Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner

1 - 7 of 7 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Good day people my first post. I live in the tropics and here we have no other option than to deal with africanized bees. Now I am rather new in beekeeping but I have kept an open ear about the topic, and since I was never exposed to european beekeeping all I have exposed to has been AHB. I know this will be a delicate topic, but nonetheless one that will be have to be talked about more and more as population of bees become more and more africanized.

In the first place I have to point out that, at least here, tipical european honeybees cannot compete with the AHBs. AHB are faster and more apt for survivar, swarm at an extremely high rate and saturating the habitat. They identify EHB hives and invade the hive, kill the european queens and take control of the whole hive. Finally when AHB forage they leave behind a chemical marker, when EHB fly near the same flower they are repeled by the chemical marker.

Why is this so then? I believe one of the main reasons is the highly limited genetic profile of many of the commonly available bees. For instance in the US there are basically 3 or 4 main genetic profiles, and many of the rest are variations of those 3 or 4 main profiles.

1. German, English and Spanish bees, which are the first bees brought in from Europe as early as the 1600's .
2. Italian breeds, this is the most commonly found and many of the other breeds are derivates, like russians and part of the all american and many others. They came in the 1800' till the present.
3. Carniolian breeds.
4. Buckfast. Which is partly italian...

Besides this many if not most of the breeders fertilize their queens by artificial methods which take into account certain traits but undermine others. For example only the fastest drones fertilize the wild queens in nature, most probably giving forth good genes for speed.

Lets begin with this. Thank you!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,792 Posts
I believe one of the main reasons is the highly limited genetic profile of many of the commonly available bees. -Raziel
I think the genetic diversity of commonly available bees in the U. S. is far greater than is suspected.

Let's get into the phylogeny of bees for just a second.

Africanized honey bees are hybrids, but Apis mellifera scutellata is the subspecies in most cases that gives the bees the "Africanized" name.

Subspecies or races of bees are more similar to each other than they are to bees of other subspecies. That is to say, more genetic diversity is likely to occur in very few bees of different subspecies than in many bees of a single subspecies. So, a collection of bees of A. m. mellifera and A. m. caucasica and A. m. carnica would have greater collective diversity than a group of strictly A. m. scutellata.

1. German, English and Spanish bees, which are the first bees brought in from Europe as early as the 1600's .
2. Italian breeds, this is the most commonly found and many of the other breeds are derivates, like russians and part of the all american and many others. They came in the 1800' till the present.
3. Carniolian breeds.
4. Buckfast. Which is partly italian... -Raziel
Yep. We've genes from a lot of different subspecies here. We have AHB in this country, too, living in some of the predominant areas for queen and package bee production. Even some subspecies that you didn't include show up in DNA surveys of bees. I don't think a large-scale lack of genetic diversity is the problem.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
I do agree with you. Here the main african variety is scutellata, and andosoonii to a lesser degree. In fact andosoonii are very good bees to work with and have been brought on purpose in order to balance the scutellata genes. I don't mean the US bees in particular, in fact almost any pure EHB will die or be killed by AHB's here.

Almost every wild hive you catch, and you can catch like 5 a day easily, will show hygienic behavior, they uncap and remove any sick, weak or dead brood; they control the varroa mite by themselves unless stressed or sick; only around 30% will save honey, but the ones that do produce good amounts; they swarm 2 and 3 times a year and produce like 7 or 8 queens each time, they show varying degrees of agresiveness but some of them can be really nasty, cases of dead horses or dogs are common.

This is where we are, AHB's were first reported around 1994, so lets say it has been 25 years since. The most cost effective method cosists of turning a medium-small wild hive into an european one by changing the queen, usually ordered from hawaii because of the climate, and usually carniolan or italian, and it does take some process to achieve. The european hive has to be protected with an excluder at the entrance to prevent invasions, and has to be fed artificially. Once is settled other measures have to be taken in order to keep it alive.

Afterwards a nuc is created with a pure european queen bred from the previous hive that is allowed to mate freely. This F1 hybrid usually turns out a highly productive, mildly to low aggressive healthy bee. And theres where we are. The F2 if allowed to mate freely would have a 75% average of wild genes so it starts reversing. I am planning on starting an artificial breeding program to stabilize some bloodline. In fact I was considering ordering like 8 queens from Zia Queenbees Rocky Reinas because of their mixed genes.

Keeping purely africanized bees is also fun...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
I can only imagine how much fun it is to keep purely AFB hives.

This is a most interesting topic. I read a study out of Texas A&M that suggested that the AHB is hybridizing at the "cold line" and they expect all honey bees to someday have AHB traits.

The one thing that AHB is not so good at is over wintering. This is what I mean by the cold line. It is the line in the climate were the AHB is no longer able to over winter. This is the area that the hybridation it taking place. The hybrids are moving further north each year.

A local beekeeper here in Houston call them "striped tail runners". I have not see them but he says they are nasty to deal with. They have a particular stripe to their tail and they will abandon the brood and run from inspection.

What are your H1 hybrids like?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
The F1 tend to bee larger than the usual wilds. Although wild bee's here show a huge variability. They are faster than the EHB's and just as fast as the wilds. Scutellata are originally stripped orange and smaller, they look like they are dressed in halloween colors. Depending on which strain of queen you produce, italian or carniolan, the F1 will be either blond/creamy or like a brownish/reddish in appearance. Once an F1 is established they need very little special attention they are excellent bees, as some wild bees are, to work with.

AHB and F1 are handled differently from usual EHB too, to what I understand. From applying smoke all the way to frame building. For example they build 11 combs in a typical langstrom box. They build nests almost anywhere, old tires, upside down paint buckets, anywhere. Before a beekeeper could have 300 hives of EHB in a single apiary, now apiaries cannot exceed 30 or so hives because of the fierce competition of saturation.

Part of my point is that breeders should always breed back to a wild stock every 4 or 5 generations in order to improve their genetic genepool.
 
1 - 7 of 7 Posts
Top