Betta Bees

Betta Bees Research Ltd.

Betta Bees are running a Honey Bee livestock improvement program based around improving the Italian strain of Apis Mellifera. With the goal of producing the best commercial Italian Honeybee livestock.

Concerned about the deteriorating quality of their honeybee stock, Betta Bees was formed by fourteen Otago and Southland beekeepers who realized that collectively they would have better resources to establish and maintain a scientifically based, closed population honeybee-livestock improvement program. The company now has 25 beekeeper shareholders spread throughout New Zealand.

Each year the best 25 queens are selected as breeders, in accordance with strict selection criteria. From these breeders, 200 daughter queens are raised and instrumentally inseminated with pooled, homogenized semen from the drones of all 25 breeder queens.

The selection criteria follows traits which are measured to select the next breeder queens.
1. Honey Production
2. Brood viability
3. Temperament
4.  Hygienic behavior
5. Absence of brood disease
6. Over wintering ability
7. Spring build up
8. Varroa Sensitive Hygiene ( VSH ) has been introduced with the arrival of varroa
Further to this selection criteria Betta Bees use a recently developed molecular technique for screening   sex alleles to ensure that they do not lose any of these alleles from the population and thus avoid inbreeding.

Varroa Sensitive Hygiene ( VSH ) has been assisted with funding from the Honey Industry Trust. Betta Bees has set up a 3 year VSH trial to assist in this trial semen has been acquired from 3 colonies that showed a high level of the VSH trait, and used this semen to inseminate selected daughter queens from their breeding queen stock. The best 25 of these have been selected and are currently undergoing evaluation and selection with a view of using this stock to boost the VSH trait in their main breeding line and accelerate the development of this trait in the wider honeybee population.

Betta Bees has a close working relationship with the Otago University, specifically   with Associate Professor Peter Dearden, Director of Genetics Otago Department of Biochemistry. There is on going work  using the resources of Professor Deardon’s lab. Peter Deardon is an independant director of Betta Bees.

Funding is in part provide by the sale of breeder queens and honey , but the majority of income comes from yearly research contributions from shareholders.

The manager of the Breeding Program is Frans Laas who has a masters degree  in wildlife management.

David McMillan is the general Manager. David has a Bachelor of Science degree and has worked as an apiary adviser for MAF and AgriQuality Limited for 13 years.  He is an accomplished beekeeper and honey marketer.

You may contact David on: 03.489.8960 or E mail on .

Breeder queens are available should you wish to purchase.

Betta Bees Research Ltd.
P.O. Box 2291
South Dunedin
Dunedin 9044 – New Zealand
Web site:

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