Canada seeks to breed a better honey bee

OTTAWA – FOLLOWING a massive bee die-off in parts of the world, two Canadian universities on Wednesday launched an effort to breed honey bees resistant to pests and diseases.

Led by the universities of Guelph and Manitoba, the programme will try to breed a better bee through genetic selection.

It will also screen new products for pest and disease control, and try to come up with new ways of managing pollination colonies that face risks that include parasites, bacterial infections and pesticides resulting from the impact of human activities on the environment.

Ottawa is providing US$244,000 (S$300,748) to the Ontario Beekeepers’ Association to participate in the project. The goal is to ‘help beekeepers secure sustainable honey harvests and provide essential pollination services to the fruit and vegetable industry’, the government said in a statement.

Honey bee colony declines in recent years have reached 10 to 30 per cent in Europe, 30 per cent in the United States, and up to 85 per cent in Middle East, according to a United Nations report on the issue released earlier this year.

Honey bees are critical to global agriculture. They pollinate more than 100 different crops, representing up to US$83 billion in crop value world wide each year and roughly one-third of the human diet. — AFP

Canada seeks to breed a better honey bee

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