The first is to express the idea that the whole hive, though composed of many separate animals, counts as one organism. This is familiar enough.
The second, and I think more interesting, is to think of the local breeding population as a single 'superorganism'.
In as much as bees are able to mate freely, the lack of control means that whatever we do, and don't do, in individual hives and across whole apiaries, impacts upon that local pool of bees that surround the apiary in what we might imagine as a doughnut shape. Such impact is only felt, of course, over time, as our drones carry our own bees' genes into future generations. But the potential impact is dramatic. Where treatments are systematic, for example, we can expect treatment-dependent bee genes to move out into the doughnut, where resulting new colonies will tend toward treatment-dependence. Getting no treatment, they will perish. This the act of treating apiary bees tends to destroy local bees. (And beekeepers as a consequence tend to express the belief that wild bees do not survive). Other management acts similarly (though generally less dramatically) affect the superorganism.
Conversely, for those beekeepers who are fortunate enough, and/or skilful enough to have a healthy wild local population, the harsh realities of natural selection ensure a constant supply of healthy genes and swarms to healp replace losses.
Looking at this larger 'superorganism' then helps us understand what is going on through time, and predict how our present acts are likely to affect our future situation. I think consideration of the local breeding pool or 'deme' is the key to skillful and sustainable beekeeping. And I'm beginning to think more and more that reliable and sustainable beekeeping is dependent on a healthy wild population.
The race isn't always to the swift, nor the fight to the strong, but that's the way to bet
The Greek Bees Apis Mellifera Cecropia & Macedonica built natural cells 5.1 mm