Feral hives with mostly A.m.m. genes in NC, TN or VA?
I am looking for any news of feral European dark honey bees (Apis mellifera mellifera) in North Carolina, Southern VA or East TN. If you know of any colonies fitting this description or that you suspect fit it, and would not mind letting me know about them or their general location; please send me an PM.
It is probably unlikely that we have any pure German dark honey bees in this part of the country 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 tend to be kind of defensive 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. I have also heard that the closer to A.m.m. genetics you get, the calmer the honey bee--basically, that the American feral bees with A.m.m. genetics are likely defensive due to hybridization rather than the A.m.m. genes alone. (So my theory would be that back crossing and selecting for relative gentle behavior, might get close to the ideal A.m.m. I have heard and read about from European beekeepers who work with this race of honey bee.
Thanks for any information on dark bees you know of or have heard of in NC, Southern VA or East TN.
Re: Feral hives with mostly A.m.m. genes in NC, TN or VA?
I would be surprised if you were to find any bees with very much A.M.M. genes in your area. There is an existing population of fairly pure A.M.M. bees in the redwood country of California around Eureka. That area is not very good for regular bees since the climate is cool and foggy most of the year. Clarence Wenner was raising them in the 70's and selling them to beekeepers in Alaska where they did well. Those redwood country bees are prone to american foulbrood and shrink to an extremely small population for overwintering. They will commonly have a mother and daughter queen co-existing in the same hive in the spring.