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Professor Friedrich Ruttner

1914 - 1998

Professor Ruttner died on February 3rd 1998 after a life time of devoted service to beekeeping. He retired from his academic posts in 1981.

Professor Ruttner was Director of the Bee Research Institute at Oberürsel, and his work on bee genetics, queen breeding, bee taxonomy and bee behaviour was published in numerous papers and books which brought him recognition as a world authority on honeybees.

He was Professor of Zoology at Frankfurt University since 1965, and had been Chairman of the Bee Biology Standing Commission of Apimondia. Professor Ruttner was not just an academic, but also a highly successful passionate beekeeper and bee breeder. His books show his great knowledge of the craft, and he realised the importance of involving ordinary beekeepers in applying the results of scientific research, for example, the use of morphometry, in selecting bees for breeding with a view to improvement in behaviour and performance. Following the work of Goetze, he further developed methods to enable discrimination between the various sub-species of the European honeybees, and the classification of honeybees throughout the world. The methods he advocated for general use could however be used by any beekeeper with a little study, and these methods have been adopted widely throughout Europe, and are now being applied in other parts of the world.

Professor Ruttner was a close friend of Brother Adam who provided him with many samples for his study from his journeys in search of the best strains of bee. Professor Ruttner's scientific research led him to conclusions regarding the best way forward in bee breeding which were very different from those of Brother Adam.

Professor Ruttner has been a very good friend to BIBBA for upwards of 15 years. His initial encouragement to Beowulf Cooper, followed by an even greater involvement with the Rev. Eric Milner and his brother Ashleigh, and John Dews, has resulted in the translation into English of his definitive work, "Breeding Techniques and Selection for Breeding of the Honeybee", later followed by the publication of the "Dark European Honey Bee", These BIBBA publications, together with his other books and research papers, many unfortunately not available in English translation, have helped beekeepers to a better understanding of bee breeding and of the origins and characteristics of the European sub-species of honeybees.

We remember his kindliness and his help, and regret his passing, and we offer our sincere condolences to his widow.

Ashleigh Milner and Albert Knight.

The above was found in Dave Cushman's archives. It is clearly an obituary, but I don't know where it appeared, although I suspect it was a BIBBA publication. R.P.

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Page updated 17/11/2020