View Full Version : Survivors
02-28-2005, 09:36 AM
Consider this: It is as hard as it has ever been to keep bees alive in the U.S. today. Major factors are , of course, mites and chemical treatment, and migrator paterns of comercial beekeepers (ie the disease cesspool of the Almond orchard). This coupled by increased breeding to make up the losses in a very limited gene pool (by natures standards). Genetics are every thing today. Forget mild tempers and honey production. Today you want a survivor. People hate the African honey bee, but despite the mites and diseases they continue to prosper in the wild. For example, Pheonix has seen little or any slow down in wild Africanized honey bee populations in the last 5 years.
I propose that the F1 and F2 cross breeds will be the future in beekeeping for the U.S. in years to come. :eek:
02-28-2005, 02:06 PM
I strongly disagree about the AHB. I have been collecting swarms and feral last year. 3 hives came out of a old church. The care taker said the bees had been there at least 12 years. I let the bees draw their own comb which happens to be smaller than small cell at the bottom of the frames and only starts out about 5.1 at the top of the frame. The only hives treated for mites were those still left on large cell. I do agree that half of a harvest over commercial bees is worth the drop to have bees that survive but since I have been increasing hives I really can not say what a hive could collect if left for honey only. I was making splits til our main flow was over last year and still got one super of honey off the strongest parent hive. We can have survivors without them being AHB.
Survivor bees are just that. They survived all of the mites, diseases, virus' ect. When it comes to honey and pollen collection, sometimes they are just "survivors". I have seen this in some collected swarms, and have heard about others saying the same thing.
I aproach it this way, collect as many as you can, and evalutate each ones good and bad traits. I have had feral colonies, that were really mean, but did quite well gathering honey, and others that were not. Anyway you look at it, they did survive, and that is the good thing.
So what I have been doing, is mixing the good with the bad, and trying to get a medium. So far so good, then I have been adding some good stock, (local) to the mix. The last Italian queen I purchased, was great, but went on a robbing streak in the end. Not good, because the mite population also went up. I sugar roll my colonies once a month. It tends to become a pain, but really is the only way to see how your queens are doing, as far as retaining the survivor traits, as far as mite control. I am curious to see how the Italian crosses with my race of bees though.
03-01-2005, 04:04 PM
Ive had Buckfast bees go years without treatment,winter well,and produce a profitable crop of honey,plus give several splits.The winter killed it not the mites,it probably could of made it to its 5th year if it had been in Az.
03-01-2005, 10:37 PM
I don't believe I made my point clear. I didn't say that feral bees were the answer, I said an African cross. Hillbillynursery is in TN,Hook is in PA and franc in indiana. It is very unlikely that any of the feral colonies are of African stock in these regions. Feral colonies are always more agressive but and often have a slightly smaller cell. A smaller cell, after all is natural. Domestic bees build larger cell b/c we provide them with that option and, aside from drone cell, they will continue with what we provide. I am speaking of true African blood, like that found in S. Texas, Arizona, and S. California. Feral colonies will "appear to be hardier simply because they have not been drastically exposed to large quantities of disease like you find when several thousands of beekeepers get together in on area(ie the Almonds) Pure or mostly pure African will swarm quick, lay huge amounts of brood and do not produce ample quantities of honey, but if you cross them right.........well that's a mighty fine bee.
03-02-2005, 03:27 AM
The Africanized Honey Bees that are in Texas, Arizona, and Southern California are from a breeding program over 40 years ago. They crossed bees, the AHB have worked their way north mixing and replacing EHB as they went, and you have what is out there today. Basically a bee that swarms frequently, is very aggressive and defensive, and absconds at the drop of a hat.
There is also a suggestion that one of the reason that the AHB has not moved east from Texas and only west is that it is not tolerant of yearly rainfall over 55 when it is spread over the year. It also does not seem that they are as tolerant of cold winters as was thought as they have not spread very far north.
So, maybe the folks in the Southwest have a climate that the AHB can tolerant, I dont see it as a viable option here in the Northeast.
03-02-2005, 06:20 AM
True MountainCamp, but the AHB population in the Southwest isn't static. Because of the nature of the AHB their genes become more and more promenient (sp?). In South Texas we have been constantly introducing European stock to control the AHB. It has been theorized that AHB can replace a queen almost twice as fast as it's European counter part, in addition, offspring from a European queen, after she has been mated in an area with AHB seems to quickly show AHB traits. So bees in a particular area where AHB moved to in the early years grow more and more afican especially if the beekeepers of the area don't constantly introduce gentle stock.
At any rate I propose that if one can keep a nice cross balance of survivor with a workable, honey producing cross, they will be money ahead in the future.
03-02-2005, 07:25 AM
If they would cross with the bees we now have and lose the viciousness,then fine.But thats not what I hear.There is a tendency for them to revert back to the original type(a mean ,extremely swarmy bee)I can just imagine what trying to load these bees on a truck for pollination would be like.No thanks.
>>Feral colonies will "appear to be hardier simply because they have not been drastically exposed to large quantities of disease like you find when several thousands of beekeepers get together in on area(ie the Almonds)
I suspect that is true and often the reason why some claim that their bees are survivng without treatments or with treatments that have proven worthless in high density bee areas.But still I would prefer to find survivors from gentle productive stock(if posssible).But there is only so much we can do anyway.Africsn bees will always be the dominant bee in those areas where they have the best survival traits.
03-02-2005, 09:21 AM
All the research seems to indicate the reason for the AHB genetics being so dominant is that the smaller drones can outfly the fatter domestic ones. If you'd all just go to small cell...
03-02-2005, 12:21 PM
As I understand it the problem with the dominance of AHB is that they take a shorter time to gestate. So if you have a queen that mates with drones form AHB and EHB when that queen produces new queens that are AHB and EHB then the AHB queens hatch first and kill the EHB queens before they ever have a chance. So in result the EHB are slowly eliminated from the gene pool. As I understand thats why the attempt to flood the area with EHBs failed so many yeas ago. The other part about survivors is that most colonies in the wild are just old nests with escaped swarms taking up residence then dying and being replaced with another swarm after. So it is hard to find resistant bees. I have had what people call survivor stock but its just a cross of Italian and other bees from around the area. I am not saying that survivor stock is not the way to go I am just saying that it is very hard to find true survivor stock and even when you find it its hard to determine it. I have had one colony that is very close to what you would consider survivor stock. They started as an after swarm covering two frames and increased in size two about 20 frames in 2 months aside two full sized colonies heavily infested with mites and we are talking in the tens of thousands kind of mites. At the end of the season after treatment they had 50 mites in total and showed no signs of damage from mites. The other colonies were suffering PMS and one almost collapsed. Mind you I was bale to bring all of them through the winter and all have increased drastically in size the one colony seems to have gotten larger through the winter than it was in the previous summer. This could do to the strange weather we have been having in Western Canada 18 C in January witch is 64.4 Fahrenheit just crazy stuff.
03-02-2005, 01:32 PM
From several articles and reports that I have read recently there are 6 reasons why the AHB traits displace the EHB traits.
- AHB colonies build up faster and swarm more often.
- As mentioned the AHB queen emerges a day or so before the EHB queens in the same hive.
- EHB queens mate disproportionately with AFB drones. They attributed this fact to AFB hives flooding an area with drones. They have significantly higher drone populations than do EHB colonies.
- The most interesting claim was that AI EHB queens (50%AHB - 50%EHB) selectively used the semen from AHB drones as much as 90% of the time.
03-02-2005, 09:57 PM
Isn't beekeeping the best, the ultimate balance of Art and Science. I think we can all agree on one thing, there are a tremendous amount of variables in the success and/or failure of a colonie of honey bees. Be it EHB or AHB.
Thanks for all of the replies.
P.S. CrazyBeeMan, do you know how to Graft? If so I would pay for a few queens from that survior you speak of.
03-02-2005, 10:33 PM
The 3 hives from the one old building(church) were preparing to swarm when I removed them. And since the bees were known to be there for 12 years and increasing in number of hives in the building I do not think they were replacing dead outs each year. I am sure that it may have happened some along the line, but with all 3 hives in one year doubtful to me. And about the wild survivors being mean well not all of them. Some are the gentlest hives I have. Others leave you alone until you pop the top of the hives then bomb you. I kept making splits from these hive and open mating the queens. The only other hives were a buckfast queen from R Weaver and a queen I raised the year before from her that was open mated. I think small cell or better natural cell is alot of the reason these hives can survive. I would like to see what my survivors could do in Cali on natural cell(foundationless frames) in the middle of those mite infested hives. You are right that there are not alot of beekeepers around here. The County Ag Center list 6 total for my county and ajoining counties(7 counties). That is further proof to me that these bees are not just escaping swarms from local beekeepers. There could be a few more that did not comply with notifying the Ag center but I doubt it would be more than double.
03-04-2005, 07:58 AM
Just a note on survivors.A few years back I had a yard that I couldnt get to till late summer.By then every hive in the yard was collapsing from mites EXCEPT one that was wall to wall bees and NO pms.They were dark bees.I figured to raise survivor queens from them the next spring.But when I checked them in April they had the worst case of chalkbrood I ever saw.So that shot that down.