Betta Bees Research Limited runs New Zealand's leading Italian honeybee livestock improvement programme. We operate a science based, closed population breeding programme using traditional and molecular selection techniques. Each year we distribute over 100 instrumentally inseminated breeder queens to our shareholders and customers thoughout New Zealand. The company is beekeeper owned and run, with 28 dedicated beekeeper shareholders who support the company though a research levy paid monthly.
Betta Bees is a great example of what can be achieved when beekeepers come together for a common goal.
The company was form in 2004 by 13 members of the Southern Beekeepers Discussion group who were concerned at their inability to obtain quality queens. Traditionally southern beekeepers had purchased queens from the North Island but this supply had been cut off in 2000 with the discovery of varroa and the resulting movement controls.
The company has two strategic aims:
- To breed the best Italian honeybee breeder queens for commercial use.
- Produce quality breeder queens for the shareholders and customers.
On the establishment of the company, Frans Laas was appointed as the Research Manager and each shareholder donated 10 hives with their best queens to the company to form the foundation stock. Funding for the company was via a research levy paid monthly by each shareholder and this provides the core funding to this day.
The quality of the foundation stock was overall poor and a reflection on how poor the local stock in the south had become. At this time, a reputable North Island-based breeding programme was discontinuing their Italian honeybee line and establishing a Carniolan line. For two years we received semen from this programme, which gave our bee stock a significant boost. Since then we have continued to improve the stock year on year through selective breeding in a closed population breeding programme.
Today the company has a core of 250 hives and distributes over 100 breeder queens each year. It has established a varroa sensitive hygiene programme and undertakes other research work from time to time. We have forged close links with the University of Otago’s, Genetics Otago, a member of whom sit on the Betta Bees board of directors.
Betta Bees . Better Beekeeping