What is ORHBS?
The ORHBS program is a collaboration between the Ontario Bee Breeders Association and the Ontario Beekeepers’ Association’s Technology Transfer Program. There are many traits that ORHBS breeders select for, but the main goal of this province-wide bee breeding program is to select for pest and disease resistant honey bees. Being a part of this breeding program requires dedication, diligence, financial input, time and labour. Meticulous record keeping, regular colony management, and proper scheduling are all requirements for a successful bee breeder.
A little history...
The ORHBS program began in 1992 as a response to the incoming threat of tracheal mites. Since then, the ORHBS program has evolved to include other important traits that increase the health and hardiness of Ontario bees. The main focus of the program today is hygienic behavior. This trait determines how well bees can clean out their hive, which translates to how resistant they are to brood diseases such as American Foulbrood, European Foulbrood, sacbrood, and chalkbrood.
New breeders are joining the program every year, and more colonies are tested each year. Looking forward, ORHBS will continue to evolve and adapt to an ever-changing industry. The newest threat on the block is the Varroa mite. There are bee behaviours that can increase resistance to Varroa mites such as Varroa Sensitive Hygiene and Grooming Behaviour. ORHBS is currently working on incorporating these traits into the breeding program.