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After reading numerous articles and watching a countless number of videos I have a concern that has been nagging at me. There is a feral hive near me that is a survivor hive. It has varroa, lived through the past brutal winter and has been there for at least 9 years maybe more. I believe this hive is isolated and up to this point the genetics have not been diluted by imported bees. I realize that the genetics of this hive are extremely important and I want to get a swarm off this hive in order to get those genetics but we all know what a hit or miss proposition that is. My concern is that I have 2 packages of New Zealand bees coming in 2 weeks and I'm worried that drones from these packages will dilute the genetics enough that the wild hive will lose it's survivability. Do you think this may be a problem? Thank you in advance for any replies.
Colino
 

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Wouldn't worry about it. If they've been there 9 yrs then there is enough of a population there to drown out the noise from your 2 packages.

Any "dilution", if bad, will be selected out of the wild population anyway. "Survivability" is best thought of at the population level, not the hive level.
 

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I have the same situation here where I work. A survivor hive that has been in the cinderblock wall for at least 7 years. I have a trap out there right now because my son wants this particular hive...genetics, no treatments, not being fed sugar...all the "pure" reasons. But I've also warned him there are no guarantees concerning the queen. This hive swarms every year and if the new queen mates with a drone from a hive where the beekeeper does all the "wrong" things, then are her genetics now polluted? I think most of the feral hives in this area have come from beekeeper's swarms so there is nothing very special about them. All that I do know is the hive in the wall survives on its on and that's good enough for me. Whether hygienic genes is the reason...who knows?
 

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When I had to bring in package bees into my mating area, I would run the packages through a queen excluder. This will isolate all drones for removal. I did not intend to keep any package queens, so my intent seems different than what you're doing. Would it matter in your case? Not sure, but this would give you some peace of mind. Of course the packages will eventually produce drones, which given your concern will still be an issue. I assume you don't own this survivor colony, correct? Is the colony in conventional boxes? If so, could you negotiate a split or a graft? How certain are you that there are no other colonies within miles of this survivor? Package bees vary, and I know nothing about the ones from NZ, but the ones I'm familiar with (GA) have VERY little mite resistance.
 

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The big problem comes when literally everyone in the area imports packages and the feral background is washed out.
 

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When I had to bring in package bees into my mating area, I would run the packages through a queen excluder. This will isolate all drones for removal. I did not intend to keep any package queens, so my intent seems different than what you're doing. Would it matter in your case? Not sure, but this would give you some peace of mind. Of course the packages will eventually produce drones, which given your concern will still be an issue. I assume you don't own this survivor colony, correct? Is the colony in conventional boxes? If so, could you negotiate a split or a graft? How certain are you that there are no other colonies within miles of this survivor? Package bees vary, and I know nothing about the ones from NZ, but the ones I'm familiar with (GA) have VERY little mite resistance.
i'm glad i don't sell queens. a certain beekeeper has sure poisoned the well where bees from georgia are concerned.
i have a neighbor a couple of miles from me that started 20 hives about 10 years ago with rossman packages and queens and hasn't treated them.
he doesn't manage them, he just likes having bees. he loses some and he catches some swarms every year.
they are no longer "pure" italians but they did start with georgia commercial stock and show the influence. my bees have have a couple of generations of open mating behind them now and they too are mutts and i started with stock from south alabama, north georgia and east georgia. supposedly the south alabama and north georgia queens had glenn apiaries vsh stock behind them, i don't know.
i know that i do see an occasional adult mite but i don't see any deformed wing virus. also in late february and early march several of my hives drag a lot of drone pupae out of the hives.
my neighbor lets his hives cast swarms and i force brood breaks in mine so by definition i suppose we treat but no pesticides and still plenty of bees.
 

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Do as the post above suggested. Pour the new bees on top of a queen excluder as you put them in the hive. Kill all the drones. Set out swarm traps to catch swarms from the feral hive. Raise queens from the swarm and requeen your package bees with swarm derived queens. Then you are propagating the survivor stock.
 

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a certain beekeeper has sure poisoned the well where bees from georgia are concerned.
My apologies!! I didn't mean to cast dispersion on all GA package dealers. I will say the ones I got last year were exceptionally prolific. Classic Italian brood machines. There's something inherently beautiful about a monster Italian honey bee colony. I kept a few queens from the 36 packages I got last year just because they were so awesome. All survived, but carrying higher levels of varroa than I like to see this early. I may use some to make some crosses just to see if I can retain some of the nice traits. I keep these girls in an isolated yard to minimize transmission.
 

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Some packages come without any drones at all, because the bees are harvested by smoking the bees up through a queen excluder.

However if there are drones and you want to remove them here's an easy method long as weather is not too cold, you'll need 2 queen excluders per hive. Put a queen excluder on the bottom board and then an empty super on it. Shake the package in & put another queen excluder on top and then the hive, being the part with frames etc that you want the bees to be in. Overnight the bees will move up through the excluder, remove the bottom super complete with both excluders you have the drones trapped in there, you can smoke then leave for a while to encourage any remaining workers to leave.

The queen of course should be introduced to the top box and all this depends on weather being warm enough to risk having bees & queen temporarily separated.

Greater issue is the on going drones that will be made from the imported queen.
 

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My concern is that I have 2 packages of New Zealand bees coming in 2 weeks and I'm worried that drones from these packages will dilute the genetics enough that the wild hive will lose it's survivability.
No I don't think it is a problem. I think your goal should be how to dilute the New Zealand bees with the 9 year survivors.
 

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Trapping out the colony without getting the queen will end that genetic line. You'd be killing the one thing you want to save.
Catching swarms from that hive is the way to go, you would get one of her daughter queens every time you catch a swarm.

I have the same situation here where I work. A survivor hive that has been in the cinderblock wall for at least 7 years. I have a trap out there right now because my son wants this particular hive...genetics, no treatments, not being fed sugar...all the "pure" reasons. But I've also warned him there are no guarantees concerning the queen. This hive swarms every year and if the new queen mates with a drone from a hive where the beekeeper does all the "wrong" things, then are her genetics now polluted? I think most of the feral hives in this area have come from beekeeper's swarms so there is nothing very special about them. All that I do know is the hive in the wall survives on its on and that's good enough for me. Whether hygienic genes is the reason...who knows?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
First off let me thank everyone for their replies.

Greater issue is the on going drones that will be made from the imported queen.
That is my main concern, these ladies are isolated, there are no other hives within 5 miles. So any genetic pollution will be my fault.

I think your goal should be how to dilute the New Zealand bees with the 9 year survivors.
That will be my goal if I can catch a swarm from them, but I'm risking altering their genetics/survivability if I don't catch a swarm before I produce drones which mate with a feral queen.

Trapping out the colony without getting the queen will end that genetic line. You'd be killing the one thing you want to save.
Catching swarms from that hive is the way to go, you would get one of her daughter queens every time you catch a swarm.
I have no intentions of trapping out the colony, in fact I won't even take starts from it because I don't want to chance killing the colony with some stupid mistake.

After weighing all the pros and cons from everyone it seems my only option will be to move my bee yard over to a neighbors' place about 6 miles away, at least until I can catch a swarm and re-queen my hives from the feral colony. I just didn't want to have to travel to keep my bees because here they would be only a couple of 100 feet from the house. But to insure the integrity of the feral hive and protect what could be an important resource I may do it instead of giving up the idea of keeping bees.
Colino
 

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If you don't want to travel to keep your bees and not want to dilute the survivor stock then
use a chain saw to make a hole big enough to reach in to get some larvae for your graft. This
way you can have some survivor queens to head your New Zealand package bees too. It is a little
bit of work but can be done. Seal the hole back after you are done and every year you will have some
survivor stock to propagate from.
 

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That is my main concern, these ladies are isolated, there are no other hives within 5 miles. So any genetic pollution will be my fault.
If the hive has survived there for the last 9 yrs as stated then I highly doubt they are as isolated as you may think. If they truely were isolated then they would eventually suffer in the end due to inbreeding depression. In this case, your introduction of two packages would help them in the long run.

Your course of action is a good one if you really are worried about this. I just think there is a 99% chance this is a non-issue.
 

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these ladies are isolated, there are no other hives within 5 miles. So any genetic pollution will be my fault.
It is highly unlikely that this feral hive is mating with its brothers and surviving. Your imported colony may or may not add to the mix but it will be a mix no matter what.
 

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I believe that you are worrying about something that you don't need to. You seem to be assuming greater genetic effect than actually can have. You overestimate the effects that one set of genes may have on another.

Isolation is relative. No colony of bees can exist 9 years w/out there being other colonies nearby. Nearby meaning w/in the maximum distance which swarms fly away from their parent hive. And also w/in drone congregation area range. So, just because you don't know about them they are out there somewhere.

I wish you well w/ whatever swarm you might gather off of this feral colony, just don't get your hopes and expectations up too high. One thing I would bet on is that they are swarmy. That's how feral colonies survive, survive mites.
 

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worried about imported bees but he gets his from new zealand, go figure.... when were NZ bees good brutal cold winter bees?
 
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