SERBHIWE - Honey bees of Serbia, wild vs. managed colonies through the eyes of population geneticists

Employees of the Department Genetics of Populations and Ecogenotoxicology have been rewarded the funding for a project "Honey bees of Serbia, wild vs. managed colonies through the eyes of population geneticists" - SERBHIWE. The duration of the project will be two years.

Project coordinators:
Dr. Slobodan Davidović, project leader
Dr. Aleksandra Patenković
Dr. Marija Tanasković
Katarina Erić
Pavle Erić

External advisors:
Prof. Dr. Ljubiša Stanisavljević, Faculty of Biology, University of Belgrade

The team members will perform the research on the genetic variability in different natural populations of honey bees (Apis mellifera) as well as those from maintained apiaries with the goal to protect the natural populations and propose better management of the maintained ones.

Abstract

Western honey bee (Apis mellifera) is an invaluable pollinator that single-handedly pollinates more than half of the world's animal-pollinated crops. An estimated market price of additional crop production stemming from animal pollination service in 2015 was valued between 235 and 577 billion US$, and nearly 75% of global food crop types depend on animal pollination. These data show us an importance and value of A. mellifera and why it is necessary to address the problem of serious decline in numbers of managed honey bees' societies worldwide. Decline in numbers has a major consequence in the form of loss of genetic diversity, and genetic diversity is an essential factor that enables species to evolve and survive in changing environment. To address this global problem we plan to act locally by analyzing genetic variability present in honey bees' populations in different natural habitats in Serbia. Main difference between our and similar projects conducted in Europe is the plan to analyze honey bees' populations that have been living in the wild, without human interference for a long time, i.e. wild and feral societies. These natural populations are of paramount importance since they are an excellent reserve of genetic diversity that may be used to restore the honey bees' fitness and improve their ability to respond to problems they are facing today. This project will:

  • identify and sample wild, feral and managed communities in natural habitats;
  • establish a clear picture of population structure of Serbian honey bees;
  • determine if there is a need for devising a better strategy for the management of domesticated honey bees and conservation of wild populations.

For the first time the data about genetic variability of wild honey bees' in the regions where they are autochthonous species will be collected providing the ground for the restoration of this economically and ecologically invaluable species.

 

 

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