Genetic aspects of a small scale honeybee breeding program

Williams, Ian (2013) Genetic aspects of a small scale honeybee breeding program. PhD thesis, Prifysgol Bangor University.

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Beekeepers in Wales, like others across the northern hemisphere, continue to experience high overwintering colony losses. Breeding for local adaptation has been recommended as part of the solution. The West Wales Bee Breeding Program (WWBBP) was therefore established in an effort to improve, through selection, the resilience and production potential of a local bee stock. Breeding for desired character traits began in 2011 and focused mainly on colony strength, varroa mite infestation, and temperament. Foraging efficiency was also monitored when conditions allowed. This thesis presents data from the first two rounds of selection. Scant evidence indicating adaptive change due to selection was detected across this time frame, but a demonstrable reduction in the variance of colony strength was observed. The influence of selection across generations on population level genetic variation was also monitored. Microsatellite loci were highly polymorphic in the source population, and great diversity was also observed at a custom csd marker. Low frequency alleles at both marker types were lost across generations, and a significant difference in allelic richness was observed between the source population and each of the following two daughter generations. The effects of various selection/breeding parameters on the rate of genetic depletion due to selection within a contemporary timeframe (5 generations) were simulated, and the possible consequence of long term genetic depletion on adaptive response was considered. Simulations indicated that the number of breeder queens selected had the greatest influence on the rate of genetic depletion at both neutral loci and at the csd locus, across years. The WWBBP aims to enhance local suitability through selective breeding while concurrently preserving genetic diversity and adaptive potential in the simplest most practical way. Hopefully, this thesis will help guide the future development of the program, and in addition, provide a basic transferable template for successful small-scale breeding.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: Degree Thesis
Departments: College of Natural Sciences > School of Biological Sciences
Degree Thesis
Date Deposited: 12 Aug 2015 13:55
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 13:11
URI: http://e.bangor.ac.uk/id/eprint/4968
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