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 So from this first impression I think he is a little out of date or set in his ways.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.
>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 had some Starlines and agree that if you want to raise your own queens you're better off with a non-hybrid. But if you intend to buy all your queens it probably doesn't matter that much.
I have some russians, carniolans and have had Buckfasts for 30 years or so. I've always loved the Buckfasts. I never had problems with T-mites, but lost them to the V-mites.
The russians have done all right. The Carniolans have done really well for me. I like them all.
I think he is right in some respects. Getting feral swarms is a good way to infuse the stock with natural resistance because they are survivors to start with.
I think a lot of people think that "small cell" is some unnatural attempt to make large bees smaller against their nature. If I thought that's what it was, I would be against it too. But it is actually the other way around.
>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.
It's sure easy on your back and your pocketbook.
>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.
That's a good goal. It may be wise for some of us raising resitant bees and feral survivors to exchange queens from time to time to infuse some new blood.
I agree about swapping queens when the time comes. I am going to get carnolian queen this spring then when I split again I am going to get caucasians. Next year or so I am going to see which do better for me. I am also going to try and get a few swarms. Which ever do the best will be come my choice breed and then it will be selection from a few non treated hives on small cell.
I bought into the New World Carnolian Project. See the above link and read for yourself, if what they say is true, then it has to be the best bee yet.
I've tried Buckfasts, Italians, Russian, and SMR. They all had their pluses and minuses, all of them have enough drawbacks that I wanted to find something better. My thoughts are that it will be through selective breeding that the answers will come for fighting disease and pests of honey bees.
Sue Colby at Ohio State University has done a lot of work in selective breeding and testing, work that I do not have to do. I have requeened all my hives except my ferral survivors. It is with this base strain of bees that I hope to build my future apiary.
i love the NWC and the buckfast is looking good too.
i've got a buddy who also keeps bees,every year we make a split from of our best hive, let the bee's raise their own queen,and swap'em.we've once ended up trading splits back from the previous years split.pretty fun!
I plan to isolate my best few colonies at one location and keep the weaker ones away from the mating queens. I have 3 farms in which to place bees. 2 are owned by my father and the other is a close friend of my fathers who grows produce. I plan on using dad's small farm about 10 miles away for breeding of my queens.
Don't forget that the queen is only 50% of the equation. You need to flood the area with good studs to get good results.
I admit, as much as I like them all, the Carniolans and the Buckfasts have been my favorites so far as far as being prolific and productive.
[This message has been edited by Michael Bush (edited January 06, 2004).]
Glad to here that MB. I heard and read alot before I decided to go with Buckfast. One hive is very gentle. The requeened one(because it was to mean) was requeen with a queen made from the brood of the gentle one. They are workable and do not attack me in the garden. They are more aggressive than I want to raise queen from. I am going to raise a couple of buckfast queen by doing a walk away split with the exception that the eggs and young brood will come from the gentle hive only. Both of my hive preformed close to the same and neither is showing signs of disease or mites( I will be looking for T mites as soon as the weather breaks again). The largest hive got the swarm added to it late in the fall, which never built up to over 3 combs of brood.
The Buckfasts had no better resistance to Varroa mites. They were wiped out by them.
I put out syrup this spring before my bee arrived to see if I could atrack any wild bees or another beekeepers and did not find any honeybees at my feeder. So I should be pretty well isolated for mating. The buckfast are suppose to be T mite resistant.
Did your buckfast have problems with T mites?
This was the reason I chose them over carnolians to start with. I am going to small cell in time. I am going to do it a couple of frames at a time as part of a rotation. I will treat my hives until I get them switched over.
I never had them tested for Tracheal mites, but then only times I ever lost any it was to the Varroa mites.