A nationwide bee breeding program


Honey bees are responsible for 1/3 of the food that we eat. There is a need to breed honey bee populations that are efficient pollinators and are robust to stressors such as pests and diseases. This project will help establish an economically sustainable national genetic improvement program using innovative breeding technologies to transform the performance of honey bees in Australia. It will focus simultaneously on traits of importance to beekeepers, and to the horticultural and broadacre industries that are dependent on honey bee pollination. The strength of this project lies in its ability to leverage benefits across multiple industries by creating a more profitable and sustainable beekeeping industry, improving crop pollination efficiencies and enabling industry expansion through enhanced pollination security.


Professor Benjamin Oldroyd, Dr Nadine Chapman

Research Location

School of Life and Environmental Sciences

Program Type



You will define standardised selection traits to select honey bees for disease and pest resistance, honey production, pollination and other traits of importance. Combined with genetic data, we will produce estimated breeding values to drive selection for these important economic traits. Economic modelling and modelling of breeding program design will result in the development of a sustainable national program for honey bee genetic improvement. 
The successful student will undertake fieldwork to measure selection traits in honey bee colonies, perform whole genome sequencing to reconstruct pedigrees and generate estimated breeding values and participate in the design of a successful and sustainable Australian honey bee breeding program. The project would suit a student with a background in genetics, bioinformatics or animal biology.

Additional Information

We welcome applications from students with backgrounds in any relevant subject that provides the necessary skills, knowledge and experience, including bioinformatics, biology, genetics, agriculture, ecology and zoology. 

  • Candidates are expected to have completed an honours or masters degree in a relevant field;
  • The student will be based at Sydney University but will be required to travel for fieldwork;
  • Previous beekeeping experience will be highly regarded; 
  • The project is performed in collaboration with the University of Sydney, NSW Department of Primary Industries, the Animal Breeding and Genetics Unit and the University of New England (Robert Banks) the Wheen Bee Foundation and Better Bees WA;
  • The project is funded by a Rural Research and Development for Profit grant from the Department of Agriculture and investment by NSW Department of Primary Industries, AgriFutures Australia, the University of Sydney, Better Bees WA, Costa, Olam, South Pacific Seeds, Beechworth Honey, Monson’s Honey and Pollination and Australian Queen Bee Exporters;

HDR Inherent Requirements   

In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:   
  • Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;  
  • Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);  
  • Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;  
  • Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);  
  • Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;  
  • Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);  
  • Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;  
  • Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);  
  • Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;  
  • Hold a current scuba diving license;  
  • Hold a current Working with Children Check;  
  • Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.) 

You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

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honey bees, breeding, Genetics, pollination, Bioinformatics

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 2671