The last two years I have bought or traded with neighboring beekeepers for a frame of eggs and brood in order to pull queens from them. I have done this in an effort to diversify the genetics in my yard with other bee stock that has done well in our climate.
This year, I know five local beekeepers, none of whom use "hard" treatments on their hives, who are interested in swapping genetics as well. We have agreed that we will each trade stock from our best hives over-wintered hives. In this way, we hope to improve the local bee stock. Basically, we want to give natural selection a little boost.
So I am seeking input on 1.) our breeding priorities, which I will state below, as well as 2.) ideas about a practical way that other bee clubs could implement such a program. My friends are all comfortable with queen rearing and trust the disease and treatment philosphy of the other beekeepers, so we have just swapped frames. However, if this idea is to spread to other bee clubs, it might need to be less reliant on beekeeper experience and less prone to the possible spread of disease.
Our "best" hive definition is operationalized as: First, the hive must have successfully survived at least one winter with non-chemical treatment. Of those hives, the second priority is having produced honey. And of those hives (survived and made honey), we will finally select for disease and pest tolerance/resistance. What do you all think of these priorities? I have considered adding a non-aggressiveness criteria, but I think more than three contraints is unrealistic. Opinions?
As for scaling this approach up, I thought maybe if there was one person per locality who was willing to coordinate by trading and raising queen cells or maybe grafting from each of the participants, that might make it more likely to succeed. So any thoughts? Improvements, ideas?