SmartBees at the 44th Apimondia International Apicultural Congress in Korea
The status and prospects of Apis cerana
Kaspar Bienefeld, Holly Jones
Institute for Bee Research Hohen Neuendorf, Germany
Although A. cerana produces less honey per colony than A. mellifera, it is well-acclimated to its native environment, gentle, and resistant to honey bees' main threat: Varroa destructor. These factors seems A. cerana optimal for beekeeping within its natural habitat A survey was sent to 30 apiculturists throughout Asia to assess their observations of current A, cerana populations, population changes, influences of A. mellifera, and other aspects ofbeekeeping in their respective countries. On average, A. cerana populations have decreased by 55%' but up to 95% in some areas of its range, due partially to imports of European Apis mellifera and the resulting exchangeofdiseases. In62,5Yo (10of16) ofthecountriesinquestion,anevenfurtherdeclineinA'cerana populations is to be expected. Nearly all participants expressed support for A. cerana conservation measures and a third specifically emphasized the necessity of breeding progmms. As the superioi performance of A. mellifera relies largely on breeding programs, similar practices with A. cerana should improve traits which beekeepers have previously considered to be insufficient. The substantial genetic improvement in terms of productivity, behavior, and disease resistance observed in A. mellifera following the introduction of new breeding strategies attests to the effectiveness and sustainability ofthis option. In reference to the concepts ofthe new EU "Smartbees" project (www.smartbees-fu7.eu), which uses modern breeding strategies to adapt endangered A. mellifera subspecies to beekeepers'needsand thus preserve these native populations, we suggest creating a similar initiative for A. cerana'