A genetic stock certification assay was developed to distinguish Russian honey bees from other European (Apis mellifera L.) stocks that are commercially produced in the United States. In total, 11 microsatellite and five single-nucleotide polymorphism loci were used. Loci were selected for relatively high levels of homogeneity within each group and for differences in allele frequencies between groups. A baseline sample consisted of the 18 lines of Russian honey bees released to the Russian Bee Breeders Association and bees from 34 queen breeders representing commercially produced European honey bee stocks. Suitability tests of the baseline sample pool showed high levels of accuracy. The probability of correct assignment was 94.2% for non-Russian bees and 93.3% for Russian bees. A neighbor-joining phenogram representing genetic distance data showed clear distinction of Russian and non-Russian honey bee stocks. Furthermore, a test of appropriate sample size showed a sample of eight bees per colony maximizes accuracy and consistency of the results. An additional 34 samples were tested as blind samples (origin unknown to those collecting data) to determine accuracy of individual assignment tests. Only one of these samples was incorrectly assigned. The 18 current breeding lines were represented among the 2009 blind sampling, demonstrating temporal stability of the genetic stock identification assay. The certification assay will be used through services provided by a service laboratory, by the Russian Bee Breeders Association to genetically certify their stock. The genetic certification will be used in conjunction with continued selection for favorable traits, such as honey production and varroa and tracheal mite resistance.
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Vol. 103 • No. 3