Honeybees have been kept by humans for production of honey, wax and other hive products for millennia. Since that time, human beings – consciously or unconsciously – select traits such as reproduction (swarming behaviour), productivity (honey yield) and tameness (defensive behaviour) into one or the other direction. Such a targeted and planned modification of the genetic characteristics of a population is referred to as breeding.
Breeders, Rearers, Beekeepers
Breeders (pedigree registered breeders) improve heritable traits of a breeder queen and her offspring. Rearers (commercial breeders) use breeder queens to produce young queens. Beekeepers keep bees for production of honey and other hive products. The collaboration of all production levels is important for maintaining productivity in beekeeping.