WSU / Cornell University Breeding Program

Although the Cornell University leg of the joint study with WSU was plagued by difficulties from the start and was eventually terminated, we did receive this very encouraging letter regarding our queen stock performance from Dr. Nicholas Calderone, Associate Professor of the Department of Entomology..

The letter contains our queen’s statistical data which indicated that our stock had performed amazingly well in spite of the failure of the experiment…

Dear Dan and Judy,

I apologize for the long delay in getting back to you. During the two years of evaluation, most of the colonies in the project succumb to chalkbrood. It was the worst outbreak I have ever seen. Nearly every colony had 50% or more of its brood infected with the fungus. Out of approximately 150 queens that we started the project with, we ended up with 54 of them (or their first year supercedure daughters) in the fall of 2004. We obtained data for weight gain, hygienic behavior and the SMR trait for the colonies headed by these queens. The averages are reported in the table below:


GAIN (lbs) 54 82.19 30.52 5.00 150.00
HYG 54 0.89 0.20 0.23 1.00
SMR 54 0.16 0.17 0 0.80

Of the 54 colonies for which we had complete data, all but 32 succumbed during the 2004/2005 winter, including the very best SMR queen. When we started to breed from the remaining colonies, the drone brood became heavily infected with chalkbrood. Such is the life of a research scientist.  Rather than spending a lot of time on the data from that project, we are establishing a new population for evaluation.

One of the Olympic Wilderness queens survived through all of thisThe weight gain for this colony was 75 lbs.  The hygienic score was 0.99 in 48 hours.  The SMR value was 0.2.0.  This places it just below average for weight gain, and just above average for hygienic behavior and SMR.  There is no way to determine if these differences are statistically significant.

As I mentioned, we are reestablishing a second population of bees for further evaluation and would very much like to include some more of the Olympic Wilderness bees in that study.

Thanks for your patience

Nicholas W. Calderone

Associate Professor, Department of Entomology