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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Forsyth, North Carolina
    Posts
    31

    Default German dark honey bee in NC

    I am looking for any news of feral German dark honey bees in North Carolina. It is probably unlikely that we have any pure German dark honey bees in North Carolina anymore, however, I would think that there are likely some feral colonies which have a pretty good share of these genetics. I think it would be interesting to capture swarms from such colonies in order to back cross and breed the closest we can to the old German dark honey bee.

    I have heard that these honey bees (also called the English dark honey bee) tend to be kind of defensive of their hives and runny on the combs--not traits that many a beekeeper wants. I too am not so interested in these two traits; however, I am interested in keeping genetic diversity available.

    Thanks for any information on dark bees you know of or have heard of in NC. Please send a pm to me if you like,
    Kyle

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Raleigh, NC, USA
    Posts
    770

    Default Re: German dark honey bee in NC

    I too am interested in these bees. There is a colony of what appear to be the German black bee somewhere in my home area --- unfortunately I have never been able to locate the nest. Good luck and please let me know if you find any!
    Triangle Bees

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, North Carolina
    Posts
    2,721

    Default Re: German dark honey bee in NC

    I believe you are looking for Apis Meliffera Meliffera, or AMM for short.

    I've heard rumors that this strain has survived in the coastal NC area and the swamps of Louisiana. I've also heard rumors that there is a gentleman in Apex, NC who keeps AMM bees, and believes in repopulating the ferals by allowing them to swarm at nauseum. Unfortunately, all of these rumors I received from Russell Apiaries, who based on recent events, their reputation and credibility have been called into question.

    As far as I'm aware, other than those rumors and Russell Apiaries, I have not seen nor heard of anyone who can actually verify that they have pure AMM genetics in the US.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
    Posts
    4,412

    Default Re: German dark honey bee in NC

    kyell, we have some blackish bees flying wild around here. most of my hives have a small percentage of workers that are almost solid black.

    here is a picture of a queen that was part of a small swarm last fall that tried to take over one of my hives:

    usurping queen.jpg
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Forsyth, North Carolina
    Posts
    31

    Default Re: German dark honey bee in NC

    Squarepeg, that is one dark queen! Did you get them into a hive? I am guessing that you did not keep them since it kind of looks like this queen bee is "leaking" a bit, so I am guessing that the queen is dead in the photo?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Forsyth, North Carolina
    Posts
    31

    Default Re: German dark honey bee in NC

    I am going to start this same topic in the swarms forum--so your not loosing your mind, I am just seeing if I get more responses from other folks.
    Kyle

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Belfast, Ireland
    Posts
    396

    Default Re: German dark honey bee in NC

    Quote Originally Posted by kyell View Post

    I have heard that these honey bees (also called the English dark honey bee) tend to be kind of defensive of their hives and runny on the combs--not traits that many a beekeeper wants. I too am not so interested in these two traits; however, I am interested in keeping genetic diversity available.
    Hi. They are also known as the Native Irish Honey bee. They are native to Western Europe and parts of Scandanavia.
    The stuff about aggression and runny on the combs is a beekeeping myth.
    I keep these bees (AMM) and if I get an defensive colony I cull the queen, same as you would do with an undesirable queen from any race of bee.
    I work mine with minimal protection, just nitrile gloves and a light veil.

    A lot of the dark bees you see are likely to be Carnica AMM hybrids and these have a very bad reputation for aggression. Ruttner described the AMM carnica cross as producing the most aggressive hybrids.

    This is what they look like
    .
    You can see the virgin queen at the front of the Apidea about 30 seconds into the clip.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    DesAllemands, Lousiana
    Posts
    210

    Default Re: German dark honey bee in NC

    I see pure black bees quite often in south Lousiana, But i never caught a swarm of them yet. I set out swarm traps around the areas i see them in but all i catch are italian colored bees. Hopfully some day ill catch them.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Fair Grove,MO,USA
    Posts
    1,658

    Default Re: German dark honey bee in NC

    Careful what you wish for, i dealt with the German black bees back in the 60's. I've not dealt with AHB (killer bees) but i'd put the German black right up there with them for Mean. I took my Midnight bees (a gentle breed) up around the Big Sac river (St Clair co. Mo.) in 1965.They crossed with the German Black bees and made beekeeping (for me) a living Hell, couldn't walk within 300 ft of the hives without being nailed. Ended up burning two of the for hives that i couldn't requeen. I for one don't miss them.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Lincolnton, NC
    Posts
    1,106

    Default Re: German dark honey bee in NC

    I've seen dark workers in my hives for years-10 to 20% usually. I have always assumed they are from AMM but I don't know for sure. Haven't noticed them being mean.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Belfast, Ireland
    Posts
    396

    Default Re: German dark honey bee in NC

    Quote Originally Posted by brooksbeefarm View Post
    Careful what you wish for, i dealt with the German black bees back in the 60's. I've not dealt with AHB (killer bees) but i'd put the German black right up there with them for Mean. I took my Midnight bees (a gentle breed) up around the Big Sac river (St Clair co. Mo.) in 1965.They crossed with the German Black bees and made beekeeping (for me) a living Hell, couldn't walk within 300 ft of the hives without being nailed. Ended up burning two of the for hives that i couldn't requeen. I for one don't miss them.
    That's not a problem of the black bees. That's a problem with hybrids due to heterosis.
    You can cross two gentle strains and the hybrid will be vicious. That's what I was referring to with the reference to Ruttner in the previous post.
    I have seen AMM bees being handled without gloves or veil.
    Any pure race of bee should be gentle but when they hybridize it is Russian roulette with regard to the temper.

    Carnica bees are also dark and most people can't tell the difference. carnica is used much more by commercial beekeepers so I would say that dark bees are much more likely to be AMC rather than AMM. One way to tell them apart is by wing vein morphometry as the patterns are quite different.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Fair Grove,MO,USA
    Posts
    1,658

    Default Re: German dark honey bee in NC

    This was on my Uncles farm, it was homesteaded by his family, them and all the neighbors called them German Black bees. We would cut bees trees along the river(in the winter) when i was growing up and they were even mean in cold weather. His grandfather kept them in hives but always complained about how mean they were.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Trinity, NC, USA
    Posts
    142

    Default Re: German dark honey bee in NC

    Quote Originally Posted by kyell View Post
    I am looking for any news of feral German dark honey bees in North Carolina. It is probably unlikely that we have any pure German dark honey bees in North Carolina anymore, however, I would think that there are likely some feral colonies which have a pretty good share of these genetics. I think it would be interesting to capture swarms from such colonies in order to back cross and breed the closest we can to the old German dark honey bee.

    I have heard that these honey bees (also called the English dark honey bee) tend to be kind of defensive of their hives and runny on the combs--not traits that many a beekeeper wants. I too am not so interested in these two traits; however, I am interested in keeping genetic diversity available.

    Thanks for any information on dark bees you know of or have heard of in NC. Please send a pm to me if you like,
    Kyle
    I have tried locating local AMM's for two years and no luck.... Long time friend has started beekeeping at the NC coastal region, maybe another start to a find!?!?

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Belfast, Ireland
    Posts
    396

    Default Re: German dark honey bee in NC

    They are quite different from Ligustica of Buckfast as they make much smaller colonies.
    Mine live quite happily in a single brood box.
    In an area with a good predictable climate you would likely get more honey from a bigger colony but in marginal areas with a cool damp climate AMM are likely to do better.
    They fly at lower temperatures than some other races of bee.

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