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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Utila, Bay Islands, Honduras
    Posts
    65

    Default Africanized Beekeeping in Utila, Honduras

    I just captured my first two hive boxes today. It was really exciting to go out in the jungle and dig out the hive from the coral rocks that form the island. I took a generator out there with me and used my bee vac that I bought from Honey Bee Habitat, it worked perfectly and I was able to suck up about 20,000 bees to dump in my two boxes. There wasn't much honey in the hive, most of the comb cells were not capped. I'm thinking that since we don't really have any cold weather here that the bees are still foraging on the sunny days and not storing for winter. There's always something in bloom here in the tropics. I wrapped the two hives in transport nets and brought them home for the night due to the hour getting late. Tomorrow I will move them to the apiary and look for the Queen. Not a bad start I would think, huh?
    As for the temperament of the Ferrell hive, they were actually quite calm. I had a helper working with me in a bee suit and the kid that was pointing out the hive wasn't wearing any protective gear at all. Actually the kid was sticking his head right down in to the mouth of the hive entrance and helping us all around and never got stung. Me? I wore my suit, hood and all at all times!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    2,334

    Default Re: Africanized Beekeeping in Utila, Honduras

    Very nice, post some pics when you get a chance.
    President, San Francisco Beekeepers Association
    www.habitatforhoneybees.org

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Utila, Bay Islands, Honduras
    Posts
    65

    Default Re: Africanized Beekeeping in Utila, Honduras

    I checked the hives today to see how things were going. I wasn't able to find the queen in either of the 2 hives. In hive No. 1 I'm not sure that enough bees stuck around for it to make it, we'll see. In hive No. 2 things were more active, and there were more bees at home. I could see where they had secured one of the brood combs to the frame at the top, so it's nice to see them settling in. I'm sure that 3 days is far too early to expect to see any queen cell activity so I fed them with 2 lbs of Brood Builder paste and 10 lbs. of sugar candy fortified with Honey-B-Healthy in a top feeder.
    I'm having problems getting my photos to upload. When/if I get it figured out I'll post them.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Tegucigalpa, Honduras
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Africanized Beekeeping in Utila, Honduras

    I live in Honduras too, I'm from Tegucigalpa, I was in Utila last week. Let me know if you need any equipment, I know some places where you can get all the equipment. I would like to visit you next time that I go to Utila. I have some hives around Valle de Angeles and Ocotepeque.

    I would also recommend that you get into keeping stingless bees. While I was there I found some hives of stingless bees. Are you sure they are africanized bees?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Utila, Bay Islands, Honduras
    Posts
    65

    Default Re: Africanized Beekeeping in Utila, Honduras

    Hector, I'm pleased to hear from you, I could use your guidance and local knowledge. To start with, I'm not dead certain that they're Africanized bees since I'm a beginner. However, I have heard from the locals that that's all that's around here and many have described how they would be chased for an extra special long time when attacked or how they can't get close to a large feral hive.
    What's this about sting-less bees? I've never heard of them and am interested to learn more. I'm going to be off the island for 4-5 weeks,when I get back you would be more than welcome to stop by and say hello.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Tegucigalpa, Honduras
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Africanized Beekeeping in Utila, Honduras

    Captaintat2 you can check out a video a made in Utila of some native stingless bees, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=daFgS1XxQOc. People keep stingless bees in logs, you can have them anywhere. If you come around Tegucigalpa, let me know, we could go to valle de angeles.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Utila, Bay Islands, Honduras
    Posts
    65

    Default Re: Africanized Beekeeping in Utila, Honduras

    I noticed some specs of pollen under hive No.1 yesterday so I opened it up to find all of the bees gone and ants running wild all over the planted frame of capped brood and it looks like they are opening up the capped pollen.

    Dead Frame- 1.jpg

    Hive No.2 is looking hopeful though. There is one queen cell being actively developed, no egg or larvae in it yet.

    Queen Cell 12 Jan 13.jpg

    However, there is a little flying creature that I'm told is a bee robbing the hive for the sugar candy and brood builder I put in there. They're going in through a crack between the deep and the lid. Can someone please tell me what this bugger is and what I can do to keep it out?

    Flying Bugger 12 Jan 13.jpg
    Attached Images Attached Images

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Tegucigalpa, Honduras
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Africanized Beekeeping in Utila, Honduras

    maybe they are the native stingless bees!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Utila, Bay Islands, Honduras
    Posts
    65

    Default Re: Africanized Beekeeping in Utila, Honduras

    For no real reason I stuck my head under my hive to have a look today. I'm glad I did, I found what looked like a swarm clinging to the bottom of the hive.

    Swarm 01. - 14 Jan 12.jpg Swarm 02. - 14 Jan 13.jpg

    I'm still not sure that it's a swarm, it may just be that my bees got lost. I don't see it being a cluster for warmth, it's 77 degrees Fahrenheit. So, my motto is 'when in doubt, attack' so I captured them and put them in the hive. When I removed them I could see the beginnings of wax work so I'm hoping that it's a swarm and there's a queen in there some where, I didn't see her. Anybody have any ideas on what's going on here?
    I'm leaving the island for a few weeks so all I can do at this point is leave them to nature and hope they're still here when I get back.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Utila, Bay Islands, Honduras
    Posts
    65

    Default Re: Africanized Beekeeping in Utila, Honduras

    While watching the bottom of the hive I saw that the bees kept clustering in the same spot so I got out my bee-vac and sucked them up. I had an idea and just for chuckles and giggles I set out some hard candy with Honey-B-Healthy in it for an open feeding. It turned out to be a good idea because it got covered with bees in no time at all. I vacuumed them up all afternoon and put them in the hive and plugged the entrance with grass to keep them in. There must be about 60,000 bees i there now! I left the island, but a friend is going to unplug the entrance on Saturday, I'm sure that they will stay. I wanted to trap them in with the feed and brood builder for a few days to force them to work on drawing out comb and rear a queen if there wasn't one in the swarm I caught.

    Open Feeding.jpg

    I think this could be a way to increase population from time to time.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Utila, Bay Islands, Honduras
    Posts
    65

    Default Re: Africanized Beekeeping in Utila, Honduras

    [QUOTE=Hector Pinto;884592]I live in Honduras too, I'm from Tegucigalpa, I was in Utila last week. Let me know if you need any equipment, I know some places where you can get all the equipment. I would like to visit you next time that I go to Utila. I have some hives around Valle de Angeles and Ocotepeque.



    Hector,

    I would like to know more about where to get equipment. I want to get Eight packages of bees and a large smoker. I am in contact with COAPIHL and they have hives with bees available, but I don't know if they can ship them to La Ceiba and get them put on the supply boat to the island.
    2nd Year New-Bee - 15 Hives, 11 Nuc's, 26 Swarms, 3 Cut outs in 2014
    Zone 10 - B - Utila, Bay Islands, Honduras

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Utila, Bay Islands, Honduras
    Posts
    65

    Default Re: Africanized Beekeeping in Utila, Honduras

    Well. the 2014 bee season here on the island has started off with a bang. I have already captured seven swarms and got another call this morning. I had to recover from an unexpected flood that wiped out about 50% of my hives, but all is going well. I developed a new apiary and got moved in recently and the bees are settling down to the business of growing.
    The jungles here exploded with blooms right after the rainy season gave us a break. Right now the Magic Cacow, Mango, Avocado are in full bloom and the Hog Plum is just starting. It's time to start working on making queens for splits and nuc's.
    I'm looking forward to a good year this year.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    2nd Year New-Bee - 15 Hives, 11 Nuc's, 26 Swarms, 3 Cut outs in 2014
    Zone 10 - B - Utila, Bay Islands, Honduras

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Paulding County, GA
    Posts
    130

    Default Re: Africanized Beekeeping in Utila, Honduras

    Sounds like the captured swarms will you help with your losses. I hope your beekeeping business continues to grow!! It is looking great!!
    Donny

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Utila, Bay Islands, Honduras
    Posts
    65

    Default Re: Africanized Beekeeping in Utila, Honduras

    The bee season has taken off with a bang this year. Although it's still a bit early in the season the jungle is starting to explode with blooms. In December the Magic Cacow bloomed and held the bees over until the wildflowers started to bloom in mid- January. Now the Mango, Silver Palm, Bitter Cup, Avocado, and Almond are in full bloom. It's helping me hives recover from the flood damage and build up hive strength, I've been able to make three splits, one nucleus, and one Queen box. Recovery is slow, but steady. When the Hog Plum bloom starts in the next few weeks the honey flow will be in full swing and I hope to get a medium super per week per hive like I did last year. Keeping my fingers crossed.
    2nd Year New-Bee - 15 Hives, 11 Nuc's, 26 Swarms, 3 Cut outs in 2014
    Zone 10 - B - Utila, Bay Islands, Honduras

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Mozambique, Mozambique
    Posts
    18

    Default Re: Africanized Beekeeping in Utila, Honduras

    Hi Guys, Hein here from Mozambique, your bees seem to behave a lot like mine, only I don't have the luck of having stingless bees, but a lot of similarities, our winters are very mild so my bees are active all year round. The first 3 wild swarms I captured in traps all absconded, but now I am established with 7 hives and traps out all over the place, it will be nice to keep in touch and compare notes if you like

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Manassas, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    771

    Default Re: Africanized Beekeeping in Utila, Honduras

    We had a guest lecture at the bee club last night. Most of the topic was South American stingless honeybees, but they also touched on Africanized bees. Evidently they can be worked if you know what you are doing. They say they use three people to work the hives. One actually does the work, and a second works a smoker on that hive almost continuously. A third makes the rounds of the apiary smoking the rest of the hives. The bees are calm up to a point, and give some signs when they've about had enough and are ready to attack. They read the signs and leave well enough alone when the bees tell them.

    The stingless bees can be kept on your front porch, sometimes even inside a home. Africanized bees are not backyard pets ... strictly for outyards. They say the upside is that they rarely see vandalism.

    BTW, the speaker showed us a small fly that is the bane of stingless bee keepers ... I forget the name but it sounded like they make small hive beetles look like welcome guests.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Utila, Bay Islands, Honduras
    Posts
    65

    Default Re: Africanized Beekeeping in Utila, Honduras

    hvdmerwe Sure, I'm open to share notes with you. It'd be interesting to see the similarities between our bees since our bees here are mixed with local genes and yours are the original strain.

    I usually work my hives by myself, this takes longer because I have to stop and smoke myself down from time to time. We use a huge smoker here and it really is better to have someone on it continuously. Last year there were times when I would take the lid off of a hive and instantly hear the change of intensity of the bees and know right then that it's time to get out of there. They would come out and attack me so heavily that my face shield would be covered and I couldn't see out. Twice I dropped my smoker and ran to my 4-wheeler and got it in 3rd gear in record time!

    The colony strength is a big trigger for mean attack like that. My bees took a hard hit from the flood, so the numbers are down right now. I have also re-queened the mean and lazy hives I had recently. There is another local beekeeper here on the island and we work together a lot. So we are using one of his queens that produces hard working and calm bees.

    Here's a video of transferring a swarm from a full - sized box to a smaller nucleus. They settled in well and are now working hard and growing well.

    Last edited by captaintat2; 03-13-2014 at 07:49 AM. Reason: Attachment problems
    2nd Year New-Bee - 15 Hives, 11 Nuc's, 26 Swarms, 3 Cut outs in 2014
    Zone 10 - B - Utila, Bay Islands, Honduras

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Mozambique, Mozambique
    Posts
    18

    Default Re: Africanized Beekeeping in Utila, Honduras

    wow, I must admit mine have never been that agressive, but they don't hesitate to sting if you are working with them, it's a really good day if you end an inspection or harvesting session without being stung at least once, it's really hot here so I used to work using shorts, but not anymore, too many bees got up the legs and stung me so now whenever I work with the bees I wear jeans, they also get quite agitated when you transfer them from traps into permanent hives. All my hives are TBH and I never work alone it would be impossible, as soon as you start taking out bars to inspect they are all over the place and you need someone to be constantly applying smokeotherwise you are just asking for trouble. I really enjoy them though it is really rewarding when they start getting strong and you see them busy all the time. we can keep in touch by email if you like, my email address is heinvan51@gmail.com

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Mozambique, Mozambique
    Posts
    18

    Default Re: Africanized Beekeeping in Utila, Honduras

    Hi Phoebee, that sounds a little extreme, I have some of my hives quite close together and have never been attacked by the beesfrom other hives while working on a particular one, I only have TBH so I definitely need someone to smoke and even then they crawl out and all over the place, but they are generally not aggressive in fact they have never come at me with direct intent, it's more like they are just naturally inquisitive but I always move calmly and carefully, and use lots of smoke, also never ever go near them in bad weather, if its just a windy day or overcast, they tend to be grumpy. they also tend to follow me around for a long time when I harvest. I had an interesting experience a few days ago, I was transporting a hive at night, had to brake suddenly and the hive fell over, I had to jump out of the pickup and right the hive, no time to put on protective gear, managed to push all the bars back into place and right the hive, got stung about 15 times in the process butthat was the end of it. I transfer them from traps to hives at night because then they are quite calm, and I have found that using a red headlight doesn't bother them, whereas a white light is like a bee magnet. All in all I have to say that for all the bad rap they get they are not so bad.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Manassas, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    771

    Default Re: Africanized Beekeeping in Utila, Honduras

    In Virgina, USA, we've seen too many movies about "killer bees". Africanized bees have not made it this far north, and we're happy with that. But most beekeepers buy package bees from areas where Africanized bees have shown up, and it is driving an interest in raising nucs locally. A little interest in Russians recently has waned somewhat because they've got a purported Bad Attitude. Many of us sissyies keep sweet little Carniolans, the tamest little sweethearts in the bee world, which usually calm down at the first wiff of smoke and stay that way.

    And yet, honey has been popular in Africa probably since humans were not even properly human. And LOOONG before bee veils were invented. I suspect one day we'll learn to appreciate those tough African genes. European bees have a hard time surviving without constant care (with a few brave souls like Michael Bush encouraging them to tough it out). Africanized bees are better groomers, and remove varroa mites by themselves. They can still live in the wild.

    Evidently big smokers help.

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