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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What's your thoughts on this? I would like to hear both sides and I know there are two sides to this. I'm thinking about breeding some feral queens to use in nucs for overwintering. I've caught a few swarms this spring and a few of them are a little hot, a few of them are a little slow to build, but a few of them are just right.

My thoughts;
1. They swarmed from an overwintered hive that is local.
2. They must be disease "resistant" they are still alive.
3. Larva would be used from the swarms that are building fast and well tempered.
4. What do I have to lose. If they don't overwinter I'm out 1 or two frames of brood and a few frames of pollen and honey.


What's your honest thoughts on this?
Does anyone breed with feral queens?

Thanks
Dan

Background.
I started keeping bees in March of this year so I don't have any other overwintered stock to breed from. I successfully reared 2 queens out of a stong building package that has done well from GA. But I want some local genetics for overwintering nucs and I don't want to pay $20 a piece for queens to put in nucs to find them dead in the spring. Plus it's awesome to see a queen that you raised laying eggs!!!
 

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Well with swarms you really do not know whether they were from a feral hive, ie from a tree or a wall or whether they came from another beekeepers chemically treated hive. If I were you I would let the swarms overwinter and then evaluate them in the spring.

If you just want to rear queens for the purpose of rearing queens then go for it, but I would not make any solid statement about the bees until they have at least overwintered for a season or two.
 

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I say go for it, what is there to lose? I lost 66 percent of my package queens this year, and let the bees make a new queen using brood from a cut out I did. The hive I cut out had been in a house wall for 3 years, according to the home owner. The new queens are laying like gang busters and they are fairly mild for temperment.

Worst case scenario you lose a frame of brood and other bees rob out the honey stored in the nuc.
 

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Yeah, pine ridge, like NYBlues says, go for it. But I don't see how you can safely or accurately make any of the assumptions. It is just as likely that unless you know exactly where the swarm came from, which tree or cavaty in a house, in all likelyhood the swarm you retrieved came from a managed colony.

This is where I get hung up on anyones use of the term "feral". What's your definition and why does it necassarily mean better? What do you call my bees, if your swarm is feral?

My definition of a feral colony of bees is "a colony of bees that are unmanaged by humans". Once you have captured them or gotten them out of a tree or house and put them in your boxes they are no longer "feral". But I don't know how to refer to them, since they aren't domesticated either.
 

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I think Roger Morse put it best.
There is no such thing as a 'domesticated' honeybee. All B's are feral and the only reason we can keep colonies is that we know something of their biology.

Rgds: Jeff
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks everyone. I am pretty sure they are feral. I know everyone for miles around here and I'm 99% sure there are no hives other than mine for miles. So I'm pretty sure they came from a wall in a house or a tree cavity.
 

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Since some folks are caught up in the term "feral" maybe you should just call them free bees that you were kind enough to provide a home to!
 

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I did a huge cutout with another beek last week, and I would *love* to get some genetics from this colony. Saw pitch black drones as well as almost pure Cordovans. Very productive plus gentle considering we were bothering them for a full 3 days.

This colony had been there about 5 years and just cast a swarm last month. We never could find the main brood nest, but we did get a little comb with some brood. I found two queen cells yesterday (on separate frames) so I left one with them and put the other into a queenless nuc to up my chances.

Fingers crossed.
 

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I think Micheal Bush breeds queens from proven feral stock and sells them. I was just reading something about that on his website earlier today as all I have now are feral bees and I plan on requeening one but keeping the same genetics. No purchased queens for me unless its an emergency. Check out his website for yourself if interested.
http://bushfarms.com/bees.htm
 
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