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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
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    Pflugerville, TX
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    14

    Default African Bees or Not? Need Advice Soon Please.

    I removed a swarm of honey bees from a water valve box for a lady I know in a south Austinm TX residential area. The hive filled a 5-frame nuc with a good bit of comb left over. The bees became very agitated when I removed the valve box cover and started removing the comb. The hive didn't all swarm out but many of them swarmed about me and bumped my bee suit hood.

    I brought the nuc (which is screened off to prevent bees from leaving) back to my location to repopulate a mostly vacant 8-frame hive box. I know european bees and african bees look the same for the most part. Is it safe to introduce these bees to my vacant hive box? It's the only hive box I have and it's in a residential area. I would appreciate your advice soon if possbile. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    jourdanton,texas
    Posts
    21

    Default Re: African Bees or Not? Need Advice Soon Please.

    How close to other houses? If you keep them need to take to the country away from others and change out the queen in the spring unless you can find one now.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    North Tazewell, Virginia
    Posts
    345

    Default Re: African Bees or Not? Need Advice Soon Please.

    Requeen as soon as possible so you don't have to worry and no one has to worry about getting hurt.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    1,372

    Default Re: African Bees or Not? Need Advice Soon Please.

    If they are mean, runny, beard on the outside of the hive, or if the hive you removed was all brood/eggs with very little stores - get them a new queen. Queens are going to be running a little short this time of year, may have to wait until Spring. I have several hives awaiting new queens. I keep them in a yard isolated from the public. I deal with suspect bees all the time - though your Texas bees are much more Brazilianized.

    Remember, all bees bump your bee suit hood when you take apart their home.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Lakeland, FL USA
    Posts
    777

    Default Re: African Bees or Not? Need Advice Soon Please.

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul McCarty View Post
    If they are mean, runny, beard on the outside of the hive, .
    Hehehehe,

    Here's a trap-out I have going in Florida at the moment.

    Aren't they beautiful?:



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
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    1,372

    Default Re: African Bees or Not? Need Advice Soon Please.

    That's awesome! Telltale sign...

    ...unless they simply haven't found the trap hive yet. That looks like beard to me though.

    You should name your trap "patches". What's the newspaper for or is that some sort of shower curtain?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Lakeland, FL USA
    Posts
    777

    Default Re: African Bees or Not? Need Advice Soon Please.

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul McCarty View Post
    That's awesome! Telltale sign...

    ...unless they simply haven't found the trap hive yet. That looks like beard to me though.

    You should name your trap "patches". What's the newspaper for or is that some sort of shower curtain?
    That trap hive has been there for several weeks. That photo is only several days old. So yes, they have found and taken up residence in my hive that I placed near the trap-out on the house outside wall.

    Here's a video from Sept 21st when I first placed the trap-out cone on the house:




    As far as the roof, well, the REAL roof isn't being used. It's a long story, but I went with the tarp roof for this application because it's sealed really well and would be better suited for a fast removal in the evening when all the bees are inside. Once the hive is situated permanently, I will place the original roof back on.

    Here's a photo of this top bar hive moments after I slapped it together with spare wood I found laying around my garage and attic and the culled-wood cart at Home Depot:






  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,292

    Default Re: African Bees or Not? Need Advice Soon Please.

    Around here I've often had to deal with bees that are likely AHB. Many are runny, beard around the upper outer edge of supers, cluster on the bottom edge of combs/frames and drop to the ground in clumps. When you try to shake bees from frames and into supers, most become airborne immediately and fly where they choose to go. Though they exhibit the traits I just mentioned and some others, they don't always behave extremely aggressively, which is good. In other words, they can have many of the AHB traits, yet not have the extreme responsiveness to alarm pheromone, that AHB are notorious for - which can be a good thing. I would requeen them anyway.

    I also have queens available - raised from imported breeder queens, most all year long.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    1,372

    Default Re: African Bees or Not? Need Advice Soon Please.

    Here is my trap, and the last bees I used it on. Sort of an AMM type bee. Very mean too.

    trap.jpg

    My trap is a screened box that can hold 12 frames. It has a coned entrance on the back and a front entrance with a closable door. There is also an internal door to bypass the cone. Very similar to a Hogan Swarm Harvester, but laid out a bit different. I pulled about 15 lbs of bees out of this trap-out when all was said and done. The cluster was about 2 1/2 feet wide and barely fit in the trap box.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    1,372

    Default Re: African Bees or Not? Need Advice Soon Please.

    Definitely re-queen if you run across bees that have the traits Joseph Clemens mentioned. They just make beekeeping difficult and no fun even if they are not aggressive.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Pflugerville, TX
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: African Bees or Not? Need Advice Soon Please.

    When I approached the hive in question there wasn't a group of guard bees milling around the opening or the general area. The bees were just coming and going. When transferring the comb to the frames, I was able to brush or shake off the bees into the nuc and most of them stayed there. When I scooped up the remaining bees in the valve box with a paper cup most of them went willing. I don't understand what runny means yet.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Roanoke, VA
    Posts
    1,425

    Default Re: African Bees or Not? Need Advice Soon Please.

    I only know what I've read about AHB, but my understanding is they seem like most other bees until the alarm pheromone is released. At which point they lose there collective minds. I don't recommend that you get a sting just to see the response though.

    If they are mean I would re-queen regardless of the lineage of the bees, but that is just me. Other people claim that mean bees make more honey. I don't believe that to be the case, but if there is a study showing it I will stand corrected.

    You may want to re-queen (Sounds like Joseph Clemens has queens!) just so you know what you have. And the upshot is in the spring all the old bees would have died so you would have a new hive with a new queen and new bees.

    If you do re-queen you could put the old queen in a nuc with some brood and workers as an insurance policy.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
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    1,372

    Default Re: African Bees or Not? Need Advice Soon Please.

    Runny bees are bees that run all over the comb like cockroaches when the light switch is flipped on. They drip off the frame in big clumps and fall to the ground. They also run around and around inside the hive trying to escape the beekeeper and the smoke. They are "panicked" bees. They are like a "fear biter" dog and very unpredictable. Feral bees - AHB in particular, are known for it. The old AMM black bees are like that too, but years of hybridizing has diluted it somewhat. The AHB still has it strong from years of being totally wild.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,313

    Default Re: African Bees or Not? Need Advice Soon Please.

    Most colonies become defensive when you do a cutout on them... if they are still defensive after they settle down will be the test. It never hurts to put them somewhere out in the country first and see if they do settle down.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Utila, Bay Islands, Honduras
    Posts
    65

    Default Re: African Bees or Not? Need Advice Soon Please.

    What's this about bearding?? The top photo caught my attention when I saw the beard at the bottom of the nuc. I recently captured a feral colony and several days after putting them in my yard found a beard on the bottom of the hive. I thought it was a swarm that came to jin the queen-less colony so I caught it and put it in with the rest. Was I wrong in thinking it was a swarm? Why do they beard like this?

    IMG-20130114-00161.jpg

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
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    1,372

    Default Re: African Bees or Not? Need Advice Soon Please.

    Quote Originally Posted by captaintat2 View Post
    What's this about bearding?? The top photo caught my attention when I saw the beard at the bottom of the nuc. I recently captured a feral colony and several days after putting them in my yard found a beard on the bottom of the hive. I thought it was a swarm that came to jin the queen-less colony so I caught it and put it in with the rest. Was I wrong in thinking it was a swarm? Why do they beard like this?

    IMG-20130114-00161.jpg
    I am not sure this is a beard. It does look like a small swarm. One possiblility is that the bees may be clustering around where they smell the queen through the wire mesh. I have seen that happen before.

    Most of the bearding I have seen with Africanized bees involves a general collar of bees around the hive or entrance. It is normal to have a few bees hanging out on the entrance, but with Africanized bees there are hundreds if not thousands, just sort of hanging out there. I have walked up to wild hives of them and seen this near the entrance hole. First time I ever saw it, I thought to myself - "what are all those bees doing hanging out on this wall?" - Then they attacked me en-masse. Hundreds all at once. I think this bearding is part guarding and part climatic due to the large number of bees in the hive.

    If you open the lid, they all come out of the hive and form a ring around the top of the hive - thousands of them. That is the classic AHB collar - though they don't always attack.

    I have some bees I suspect to have a high level of AMM genetics, and they do some similar stuff, but not nearly as pronounced. They mostly sit and guard the entrance like a hawk. You'll see lots of little heads sticking out looking at you if you approach it. If you touch it - they'll chase you to the truck! I use them to guard my other bees.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Santa Fe, NM
    Posts
    618

    Default Re: African Bees or Not? Need Advice Soon Please.

    Paul

    I have read your posts here numerous times of your suspicions of possible AMM feral strains in your location. Just wondering if this theory has ever been confirmed by DNA analysis as it would be interesting to find out.
    "Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay".....Krishnamurti

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Utila, Bay Islands, Honduras
    Posts
    65

    Default Re: African Bees or Not? Need Advice Soon Please.

    Paul, Thanks for the input. I also thought that it could be a small swarm. When I removed these from the bottom of the hive there was a bit of wax activity which wouldn't make sense if the bees came from this hive. I'm going to call it a swarm and feel good about it, that has more promise of having a queen.
    I set out some hard candy for an open feeding and spent the afternoon vacuuming them up. I waited until dark and added them to the hive,(about 30,000 bees in all). I then plugged the entrance with grass for five days to help them 'feel at home', so far they are still with me. I had to leave the island for five weeks and will look for a queen when I get back. They should be ready to split by then.

    Open Feeding.jpg

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    1,372

    Default Re: African Bees or Not? Need Advice Soon Please.

    Quote Originally Posted by Riskybizz View Post
    Paul

    I have read your posts here numerous times of your suspicions of possible AMM feral strains in your location. Just wondering if this theory has ever been confirmed by DNA analysis as it would be interesting to find out.
    I have in fact had them tested - they show up as EHB. The tests don't get any more specific than that. I have my suspicions, though nothing empirical. I just know they have no African genetics, and they behave differently than my regular EHB bees. They look like old school Carnies, but don't act like them - nor do they act like my Italians. Dark and mean.

    I have done a fair amount of research into this at this point, and there have been records of this type of bee living here in the past. More likely they are descended from the Spanish/Iberian bee. It's a bit surprising to me that the African element of their genetics doesn't show up if this is the case.

    Otero County had a beekeeping industry years ago (in my town), but it all collapsed shortly after WWII. Not sure how prevalent Italian genetics were in this area, as it is quite remote and importations would not have been very heavy. It is possible these bees are a holdover population that bred with the leftovers of the Spanish colonists. I have found these bees in very, very, remote areas - mostly places with no history of beekeeping and normally very high up - like 8000' or so. Just my unscientific observations.
    Last edited by Paul McCarty; 01-22-2013 at 10:05 AM.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
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    1,372

    Default Re: African Bees or Not? Need Advice Soon Please.

    Quote Originally Posted by captaintat2 View Post
    Paul, Thanks for the input. I also thought that it could be a small swarm. When I removed these from the bottom of the hive there was a bit of wax activity which wouldn't make sense if the bees came from this hive. I'm going to call it a swarm and feel good about it, that has more promise of having a queen.
    I set out some hard candy for an open feeding and spent the afternoon vacuuming them up. I waited until dark and added them to the hive,(about 30,000 bees in all). I then plugged the entrance with grass for five days to help them 'feel at home', so far they are still with me. I had to leave the island for five weeks and will look for a queen when I get back. They should be ready to split by then.

    Open Feeding.jpg
    I just noticed you location - Honduras. This may be a usurpation swarm from an Africanized hive. I have seen several of them in my yards. Pretty sure most of the bees you'd be dealing with down there would have African genetics - they would be inclined to throw these small swarms from time to time - not a big deal if all your hives are African to begin with.

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