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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Location
    Kemp, Texas, USA
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    20

    Cool

    I would be interested in hearing from beekeepers in Texas or the Southwest concerning AHB. I am in a quarantined county in Texas and cannot move my bees into non-quarantined counties. That is about the only hardship the AFB has caused me.

    I think I had a hive of AHB's this spring but requeening seemed to clear it right up. Finding the queen and killing her was not easy or fun but it was not as bad as I thought it would be. At this point I am thinking the AHB is much more manageable than we have been led to believe.

    Of course I am not advocating getting a hive of AHB but I just am not seeing it as the end of the world as predicted.

    Would love to hear from other keepers with experience with AHB or beekeepers in quarantined areas.

    Whey

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Location
    Kemp, Texas, USA
    Posts
    20

    Sad

    I guess I am the only beekeeper from the Southwest, right?

    Or, did I bring up that one subject that beekeepers refuse to talk about?

    Whey

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    Marietta, Georgia USA
    Posts
    58

    Post

    First of all I would like to say hello to everyone becouse I am new to this forum.
    Now can you tell a little more about AHB. How can you tell that is killer bees? Are they acting different and more aggressively?
    Thanks,

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Location
    Kemp, Texas, USA
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    Post

    Audrey,

    Welcome!

    AHB are more protective of the hive and get more agitated than EHB as a rule. They also seem to stay agitated longer.

    I suspected that my hive had become africanized when the bees began to become defensive when people or animals moved within 30 ft of their hive. I moved the hive to a remote yard at night to be on the safe side. When I pulled the cleat from the entrance the bees boiled out! I left them alone and returned two days later with LOTS of smoke and requeened. The VERY NEXT day I saw an improvement in their behavior. Within two weeks they were complete lambs.

    Since then I have found several hives that are AHB. A local beekeeper who is very old was unable to requeen his 90 hives last year. Many of them became africanized.
    In an attempt to help him clean up his hives I got to know AHB up close and personal.

    Many beekeepers are using a kick test for a good field assessment. You suit up....then give the hive two or three blunt kicks from behind the hive. If the bees boil out, you know that the hive is aggressive and needs requeening. (I keep my car within jumping into distance for this test.)

    AHB is not easy to detect. Even behavior is not a good indicator because as we all know there are some mean as hell European bees. The only reliable test is to send them to a lab. But, that takes time. So, the game plan in AHB areas is this.

    If your hive is aggressive, it needs a new queen regardless if it is AHB or EHB.
    USE your smoker liberally to requeen.
    Do not leave a suspect hive without a queen for more than two days if possible (AHB workers start laying very fast).
    IF you are beyond your skill level to requeen, destroy the hive or get help.
    Never open a suspect hive while working alone.

    I have pretty much decided I don't want to even know if AHB is present. Mean bees is mean bees and regardless of what kind they are they need to be requeened.

    Living in a AHB area and dealing with it.
    Whey



    [This message has been edited by Whey (edited July 18, 2001).]

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    Marietta, Georgia USA
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    58

    Post

    Thanks for interesting post. I will follow your advice on agrasive coloney and requeen them. I am in georgia and do not think we have AHB here but agree that EHB can be very mean.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
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    Post

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Whey:
    [B]Many beekeepers are using a kick test for a good field assessment. You suit up....then give the hive two or three blunt kicks from behind the hive. If the bees boil out, you know that the hive is aggressive and needs requeening. (I keep my car within jumping into distance for this test.)

    AHB is not easy to detect. Even behavior is not a good indicator because as we all know there are some mean as hell European bees. The only reliable test is to send them to a lab. But, that takes time.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Hello Whey -

    I don't understand this line of thought. I know the 'kick the hive' method was recommended by the 'authorities' when AHB first arrived. To me, it's the worst thing anyone can do to a hive of bees and logically, it proves nothing about AHB, which you even mention above. The only way one can really know if AHB genes are present is in the lab.

    The kick method is no different than pulling a dogs tail every time you see it and if it doesn't snap back, it's x breed, but if it does, it's a killer breed. You pull a dogs tail enough times, and any dog will grow to hate it and react in an aggressive manner. Basically, one is teaching their bees to become aggressive when they go kicking their hives for a reaction.

    There is a very good article on this web site that you may find of interest.
    http://www.beesource.com/pov/ahb/bcsept86.htm

    Personally, I think the whole AHB thing has become a side show that was started by our labs for political gain.

    Regards,
    Barry

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
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    Birmingham, West Midlands, UK
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    There's something here that puzzles me, Barry. Here in Europe we have people involved in 'pure race' breeding, with the result that there is some interest in morphometry of bees, and it's possible for the ordinary beek to do the tests. It's basic stuff like projecting bee wings onto a wall and checking the venation against a chart. Given the obvious need to develop a somple test for AHB, how come nothing of the sort appears to be available in the States?

    Regards,

    Robert Brenchley

    RSBrenchley@aol.com

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Location
    Kemp, Texas, USA
    Posts
    20

    Post

    Barry,

    I could not disagree more. The kick test is reliable to test for AGRESSIVENESS not AHB. And agressiveness is what I need to asses quickly. (not in two weeks after collecting 100 bees and shipping them to Arizona or Louisiana). Personally I do not really care how much AHB gene is in my bees I just care if they are mean. So the test is a fast, accurate and cheap indicator of what I need to know.

    As to training your hive to be mean....well don't kick them ALL and don't Kick them EVERY time. Just use the test on suspect hives.

    I do agree that identifiying AHB is much harder than most realize. Lab analysis is the only definitive test and that may not even be definitive. BTW the wing analysis is being used by some but it does require a bit of technology i.e. computer, projector etc.

    But the bottom line to me is this. AHB is here. Lets get rid of the BEHAVIOR that is causing us difficulty. When we identify the BEHAVIOR as agressive, requeen or destroy the hive. Mean bees get dead, gentle bees get to live.

    Whey, In Texas

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Location
    Kemp, Texas, USA
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    Post

    I read the article. Seems the article is agreeing with me.

    Here is a quote:

    &lt;&lt;&lt;&lt;&lt;&lt;Develop more precise colony evaluation techniques for field identification of undesirable phenotypes. Note: Expensive, time consuming analytical procedures will be of little use, except to researchers once AB genes are in the United States (actually these genes have been here for many years).&gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;

    Whey


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
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    Post

    Hi Whey -

    I can't help but feel like we are playing word games here. The topic you started is called "Killer bees! ... so what?" and in the previous paragraph to the one I quote here, you are explaining how you have found AHB in your hives.

    You said: "Many beekeepers are using a kick test for a good field assessment. You suit up....then give the hive two or three blunt kicks from behind the hive. If the bees boil out, you know that the hive is aggressive and needs requeening."

    I'll stick to the point I made last time.
    #1) This test will in no way tell you if the bees are Africanized or not.
    #2) You can get a hive of ANY RACE to be aggressive by kicking it.

    If you want to know if a hive is aggressive or not, work it gently and then you will know. Why would anyone want to provoke bees? The only reliable thing this test will prove is that bees do react. A perfectly normal, gentle hive will become aggressive under various circumstances, such as being queenless, a dearth in nectar, a hit with pesticides, etc., etc. Kicking the hive at these times will only tell you they are aggressive but you still won't know why and you may be rqueening for no good reason.

    The bottom line, kicking hives is a reckless way of beekeeping that proves only how backward thinking some researchers were when they suggested beekeepers do it. My POV. Nothing personal with you, Whey.

    Regards,
    Barry

    [This message has been edited by Barry (edited July 19, 2001).]

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Location
    crown point, NY, USA
    Posts
    971

    Post

    Hi all,

    Why would anyone kick a hive of bees? This is a very poor practice. It has no bearing as to whether the bees are AHB. Just shows aggressive hives and encourages this behavior. Get a lab test. If their aggressive EHB or AHB just requeen. Kicking is point less. Just simply working these bees will let you know if there aggressive it will never tell if there AHB.

    Clay

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Location
    Kemp, Texas, USA
    Posts
    20

    Post

    I think perhaps if you have ever seen an africanized hive react to the kick test you might be better able to understand the benefits of this test. The bees do not merely react as an aggressive EHB hive would react. They boil out. I don't mean they come out of the hive quickly, I mean they boil. To the point that most of them cannot fly because others are jumping on their back so quickly.

    If either of you is suggesting that anyone should open one of these hives, then I must ask who exactly is giving reckless advice? How exactly do you guys open your Afticanized hives and be gentle with them? Especially considering that movement within 30 ft of the hive agitates them. I would be very interested in how yall are doing that because here, we just can't get that close without them becoming edgy.

    Clayton you said &lt;&lt;&lt;&lt;&lt;Get a lab test. If their aggressive EHB or AHB just requeen. &gt;&gt;&gt;&gt; Well which is it? Test? Or requeen all aggressive hives? Or are you suggesting that if they are not aggressive, and the test is positive, then do nothing. But I have to wonder why you would send samples of docile bees for conformation.

    I am not trying to corner anyone here. But I am dying to know how you go about "working" your africanized hive. Any suggestions more specific than "gently" would be appreciated.

    Whey

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, United States
    Posts
    397

    Post

    I am following this conversation with interest and I must say it is showing the main differences between Texas and Arizona Beekeeping field methods.

    We do not kick test in Arizona as stupid nor do we call hot bees AHBs and cold bees European. These words are meaningless. All you have is bees with different temperments.

    Hives are easily gentled down by requeening and a beekeepers stocklines are easily rechanged over in 2-3 back to back requeenings.

    Beekeepers in an area all purchasing different stock make for meaner bees as complex mongrels are meaner.

    Beekeepers using various dopes make bees meaner by the usage of chemicals as most chemicals when you read the books say they make bees quite aggressive i.e. coumaphos for one (severely aggressive by the way.

    Also overfeeding of sugar makes bees aggressive just like feeding to childern for hyperactivity.

    Kicking of any animal is wrong and bees learn to defend from such wrongful tactics.

    You substitute the word feral in place of the term of AHB and then read or speak and you get a realer picture of what is going on.

    The old way of controlling hot hives by commercial beekeepers was usage of laughing gas powder on hot coals of the smoker to quickly put them to sleep for 5-10 minutes with the smoke produced to give the bees a short term memory loss, so the beekeeper could work the hive or requeen easily. The USDA preached this method for years and wrote intensively on it and how to use.

    Also when requeening it used to be practiced and preached by the older commercial beekeepers and USDA to always replace a yellow hot queen with a black queen to gentle down a colony of mean bees, as black queen, especially with orangish underbellies or all black even are always more gentler then the yellower ones, especially the yellower queens with black tipped tails.

    Sorry to hear you are having problems.

    P.S. Boiling up or out problems is not nice to see. You need to pay more attention to the queens you are using to alleviate it. It's easily done.

    Dee.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Location
    Kemp, Texas, USA
    Posts
    20

    Post

    I can tell that I am not being heard. I have said repeatedly that you cannot positively identify AHB by behavior alone. In fact, here is my quote &lt;&lt;&lt;&lt;AHB is not easy to detect. Even behavior is not a good indicator because as we all know there are some mean as hell European bees. The only reliable test is to send them to a lab. But, that takes time.&gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;

    When I find an aggressive hive that is REALLY standing out as being aggressive then I do not open this hive. I kick it. (and by the way the kick is no more rough than laying down a hive tool on top. I just do it on the bottom back brood box, You guys make it sound like I am trying to kick the box off the stand or something). If the bees boil out, I know that they are too hot to work without having a helper (which I rarely have). When a hive boils out I collect bees and send to lab (but this is just for my curiosity since I am going to requeen anyway.) I have kicked 5 hives this summer. 4 boiled, the 4 that boiled I sent to the lab. 4 were positive for AHB. That to me sounds like an effective field test anyway you cut it. It is not 100% accurate but it is close enough.

    Also it was stated that I should pay better attention to the queens I was using. Well, once again did you not read my post? Here is one of my quotes &lt;&lt;&lt;&lt;&lt;A local beekeeper who is very old was unable to requeen his 90 hives last year. Many of them became africanized.
    In an attempt to help him clean up his hives I got to know AHB up close and personal.&gt;&gt;&gt;&gt; I can't think of ANY queen breeder that could supply him with queens that would absolutely NOT supersede for two years. Perhaps you know of one? But, I will relay your advice.

    We do not call all hot hives AHB in Texas. But when we see a spade, we call it a spade.

    Whey


  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, United States
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    397

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    Whey,

    Sorry you are having so many problems with your bees.

    But from what you are describing to me, I see nothing more than normal feral honeybee characteristics that have been known since before the start of the 1900s.

    Rule of thumb in managing any colony of natural honeybees is no thumping on lids with rocks, tools, etc.

    You'd be suprised at how many beekeepers don't know how to open and close a beehive without clunking the lid down hard on top or against the hive bodies themselves making bees upset needlessly.

    Also you'd be suprised at how many have never been taught to stand not blocking bee flight paths for a colony which includes blocking those cracks the bees are flying into and out of in loose poorly maintained equipment.

    Also bad frame spacing and improper sizing of comb foundations all play a part in making bees unhappy with their housing arrangements besides beekeepers raking bees as they pull frames out of supers taking honey or looking at brood.

    As pertains to analysis, bees need to be sent off for ID because experts need to look at the bees, because you need to know how to measure and analize what you are looking at for proper ID, as the FABIS measurement system carries a warning and is not all inclusive for detection. (For more information on this you can look further on beesouce.com and read up on posted printed articles on AHBs).

    However, you are right in that aggressive bees need to be requeened with gentle ones. It is the main way to keep drone dominance within ones own area for producing gentle queens and stock. If all beekeepers would practice this, we would all have a lot less problems with our bees.

    Dee

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Location
    Birmingham, West Midlands, UK
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    Post

    's really interesting to read what Dee said about USDA having at one time reccommended replacing yellow queens with black to deal with colonies of wicked bees. Ay idea when that was? American friends of mine have a great deal of prejudice against black bees, partly based on the idea that they're bad-tempered!

    Regards,

    Robert Brenchley

    RSBrenchley@aol.com

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    NE Calif.
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    2,290

    Post

    Never noticed any correlation between color and temper in bees despite all the bs I have read over the years.I can show you mean dark bees as well as yellow,as well as hybrids between the races.(dark bees now are mostly carns in the US)Mean genes are one thing and color is another.But they all get defensive if abused or skunks or bears are getting to them.Especially in a dearth.Try moving bees on a hot summer night when a bear has been into the hives,they will eat you up!African hybrid or not if they are vicious under normal conditions while the average hive is workable you sure need to work out an economical way to requeen.probably with cells.
    Mike

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, United States
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    397

    Post

    Hi Robert & Mike

    I will look the information up for you, which goes back to around the 1930s for first usage by our gov USDA/industry for specific incidents and give you actual references.

    I believe that most will be caucasian usage recommended in the 1930s, 1940s etc for their gentleness, with later monticola bees referenced by the USDA for usage in the 1980s in a sustained program for gentling down bees also of aggressive nature.

    Regards,

    Dee

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Reading England
    Posts
    32

    Post

    I must have seen about 60 English queens and 11 Foriegn. The only one I could term yellow was a New Zealand 'Italian'She felt really gentle, but was really more tawny gold than yellow. Mostly my queens are dark or golden. The Buckfasts are all dark with golden bellies. Can you guys point to a colour link somehow?

    The Buckfast are different to my others. It's like the difference between boxing and wrestling. I've kicked most of my hives, always wondered what kind of test that was. Guess I've seen no AHB. But my Berkshire mongrels at flow end were no different to the Scuttella I rode over the anthill hive of in Africa. I doubt I'd dare kick my jumpiest Buckfasts hive this time next year.

    Educational thread for me thank you all.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, United States
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    397

    Post

    Mr John Sewell wrote:

    The Buckfast are different to my others. It's like the difference between boxing and wrestling. I've kicked most of my hives, always wondered what kind of test that was. Guess I've seen no AHB. But my Berkshire mongrels at flow end were no different to the Scuttella I rode over the anthill hive of in Africa. I doubt I'd dare kick my jumpiest Buckfasts hive this time next year.

    Reply:

    Kick a dog often enough it bites, Hit on a bull often enough it tramples, Stupid enough to run over bees with a tractor they would probably sting in defense.

    So kick a beehive like mistreating the above shows what? Think the bees won't remember even though they do have brains?

    Try a kinder, gentler approach: leave more honey, more room in the broodnest, more pollen, smaller comb, less dopes that make bees want to sting also.

    Then have a site with ample water available, Take the honey in the morning and not late in the afternoon. Brush the bees off the combs gently one frame at a time not crushing bees as you go.

    You may be pleasantly surprised!

    Dee

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