In 2021, 109 beekeepers responded to a survey about queen replacement strategies, satisfaction with purchased queens, trait desirability, and attitudes to the Plan Bee honey bee genetic improvement program.
Plan Bee has the support of the majority of beekeepers surveyed, with 73% agreeing that modern breeding techniques will improve program success, and 94% seeing the value of the program.
Queens are the most important individual in the colony. Replacing underperforming queens is important for productivity, diseases, and temperament. More than 40% of beekeepers replace queens as needed. Almost 60% of large commercial beekeepers, and 50% of commercial beekeepers replace their queens every year. Recreational and semi-commercial beekeepers have more varied strategies. Being cranky is the most common reason a queen gets replaced according to the survey.
Satisfaction with queens remains at 64% on average (Figure 1). Large commercial beekeepers are the least happy with the queens they buy, at 56%.
Honey production is the most important trait across all sectors, but it was of most importance to large commercial beekeepers (Figure 2). Recreational and smaller commercial beekeepers think temperament is the next most important trait, but for large commercial beekeepers it was small hive beetle resistance. There is a lot of variation between and within sectors in what traits they want their bees to have.
What traits are important to you?
The 2022 survey consists of only three questions:
- what state you are from
- how many colonies you have, and
- your breeding objective (the traits you want and their relative importance).
Please consider filling in the survey so that we can capture what different sectors of the industry want in their bees!
- Plan Bee (National Honey Bee Genetic Improvement Program) is supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry as part of its Rural Research and Development for Profit program. The project is further supported by AgriFutures Australia, the Department of Regional NSW, University of Sydney, University of New England Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit, Better Bees WA Inc, Wheen Bee Foundation, Costa Group, Olam, Beechworth Honey, Monson’s Honey and Pollination, South Pacific Seeds, Australian Queen Bee Breeders Association, Australian Honey Bee Industry Council, and commercial beekeepers.
- Chapman & Frost (2022) 2021 Plan Bee Survey. AgriFutures Australia
- This article was peer-reviewed by Erica Mo and Emily Noordyke.