The Way Back to Biological Beekeeping, Part 1
Italian honeybees were originally brought to this country in the late 1800s along with several other European strains to replace the common black bees brought by our forefathers in the settling of our Way Back to Biological Beekeeping.
Italian honeybees were originally brought to this country.This is what the beekeepers in the United States have been told for generations. But depending upon whose heritage you are describing, so changes the story ever so slightly. However, it wasn’t that the other black strains were bad also, that caused Italian honeybees to be favored, but the fact that common everyday beekeepers couldn’t tell them apart from other blacks, as it was much more difficult to detect a mixture of caucasians or carnolians, while, with the Italians, if the yellow bands are not present one can immediately know that they have been mixed or hybridized.
The original real Italian bees, the bee today that has almost lost its identity among beekeepers in the United States was originally three-banded, leather-colored uniformly in color, bred true to form, color and habits. How unfortunately today often we see ads for queens and honeybees with no reference to strain, traits, etc., except to say that “boy are these good bees, and at a price you can’t pass up.”
Our present day bee breeders are not so much to blame for placing emphasis on breeding in good looking yellow characteristics into the Italian honeybees,…”the industry demanded it”. Nearly all queen breeders went with Italian breeding because the old German Black Bees were difficult to handle and more importantly because a hybridized yellow strain would make more honey than one that wasn’t. All this means is that, good business is the ability to give your customers what they think they want and don’t mention the shortcomings.
One must always remember that the common beekeeper can be accommodated with any race or strain he may desire, only the real trick is to know what you are looking for. As the pendulum swung during the late 1800s and early 1900s in this country and around the world to a bee different in color from what was commonly kept so that any amateur beekeeper could distinguish from their own then prominent common black bees, bear in mind then, that yellow strains only became popular because they were different in color, not that they were all around better. Now at the end of our century, the late 1900s, the pendulum again is swinging. But, instead of common black bees beekeepers wish to get rid of, it is now the dreaded yellow colored Killer Africanized Honeybees in the Americas. HOW TRUE THE OLD SAYING REALLY IS: “HISTORY REALLY DOES REPEAT ITSELF.”
Signed: Dee A. Lusby, Amado, Arizona, USA