This past season I had to requeen to rid myself of some very nasty bees. Based upon recommendations from this forum I chose Cordovan Italians. I absolutely love working these Cordovan bees Â– very docile. My concern is that my Small Hive Beetle population seems to have really increased significantly since the requeening. Its possible that other factors are involved, like more than usual rain and humidity, but IÂ’ve also noticed that the previous nasty bees would chase the beetles across the combs, while the Cordovans donÂ’t seem too concerned. Has anyone else noticed similar behavior?
I have been concerned that the solution to some things, including SHB and Varroa might be partly a defensive behavoir on the part of the bees. I would hope we can find a happy medium of a bee that doesn't get quickly provoked but will defend the hive against robbers, invaders (SHB and wax moths) and parasites (mites etc.). I don't know if more docile bees are more prone to infestation or not, but I would be curious to know peoples observations. We don't have any SHB here.
The Russians seem pretty defensive and yet they don't try to mass sting me. They do more head butting and warning. I wonder if that isn't the happy medium we are looking for.
I have had the same experience in georgia. my russians are strong, my cordovans are being overrun by shb. see my "winter feeding" post in beekeeping 101.
From my own observations my gentle bees (NWC) don't seem any less defensive against robbers, wax moths, etc. than more agressive hives (Italian). And these gentle bees have been gentle in even poor weather condition when my italians are spitting mad.
Of course we don't have SHB yet, so I don't know how they would respond to them. I suspect it has a lot more to do with their breeds (other traits) than just gentleness.
I seem to remember Joe Latshaw of the ohio queen breeders who breeds a very gentle bee saying that gentleness has had no effect on warding off other pests.
i've got one hive of new world carniolans,they survived last winter without any treatments,this year i've switched them to 4.9 foundation.these bees are really gentle,they don't run around alot when i'm checking the hive,they have no discernable parasite problems.i like them alot,but man they are the laziest bees i've ever seen,the queen lays fine,the bees just aren't motivated to work their butts off.can't balme them really,i'm not either.
I have talked with other beekeepers about this same thing. By breading for docile bees are we in fact removing the "natural" defenisve behavior of the bees. Most of the beekeepers that I have talked with have agreed that the more docile bees lack the will to fight off mites, moths etc.
By slective breeding we are looking for the perfect bee. Now think of all the other agricultural breeding programs in the world. How many do you know of, that have proved to be a succuss? None! Did they change the traits? Yes. Did they get the traits they wanted? Yes. Did they lose other traits that they needed? Yes. It's imposable to know what is going to happon when we start looking at one trait. It's easy to find bees that have great traits, but to try and put them into one bee is alittle harder. Harder still to know what traits you are going to give up to bring out the trait you want.
If our breeding programs are so great then why do we stil have V. mite, T. mite, SHB, wax moth problems...and that's just the tip of the problems that the honey bee faces. Even on this sight you can find members that don't look to the breeders for the answers to the beekeeping problems. Many have started looking for feral hives. Ones that haven't been through the breeding stock. Ones that have survived because they had to not because a beekeeper wanted them too. They may not be the best in some traits, but they do survive.
If I found a hive in the wall of a house tomorrow. That turned out to be just down right nasty, as long as they survived I wouldn't care.
My observations on the level of shb infestation and its relationship to the Cordovan bees are anecdotal at best, however itÂ’s interesting to hear that others have noticed similar trends. I spoke to a very experienced beekeeper when I was attempting to rid myself of the aggressive bees and he warned against it. He actually said, Â…Â”send me your nasty beesÂ”. His premise was (as others here have pointed out) the nastier the bee to more productive and the more likely they are to survive. His opinion meant a lot to me, but I keep my bees at my home and simply could not deal with liability of really aggressive bees.
I think the real test will be how they winter and how well they produce honey. (My aggressive bees were very productive!!) It may turn out that the Cordovan bees can carry a significant load of shb without serious problems while still being productive. I guess only time will tell.
Question to Gabee:
Who was the source for your Cordovan? If you donÂ’t want to advertise then please send me a private email. Perhaps weÂ’re using the same genetics!
[This message has been edited by AstroBee (edited October 07, 2003).]
On the SHB issue: Is their noticeable economic damage because of them with different queens, or are they just being seen more. I have some SHB, no damage.
I guess I think some agressivness might be related to survival and to fighting off pests, but over aggressive hives seem to be robbers and are not really productive without a cost to your other hives. Also over agressivness is no fun to deal with. I've had viscious bees on a couple of occasions and you can have them.
Certainly the beetle makes choices based on some factor. Hive strength or agressiveness, etc. I just had my first experience with SHB and hope not to see it again. Was not as bad or damaging as wax moths.
I had one hive completely infested with the beetle and not one found in other hives in the same apiary.
[This message has been edited by BjornBee (edited October 08, 2003).]
Astro- to be honest I don't remember their name and the web address I thought was theirs doesn't work. The queen was cordovan but her attendants were dark, and since her introduction she has been laying cordovans and what I assume to be regular italians. They are docile bees, very nice to work with but their gathering has been quite weak and as I stated the shbs were kicking their butts. my russians, which were from georgia, don't hold back on the propolis, so that might be a reason why they are so strong against shb.
I don't have enough experience to access the economic differences between queens in the presence of SHBs. Ask me again next July. All I can tell right now is that my beetle population has significantly increased this past season, which happened to coincide with a complete requeening of all my hives. Whether the beetle population will have a significant effect on honey production is still a big question.
Check out this fun picture of some very productive nasty bees.
Based upon my experience, I'd have to say that you're very fortunate if you only have one hive infested. However, I would also suspect that its just matter of time before they (the beetles) get to the other hives. I hope this doesnÂ’t turn out to be true.
I'm counting on a good winter here. I've been told they don't handle the cold well.
I did treat the additional hives in that particular apiary with checkmite. It goes against everything I believe in that medication is not for "prevention". This was my first encounter and wanted to nip it in the butt.
Here's a new hive (see above post) that has, as someone said,"your name all over it"!
I have probably 10 or 15 cordovan hives .They are jam packed with bees and rapidly using up there honey stores(like always).I know my varroa levels are very low this year because the cordovans are still alive!They are ALWAYS the first to peg out from varroa.Dont have any beetles but I can tell you they have no varroa resistance.I checked 160 hives today for stores and the only stings I got were from a cordovan hive.That really surprised me.All the bees seemed lazy today as the last flowers of the year are fading and they seem pretty contented not to have to get out and hustle.
I'm a bit surprised at your remarks on the cordovans. I certainly don't doubt your experience with them, but last spring when I made the cordovan decision I heard only praise for them. The tone lately seems less than positive. I now wish I had decided to mix it up a little instead of going all cordovans. Live and learn.
Can you comment on the cordovan's honey production? If they can't produce a crop, protect themselves against pests, or overwinter well, then I'm not sure I made a very good choice. I will say that they are extremely docile, so I'm surprised to hear that you got stung by them. I've been into the brood chambers on several occasions and have yet to see any signs of defensive behavior.
After a bad experiance with trying to order Cordovan packages I never received, I eventually did get some queens and introduced them into two caught swarms.
At the same time I also got some NWC queens and also introduced them into both swarms and nucs.
The Cordovan colonys only grew into three and four mediums, where as my NWC grew into five, six and seven mediums.
I have now changed completely over to the NWC.
Smack dab in the middle of the country.
>Check out this fun picture of some very productive nasty bees.
I didn't see anything in the article about them being nasty. Do you know of them personally? I'm curious what the thinking is to have one brood chamber with five frames.
The nasty bees part was referenced in my second post in this thread. I know Bob from our local beekeeping club - he's a bit of a joker, but I believe that this is a legitimate setup that did indeed produce three full honey supers from a five-frame nuc. Everyone now refers to this as Bob's "super nuc". Our next meeting is Monday and I'll try to get more details on this setup. From earlier conversations I know that Bob "likes" nasty bees because of their ability to protect themselves from pests.
I didnt mean to give the impression that cordovans arent good bees.I like them.As for what I said about them,well 'the devil is in the details'.When I said they are always the first to die from varroa,I think it is because they raise more brood than other strains so of course the mites are also building up faster.I should have added that I have yet to see much resistance in any other strains I have used either.As for their honey production,they compare favorably with the other bees in the same yard.In some years they have outproduced all others.My hives are moved to a milder wintering area so cant comment on how they do in really cold areas,but they do very well in the mild areas.The only draw back to these bees is that they are NOT conservative of their winter stores (because of their large population)and must be watched to prevent starvation.In a pollination situation where you are getting paid per frame of bees these bees are a goldmine!Keep in mind that these are general statements made from many years of observation but there are always exceptions.I dont think you will regret using these bees.And by the way,they ARE a very gentle bee.The reason I got stung was because I expected them to be docile and got a bit rough and in a hurry with them.They let me know that I shouldnt take advantage of their usual good temper.