Modern breeding structures are emerging for European honeybee populations. However, while genetic evaluations of honeybees are becoming increasingly well understood, little is known about how selection decisions shape the populations’ genetic structures. We performed simulations evaluating 100 different selection schemes, defined by selection rates for dams and sires, in populations of 200, 500, or 1000 colonies per year and considering four different quantitative traits, reflecting different genetic parameters and numbers of influential loci. Focusing on sustainability, we evaluated genetic progress over 100 years and related it to inbreeding developments. While all populations allowed for sustainable breeding with generational inbreeding rates below 1% per generation, optimal selection rates differed and sustainable selection was harder to achieve in smaller populations and for stronger negative correlations of maternal and direct effects in the selection trait. In small populations, a third or a fourth of all candidate queens should be selected as dams, whereas this number declined to a sixth for larger population sizes. Furthermore, our simulations indicated that, particularly in small populations, as many sires as possible should be provided. We conclude that carefully applied breeding provides good prospects for currently endangered honeybee subspecies, since sustainable genetic progress improves their attractiveness to beekeepers.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited