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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    edmonton, alberta, canada
    Posts
    9

    Default 30 year old hive with survivor bees. Breeding stock?

    Hey all. Need some thoughts on a situation.
    Im into my second year of bee keeping and its been great up here in Edmonton Alberta Canada. Looks like my 5 hives have just made it though the winter this year (knock on wood as there is another month before any blooms happen.

    I started with 3 packages last spring, made a nuc during he summer and captured a hive making the 5th. Now that 5th one is interesting. A couple a 1/2 mile away bought our old neighbours yard and was about to reside the garage when he noticed a lot of bees coming out the side. He called us and sure enough they are honey bees. Carnolians no doubt. So I made a bee vac and dad and I proceeded to rip apart the side of the building and we ripped and we ripped till we uncovered a 7' high hive of comb between the studs. Some wax was so old it just crumbled in my hands when I held it. Pretty cool. We captured most of the bees and got the queen in there at some point cause eggs were laid that week. We talked to the old lady who owned the property before and she said she has not had bees there for over 30 years. 30 years!! Wow! They survived there for that long with no outside help. So now I'm wondering if these bees maybe are a little special? Are they? Wishful thinking maybe.

    My question is, should I attempt to make some queens out of this genetic pool in hopes to gain some sort of advantage over mites or just gain overall survival strength? My concern is that maybe these bees swarm easily and thats why they are able to overcome the mites. When I treated them last fall with formic acid there were mites on the bottom board although not as much as with the other hives. There is another hive in the same building in the other corner that I am hoping to capture this spring and another in a hollow tree probably of the same genetics.

    What are your thoughts?

    thanks
    Ben

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    218

    Default Re: 30 year old hive with survivor bees. Breeding stock?

    YES! Those are defs the survivor genes we want to keep!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Arlee MT USA
    Posts
    548

    Default Re: 30 year old hive with survivor bees. Breeding stock?

    I'd buy a queen from that hive!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Casey, Il, USA
    Posts
    1,090

    Default Re: 30 year old hive with survivor bees. Breeding stock?

    Are you sure Yours or someone elses didn't just move into a hive that hasn't had bees in it for 30 yrs?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    27,218

    Default Re: 30 year old hive with survivor bees. Breeding stock?

    They aren't the same bees. Over the years that space has been occupied by bees and vacant some years too. It's what happens to feral colonies. So, all you know for sure is that there have been bees in that wall from time to time over the last 30 years, producing the comb that you saw. But the bees have changed.

    Keep them in your hive for a cpl years and you will know what their characteristics are. Maybe they have some good characteristics, maybe some less than desirable ones. I don't see what it would hurt to graft from it. But grafting on assumptions? I don't know.
    Mark Berninghausen #youmatter

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Alachua County, FL, USA
    Posts
    6,949

    Default Re: 30 year old hive with survivor bees. Breeding stock?

    They are free bees. That is always a good price.
    Tom Seeley did some great research with feral colonies. You should read his book "Honeybee Democracy" You wll find that they are probably less than a year old.
    americasbeekeeper.com
    beekeeper@americasbeekeeper.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Kalamazoo,MI
    Posts
    331

    Default Re: 30 year old hive with survivor bees. Breeding stock?

    We have several bee trees around us that we monitor throughout the year. The majority have zero bees left in them after our long cold winter.
    Come spring time, they always have new bees that have moved in.
    This event always seems to happen about the time all the new beekeepers around us get their bees. I think true feral hives are rare nowadays with the mites and shb.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    edmonton, alberta, canada
    Posts
    9

    Default Re: 30 year old hive with survivor bees. Breeding stock?

    Yeah I know they were a new set of bees as there was very little honey(all open with a little in some). They were not my bees as mine were first year packages and were all in their hives. It was a good amount of bees that we captured and we assumed it was split from the other nest about 10 feet away on the other corner of the garage. There are no other bee keepers for at least 5 miles around and probably more which is why we think they are from the original bees 30 years ago. Im going to try my hand in making some queens. Any recommendations for first time queen rearing? I mean which is a good simple way for a first timer? Should I make a bunch of nucs of the hive and have each make their own?
    thanks
    Ben

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Casey, Il, USA
    Posts
    1,090

    Default Re: 30 year old hive with survivor bees. Breeding stock?

    not saying it couldn't happen, but I would bet a dollar to a horse turd that someone has bees within 5 miles, my neighbor 2 doors down has had bees for a few yrs and I never knew it untill he saw my hive waiting for my new package and mentiond that he kept bees as well.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    edmonton, alberta, canada
    Posts
    9

    Default Re: 30 year old hive with survivor bees. Breeding stock?

    true that. Not many know that I have bees. Ben

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Garfield, Arkansas, usa
    Posts
    116

    Default Re: 30 year old hive with survivor bees. Breeding stock?

    Here in Arkansas we have to register our hives. Ive lived here all my life and didnt think there was a hive within miles. When I filled out the form and sent it to the state other beekeepers with 3 miles are notified. I found out there were bees. Ive found two trees around my area that had old colonies in them. One was on my place before I got into the bees again. They died in the winter and then the next spring they were all dead but then a year later there were bees in there again. In feral hives when some die out, it wont be long until bees will move in there.

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