Why study bee's genetic biodiversity ?
Pollinating insects are an essential link in biodiversity: they are very important to the food chain. Among all these insects, the bee is probably the most known.
And as many other wild species, genetic biodiversity of bees has suffered changes due to several factors linked to the activities of human beings.
- Division of environments,
- Inappropriate or massive use of pesticides,
- Importation of great quantities of queens by beekeepers to replace huge mortalities each year,
These practises lead to a decrease of vegetal biodiversity and an exhaustion of bees genetic reserve.
It becomes now urgent and necessary to characterize the level of distinction of domestic bees populations in order to protect natural variability of bees.
Impact studies are then necessary to preserve bees genetic diversity before it becomes too late to have sufficient genetic resources to ensure their maintain in long term.
How can we assess genetic biodiversity of bees on a territory ?
Whatever the applications are planned, and in particular as part of a project of beekeeping conservatories creation, our engineering office has developed services for characterizing the level of variability of local bees and recommending concrete actions in favor of biodiversity.
This method consists in sampling domestic bees on a territory of study.
These samples are realized by APILAB’s qualified staff, directly in beekeepers’ apiaries, hobbyists or professionals.
In collaboration with the laboratory LEGS of the National Center for Scientific Researches (CNRS UPR 9034, Evolution Génomes et Spéciation), we then study the genealogic line and, when possible, the sub-species they belong to.
For that, we realize biometric and/or genetic analysis, directly on bees :
- The biometric analysis(picture opposite) consists in the study of bee’s wings characteristics, which are unique to each line or sub-species.
- The genetic analysisconsists in determining bee’s genetic heritage thanks to a mitochondrial DNA test
Data collected enable then to take an inventory of genetic repartition on the territory and thus assess the hybridization level of species on the studied territory.