On a farm on the outskirts of Frederick, Kelly Rausch and Adam Finkelstein crack open a wooden beehive whose design dates to the 19th century. Inside, they point out a superbee they have made for the 21st century.
In two months, the carefully bred queen bee has built a large, productive colony that knows how to cluster against the cold and fill the winter larder with honey.
More important, her bees have sought out and destroyed a sneaky parasitic mite that feeds on their baby sisters. “The bees are definitely taking care of everything,” said Finkelstein from behind his veil.
The desire for a bee that will look after itself may seem pretty basic. But with as many as one-third of honeybee colonies routinely dying off each year and the rest requiring extraordinary care, the quest for a better bee has become critical.