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Saskatraz Hybrid FAQ

1. What characteristics will these hybrid queens have?

The virgin queens will be of 100% Canadian, Saskatraz ancestry, because they are raised from the larvae of the original breeders. They will produce 100% Canadian Saskatraz drones, because the drones are produced by the queens’ germ cells after meiosis. They are haploid and are not fertilized by the queen prior to laying like female workers. All of the drones have Canadian Saskatraz grandfathers. Remember that drones have no father just grandfather’s. This makes the Saskatraz hybrids valuable for any breeding program, and allows queen breeders to re-construct near pure Saskatraz family phenotypes .This can be achieved by backcrossing Saskatraz virgin queens to apiaries composed of the hybrid stock.

2. How do we construct near pure Saskatraz family lines, or colony phenotypes?

Since we will have Saskatraz hybrids available from this project, for at least 6 different families (S28, S84, S88, S86, S113, S125) we can choose which line of drones we wish to use to cross to the virgins we produce from a Saskatraz breeder, or any other breeder queen. Queen cells from selected colony phenotypes can also be purchased from the Saskatraz breeding program, and backcrossed to the Saskatraz hybrid colonies of choice. This should be done in a closed population mating situation with 36-40 hybrid colonies per mating apiary. No more than 10 nucs per apiary should be mated in any 10 day interval. Replacement nucs produced in this way should stabilize the traits we have selected for in the Saskatraz breeding program, and increase the heritability (gene frequency ) of important economic traits ,such as honey production and varroa tolerance. Since all of our breeding families have a high degree of genetic diversity built into them, there is little chance of inbreeding depression.

3. What can we expect from the Saskatraz hybrid colonies when established?

The hybrid stock will be available from the last of April until the end of Summer. Establishment of the hybrid queens the first 3 weeks in May in 4 to 5 frame nucs, with some brood will give you strong colonies going into the honey flow. Supplying some drone comb should give you fertile drones in 5 to 6 weeks. Since the Canadian queens have mated with California drone populations, they will be carrying sacs of semen from these drones. Their female worker bees will be fertilized with this drone semen so the workers will be hybrid. Since the California drone populations are not closely related, or somewhat divergent from the Saskatraz stock we can expect some increased vigor in the hybrid worker population. It will be interesting to follow the Saskatraz hybrid colony performance. We do not recommend grafting from any of the hybrid queens, no matter how good their performance. The best use of these hybrid colonies for breeding purposes will be for the production of drones.

4. Queen Acceptance.

A number of beekeepers purchasing commercial queens from a number of different sources have complained about the rate of queen acceptance. We have used a method developed in association with instrumental insemination techniques which gives us consistent and excellent acceptance. We treat the queens and attendants in the shipping cages with CO2, until queen and attendants are just anesthetised, remove all the workers and leave the queen in the cage. We try to introduce the queen to a queen less nuc (48 hours or more old) with in 3 or four hours .We will provide this treatment procedure for beekeepers purchasing stock from the Saskatraz program, since we have the equipment to provide the service.  CO2 treatment and removing all attendants also helps to remove any pathogens or parasites


We are optimistic about this project and will be providing Saskatraz hybrid queens for reasonable prices. We feel this is an economical way to disseminate the genetics we have developed to commercial beekeepers. It will also help us to continue our Saskatraz breeding program, since all stock sales revenues go towards and are required for maintaining the breeding program.

Saskatraz Pedigree

Key: First two letters = Queen breeder initials

SAT 14: JP-04/2-R6: (2006S)

SAT 17: JP-04/2-BF 12: (2006S)

SAT 23: WH-04: (2006S)

SAT 28: MR-04: TS x R/BL-40: (2004) SC: (2006S)

SAT 30: MR-04: CT x MR cp-02: SH-04

SAT 34: MR-04: BL/R x SAT (2004): (2006S)

SAT 65: YG-06: USBL R-05: SW-2006 x SAT: SC 2007: (2008S)

SAT 84: MR-06: up x SAT-06 (2008S)

SAT 85: MR-06: BL/R-04 (2006S) SAT 34 d x SAT-06 (2008S)

SAT 86: MR-06: CT x MR cp-02: SH-04 (2006S) SAT 30d bc (2008S)

SAT 87: MR-06: TS x R/BL-40 x SAT 2006: (2008S)

SAT 88: MR-06: Y/BL/R x RP30-2006: SC x RP 30-2006 (2008S)

SAT 93: MR-06: BL/R x SAT (2004) SAT 34 d x RP 30-06 (2008S)

SAT 96: TR-07: MR SAT 34 x RP 30-06 x B: TR-07 (2008S)

SAT 113: MR-12: S86 d Selected (2012S)

SAT 136: MR-12: S23A d Selected (2012S)

SL25: HIGH VSH x to survival colonies (S14, S28, S96)

SY26: HIGH VSH x to survival colonies (S14, S28, S96)

SGT29: reselected out cross (S28, S30, S65): (2013S)

SG20: S23A inseminated with drone semen from high VSH colonies: 2012

SG44: S125C inseminated with drone semen from high VSH colonies: 2012

SG50: S23A inseminated with drone semen from high VSH colonies: 2012

SJH: 2010: Carniolan survival colony: (2016S)

SBHCH: 2011: Carniolan survival colony: (2016S)

Characteristics of Saskatraz Families

These characters are subjective and based on original breeders and reselected progeny. Progeny may vary considerably in all breeders derived from the originals because of genetic processes and multiple mating. All families have good to excellent wintering ability in Saskatchewan, intermediate to excellent hygienic behaviour and acceptable temperament. SAT-34 and some daughters show aggressive behaviour. SAT-84 shows a VSH (varroa-sensitive hygiene) phenotype.

E=Excellent; VG=Very Good; G=Good; M=Moderate; F=Fair; P=Poor.

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