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Discussion Starter #1
I have an English Buckfast breeder queen. I've been trying to determine a good way to maintain those genetics. So, in case I lose her before I breed daughters from her - in late 2013 I raised one nice daughter from her, and had been keeping her in her own 5-frame medium nuc. This nuc has been doing well, until today, I noticed very little or no traffic at their entrance, so I opened them to discover nectar/honey/pollen on all four frames, palm sized areas of brood (in all stages), front and back of three central frames and inner side of the fourth. As I examined this colony I noticed that there were quite a few bees present, but they were all recently emerged - and still emerging (our lows have been at or near 50F, so capped brood continues to mature and emerge, though more slowly), no queen or any older bees present, not even robbers. No bees demonstrating obvious deformed wings from DWV. We are in the midst of a modest flow, what I would call a build-up flow, from assorted wildflowers. It is giving most of the colonies what they need to grow on and has been keeping robbing to a minimum.

It appears this colony absconded, leaving most of their stores and brood behind -- not something I see very often.
 

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It appears this colony absconded, leaving most of their stores and brood behind -- not something I see very often.
This is exactly what I see all too often. Only bees left are recently emerged or field bees that were in the field when the colony absconded. Usually, but not always, there will be emergency cells. Occasionally there will be a cup with an egg or day old larva when they leave.

Has it been hot?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
It's been warm (mid 70'sF, with nights near 50F). There's a modest wildflower flow. There were quite a few newly emerged workers covering the brood. Enough so they seemed to be tending all the open brood. More were emerging as I watched. No cells, or cups, yet - but still eggs and young larvae, so was still possible.

It's something I've learned to expect from AHB, but this English Buckfast daughter had grown this nuc to a fairly strong colony (she was mated back in September 2013), and they were showing no overt signs that she'd mated with AHB drones. They were easy to work, gentle and not nervous or runny.

Though there were plenty of stores, and no guards to defend it, only six or fewer bees were seen to be taking advantage of that.

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Michael Palmer,
What do you believe is causing this?
 

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This is exactly what I see all too often. Only bees left are recently emerged or field bees that were in the field when the colony absconded. Usually, but not always, there will be emergency cells. Occasionally there will be a cup with an egg or day old larva when they leave.

Has it been hot?
A very similar situation happened to several of my hives this late fall/early winter. Had several "deadouts" that contained only a handful of bees as well. Most of them had the emergency queen cell. All the colonies had been very healthy in the fall. And all of them had more than enough honey to make it through the winter. Since I did not feed, it was pure honey. This is the first time the absconds/CCD has hit me.

SHane
 

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Michael Palmer,
What do you believe is causing this?
I don't know in your case. I see it in August when the nucs are very populous, and we get hot humid weather. They just can't cool off their cavity so they leave. Often no cells. I've seen them go and they don't act like a typical swarm. No flying about the area until they cluster. Instead, out of the hive and gone straight away. But that's caused by excessive heat and humidity.

Your high temperatures were only in the 70s? Not excessive.
 

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It's something I've learned to expect from AHB, ------------
Michael Palmer,
What do you believe is causing this?
Could that and only that trait have gotten into that genetic line through interbreeding with AHB?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
heaflaw,
I was just thinking the very same thing.

I don't see why not - I've often seen colonies inherit runniness/nervousness, quite likely from AHB, yet without excessive defensiveness.

I don't know if the honey bee genes are arranged/paired so that what we are thinking could happen.
 

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I don't know much about gentics. But looking at it from the big picture viewpoint, maybe America's beekeepers can keep the good traits and breed out the bad from AHB.
 

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...smuggled inside an English horn? (which isn't actually English either) :)

deknow
 

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Discussion Starter #13
"English Buckfast" is the name she carried when she was gifted to me. I have no way to know what her actual pedigree is. I once trusted this source, but now consider the source, questionable.

Weren't all Buckfast originally developed at "Buckfast Abbey" by Brother Adam? If so, I wonder how Buckfast were originally brought into the U.S.A? Was that before the borders were closed so tightly to Apis mellifera? Isn't it still possible to import from Canada or Australia?

I do know that the colony grown by this mother queen is very gentle and productive, but she and all of her offspring are of a dark coloration (similar to Caucasian), and they perform differently than the other bees around them. If she persists (this is her second season with me), I plan to grow several more daughters from her, just to compare them to my usual Cordovan Italian daughter queens.

Through the years I've brought in Cordovan Italian queens from several different sources, but I'm expecting that all those genetics initially originated from Fallbrook, California as Aurea - though they have all performed similarly well, and I have always encouraged breeding between my variously sourced Cordovan Italian stocks. I grow drone colonies from each sourced queen's daughters. But I'm sure there are still feral AHB colonies in my area that influence my colonies (every year my local water company calls me to report swarms taking up residence in water meter boxes). Often, by the time I arrive (usually less than 1 hour since the meter was opened), the only thing left are combs of honey, pollen, and brood.
 

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Roy Weaver imported semen...I believe that's what he got...from Bro Adam. I have heard rumors that he somehow received pocket queens from England but no proof.

There are still queen breeders in several European countries that are trying to maintain the Buckfast lines. The most recent import to North America has been to Canada from the Danish Buckfast breeders. There are some in England, too. As far as I know, they can't send queens to Canada.

No one can send queens here.Too bad really.

So who knows what is meant by "English Buckfast".
 

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Roy Weaver imported semen...I believe that's what he got...from Bro Adam. I have heard rumors that he somehow received pocket queens from England but no proof.

There are still queen breeders in several European countries that are trying to maintain the Buckfast lines. The most recent import to North America has been to Canada from the Danish Buckfast breeders. There are some in England, too. As far as I know, they can't send queens to Canada.

No one can send queens here.Too bad really.

So who knows what is meant by "English Buckfast".
We bought some Buckfast queens from Weavers back around 1980 and they advertised them as such. I remember talking with Stanley (Roy) about them around that time as well. Seems like he referred to receiving "stock" though I could be wrong. I am having trouble believing they would simply advertise them as Buckfast and not a Buckfast/Italian hybrid or something of that nature unless they had actually gotten mated queens into the country. I know their supplies of Buckfast queens were always pretty limited. Somebody with old ABJ's from that era might be able to at least confirm how they were presented to the public at the time.
 

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My understanding of how the Weavers produced "pure" Buckfast bees was artifical insemination and repeating the process on daughters until they believe they had a "pure" buckfast bee. I don't know pure they were by the time they sold them, but I will say without a doubt they were my favorite line of bees and I'm very disappointed they did not show much varroa resistance.
 
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