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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
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    parker county, tx
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    Many of you may not remember, but I was given a hive of bees that had been essentially untended for over five years and the bees were still alive, so I figured they would make a good observational experiment on natural hardiness and disease resistance. They are very feisty- so much so that I avoid doing much of anything with them and don't check them on a regular basis because I have a strong local reaction to bee stings. Well, I brought them home last Sept and basically haven't opened the hive at all since Spring. I just watched from afar to make sure they were still alive. I finally gathered the gumption and tore the hive down super by super today and got a pleasant surprise. They are still just as feisty as ever, but they gather and store 2-3 times as much honey as the rest of my hives. I was absolutely in awe at their productivity and in the size increase of the hive over the season. The queen lays the prettiest solid brood pattern of all my hives. At the beginning of the season, I piled on the empty supers with just foundation (none drawn). I halfway expected to find a couple of still empty ones, but to my surprise, everything was full except for about 4 frames of plastic foundation, but they are working it just fine. My other hives seem to have an aversion to plastic. Anyway, it was generally a very poor honey year here, and this was my only hive to make a good surplus. Thanks to all of you who have been helpful in my first two years of beekeeping.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
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    Suffolk, VA
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    There has been some recent discussion on the productivity of aggressive bees vs. the more docile ones. One theory was stated that the aggressive bees are not necessarily better honey producers, but much better robbers. Have you been able to access whether these bees are truly better at producing their own honey or simply better at taking their neighbor's honey?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
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    parker county, tx
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    Well, I haven't observed any robbing behavior, unless it is so subtle that I can't spot it. Do you have any recommendations on methods to tell for sure? One of the characteristics of this hive that leads me to believe that they are actually more productive is that they work in worse weather and bring in much more pollen than the other hives, so I do believe they visit flowers in greater numbers.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    cartersville, GA USA
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    6

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    Astrobee is correct. And may I add, for every observation we make, there MAY be several reasons for our diagnosis. Only our bees know for sure.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    >so I figured they would make a good observational experiment on natural hardiness and disease resistance.

    Seems like they should have some natural resistance in order to survive untended.

    >I finally gathered the gumption and tore the hive down super by super today and got a pleasant surprise. They are still just as feisty as ever

    If you tore it all down they must not be that hot. Really hot ones are not managable enough for that.

    >but they gather and store 2-3 times as much honey as the rest of my hives.

    From my exprience with hot hives, it's probably because the stole it from the rest of your hives.

    >I was absolutely in awe at their productivity and in the size increase of the hive over the season. The queen lays the prettiest solid brood pattern of all my hives.

    That's always a nice sign.

    >Anyway, it was generally a very poor honey year here, and this was my only hive to make a good surplus.

    Don't you wonder where they got it?


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    If you are serious about finding out, use a queen marking tube or some other method and a color that is NOT a color that is on your queens and NOT a color that will be in the next year and paint a dot on a good number of the workers that are coming and going without pollen (meaning they are probably getting stores). If you mark 30 or so and then go to your other hives and look for them you may see them coming and going there.

    Also, I look for a lot of hovering activity and excess activity on a small hive. When your small hives have more activity than your large hives I worry about that.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
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    parker county, tx
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    No, they are that hot. That's why I wore three layers of clothing, rubber boots, and sting-proof gloves. I was working in the midst of a bee storm. It looked and sounded like the film clips of AHB's, no kidding. Okay, this hive has at least doubled in numbers over the past year. My others have essentially remained about the same, but all look healthy and have food stores adequate for their survival. If a strong hive was robbing weaker hives, why would the weak hives still be heavy? Is what I am really seeing a very productive queen?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
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    Suffolk, VA
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    It may very well be that they are as productive as it appears. You make some interesting points to suggest that that may be the case. However, if you can tolerate the aggression of marking bees at the entrance, experiment with the technique suggested by Michael and see what is going on. Please report your findings.

    Personally, I can't tolerate the liability of keeping really hot bees. Been there...not fun! However, if you keep bees at remote locations then perhaps itÂ’s an option. I sure would like to see more scientific data on this subject.

  9. #9
    Three layers of clothing? Now I see why you didn't work them in August!

    BTW, dragonfly, the AHBeez are in your area! [You probably already knew this but I'd think twice about keeping that hive around regardless of how "productive" it was]
    If you were working in a "storm" of bees...it sounds like to me, there's a good chance they're hybridized AHB. Do your beekeeping neighbors a favor: at least destroy the drone cells.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    parker county, tx
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    I sent a sample off to A&M for testing and they were European. I really was concerned about this- that's the reason for contacting the bee ID lab in the first place. After I had been "in the hive" for about thirty minutes, the agressiveness did taper down, and the bees were just hovering around me, but on first opening the hive, they wanted a good fight. It took a fair amount of psyching myself up to stay and do what needed doing. A couple of times, I considered going for a bucket of soapy water and just saying to hell with it, but I got hard-headed (not difficult for me), and overall it went very well by the time I was through. I managed to go through every frame to check for signs of disease or pests, and replaced the supers I had them in with some freshly finished ones.

  11. #11

    Sad

    > about thirty minutes, the agressiveness did taper down...

    This is actually the second statement you've made that cast some doubt in my mind, at least, that they were NOT AHB. (First being, about how much honey the colony had collected and stored - AHB aren't typically *that* productive). But I'm glad you had them tested anyway...so now you know, you're just dealing with a hot hive and you'll have to balance the 'trade offs' as to whether it's worth it or not.
    To each their own; but as for me, I'm not likely to tolerate even a hot hive. First of all, I don't need the honey that bad and secondly it doesn't make the "hobby" very pleasant for me (not to mention, for my neighbors!).

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    lewisberry, Pa, usa
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    txbeeguy,

    I have always heard that AHB were very productive with honey. Is this a misconception? I'm asking out of pure ignorance myself.
    I thought it would strengthen the bee line in the states and make better producers as they were "bred" throughout. Is this wrong?

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    parker county, tx
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    I don't need the honey at all. I probably don't use more than one quart of it per year, and I don't sell it. I have the bees primarily for pollination, and I really just enjoy observing them. I haven't requeened because this hive is an example of nature at work and survival of the fittest. These bees have survived what many of the feral and kept bees have not been able to. I don't usually kill anything that is not to be my food. It's part of the philosophy that I live by. I will probably send a sample off to the ID lab yearly just to keep tabs on them.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    parker county, tx
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    BjornBee, what I have read about Africanized bees is that they tend to collect more nectar, but that their consumption is higher than European bees, so the net effect is that they aren't as productive for beekeepers who want to harvest and sell the honey. They also have a much higher tendecy to swarm (I think I read six to eight times per year), so a good portion of their stores is being used for establishment of new hives.

  15. #15

    Post

    Higher honey production is why they were originally brought over, however this has proven to not be the case. Yes, more than honey, they produce swarms (it's what most of their energy is focused on).

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    I have never killed a hot hive. I just split them up and requeen them.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Catonsville, MD. USA
    Posts
    251

    Cool

    Dragonfly;

    Have you done a sugar roll or sticky board test to see what the varroa infestation might be? It would be intersting to know. From what I have been able to find out, mite pressure cycles out untreated colonies on the average every 2 years. How long has this hive been there?

    Thanx

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    parker county, tx
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    The hive was in one place for at least five years, and the state of the woodenware when I acquired it leads me to believe it was there much longer than that. It's been in my beeyard for a little over a year now. It has not been treated with any medications or pesticides for at least six years.

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