Bee Breeder-Geneticist Susan Cobey to Discuss Importance of Genetic Diversity in the Honey Bee
April 25, 2012 Watch Susan Cobey's seminar
DAVIS--Bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey of UC Davis and Washington State University will discuss the importance of genetic diversity in the honey bee at her UC Davis seminar on Wednesday, May 2 in 122 Briggs Hall.
Bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey with queen cells. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Cobey will discuss “Importation of Honey Bee Germplasm to Increase Genetic Diversity in Domestic Breeding Stocks" from 12:10 to 1 p.m. in 122 Briggs Hall as part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology’s spring seminar series.
Cobey, a UC Davis researcher since May 2007 and a former student of Harry H. Laidlaw Jr., for whom the UC Davis bee lab is named, provided practical application to the Page-Laidlaw Closed Population Breeding Program theory in development of the New World Carniolan line, in its 31st generation and now an industry standard. She is a world expert on the instrumental insemination of queen bees. Her classes on queen rearing and instrumental insemination draw students from all over the world.
Increasing the overall genetic diversity of honey bees may lead to healthier and hardier bees that can better fight off parasites, pathogens and pests, Cobey said. Just as stock improvement has served the poultry, dairy and swine industries well, the beekeeping industry needs access “to stocks of origin or standardized evaluation and stock improvement programs.”
The many problems that currently face the U.S. honey bee population have underscored the need for sufficient genetic diversity at the colony, breeding, and population levels,” wrote Cobey and colleagues Walter “Steve” Sheppard, professor and chair of the WSU Department of Entomology and David Tarpy of North Carolina State University, formerly a graduate student at UC Davis in a chapter of the newly published book, Honey Bee Colony Health: Challenges and Sustainable Solutions (Contemporary Topics in Entomology).
European colonists brought a small subset of European bees to America before the U.S. Honey Bee Act of 1922 restricted further importation of Old World honey bees to prevent the introduction of the tracheal mite, Acarapis woodi. These early importations represented a limited sampling of several subspecies, Cobey said.
“The limited foundation stock has been propagated and expanded to establish the existing U.S. beekeeping industry,” she noted. “In addition, the destruction of a once widespread feral population by parasitic mites and the genetic consequences of large scale queen production practices have contributed to reduce genetic diversity in U.S. honey bee populations. “
To enhance domestic U.S. breeding stocks, scientists and beekeepers from UC Davis, WSU and the California Bee Breeders' Association are working together to develop and test protocols for the international exchange of honey bee germplasm and to incorporate imported stocks into established U.S. breeding stocks.
Research co- developed by Cobey was presented in March at the first International Symposium About the Carniolan Honey Bee in Slovenia. The conference drew scientists, researchers and queen breeders interested in the conservation of Carniolan honey bees (Apis mellifera carnica). Two of the key goals were to establish an international group for the preservation of the Carniolan honey bee, and to launch collaboration between the professionals in the field of Carniolan honey bee preservation and selection.
Much in demand as a speaker, Cobey has presented seminars throughout the United States, Central and South America, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. She was recently invited to Cuba for the 3rd Latin-American Beekeepers' Meeting and the 4th Cuban Beekeeping Congress. Cobey will be a keynote speaker for the Apimondia Symposium on Honey Bee Breeding in Quebec in November 2012.
Coordinators of the spring seminars are Louie Yang and Joanna Chiu, assistant professors. All lectures will take place on Wednesdays from 12:10 to 1 p.m. in 122 Briggs Hall. The series, launched April 4, will continue through May 23.
In a webcast project coordinated by professor James R. Carey, some of the seminars will be videotaped and can be accessed at a later date on UCTV.
The complete list of speakers for the April 4-May 23 seminars:
April 4: Ian Pearse, who just finished his doctorate, working with major professor Rick Karban lab, UC Davis, will speak on "The Use of Non-Native Plants by Native Herbivores."
Host: Rick Karban, professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology
April 11: James Harwood, graduate student, James R. Carey lab, UC Davis,"Biodemography of Reproductive Senescence in Fruit Flies (Tephritidae): The Influence of External Conditions on Age Specific Reproduction and Lifespan"
Host: James R. Carey, professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology
April 18: Bryony C. Bonning, professor, Iowa State University, "Novel Toxin Delivery Strategies for Management of Pestiferous Aphids"
Host: Bruce Hammock, distinguished professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology
April 25: Vince Jones, professor, Washington State University. "How a 'Perfect Storm' of Technology, Legislation, and Applied Ecology Is Finally Leading to IPM in Western Orchards"
Host: Michael Parrella, professor and chair, UC Davis Department of Entomology
May 2: Susan Cobey, bee breeder-geneticist at UC Davis and Washington State University, "Importation of Honey Bee Germplasm to Increase Genetic Diversity in Domestic Breeding Stocks"
Host: Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist, UC Davis Department of Entomology
May 9: Sonia Altizer, professor, University of Georgia, "Infection and Immunity in Migratory Species: Monarchs as a Global Case Study"
Host: Louie Yang, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology
May 16: James C. Nieh, professor of biology, University of California, San Diego, "Role of Negative Signaling in a Superorganism: the Honey Bee Stop Signal"
Host: Brian Johnson, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology
May 23: Tara Thiemann, postdoctoral Scholar at UC Davis, William Reisen lab, "Survey of Culex Bloodfeeding Patterns in California"
Host: William Reisen, research entomologist, Center for Vectorborne Diseases, and adjunct professor, Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology (PMI), School of Veterinary Medicine
--Kathy Keatley Garvey
UC Davis Department of Entomology