - increasing honey production, docile temperament and also less susceptibly to Varroa mites and other diseases.

With the purchase of queens or larvae from selected stock, or by using tolerance mating stations to mate his/her queens, each beekeeper can share the progress of the AGT population.