Basic Bee Biology for Beekeepers

Bee Health July 03, 2009|Print

Introduction

Some of the major biological features that beekeepers need to understand are: basic bee nest ecology, the bee caste system, bee anatomy, the development of bee brood, worker bee sequence of duties, caste brood rearing/adult population seasonality, communication as a "key" to maintaining the social cohesion of the colony, queen and colony reproduction/replacement, and how to read/understand bee behavior/biology.

This page and the menu below is the online version of MAAREC's fact sheet, "Basic Bee Biology for Beekeepers". To download the fact sheet click here.

Table of Contents

Basic bee biology for beekeepers

Although humans have had a long association with honey bees, Apis mellifera, we have not domesticated the honey bee. A beekeeping "key" is skillful application of knowledge of bee/colony biology. In a phrase - Beekeeping is Applied Bee Biology.

Our greatest bee culture success has been with the temperate region European races of honey bee - specifically German, Italian, Caucasian and Carniolan honey bees. Transport of European bees to the Americas, Australia and New Zealand has resulted in highly successful beekeeping in those areas. Some bee races of the Mediterranean and Middle East are less productive but are managed in their native lands by beekeepers with great skill. The bee races below the Sahara Desert of Africa are even more difficult to manage (by European beekeeping standards) and less profitable. Introductions of European Apis mellifera to South Africa and Asia (where there are other species of honey bees) have not been successful. Introduction of the major African bee race scutellata to South America resulted in the Africanized or .killer. bee, a serious management liability.

Bee Culture is Both an Art and a Science. Better beekeepers understand the natural features of honey bees. Understanding bee/colony biology is the essence of the science of beekeeping; the art of beekeeping is a skillful and timely application of that knowledge.

Some of the major biological features that beekeepers need to understand are: basic bee nest ecology, the bee caste system, bee anatomy, the development of bee brood, worker bee sequence of duties, caste brood rearing/adult population seasonality, communication as a "key" to maintaining the social cohesion of the colony, queen and colony reproduction/replacement, and how to read/understand bee behavior/biology.





Source:
The above text is taken from The Mid-Atlantic Apiculture Research & Extension Consortium, Basic Bee Biology for Beekeepers; Fact Sheet,MAAREC Publication 1.4 March 2004. You can download this factsheet and others at the MAAREC website