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The Honeybee Colony as a Teacher

With his statement “The acquisition of wax and honey is not the main purpose of beekeeping, […]. The main purpose is the pollination of flowers and the encouragement of higher yields.  The state ought to maintain an army of bees.”, Christian Conrad Sprengel (1750-1816) became the founder of modern flower biology.  He was the first to understand the function of bees and other insects in the pollination process.  Unfortunately, his achievements weren’t recognized during his lifetime.  Until the 19th century the idea of self-pollination was still wide spread (SPÜRGIN 1996).

Until this day, only a minority of people has truly understood the work that honeybees perform every day.  Each third bite of food we ingest depends either directly or indirectly on pollination by bees.

But not only the overwhelming biological significance of honeybees for ecosystems and for agriculture makes the honeybee the model organism for communicating important insights.  Its highly complex lifestyle is suited for an introduction into the complexity of life processes and the correlation between the environment and reactions of organisms that are exposed to its impact.

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