Breeding

Bee breeding is the pursuit of the perfect hive. Selecting hives with certain desirable attributes and propogate them with other hives with desirable attributes.

Bee breeding and queen rearing are not the same, queen rearing is the process of producing queen honey bees, whereas breeding is the process of selection that brings about the lines to be propagated by queen rearing. Even when the queens are reared, there is still further selection required to ensure that the progeny are up to specification. Drone rearing is also of prime importance, but is often not properly considered.

So what are some bee attributes?

Hygienic Behaviour
Any race or line of bees can be bred for hygienic behavior. We recommend that bee breeders select for hygienic behavior from among their best breeder colonies; i.e., from those that have proven to be productive, gentle, and that display all the characteristics desired by the breeder. A breeder can get a head start on selecting for hygienic behavior simply by rearing queens from colonies that do not have chalkbrood.

House Cleaning Behaviour
This is separate and distinct from, but often confused with, “Hygienic” behaviour simply because of the links in human life between hygiene and cleaning.

Grooming Behaviour
This is the ability of individual workers to remove mites (and other contaminants) from their bodies, combined with similar action performed by pairs or groups of workers.

Mite Damaging Behaviour
This is another item that is confused with both grooming behaviour and hygienic behaviour. In it’s simplest form it is counting the total mite drop, then microscopically examining each mite for signs of mutilation and bite marks by the bees. Then a score is generated on the number of damaged mites compared to the total originally counted.

Propolising Behaviour
Excessive propolis causes sticky hands and makes frame removal difficult during colony examination.

Following Behaviour
Bees following a beekeeper back to his or her vehicle may encounter other humans that are not wearing protective clothing. It does not matter whether these following bees sting or not, they still give beekeeping a bad name and should be de-selected wherever possible.

Cool Weather Clustering (cool air clustering)
This is exhibited strongly by Apis Mellifera Mellifera colonies and is a characteristic that beekeepers positively select for. It is often described as “drippy” bees and some beekeepers consider the behaviour as “nervous”.

Apiary Vicinity Mating
This is not very often observed directly, but may be inferred due to knowledge of local weather.

Head Butting Behaviour
Bees bouncing off the front of your veil or battering your head may seem trivial if you consider the smallness of a bee’s mass, but it soon becomes a nuisance and should not be tolerated.

Biting and Hair Pulling
These uses of the bees mandibles are fairly rare and it is uncertain as to whether it is a good or bad trait.

Guarding Behaviour
Categorise as mainly neutral trait.

Robbing Propensity
This is one thing that tends to be disliked in bees, and is culled, although some commercial beekeepers consider it to their benefit to propagate such robber bees.

Large Honey Producers
Obviously a good factor.