Nice find !
and this is the case with any domestic live stockThis phenomenon is interesting and worth studying because despite the mass slaughter ongoing for roughly 200-300 years, the bees did not perish - obviously.
Also, during this era, the concentrated bee yards become common with all the associated issues.
Contagious infection cases, such as foul broods, became common - and still the bees did not perish.
I think the killing of "the best" is a missguided view
merely they killed the ripe and the ones that would take up inputs to over winter...
I think of hogs as they were managed very similar
"By feeding on the crop of oak acorns or, in some areas beechnuts, the young pigs would be ready for slaughter in December. Because pigs quickly loose weight if food sources are depleted, owners would not want to keep them over the lean winter months unless they were breeding stock or still too small to be worth killing that year."
Jørgensen 2013 Pigs and Pollards: Medieval Insights for UK Wood
Sustainability 2013, 5, 387-399; doi:10.3390/su5020387
your auther makes the point I have made several times
swarm beekeeping selects for a line that can swarm 2x and build up enuf to over winter (at least was the case in Europe with late flows)
as he says
". The apiary got rid of families of obviously bad heredity, which could worsen the genetic basis of other families. In winter, they left "beehives of good and medium seed bees." The methods of breeding available to the bee were deliberately applied."
but as he says "Strong honey-making families, which were lit, managed to release several swarms per season. With the first swarms left the old queen"
he uses this rational about keeping the old queen... but as practiced swarm beekeeping was often manged to cause the swarms to swarm with the volume just a little less then a 5F deep nuc
Owen Thomas, a Denbighshire beekeeper and skep maker in the eighteenth century1757 : One old hive: the first swarm 7 June, the second swarm 20 June; swarm out of the first swarm 8 July, second swarm from the first 22 July.
LINNARD and CRANE 1989 https://www.evacranetrust.org/upload...797e2c5995.pdf
One overwintered Skep became 5! this artical is a gold mine for looking in to what keeping of the era was like as Tomas kept good records and we see what his increase was like, honey/ wax production etc over a 20 or so year time span depending on the record type !!!
"In a good season, a prime swarm may develop strongly enough to send out a prime swarm of its own before the summer is over, and possibly even afterswarms as well"
He averaged 13 pounds of honey per overwintered hive and 1.13 pounds of wax with wax selling at 7x+ the price of honey, the the wax could make up a large posrtion of the income
"Owen Thomas sold his beeswax at the local markets, the price ranging from 14 to 18 pence per pound. In 1772 at Chester he got his best price (18 pence), 'thanks be to God' (i Dduw y bo'r diolch). The notebooks contain no details of the prices he received for his honey. In 1787, honey sold for 2d. a pound in Hampshire and Essex"
I think your interpretation below may be incorect and is based on modern preferences
I would suggest they may have been very interested in culling them for the wax. The swam beekeeper didn't have the modern fascination with drawn comb as it was highly valuable, harvested hives were scraped clean, ready for a swarm to do what it does best, draw wax. More swarms, more wax.. and a little more honey... That was the point of the swarm beekeeping system and likely why it lasted so long in to the Lang era.. that and high priced cut comb of thick flows (read very hard to extract) like heatherThe owner himself highly values the young swarms due to the new combs in them also (GV: i.e. - not interested to cull them).
moveing on to more E Crane, Early English beekeeping: the evidence from local
records up to the end of the Norman period https://www.evacranetrust.org/upload...998fc978c5.pdf
Sometimes the parent colony produced one or more further swarms, and the first swarm might itself later produce a swarm. At the end of summer the beekeeper killed the bees in some hives to harvest the honey and wax in them. He overwintered others as 'stock' hives (like stock cattle); he left all their honey and might give them extra honey combs as well. In late summer he could thus have two or three times as many occupied hives as during the winter and early spring