I found an old beekeeper about 35 miles from me. He has about 150 hives. My father met him at a livestock sales yard in which they alow you to set up outside near the road with farm products and farming related items. After that this beekeeper came to the fleamarket where my parents set up and they talked more in detail. Yesterday we met for the first time. The main questions I had for him was what type bees he used and what did he use for treating for mites. He is against buying bees as in packages and buying queens that are stated as resistant to either or both types of mites. He lets the bees raise their own queens. He also traps swarms from a couple counties over to bring in new blood. He is against all the small cell theories. He says he treats every hive in the fall of the year and if a hive is showing alot of mites he retreats in the spring. His point that he kept coming back to is that there is only 3 types of bees and their hybreds used in the USA for honey production. He says there is no such thing as a Buckfast, Starline, Midnite, ect.. I agree with this to a point as the hybreds like starline and midnites will not stay true to the queen you buy. Buckfast and a couple other strains of bees have been line bred for many years are true strains. So from this first impression I think he is a little out of date or set in his ways. I tried to state my point of view on resistant bees but he would not listen. My view of resistant bees are that you will not have to treat as many hives and/or as often. He did say that he like carnolians for many of their traits but hated them because they swarm so bad. He dislikes the caucasians because of the propolis glueing the hives together so bad but said they were a good bee and that they did better in the yard up on the mountain than the Italians. When he does order queens he orders Italians. He said that the Italians had their own plus and minuses. One of which is they are from a subtropical area originally and that our late fairly strong honey flow would sometime stimulate them to raise brood instead of store for winter. He said he really liked using the italians for making splits and raising queens. His reason was that the queens made would be bred by our wild bees and make a good gentle hybred that would not make brood out of that late flow but store it. I have not looked for tracheal mites this year and one of the reasons was I have buckfast which are supose to be resistant to them. I had one hive on a screened bottom board in which I checked for varroa and did not find any until fall. The other two hives were on screened bottoms but had no board under them to check for mites. He made a big point about people with resistant bees neglecting their hives and not watching for mite problem or thinking their their problem is something else because they have bees that are not suppose to have problems with mites. This hit me hard because I did not check for tracheal mites this past year for the reason my bees are not suppose to get them and I did not see any problems. I thought if I had a slowing colony I would check and now I have rethought this and plan on checking a few bees once spring arrives.
Now for the main topic which is types of bees. So do you ladies and gents feel like he does about buckfast, midnites ect.? What about resistant strains like the buckfast and russians?
I have plans to work with him this spring. He does not see why we would go backwards and use TBHs for those of you that are using them. I am leaning toward resistant bees with small cell and monitoring for mites to save colonies and to use only the most resistant one that are gentle and good producers for raising queens. I hope to be were I will never have to buy bees or queens in a few years.