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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Santa Fe, NM
    Posts
    665

    Default AHB Central Texas

    Here is a recent post from one of our local bee groups in N.M. I was wondering how accurate some of these statements might be. "I just returned from a Thanksgiving trip to the Texas Hill Country. While I was there I stopped at the Fain's honey processing plant outside of Llano. I asked what kind of bees they had and I was told they are all "African." I learned that it is impossible to have other kinds in that part of Texas, since they dominate the breeding process. Trying to re-queen with other kinds is a useless process. It has taken the fun out of beekeeping there, but they do produce more honey and produce very strong hives. Talking with the 3rd generation beekeeper, it was nostalgic for him when he remembered working the gentle bees with his grandfather. He said now that when you get out of your truck at the hives you are immediately attacked. I guess you drive there with your gear on. "
    "Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay".....Krishnamurti

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,374

    Default Re: AHB Central Texas

    Thats my understanding as well. Regular re-queening with mated queens from outside the area will make your bees manageable at least in the short term. The AHB tend to spread into the open arid regions to the west but oddly havent been seen much to the east.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    2,366

    Default Re: AHB Central Texas

    Why doesn't the re-queening process work long term?
    President, San Francisco Beekeepers Association
    www.habitatforhoneybees.org

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,374

    Default Re: AHB Central Texas

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie B View Post
    Why doesn't the re-queening process work long term?
    For the same reason that they get "africanized" to begin with. Once they are established in the wild a combination of natural african drone matings and rogue swarms that will occasionally invade hives make it quite difficult to end up with anything else. Perhaps just bringing in outside breeder queens might be enough eventually but a quicker fix would be mated queens from a reliable source. I have dealt with some of those bees in south Texas and they are indeed extremely aggressive.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Santa Fe, NM
    Posts
    665

    Default Re: AHB Central Texas

    Jim

    Thank you for your comments I really wasn't aware that this was as problematic as described. What do the local commercial beekeepers do in those areas? I have purchased BWeaver queens before and I think he's in this general area. Maybe thats why he raises so many queens to sell..(and re-queen his own colonies)
    "Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay".....Krishnamurti

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
    Posts
    2,577

    Default Re: AHB Central Texas

    Quote Originally Posted by Riskybizz View Post
    but they do produce more honey and produce very strong hives.
    I thought one of the traits of AHB was frequent swarming? I thought that was one of the mechanisms by which the spread so quickly? If true, then how can bees that are swarming make large honey crops and strong hives? Has the swarming instinct been hybridized out of them, or was that not true to begin with?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Alachua County, FL, USA
    Posts
    6,928

    Default Re: AHB Central Texas

    Maintianing mated marked EHB queens is an effective AHB deterrant. Only 20 percent of hives are usurped by AHB. Most genetic changes are from superceded queens open mating with AHB drones. There are several biological factors involved and mentioned above.
    http://americasbeekeeper.org/Africanized_Honey_Bee.htm
    americasbeekeeper.com
    beekeeper@americasbeekeeper.com

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    1,388

    Default Re: AHB Central Texas

    I have found a lot of what is said about AHB to be myth. I deal with them pretty regularly as I am close to the border. They can be a pest, but they are nowhere near the monsters that some people liken them to. More like wild, untamed, feral bees. Keep in mind, most that I have run across are hybrids of varying purity and not full Brazilian bees. My state also had it's own version of AHB in the AMI that the spaniards brought over years back, so it's nothing really new for the desert.

    I have found they can easily survive winter in many places, at least the hybrids can. They tend to make more bees than honey in the swarm season. You will have entire frames of brood with a tiny little bit of honey up top. They will still make honey - a lot of honey - if you manage them right. You have to feed them boxes of drawn comb, because in my opinion, they will stop drawing comb at the second box if you don't.

    They are very swarmy. That's no myth. They like a smaller hive, so they swarm a lot more. They are not all agressive, but all of them can switch moods on the drop of a hat. I have seen them survive Winter too. I had a four deep hive of them last season that was my best producing hive. Had to bust it up and requeen it when the flow ended as it got too large to be safe to work in my opinion, at least alone. Very annoying to work, very runny bees that drip off the frames when you pick them up. Hard to do anything with them. I keep bees like that away from my real bees so they won't interbreed. They are normally waiting for a queen, or DNA tests or both. I normally get them from removal jobs.

    If you want to keep your bees in an area with Brazilian AHB, just make sure you re-queen with a mated queen of known origin every two generations. That way they won't back breed back to being full Brazilians. Also, don't get too worked up over genetic origin, just requeen if you have properties you don't like - like aggression, swarminess, lack of honey, etc. The African bees do have some good traits if you can get rid of the bad. You can't beat them for mite resistance.

    We actually have some bees in my area, up in the mountains, that I suspect come from AMM (black bees). They are far worse in my opinion than the Africans I deal with on occasion. Those guys will eat you alive. Maybe it is because the true Brazilian AHB is quite rare in my region and what I see the most is actually AMI? I don't know?

    I know Texas is mostly Brazilian AHB, and had no AMI. Their bees are a heck of a lot meaner than the ones here in New Mexico.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Canton, Texas USA
    Posts
    533

    Default Re: AHB Central Texas

    Yes, I see no reason to overly fear the AHB . People in Africa work them with top bar hives mostly, and get along just fine....If they can do it, then so can we .After all, they are great honey producers---. I wonder if attempted cross-breeding is still being attempted...If it ever works, we'll have some terrific honey producers....Just a thought to increase honey production( at the risk of personal protection).
    LtlWilli

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    1,388

    Default Re: AHB Central Texas

    Honestly, most of the beekeepers I know worry less about genetic origin and more about survivability and good bees. If they work, who cares if they are Africanized. At this point, most Americans would be shocked if they did a DNA test on their bees, as I suspect a very large number of them would come up as African in origin, nationwide.

    It's all about adaptation - us AND them. You can have domestic bees that don't sting and are easy to work with, but then you also have bees that are susceptible to mites and in-breeding - sort of like domesticated farm animals. If you go the other route, then you have wild bees that the Devil himself can't even kill, but sometimes they can be unworkably wild. There is a fine line in the middle someplace we must adapt to in order to stay viable. I don't think choosing one over the other is a good thing, and killing off the Africanized bees totally is short-sighted. So is fearing them. They are simply a fact of modern beekeeping. You have to remember, at one point, the myriad of bee breeds we currently have were all like the AHB.

    It is highly likely that the Scutellata breed is one of the original honeybee breeds, as they ALL originally came from Africa way back in the pre-historic days and migrated up to Europe and across to Asia.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Poplar Bluff, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    2,299

    Default Re: AHB Central Texas

    There is also the reality that states with AHB love having lots of managed beehives, because the milder, managed bees help dilute the AHB population. I do not know how much truth there is to the claim that their aggressiveness can be "tamed down" by interbreeding with other strains of honey bees, but several southern breeders claim they flood the drone congregation areas with their drones, to guard against Africanization of their package business. Having purchased packages and queens from B. Weaver in Texas for six years, it seems to be working. Mine are quite manageable.
    Regards,
    Steven
    "If all you have is a hammer, the whole world is a nail." - A.H. Maslow

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    1,388

    Default Re: AHB Central Texas

    Flooding the area does indeed work. You can also take a hive of undesirable bees and place them in a group of a dozen or so more desirable bees and eventually they will take on the qualities of the more desirable bees due to sheer volume of numbers. I have done it before and it seems to work. Just let them supercede 3 or 4 times and see what results.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Houston, Texas
    Posts
    140

    Default Re: AHB Central Texas

    I belong to two bee clubs in my area, one semi-rural & one metropolitan. In the six years I have been attending I have never heard of anyone speaking about a problem they have had with AHB in either club even the few that do extractions. I have heard of more serious problems along the border with Mexico (bees I mean). There is no doubt the genetics are out there and so are the rattlesnakes, water moccasins, coral snakes & copperheads. A number of members get bees & queens regularly from both Weavers ( which are only an hour from Houston) & are happy with them but some also get queens from Hawaii & other places to protect their hives genetically. I don't doubt the severity others have described but the SHB is much more of a topic of conversation than AHB.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    1,388

    Default Re: AHB Central Texas

    My point exactly. There are far worse things out there.

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