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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So...I'd been wondering if beekeepers in places in the South, how do they make sure their queens and hives, apiary, etc, do not mate with africanized drones in the area?

Do people in Arizona and New Mexico have to worry about this more than others? (Maybe I've been watching 'Killer Bee Guy' on Youtube too much, but it looks like they get a lot of africanized down there.) And it just so happens AZ and NM are more affordable to live in than other places...

So If someone thought about living in the South, then at some point they have to consider, what are the chances that your apiary starts to pick up some africanized drone genetics when you are breeding queens? How often does this happen?

Its also a shame because it looks like africanized bees make beautiful honey and comb in some of the videos. It looks amazing.

But I'm also wondering also if honey production per hive sizes in Africanized genetic bees are the comparable (and in work efficiency) to normal honey bees in the US? (I don't intend to harness them or use these kinds of bees, but there's so many interesting things to consider and to phrase it right makes a difference in talking to you all.)
 

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The fact of the matter is that Africanized bees are some of the most productive and prolific bees in the world, its one of the reasons why they are such a problem because they fill their hives up so fast that they can swarm literally a dozen times per year. Africanized bees exist from Louisiana to southern California, and south Florida. They have been in the AZ/NM region for 20-30 years since the 90s.

There is nothing you can do to prevent virgin queens from mating with Africanized drones in these areas. The BMP is to not raise queens in the south and instead import queens from northern areas out of range of Africanized bees.

We treat Africanized bees like this terrible thing (and they kind of are) but you know what they call Africanized bees in the Latin tropics? Honey bees. Its what they raise down there. The Africanized bee took Brazil (where they were made) from #45 or something in worldwide honey production to #2 at one point (they are not there any more but still, it was a huge jump).
 

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The fact of the matter is that Africanized bees are some of the most productive and prolific bees in the world, its one of the reasons why they are such a problem because they fill their hives up so fast that they can swarm literally a dozen times per year. Africanized bees exist from Louisiana to southern California, and south Florida. They have been in the AZ/NM region for 20-30 years since the 90s.

There is nothing you can do to prevent virgin queens from mating with Africanized drones in these areas. The BMP is to not raise queens in the south and instead import queens from northern areas out of range of Africanized bees.

We treat Africanized bees like this terrible thing (and they kind of are) but you know what they call Africanized bees in the Latin tropics? Honey bees. Its what they raise down there. The Africanized bee took Brazil (where they were made) from #45 or something in worldwide honey production to #2 at one point (they are not there any more but still, it was a huge jump).
I've been wondering myself about the africanized bees. We've had hot bees were nearly impossible to work but they sure made honey and they just wouldn't die. They did all the African things you read about, 150 on your hood, 90% come off brood to attack, hot from a long long ways off, like 40 yards you getting stung. And those funny little commando swarms. Easy to smash queens on accident with the commando swarm thing. We always thought the little black girls were german bees. Maybe they were. In hindsight super african-y.
 

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So...I'd been wondering........
Just read from the people who know a thing or two about the AHBs.
First hand.
For the last 20+ years.

 

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Well you can just keep them down in the southern states, those interesting bees that make such nice looking combs. I swear that some of their personality instincts are moving north with the packages and queens being bought every year. Maybe I just am not very macho but I enjoy bees that you can work for the most part, bare arms and a veil.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well you can just keep them down in the southern states, those interesting bees that make such nice looking combs. I swear that some of their personality instincts are moving north with the packages and queens being bought every year. Maybe I just am not very macho but I enjoy bees that you can work for the most part, bare arms and a veil.
I guess that artificial insemination techniques could curb some of the africanized onslaught, right? But you'd probably have to be on top of it all the way.

I also wouldn't want everything to be africanized.
 

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I keep Africanized bees in southern California. Some of them are fairly docile now. You just have to exterminate the hot hives and encourage the docile hives. I have a theory that the Africanized bees are becoming more docile because being aggressive is not a survival trait - being docile and unnoticed in the wild is a survival trait.
The good thing about Africanized bees is that they're productive and hardy. They deal with varroa mites and small hive beetles. About the only thing you have to do as a beekeeper is monitor them for excessive defensiveness and exterminate the hive if they are too defensive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I keep Africanized bees in southern California. Some of them are fairly docile now. You just have to exterminate the hot hives and encourage the docile hives. I have a theory that the Africanized bees are becoming more docile because being aggressive is not a survival trait - being docile and unnoticed in the wild is a survival trait.
The good thing about Africanized bees is that they're productive and hardy. They deal with varroa mites and small hive beetles. About the only thing you have to do as a beekeeper is monitor them for excessive defensiveness and exterminate the hive if they are too defensive.
Do you think some of the productive advantage is from history & genetic line w less exposure to chemicals?

Thanks for speaking up.
 

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If you examine the environment where African bees evolved you'll see that their characteristics are adaptions to the area. For example, in Africa bees are preyed upon by animals and people - they have not been "kept" until recently. That caused the bees to develop their extreme defensive behavior - docile bees didn't survive as well as very defensive bees. In evolution, small advantages in survival and propagation of offspring add up over time and become dominant in the population.
This predation also led the bees to develop early swarming - if there's a high probability that you will be destroyed (by animal or man) it's best to throw off a swarm early so your genes are propagated (the meaning of life is to have offspring).
The environment can have a severe dearth so the bees developed absconding - taking off and going to a better location.
Since the flow period can be so short, the bees are very active gatherers. They also tend to build up their population quickly, maybe so that they can throw off swarms early.

However, when the bees came to the Americas they encountered a different environment and they are adapting to that environment. Full adaption will take time, however. In my area we're seeing Africanized bees that are fairly docile. Not all of them, but some of them. My opinion is that the bees are responding to the environmental pressures of this area. Highly defensive bees are exterminated while more docile bees survive. Beekeepers like myself contribute to this. I exterminate any hive I have that is too defensive. If I get called for a cutout, and I think the bees are too defensive, I explain to the people and kill the hive rather than taking it. People understand when you explain why some hives have to be killed.
I like the Africanized bees because they can deal with varroa and they're productive. The only thing I really have to do is monitor them for defensiveness and take action if they become too defensive (because the queen was naturally replaced for whatever reason).

Africanized bees don't survive prolonged cold because they never had to deal with it in Africa. European bees were selected for the ability to survive long winters.

On the geographical boundary line between European bees and Africanized bees we're going to see a lot of gene exchange between the types of bees. My opinion is that it will be difficult for Africanized bees to adapt to prolonged cold because that adaption is not a single gene. But what we may see is the uptake of some Africanized genes in the European bees which may confer the ability to deal with varroa and may even give some other advantages to the hybrid bees. The important thing will be for beekeepers to be ruthless in suppressing the extreme defensiveness characteristic in the hybrids.

So, all-in-all, Africanized bees could be a good thing for North American beekeepers.
 

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It would seem to me, that sooner or later they would just be breed out. Or is it the other way around?
If you mean that the European genes will eventually predominate over the Africanized genes, no, that's not going to happen. The Africanized bee is completely superior in a tropical environment compared to the European bee. (European bees are essentially gone from Brazil and Central America).

And there's a vast reservoir of Africanized genes in South and Central America. Even if European genes were to become dominant in the United States (which is never going to happen), there would be a continual influx of Africanized bees from the tropics into the United States.

The future is Africanized bees in the tropics and European bees where there is prolonged cold weather. Most of Europe will never have Africanized bees because of their winters - maybe Spain and southern Italy.

What all of us who live in the Africanized bee area need to do is to encourage the docile hives of Africanized bees and to exterminate those which are excessively defensive. Eventually, the Africanized bee will be essentially as docile as the European bee. Selecting for docile bees is probably how we got docile European bees.
 

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There is an opinion floating around that certain % of the embedded AHBs genetics can float up North and stay.
5%? 10%? Dunno.
No, I don't have any study that I know about.
 

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I remember reading some paper by Seeley and he commented that certain bees in upper New York state had traces of Africanized genes. He thought the genes might have come from an Africanize hive that arrived by boat in New York harbor. It's clear that Africanized bees cannot survive prolonged cold weather so the Africanized hive would have perished the first year. But they could have sent out drones that mated with European bees in the area (the gene transfer could have occurred near New York City and then migrated up-state, passing the genes through multiple generations.)

Perhaps more interesting is the geographical border where there is sufficient prolonged cold that the Africanized bees cannot survive. We would expect to see significant and continuous gene transfer between the Africanized bees and the European bees in that area. Hybrids that cannot withstand prolonged cold would be weeded out each winter (of prolonged cold).

Will that gene transfer provide the European bees with the ability to deal with varroa mites? Will the hybrid bees exhibit the excessive defensiveness of the Africanized bees? It would be interesting to find out. The Africanized bees hit that border at least 10 to 15 years ago so we should already have some results.
 
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