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Bee genetics and breeding 1

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Bee genetics and breeding

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Breeding and Genetics of Honey Bees By: John R. Harbo and Thomas E. Rinderer1 (From Beekeeping in the United States) Animals, such as chickens, cattle, sheep, pigs, and horses, have been selectively bred by human beings for thousands of years. Consequently, when modern breeding practices came into use, much selection had already been done; the modern animal breeder began with human-selected "breeds." The races of honey bees (such as Caucasians, Carniolans, and Italians) often are regarded as one would regard breeds of cattle or dogs. They should not be, for the honey bee races were not strongly controlled and bred by people and are much more variable than a breed of domestic animal. The honey bee was not strongly selected by humans because basic bee reproduction was not understood until 1845. Without this understanding, very little could be done. In 1851, when this basic understanding was becoming widely accepted, Langstroth developed the movable frame hive. Suddenly beekeepers not only understood bee reproduction, they could also manipulate the hive and control the queen.




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