Notorious Beekeepers: Warwick Kerr

You may not know Warwick Kerr by name, but he is the much maligned researcher whose work unfortunately brought us the media scare-fest, the “Killer” Honey bee.

First of all, Warwick Kerr is a Brazilian Entomologist and Geneticist whose work in studying honey bee genetics, particularly genetic sex selection goes back to the early 1950’s.

In fact, in the mid 1950’s he was contracted to try to help Brazilian farmer’s improve pollination seeing as western honey bees weren’t showing the same degree of successful adaptation to the tropical/sub-tropical environment in South America.  What did they opt to do?   Why they brought in a known successful sub-tropical adapted honey bee from Africa to inter-breed with the historically well managed western European honey bees.

Things were actually going well in the research until a day in 1957 when some of the African honey bee Queens being worked with escaped the confinement area and began to occupy and breed with European bees out in the un-managed open areas of Brazil.

African bees, due to their nature and adaptation to a tropical environment, breed rapidly and aggressively to take over other established colonies in a region.  This led to a new mix breed of honey bee we now know as the Africanized Honey bee.

I refer to Dr. Kerr as “notorious” because he has been treated rather poorly in the media and through history being in charge of the experiment gone awry.  The man has since continued to contribute a great amount of research and study to the study of bees and is somewhat a victim of the politicization of science.  He has published well over 600 various research articles on various related topics over the years since then.

Warwick Kerr, due to his bee genetics research and his historic blunder, if you will, of the introduction of the Africanized Honey Bee, is undoubtedly one of the most significant beekeepers of the 20th century.

Let’s get this party started!

The Bee Smart beekeeping project has had a forums page for awhile now.  It is…slow…would not be an overstatement.

However, the whole point of the Bee Smart beekeeping project is to inform, educate and provide a interesting, even entertaining place to do those things.

The forum area is open to anyone with an interest in bees, beekeeping, the things bees produce and more.

We’ve just added a new sub-forum to discuss the more scientific areas of bees and beekeeping.  Feel free to ask questions, offer topics for discussion, maybe answer some questions you think are important for people to know but often get left unanswered.

Please read the notes and pinned post there before posting, it’s important.

Looking forward to seeing you there.

Bee Smart About Your Beekeeping Experiments

Here at the Bee Smart beekeeping project we advocate for having fun while beekeeping.  We advocate just as hard, if not harder, for “beeing smart” about beekeeping as well.  Beekeeping history is rife with stories of curious and pragmatic people working to learn more and find ways to improve on the understandings and practices involved in beekeeping.

Many a beekeeper is a tinkerer and “armchair” researcher as they go about figuring out how to tackle the latest challenge in their apiary.  What we are promoting here at Bee Smart is to get more people to take it to the next step and up their “mad beek scientist” game by participating in a more  technical process that provides documentation and a clear path of study and review for everyone and anyone to follow.

Many of us are already “scientists” in how we go about our researching of bees and beekeeping.  Science is a process, a method, not a status.  With the right mental approach and some training in how to prepare an experiment and properly document it, you can produce qualified and valid material much as anyone else can.  You can do it.  We beelieve in you.

So does Randy Oliver.  Randy believes it so much that as a biologist and entomologist AND a professional apiarist that he walks you through the process at his website scientificbeekeeping.com.  As a matter of fact, he goes so far as to provide us with a guide for setting up experiments.

Odds are, you may already be doing the work.  Why not add the structure and documentation of the scientific method to make it complete?  Going forward in the future, we want to hear from you, our “Mad Beekists” to see what we can do to help facilitate the scientific method for our citizen scientists.

Gold standard assessing neonicotinoids: Field bee hive studies find pesticides not major source of health issues | Genetic Literacy Project

Some lab studies but almost no field studies suggest neonicotinoid pesticides are harming bee health. Why is there such a gap in conclusions? And why are field studies virtually ignored in the media, while one-off lab studies hinting at catastrophe are circulated widely?

Source: Gold standard assessing neonicotinoids: Field bee hive studies find pesticides not major source of health issues | Genetic Literacy Project