Professor Dr. Peter Neumann is the Vinetum professor of the Institute of Bee Health. His research and teaching covers all aspects of bee health with focus on behavioural, evolutionary and molecular ecology of honey bees and their pathogens.
A beekeeping (r)evolution?
Natural selection and managed honey bee health (Day 2)
Major losses of managed honey bee colonies, Apis mellifera, across the
Northern hemisphere have resulted in global research efforts to understand the
underlying mechanisms. Many factors acting singly and/or in combination have
been identified, ranging from pests and pathogens, over nutrition to pesticides.
However, the role of beekeeping in limiting natural selection has largely been
ignored although bees are more exposed to environmental stressors compared
to other life stock.
Here, I will briefly review those beekeeping aspects that influence bee health and
most likely interfere with natural selection. This offers a broad range of feasible
field applications for beekeepers, which will take advantage of and promote
natural selection instead of limiting it.
Despite intense bee breeding over decades or even centuries, natural selection
seems to be much more relevant for the health of managed honey bee colonies
than previously thought. I conclude that sustainable solutions for beekeeping can
only be achieved by taking advantage of natural selection.