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Biology of the Honey Bee

Key elements in honey bee biology that affect the management and breeding of the insect.

I am no expert on biology having had no formal training in that discipline and so I have plundered other, more knowledgeable, sources for some of this information. There is no intent to defraud, and credit is given where the source is known.

My knowledge of beekeeping seems to grow in inverse proportion to my ability to practice it, as a result, I have more time to devote to finding out more on those topics, that I have perhaps neglected in the past.

In particular I have been learning much about genetics, genetic differences between races and strains, and measuring these differences for assessment of individual colonies in terms of purity of mating and being true to type in performance.

DNA analysis techniques have advanced in leaps and bounds in recent years and these tools are now within reach of ordinary beekeepers and bee breeders. Often previously considered a 'black art' practiced by boffins in white coats, the methods are now fairly simple to understand.

Various performance related issues are discussed in these documents, which will be added to from time to time.

If you have further information on this, or related, topics that you would like to share with others, please Email me so that I can add it to the records here.

I hope to add later (when the work is more complete and better understood) some work currently being undertaken, by Prof. Robert Pickard, on the development and tomography of bee brains. This is exciting recent work using a miniature NMR scanner.

The pages on egg and larval development are mainly taken from work by Roger Morse and Ted Hooper.