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Abstract

In Africa, humans evolved as honey hunters of honey bee subspecies adapted to diverse geographical regions. Beekeeping today is practiced much as it was when Africans moved from honey hunting to beekeeping nearly 5,000 years ago, with beekeepers relying on seasonally available wild bees. Research suggests that populations are resilient, able to resist diseases and novel parasites. Distinct biomes, as well as environmental pressures, shaped the behavior and biology of these bees and in turn influenced how indigenous beekeeping developed. It appears that passive beekeeping practices that enabled free-living populations contributed to the overall resilience and health of the bee. There is clearly a need for research aimed at a deeper understanding of bee biology and the ecosystems from which they benefit and on which humans depend, as well as a growing realization that the management of these bees requires an indigenous approach that reflects a broader knowledge base and the economics of local communities and markets.

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