The Way Back to Biological Beekeeping, Part 3
Articles have appeared from time to time advocating various races and strains of honeybees as superior to any other. Yet, at the same time beekeepers complain about the undesirable qualities found while trying other races or strains. It is interesting to notice the wide discrepancies between their various statements comparing one rational to the other. Why should beekeepers differ so radically? Is it because the various honeybee races and strains vary in productiveness about as much as in disposition or is there some underlying causative effect taking place? I believe the latter, THAT THERE IS AN UNDERLYING CAUSATIVE EFFECT TAKING PLACE.
Some beekeepers feel that bees must necessarily be vicious in order to be productive. This old way of thinking going back to the turn of the century is, however, a gross mistake showing absolutely no correlation between viciousness and productiveness. It is not necessary to have vicious honeybees to make large amounts of honey and pollen. Besides, one certainly can’t work more violent bees than one can work gentler ones. Besides, as our historical pendulum again is swinging and beekeepers are under pressure to not keep today’s vicious so-called “Killer Africanized Honeybees in the Americas” beekeepers are again turning to the black races and strains they abandoned so long ago. Yet, is this fair to Italian honeybee bee breeders? Could this be another bum rap going full circle? We have found no evidence that smaller naturally sized honeybees are more vicious than their artificially oversized domesticated siblings. In fact, the opposite was found. We have found smaller naturally sized honeybees, no matter what the color variation, to be gentler. Therefore, one should ask and we do: “Is there an underlying causative effect taking place?”
One of the safest and best ways to obtain good honeybees is from one’s own best honey and pollen gathers from one’s own apiaries or to purchase them from a good queen breeder. We have several good queen breeders here in the United States and I am sure most countries overseas have several good queen breeders too. However, beekeepers sending away for new stock gamble on most any queen or package that has traveled a long way to be composed of bees that will produce well. They also gamble upon the bees safe arrival without transportation problems that could effect the performance of the bees they have bought. Further complicating, many beekeepers then have no follow-up plan keeping records to show that their apiary was much improved temper-wise, production-wise, etc., with feed-back to the breeder the bees or queens were purchased from.
There is one thing to remember when you read claims for different kinds of races and strains of honeybees: THAT MUCH OF THE DIFFERENCE IS IN THE PURCHASING BEEKEEPER AND IN HIS MANAGEMENT STYLE, AND NOT IN THE PURCHASED BEES OR IT COULD ALSO BE AN UNDERLYING CAUSATIVE EFFECT NOT TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION. Again I now state: I have found nothing wrong with the honeybees and queens being produced by our nation’s bee breeders. They are some of the best to be found around our world. Yet complaints abound today about inferior stock and inferior queens. Again, could there be an underlying causative effect not being taken into account in the keeping of todays modern domesticated honeybees? Probably, but what is it?
Perhaps, investigation of our past for clues will help with answers. How often has this occurred to help those in distress learn from past mistakes so as not to repeat them in a continuous recycling mode? We are now at the end of our century and the pendulum is swinging. It is time for beekeepers to relearn their traditions and history, and to undo and retool that which is wrong for our honeybees survival. We must follow the long hard way back to biological beekeeping to overcome our problems. It’s not hard, but it must be done. Chemicals, essential oils, drugs, artificial feed, size, and to some degree inbreeding, are killing our nations industry and it must be reversed.
It is important for beekeepers today to keep in mind that there are basically only three major races of honeybees in Europe: 1) Carnolian 2) Italian and 3) Mellifera (the dark bee). Caucasian honeybees are from Eurasia. These are the main races and strains of honeybees to be found in our United States. All of these races are excellently adapted to the original climate and nectar plants of their respected areas, but unfortunately if exported to another area or climate, let’s say a different continent, these major races very soon break down by natural selection and are hybridized, if left by themselves without man’s interference, into new strains and then races, fully adapted to the new climate and nectar plants of their adopted new geographical areas. All three of the major races of bees from Europe have played key roles in beekeeping in the Americas along with the lone caucasian bees from Eurasia (Asia Minor).
If one reads back over the years of acquired beekeeping knowledge, one learns through Mackensen and Roberts in the 1940s, that every major breed of animal and fowl that modern man knows of today was originally introduced to the European mainland during the 1,000 year plus reign of the Roman Empire. Bearing this in mind, one would also assume that the Romans introduced yellow hot-weather (tropical zone) honeybees to the European mainland too. If so, then probably other strains of bees throughout the Mediterranean area were imported also as early civilizations traded wares back and forth.
Through reading, beekeepers can learn that Egyptians kept honeybees up and down the Nile river prior to 2600B.C., and early prehistoric man through his drawings, left behind in caves in Africa, show that man kept bees long before this. It is also a known fact that the color of gold was a worshiped color in ancient times in temples and at numerous ceremonies. To keep animals the same color was a blessing to be sought. That man kept bees up and down the upper and lower Nile river, and followed the planting seasons of many crops via Nile barges, just as we migrate bees today from crop to crop, only instead using modern day vehicles is also a well known fact.
Easy it was for early civilization to bring the yellower hot-weather (tropical zone) honeybees out of Africa and scatter them throughout the Mediterranean states, only to have them very soon break down by natural selection and be hybridized into strains and then races to create the various yellow strains of honeybees to be found throughout the Mediterranean area. Not to say that the honeybees could not have come north on their own, just like the purported so-called Africanized honeybees that came north through the Americas in today’s age, but it’s probable that man did not slow down their progress any over the centuries, especially if one looks at how today beekeepers spread bees around in migratory vehicles. While the various strains and races of European, North African, and Eurasia (Asia Minor) honeybees took several centuries for Nature to perfect through natural selection, this is not true for our American continents.
First there is the issue as to whether or not honeybees are native to the Americas.This fact has never been qualitatively proved either pro or con, but popular belief, the politically correct answer is, that the American tropics, void of true honeybees, were artificially colonized by European races. These European races and strains were able to survive because they had little competition. Today in modern times it is claimed that a true tropical honeybee has recently been introduced and adapted, from South Africa, and the earlier introduced European races had no chance in tropical conditions of the Americas to survive if exposed to natural selection. But is this a true assessment of the situation relative to natural selection in Nature? I think not. It does not parallel history in Europe and other parts of the world as bees were spread by man. But note, it is politically correct and modern popular thinking! I can see it being accurate in a Tropical Zone this assessment, but not in a Temperate Zone. History dictates otherwise.
This would be true in the tropics because the purported Africanized honeybees would have truer hot-weather (tropical zone) characteristics and traits, while bees kept artificially of European descent would be either races and strains of cold weather (temperate zone) characteristics and traits or a hybridization of hot/cold weather traits which would be at a breeding disadvantage in a pure Tropical Zone.
Africanization of honeybees is a political issue that must be addressed by beekeepers on the way back to biological beekeeping because it is a force that is shifting the pendulum back from a centuries tradition in the United States of selecting for yellow Italian honeybees away from the Old Black Bees of Europe. It (Africanization) has now caused our industry to shift away from breeding yellow strains to the darker black strains of the true Temperate Zones: i.e. Carnolian and Caucasian, etc. Because of this pendulum swing, compounded with a problem of parasitic mites and accompanying secondary diseases, necessitating the use of chemicals, essential oils, and antibiotics, and an underlying causative affect not apparent to the common everyday beekeeper, we have major problems today in keeping honeybees alive.
Beekeepers must understand that names on honeybees technically mean nothing to Nature in the real world. They are notions given by man. Neither color is of real use in discriminating races and strains of honeybees because Nature adapts over a given period of time. Having the same color does not mean that bees are related. The black color of bees in Madagascar has nothing to do with the black bees in Norway, and the yellow of Saharians has nothing with that of Italians. Other characteristics have to be used to discriminate many of the world’s bee races and strains.
While all hot-weather (Tropical Zone) type bees are various shades of yellow, and all cold-weather (Temperate Zone) type bees are various shades of brown to black, and hybridized honeybees exhibit traits of each other where the cuff Temperate Zones are located (where yellow and black bee areas overlap), each are different in characteristics and traits because of the climates and nectar plants of each of their respected areas, that dictated that this had to be so in order to survive, by natural selection of the fittest. In keeping this in mind, beekeepers must remember that latitude equates with altitude in defining Tropical and Temperate habitat for honeybees.
However, since popular belief is that our so-called Africanized honeybees are yellow, then it is an excellent idea to work exclusively with darker (black/brown) cold-weather bees in ones bee yards here in the United States in order to make any hybridization instantly evident. Thus to win against the purported Killer honeybees, a theoretical truer yellow hot-weather bee of the Tropics, beekeepers must use a bee of a dramatically different color, which is a truer cold-weather honeybee of Northern latitudes to win a breeding battle in a Temperate Zone. This would be because not only would a bee of a dramatically different color give us instant recognition of hybridization evidence in our beehives, but would also give beekeepers concerned, dramatically different enough racial characteristics and traits to be able to either throw-off the so-called Africanized honeybees through out-of-season cold weather stress mating; or a better chance to hybridize the Africanized honeybees hot-weather traits with the milder cold-weather traits or northern bees, for a newer more gentler strain similar to the way racial honeybee strains and races developed in the Mediterranean area thousands of years ago with the help of the Roman Empire and early Egyptians thus giving rise to our Modern Italian honeybees so popular for so long.
Now, since the so-called Africanization we hear about is almost like a doomsday honeybee going through our American continents and in the real world this does not actually happen, then there must be another explanation for what is going on with the racial spread of these aggressive honeybees. IS THERE AN UNDERLYING CAUSATIVE EFFECT TAKING PLACE TO ARTIFICIALLY OVERTURN NATURE’S NATURAL SELECTION OF NEW STRAINS AND RACES WITH ADAPTATION TO NEW CLIMATES AND NECTAR PLANTS OF THEIR ADOPTED NEW GEOGRAPHICAL AREAS? We shall have to investigate this aspect in our writings here, for in the real world in our cuff zones (where tropical meets temperate), Nature never slams shut the breeding door of the seasons putting one race or strain of honeybee more dominate over another or one could not have evolution going forward or into reverse to correct problems of survival of the fittest. Instead, in Nature there is a gradual seasonal change-over of climate, a transition zone of breeding overlap that is always there taking place year-round allowing for interracial bee breeding pressure as all elements dictate that follows centuries of Earth, Fire, Wind, etc., beliefs of many cultures worldwide.
If we believe that there is an underlying causative effect not being taken into account in the keeping of todays’ modern domesticated honeybees, causing the pendulum to swing back to black strains and races of honeybees for popular keeping again, then will this swing alone correct the problem? We DO NOT BELIEVE SO IF THERE IS AN UNDERLYING CAUSATIVE EFFECT STORY NOT BEING TOLD THAT DOES NOT FOLLOW REALITY. We must therefore investigate the past for clues that will give us answers. After all, how often has this occurred to help those in distress learn from past mistakes so as not to repeat them in a continuous warp loop?
It is therefore time for beekeepers to relearn of their traditions and history and to undo and retool that which is defective and wrong to overcome our problems. We must follow the long hard way back to biological beekeeping to overcome our problems without the over use of artificial inbreeding (nothing in Nature inbreeds for long without evolution collapse), chemicals, drugs, essential oils, and artificial feed. Everything must be done naturally or as close to natural as we can if we are to alleviate and correct our problems of parasites, secondary diseases and so-called Killer Africanized Honeybees to put Nature back into synchronization.
We have talked a bit about movement of animals by the Roman Empire now let’s go over a little bit about some needed bee traditional history that is relevant and necessary to solving today’s problem and could be a major underlying causative effect bringing all these situations about, NAMELY COMB SIZE AND ITS RAMIFICATIONS.