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Discussion Starter #1
This goes back a little to the original thread, "How mean is mean?" but I thought I would pose the question in a different way.

My father has kept bees for some 17 years. He has never once bought a package or a nuc. All his hives originated from swarms or cutouts. He may have bought a few commercial queens, but that was long ago.

He might go collect supers in one of his beeyards. I asked him how it went, and he said fine. How many times did you get stung? "Oh I don't know, 20 or 30." To me, this seemed like a lot (for someone with veil and gloves, and maybe beesuit). But to him, it was no big deal at all. He just has a higher tolerance for more aggressive bees. I think he has mainly cared about whether they are healthy, and whether they are producing.

Having said that, he has had hives that were so aggressive that he disbanded them. As in bees that would conduct stinging sorties 100 yards out.

Keeping bees that are on the more aggressive side....is this a matter of preference and style? Whatever you feel comfortable with?

Or is there an ethical demand on the beekeeper to only keep bees that the average beekeeper would consider as good temperament?

I think there are a couple of competing things here:
1) the genetic pressure his bees put on the beekeeper that wants docile bees
2) but also, the idea that his bees are throwing off swarms and drones that will lead to more bees surviving in the wild (he doesn't treat).

Thoughts?
 

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I would say there is an ethical reason to keeping less-hot bees IF you are around a population, say in a back yard. But in an out yard that is far from neighbors, I'd say what ever the beekeeper can handle.

I have heard reports and have seen colonies of AHB in South and Central America that produce a ton more honey than EHB. So in some cases, you might get more honey production with hotter hives. Though I think that is more a genetics correlation than a temperament one.

Again, I think it goes back to what ever the beekeeper is comfortable with. Me personally, 20 to 30 stings is far too much, but I keep my hives in back yards.
 

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I think its up to the individual and the locations of the hives. Every child, which is a grand total of 12, in my neighborhood runs past my hives daily 3-4 times, so meeting me 100 yards out is not a good thing. I have had them meet me close to the hives before, but they had been pestered the night before by a raccoon. To each choose his own, and I won't judge because i am not in the position to critique any of you or anyone else for that matter....i know what i can and will tolerate and so should you...to each his own.
 

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I think the issue is subjective. For new beeks, 2 stings could be 2 too many. For more seasoned beeks, 2 stings are barely noticed. I, personally, don't want bees that sting as soon as you are 100 yards from the hive. However, I don't want bees so gentle that they'll tolerate disturbance to the point that their colony is jeopardized. Personally, I do want bees that are a bit aggressive. I want them to protect their colony if it's being raided. For me, a few stings in the course of inspecting is acceptable. 20-30 is not, especially if we're talking about a couple of hives.
 

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"bad beekeeping"? no. its refered to as "bee having". responsible behavior? no. considerate of ones neighbors? no. leave one open to liability? yes. good for beekeeping in general? doubtful.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I will answer your question with a question.

Why don't we allow the Africanized Honey Bee to take over in the states?
I'm not sure human beings have much say in the matter.

But let's say we find ourselves in a situation where our traditional European bees are absolutely out-competed by AHB because the AHB is resistant to all these diseases and pathogens. Might we find ourselves in the situation where the EHB are only among beekeepers and the feral bees are progressively Africanized (because the EHB cannot survive on its own). And if you want to have a chemical-free hive, you are going to have to accept a greater proportion of AHB genes.

Having presented that, the argument can be made that as the Africanized genes creep in, we need to be even more diligent in rooting out the genes that lead to too much aggression. And attempt to keep the Africanized genes that lead to disease resistance.
 

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"bad beekeeping"? no. its refered to as "bee having". responsible behavior? no. considerate of ones neighbors? no. leave one open to liability? yes. good for beekeeping in general? doubtful.
:thumbsup: good reply Mike
 

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Discussion Starter #12
A similar kind of critical statement could be made about commercial beekeeping practices as Mike's.

Also, the European honeybee actually came from Africa.

Maybe it is more useful to think of the Africanized honeybee as a hyper-feral bee. Rather than something very different than the EHB.
 

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I believe that a DNA survey to see what are the ancestors of the bees we keep today would likely show quite an assemblage of different subspecies of Apis mellifera. Somewhere I've seen some research, I believe they were investigating the occurrence of Apis mellifera lamarckii genes in feral populations of bees in various locations in the U.S.A. It certainly seem likely that we could all get a big surprise if such a survey were done to check for genetic influence of Apis mellifera scutellata.
 

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http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.1603/0013-8746%282000%29093%5B0001%3AIPCRBM%5D2.0.CO%3B2

A polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based restriction fragment-length polymorphism (RFLP) assay was developed that discriminates among the 4 mitotypes found in North, Central, and South American honey bee racial groups—eastern European (Apis mellifera ligustica Spinola, caucasica Gorbachev, and carnica Pollman), western European (A. m. mellifera Linnaeus), Egyptian (A. m. lamarckii ****erell Lepeletier), and sub-Saharan African (A. m. scutellata). Before the development of this assay, 13% of southern Californian feral bees collected before the arrival of the Apis mellifera scutellata (Africanized) race were found to contain a non-European mitochondrial genotype that could not be distinguished from that of A. m. scutellata. DNA sequence analysis suggests the unusual mitotype to be that of A. m. lamarckii. An RFLP polymorphism was identified that distinguished this subspecies from all others present in North America. This polymorphism was not found in any of 96 bees collected primarily in Mexico and Central America. Thus, the Egyptian mitochondrial type is either absent or extremely rare in these regions. The PCR assay also distinguishes A. m. lamarckii from 2 other north African racial types, A. m. intermissa Buttel-Reepen and A. m. sahariensis Baldensperger.
 

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Ask yourself these questions -- If a person got massively stung due to an aggressive hive, would you feel terrible about it. What if that person was a loved one. What if that person was a stranger just standing on a sidewalk and your aggressive hive goes on the attack. With Africanized Honeybees, it happens. It is not media hype.

For me, a responsible beek takes care of the problem before it becomes a larger problem. Sometimes the solution is to kill the bees in an aggressive hive in order to eliminate a preventable injury to another human being.

Bees are replaceable, humans are not.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Yes, that is a good point. But we are talking about something inbetween "unprovoked attacks" and "I work them with no protective equipment."

My two big hives are not gentle. Yet I have never been stung just watching them from far or close. It's just that they are protective when they are being worked.

There is a gray area here, and I'm trying to understand what that gray area is for different people.
 

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Okay, A simple answer.

Yes keeping an aggressive hive is bad beekeeping!

1. Apparently you have a problem with the aggressiveness of this hive, and you are the “beekeeper”, so it is really a moot point.

2. Years and years have gone into breeding the gentle bees we now enjoy and allowing aggressive genes back into the pool is counter to years of good work.

3. Aggressive bees feed the general public’s fears and apprehensions about bees. This results in municipalities banning managed bees within jurisdictional boundaries. In essence your beekeeping can negatively impact others abilities to keep bees. It also results in only unmanaged hives with definitely questionable genetics to live in these municipalities.

4. You are exposing others that may be fatally allergic to bee stings at a greater risk. Even if not fatal, you are exposing the general public to a greater sting risk.

5. You are endangering the commercial operators livelihood for the above reasons and making their jobs harder (hotter bees are harder to work, see reason #1). Trust me, they know more about bees than you ever will.

I am sure there are many other reasons why this is bad beekeeping, use your imagination. Your first question "How mean is mean?" is more debatable. Once you decide a hive is hot, it needs to be "managed" to remove the aggresiveness.

Keeping an overly aggressive hive is not only bad beekeeping, it’s un-neighborly.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
So should we try and eliminate aggressive feral bees from the United States proper?

As in capturing all available swarms and killing off their genes by requeening, while given them chemicals and artificial feeds?

That would be make things "safer", right? And help ensure there are more docile bees around?

Some of you only see black and white.
 

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A colony doesn't have to be aggressive to be capable of being kept chemical free. What was that about "black and white"?;)
 

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Discussion Starter #20
True. But it may be that bees that are "Survivors" tend to be a bit more aggressive.

I may start a list of posts here on this forum, where I note the beekeepers describing their bees as aggressive. Like, having to stop an inspection because the bees are angry. Or getting stung through the veil while offloading honey supers. Etc.

I think there is a very wide diversity of temperaments that are tolerated and considered fairly normal.
 
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