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Why is it so hard to breed better bees?

Those new to beekeeping fre­quently ask why we don’t just breed better bees. This is a logical question because breeding has long been the answer to many agricultural problems. When I say “breeding,” I don’t mean modern gene-insertion techniques that allow us to raise glow-in-the-dark cats, but the old-fashioned kind of breeding where you cross […] Read more

The lifestyles of wild and healthy honey bees

Thomas Seeley’s article on Darwinian beekeeping has unleashed a fury of discussion among beekeepers. Of particular interest are the ways in which feral colonies handle parasites and pathogens. Feral bees do not have beekeeper assistance, yet many of them do fine without it. The article, “Darwinian Beekeeping: An Evolutionary Approach to Apiculture” in the March […] Read more

Honey bee genetics: where’s the miracle?

For a long time, genetics has been the answer to our agricultural problems. I don’t mean modern gene-splicing where you combine genes from different species, but the old-fashioned kind of breeding where you cross hand-selected individuals in order to amplify their best traits. This traditional method has yielded bigger, fatter, disease-resistant, and high-yielding plants and […] Read more