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  1. #1

    Question

    Our association just had its annual picnic. We have about 30 members spread across northwest IL. The reports everyone gave was "no or little honey to extract". Most have said that they have no comb honey. How are the rest of you doing? I personaly have had a good year, about 150 pounds per hive. and one super of comb on a new package. If you could reply I am sure the members of the forum would like to know. Thanks and good luck.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,316

    Post

    I've had what I consider a strange year. I was raising Buckfasts. This spring I had four hives that did well last year and wintered well this last winter. Usually I have either no swarms in a year, or maybe one or two. I had four within a week this year. They were in July. Two of the hives ended up queenless because they didn't get a new queen raised. They were really angry bees. I've never had bees in that bad a mood. Two hours after working them they would hunt me down 200 yards away and attack me. I tried requeening and both hives rejected the queens. I'm trying again now, at the same time I trying to start three shaken swarms in nuke boxes just in case that fails. I've never seen them act like this. I wonder if the weather is part of it.

    The drought here has pretty much ruined the corn crop. The corn is just stalks because the grasshoppers have eaten the leaves and the ears aren't really developed because of the lack of water. In spite of all of that it looks like I'll get at least 100 pounds of honey out of each hive. I haven't actually extracted it yet, but there's quite a stack of supers I've robbed already.

    Now last year I got at least 200lbs out of each hive. I was amazed.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,936

    Post

    Usual crop here south of San Francisco, but also lower averages due to rampant swarming. Numerous multiple queen swarms, queens wandering around on the ground in the swarming season, and swarm with failed queens.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,316

    Post

    Somehow it doesn't make a lot of sense to have more swarms during a drought. Also I've never had the hives end up queenless after swarming. Have others of you had similar experiences this year?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    parker county, tx
    Posts
    7,923

    Post

    Michael- funny that you mention the change in attitude of the buckfast bees in their second year. I recently asked the gentleman I get bees and supplies from about buckfast bees, and his respose was that they are wonderful the first season, but become "mean" the second year. He tried them out a few years back and because of this problem, doesn't hive them anymore.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,316

    Post

    I haven't had that problem with my buckfasts before this year, and I've had them off on on for a few decades. David Eyre had made an observation that self made queens in recent times have not been the quality they used to and perhaps it's because of the lack of feral drones to mate with. Three of the queens in the four hives at my place, I got at exactly the same time and they could quite likely be full sisters. If there were no feral drones to mate with and they mated with my drones they could be very inbred. I think I'm going to purposefully keep a larger variety of strains so they won't get inbred on self made queens.

    I had not heard this comment about buckfasts before. Right now mine act exactly like descriptions of killer bees. They instantly attack me when I open the hive, boiling out of the hive and hitting me from all sides constantly for hundreds of yards away after I leave. I've never seen anything like it.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Bluff City, TN USA
    Posts
    80

    Post

    Hi Michael, I had the same problem here. I changed to New World Carniolans and have been delighted.

    ------------------
    Jim

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    San Mateo, CA
    Posts
    4,936

    Post

    I have used Buckfasts for 25 years and haven't noticed them cross breeding mean any more than other strains. Put in four lst year, still mellow.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Location
    Birmingham, West Midlands, UK
    Posts
    751

    Post

    Buckfast supersedures certainly have a reputation, one reason why I never considered using them. What are other peoples' experiences - is the reputation justified?

    ------------------
    Regards,

    Robert Brenchley

    RSBrenchley@aol.com
    Birmingham UK

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,316

    Post

    I have not had this probelm ever before and I have rasied buckfasts most of the time for almost the last 30 years. I have had some Italians off and on also. Both have always been gentle and easy to get along with. In the past, especially when I was quite poor, I seldom requeened. I usually just killed the old one after a couple of years and let them raise a new one.

    I too would be curious to hear if anyone else has had this problem with any breed.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Fremont, New Hampshire, USA
    Posts
    695

    Angry

    IMHO!
    Young first year queens from a good Buckfast breeder are a pleasure to have. However,
    it has been my experience that Buckfast supersedures were often quite nasty.
    They surely will make a ton of honey but it's hard to work a mean hive. I found them to be very very defensive and often chased me
    away from the hive.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Location
    Waynesville, NC
    Posts
    42

    Post

    I know very little about this subject, since this is just my second year with one hive. Last fall I had to requeen because the queen that came with my package of Italians was lost by some means. This spring they superceded. The hive is super strong, but the bees are very nasty. I don't have much experience to look back on, but I do know that until this summer I worked the bees barehanded in just a button down shirt with a veil on. Now I have to wear coveralls, gloves and tie the leg openings. When taking off a super of comb honey the other day, I didn't smoke them so as not to ruin the cappings, and I had to scrape about twenty bees off of my coveralls that were impaled in them with their stingers. They also continue to attack for some time after working them, as they are close to the house. Does the drought condition have something to do with this, or is it just a product of them raising a queen who throws mean bees? I have always heard old-timers around here say that yellow jackets are meaner during dry times, but I don't know. They're pretty mean all the time! Ya'll are discussing Buckfasts, but do Italians generally become this mean?

    Rick

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,316

    Post

    David Eyre was the first person I heard address this and I believe he was talking about Italians at the time. He observed that just killing and having a supercedure always seems to leave an angry hive compared to requeening. I've already expressed one of his theories on it, the lack or feral drones. He may correct me if I've misquoted him. Maybe some of it is genetic. Maybe some of it is going through the period of no queen puts them in a foul mood.

    I consider doing light work barehanded without even a veil the norm, and usually reserve the bee suit and zip on veil for serious work. I've never had a hive acting like you or I are describing unless it was feral and I was removing it from a house or a tree. I don't even walk past the hive without a complete suit right now.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    parker county, tx
    Posts
    7,923

    Post

    From what I have read and heard, dry spells without good forage and nectar production tend to make a hive more defensive. I got my hives late in the season, so I am feeding them to be sure and build them up enough for the winter, and I have not had real problems with agressive behavior out of them, but I've noticed that one of the hives has a few bees that will follow me for about 100 feet away from the hive after working them, the others tend to calm down pretty quickly.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Drums, PA, USA
    Posts
    331

    Post

    I had a hive one time that was very defensive as well. They were starlines, I think. Oh well, they used to chase me too! This year I got two nucs in June that came with Weaver BeeSMaRt queens. One is fantastic, the other can be moody. I do know, when they get moody, they are out of syrup. We are in a drought here in PA, so I have been feeding the weaker hives. I think I heard somewhere, that if they are hungry, the get mean, because of robbing, but I could be wrong.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,316

    Post

    I have seen them grouchy because of robbing before, but not like I'm seeing now.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,316

    Post

    I had starlines once also. The first year they were great, the next year they weren't as productive and they were more moody, but still not like I have now.

  18. #18

    Post

    So what I am hearing from the original question is that this has been a year of mean bees, lots of swarming. But what about HONEY PRODUCTION?

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    parker county, tx
    Posts
    7,923

    Post

    Honey production? That's what this is about? :}
    Seriously, in this area, it has been poor this year, even with a nice moderately rainy Spring and a beautiful month of June. My hives are beginners so I didn't expect much, but my beekeeping friend who has about 100 hives in 5 yards said it has really been surprisingly poor production.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Fremont, New Hampshire, USA
    Posts
    695

    Smile

    Here's a recap of my honey season from
    Fremont, New Hamsphire, USA. Fremont is located in the south east section and about 25 miles in from the ocean. I keep 27 hives.

    The spring was fantastic. Hives built fast and were looking for room by the end of April. May and June were great with a tremendious flow from clover. A few keepers around me reported that thier new starts (mostly on foundation) where swarming due to brood congestion. I saw several of these hives and they were packed! Keepers with drawn comb made out. I harvested 1300 pounds from 27 hives for an average of 48 pounds per queen.

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