Aspects of bee improvement
Steve Taber spent a life time with bees – both in his native America and in Europe. It is not wrong to say that he forgot more about breeding than most people ever knew – and even then he knew more!! Jogn Phipps the Editor of The Beekeepers Quarterly said that “If Steve said something you could always reckon on it being accurate” What a recommendation for a book.
Since 1859 many thousands of queen honeybees of foreign race have been imported
into this country with the apparent intention of producing better bees than those already here, but it can be shown that this has had the opposite result. It is out considered opinion that the major problem of beekeepers at the present time is the excessive number of mongrel bees in the country. Many of these mongrels are bad tempered, swarmy, relatively unproductive, unthrifty, and unsuited to cope with the vagaries of the climate. This poses social problems for the beekeeper and his neighbours and economic and management problems for the beekeepers. Unfortunately neither of these problems is as yet recognised by many in the beekeeping community. The prime cause of the problem is the continued importation of foreign bees.
In this country the native honeybee, Apis mellifera mellifera, ie, the Dark European honeybee, is the bee most suited to the climate. Contrary to popular belief, it still exists in a pure state and can be distinguished from mongrel bees and other races. With a National Bee Breeding Programme based on the German system, these bees, some of which already have the good qualities most beekeepers require, could be selectively bred and improved.
Surely, the time has now come for a radical re-appraisal of the state of the honeybee .. at the time of writing there is no recognition of these problems by our national beekeeping organisations and institutions .. this book examines the matter in greater detail and offers guidance to those who are concerns to have better bees.
John Atkinson draws on his long and varied experience as a beekeeping adviser, honey farmer, bee breeder and writer, to help beekeepers to understand the complexities of this most important aspect of the craft. This is a thoroughly absorbing book – an up to date treatise on the philosophy and practice of bee breeding.
Many years ago Wedmore said that most of the problems in beekeeping could be solved by taking something out of, or putting something into a nucleus. How very wise !! This monograph, dealing with the much smaller three mini-frame size could well be the answer to many beekeeping problems.
This book is about how a colony of honey bees works as a unified whole. Attention will be concentrated on the mechanisms of group integration underlying a colony’s food-collection process, an aspect of colony functioning which has proven particularly open to experimental analysis. Everyone knows that individual bees glean nectar from flowers and transform it into delicious honey, but it is not so widely known that a colony of bees possesses a complex, highly ordered social organisation for the gathering of its food. This rich organisation reflects the special fact that in the case of honey bees natural selection acts mainly at the level of the entire colony, rather than the single bee. A colony of honey bees therefore represents a group-level unit of biological organisation. By exploring the inner workings of a colony’s foraging process, we can begin to appreciate the elegant devices that nature has evolved for integrating thousands of insects into a higher-order entity, one whose abilities far transcend those of the individual bee.
An introduction to the rearing of queens, the conduct of selection procedures and the operation of mating stations.