Beekeeping, though, is more than just a profit-making activity: it can also be a fascinating, environmentally sound hobby that can totally absorb you. Beekeeping in many countries is predominantly a hobby activity. The numbers of commercial beekeepers who ‘farm’ bees are comparatively few and, in some countries such as the UK and many other European countries, they are a tiny proportion of the whole, and the ‘whole’ is but a tiny proportion of the population. Why, then, are governments interested in this small group of people and their hobby?
The answer is that, whether beekeepers are hobbyists or commercial operators, they have bees, and the national agricultural sector and the countryside commissions rely totally on these bees. The fewer the commercial beekeepers there are, the more hobbyists are needed to keep these vital sectors going.
Honey-bees are not domestic animals. They are wild and, unlike horses and cows and other livestock, they don’t recognize beekeepers as their ‘owners’. Having said that, recent research has shown that, despite the small size of its brain, a bee can recognize human faces if trained to do so and can remember them for two days. Scientists hope that, by studying this amazing ability further, they will be able to develop better face recognition computer software. It is unlikely, however, that the average beekeeper will find their bees flocking to them on sight.Bees (like other insects) are assumed to act on instinct alone. However, they can also ‘learn’ – and not only learn a primary task but they can also learn and remember a secondary task resulting from the first. Like most other life forms, their daily life involves family (colony) survival and the propagation of their species.