Heritabilities and genetic correlations for honey yield, gentleness, calmness and swarming behaviour in Austrian honey bees

Evert Brascamp, Alfons Willam, Christian Boigenzahn, Piter Bijma, Roel F. Veerkamp

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Abstract

Heritabilities and genetic correlations were estimated for honey yield and behavioural traits in Austrian honey bees using data on nearly 15,000 colonies of the bee breeders association Biene Österreich collected between 1995 and 2014. The statistical models used distinguished between the genetic effect of workers and that of the queen of the colony. Heritability estimates for worker effect were larger than those for queen effect. Genetic correlations between both effects were negative. Heritability estimates for the sum of both effects (i.e. selection criterion) were 0.27, 0.37, 0.38 and 0.06 for honey yield, gentleness, calmness and swarming behaviour, respectively, indicating that meaningful genetic improvement is possible. Genetic correlations between these traits were generally small to medium, with large standard errors, with the exception of the high genetic correlation between gentleness and calmness. The models we present here can be used to estimate breeding values in honey bees.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)739-748
JournalApidologie
Volume47
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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Keywords

  • estimated breeding value
  • genetic correlation
  • genetic parameter
  • heritability
  • honey bee

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