Is "breeding" the wrong term?
In my opinion "Breeding" is where you have full control over both parents, which unless you perform instrumental insemination or have an isolated mating area, is not the case for the vast majority of beekeepers. It has become common to use it and everyone knows what it means, so I will continue to use it, although when giving lectures, workshops and demonstrations I normally use the term "bee improvement".
The improvement of stock has always been an important part of the management of food producing animals. Following the introduction of the moveable frame hive in the mid 19th century, there was a massive increase in commercial beekeeping activity, especially in the U.S. This brought improvements in equipment and bee stock. It was in the latter half of the 19th century where much progress was made, followed by the increased knowledge of genetics.
The button top left "History of Bee Breeding" is a PDF of an article by Peter Borst that appeared in the July 2012 edition of the American Bee Journal. I am grateful to Peter Borst for allowing me to display it so others can enjoy it.