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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,401

    Default Undesirable Traits of Honey Bees

    It is raining again today, yipee! So I've been inside looking through some of my digital photographs. Here's one that reminds me of how it was a few years ago:

    Imagine trying to manipulate frames of bees, trying not to pinch or squish any while they are sending sorties across your fingers and up your arms. Of course, once you hurt one, it will likely sting you, then more will join the fracas. This was one common trait of the bees that I was keeping before I began importing Cordovan Italian queens and breeding from them. This photo reminded me of this curious trait, and others, that I associate with possible AHB's.

    Though, before I began intensive selection and importing outside stock, there were many curious and sometimes undesirable behaviors, it was not common that these bees would be summarily defensive/offensive. They often were, however, extremely sensitive to minor disturbances to their hives and the immediate vicinity of their hives. If I walked through the apiary at night, and it were cool enough that most of the bees were clustered inside their hives and not bearded all over the outsides (like this -->

    ), then they might suddenly come boiling out the entrances, like they were going to swarm, but they aren't. It would still be rare that a hive would just start attacking and stinging, though sometimes some would.

    One of my least favorite behaviors of these possibly AHB's was how some of them would behave "nervously", constantly running whenever their hive was open, they would run out of the hive and cluster in a collar around the outside rim of the top super. Those same "runny" hives would form clusters on the bottom of frames being manipulated and pieces of these clusters would continuously drop from the combs onto the ground. Finding a queen was often quite the challenge.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    4,160

    Default Re: Undesirable Traits of Honey Bees

    Hi Joeseph,
    Thanks for sharing that, Even though I'm pritty far north I'm always interested in the topic.
    Our coastal weather is mild enough, it wouldn't surprise me if they make their way up here.
    Dan

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Alachua County, FL, USA
    Posts
    6,992

    Default Re: Undesirable Traits of Honey Bees

    Are your AHB queens runny in AZ? I changed a hot hive last year she did not run from me. Defensiveness was gone in a month after requeening.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,401

    Default Re: Undesirable Traits of Honey Bees

    AmericasBeekeeper, I never had them tested. Most colonies weren't overly defensive, or difficult to manage - I just had to watch how they reacted to my presence and adjust my own behaviors accordingly. Not all colonies were "runny". Not all colonies would send their workers crawling onto my fingers, hands, and arms in large numbers. But once a colony exhibited a particular "personality", it would usually maintain that personality until the queen were changed. Actually only a very few hives would exhibit strong undesirable traits, but those are the hives that make the longest lasting memories.

    There are several other undesirable behaviors that I remember, and sometimes still see, but fortunately less commonly now that I raise my own queens from imported stock. Of course, even though my queens are homozygous for Cordovan coloration, they are open mated. So, it seems that the paternal lineage (drones) have much less influence on their daughters than the maternal lineage (queen) does. Whenever a colony is taken over by an AHB queen, it is easy to tell by simple observation, and those are the colonies that still exhibit these curious behaviors until I requeen them again.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hamilton, Alabama
    Posts
    1,212

    Default Re: Undesirable Traits of Honey Bees

    The crawling running behavior you describe is a racial heritage from Apis Mellifera Mellifera bees. There is a much more extreme form of this behavior that africanized bees exhibit which involves severe running on the frames, clumping and clustering at the ends and edges of frames, and dropping clusters to the ground where they either crawl or fly onto the unwitting beekeeper. A good strain of Italians does not exhibit this behavior but instead resorts to what I call aimless flying around the colony when distrurbed. Carniolans on the other hand can sometimes cluster very tightly on a frame when the colony is disturbed. I think of it as the bees forming a 'protective shell'.
    DarJones - 44 years, 10 colonies (max 40), sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 11 frame broodnest, small cell

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,401

    Default Re: Undesirable Traits of Honey Bees

    Another behavior that comes to mind is when trying to shake bees from combs and have most of them land where they are shaken. A technique I use when making up nucs or collecting nurse bees to add to cell-builder colonies. Well the undesirable behavior is having the majority of the bees shaken from combs take flight as soon as they leave the comb and most of those that land on the target area immediately take flight and return to their original locations.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

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