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Saskatraz hybrids are produced in Northern California (Orland area) exclusively by Olivarez Honey Bees using Saskatraz breeder queens constructed in Saskatchewan, Canada by Meadow Ridge Enterprises (Breeder and CEO, Albert J. Robertson). A detailed review of the Saskatraz project (established 2005) including breeding methods, published research articles ,power point presentations and information on individual breeding families, including Saskatraz hybrids can be found at www.saskatraz.com.
Saskatraz breeder queens are selected for honey production, wintering ability, temperament, tracheal mite resistance, varroa tolerance / resistance and brood diseases. The Saskatraz breeding program uses recurrent natural selection to select for varroa tolerance in productive colonies with good economic traits. We have found varroa tolerance is not a stable trait, with considerable variability in the daughters of selected breeder queen’s. In the last 3 or 4 years we have crossed high VSH lines with our naturally selected colonies to try and increase stability of the varroa tolerant trait. This looks to be promising and new lines are currently being evaluated. However, we have also noted that treatment with some synthetic miticides, although initially effective in lowering phoretic varroa infestations, may negatively affect the colonies ability to cope with subsequent mite infestations. Some miticide treatments may also result in increased virus infections, particularly in varroa susceptible phenotypes. (Unpublished data)
Saskatraz hybrids are being produced in Northern California using virgin queens from diverse families of Saskatraz breeder queens and open mating them with unrelated drone populations in the Orland area. These queens produce colonies with genetically diverse workers. This diversity results in increased vigor, and analyses of hybrid queens in Canada is showing fast spring build up and increases in honey production. Attention to fall stores for wintering and in the spring is necessary.
Use of Saskatraz hybrid stock in your apiaries should provide drone populations which will increase the frequency of alleles for honey production and varroa tolerance, as well as other economic traits. This is because drones from the hybrids carry the genetics of their mother, the breeder queen.
Saskatraz breeder queen traits: