- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
It's a matter of A, B, C.
"A" is for Argentina. "B" is for bees. And "C" is for Cobey.
Bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey of the University of California, Davis and Washington State University will deliver the keynote address at the beekeeping technology symposium on Production of Live Material at the 42nd annual Apimondia International Beekeeping Congress, set Sept. 21-25 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
In addition, Cobey and fellow bee researcher Walter “Steve” Sheppard, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology at Washington State University, Pullman, will present a poster, “Collaborative Stock Enhancement Project to Increase Genetic Diversity of U.S. Honey Bee Populations.”
The poster session is on Sept. 22; her talk on Sept. 23.
Cobey’s research focuses on identifying, selecting and enhancing honey bee stocks that show increasing levels of resistance to pests and diseases. Cobey developed the New World Carniolan stock, a dark, winter hardy race of honey bees, in the early 1980s by back-crossing stocks collected from throughout the United States and Canada to create a more pure strain. Stock imported from the German Carnica Association has recently been added to enhance this breeding program. In collaborations with Steve Sheppard, they are importing honey bee germplasm to increase genetic diversity in the U.S. honey bee gene pool. In addition, stock from the Republic of Georgia has been imported to re-establish the subspecies Apis mellifera caucasica, another dark race of bee that is not currently recognizable in the U.S.
A critical aspect of this program is the technology transfer of beekeeping skills. Cobey teaches queen bee rearing and queen bee inseminations classes every spring at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.
Cobey, who has taught the specialized classes since the early 1980s, draws researchers and beekeepers from throughout the world, including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rico, England, Egypt, France, Spain India, Indonesia, Israel, Jamaica, Korea, Kuwait, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Peru, Puerto Rico, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay and Venezuela, Columbia.
By invitation, she’s also taught several classes in the host countries of Argentina, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica Egypt, Jamaica, Mexico, Turkey and South Africa.
It's spring now in Argentina. Time for the spring build-up for the bees. Then in early October, Cobey will head to Santiago, Chile to teach bee breeding techniques and instrumental insemination of queen bees.
Spreading the technology. Saving the bees. Enhancing genetic diversity. That's what it's all about.