PULLMAN, Wash. - Washington State University researchers are preparing to use liquid nitrogen to create a frozen semen bank from select U.S. and European honey bee colonies.
At the same time, the researchers will use genetic cross-breeding methods to produce more diverse, resilient honey bee subspecies that could help thwart the nation's current colony collapse crisis.
Honey bees face a lot of challenges, said Steve Sheppard, professor of entomology at WSU.
Invasive mites can sap a brood’s strength and vector viruses. Pesticides can build up in the brood comb and gradually weaken the bees. And while the agricultural practice of monoculture provides a lot of food, it offers little of the nutritional variety that bees need.
Some of these threats may weaken or kill a hive on their own, but a combination of factors is thought to be the cause of colony collapse disorder, in which the worker bees abruptly disappear, and the entire local population is doomed.