That’s according to a survey of 196 beekeepers and 11 queen bee breeders recently conducted by the University of Sydney and the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (DPI) as part of the Australian Government Rural R&D for Profit, Plan Bee Genetic Improvement Program.
The study also found that while overall 64% of beekeepers were happy with the quality of queens they were purchasing, less than half of large commercial beekeepers were happy. According to the study, variations in queen quality, issues around mating and queen longevity were the most cited issues when it came to the quality of queens purchased.
Dr Nadine Chapman, research fellow at the University of Sydney, School of Life and Environmental Sciences and researcher within the Plan Bee Genetic Improvement Program, said the findings will be instrumental in guiding the future of the Plan Bee program.
“Plan Bee is working with queen breeders, beekeepers and growers to build a national honey bee genetic improvement program to elevate the performance of honey bees in Australia and build its value as an industry,” she said.
“Knowing that a significant portion of the industry want higher quality queens reinforces the importance of genetic improvement and what it can deliver.
“We’ve listened to industry and will be analysing the findings to identify areas in which we need to focus the program to ensure we are providing the most value to breeders, beekeepers and growers.”
The study confirms the importance of the Plan Bee program, with 67% of beekeepers and 73% of queen breeders agreeing that the use of modern genetic techniques as applied to other industries will increase the chance of a successful breeding program.