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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I live in Arizona and africanized bees are an issue. My question is if it is a good idea to keep africanized bees or bees suspected of being africanized. I have caught swarms that are sometimes mean but still manageable. None of my hives that I suspect are africanized attack unless provoked (like when I inspect them). I have read numerous articles that say all hives suspected of africanization should be killed or requeened. If the bees are manageable is this really necessary?
 

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There is an interesting Austrian documentary called "More than Honey" and one of the people featured is a beekeeper from AZ named Fred Terry who keeps Africanized bees. I don't know how you could contact him, but if you Google him maybe you can find out more. He is pretty convinced they present many advantages.

Cheers
 

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I will not keep AHB. In my first year I had really bad experiences in keeping them. I got stung too many times on so many different
spots. When the hive grow they will become more aggressive. On a small scale they are still manageable, just like you said. Why would you want to keep them anyways. They are already spreading up north. It is better to keep the gentle bees than the aggressive ones. And there are the gentle ones you can find. People in Africa only tolerate them because they have no choice. But here you have a choice. After you keep the gentle ones for a season or 2 you will never want to go back. Don't spread the aggressive genetic, o.k.
 

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There are several varieties of them. They are not all they same. Depends upon where you are. Too much variation to generalize.
 

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What's the point of keeping mean bees when nice bees are so readily available?
 

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Well, in my area not many people can afford to keep buying the nice ones so they keep whatever they can get.
 

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Well, in my area not many people can afford to keep buying the nice ones so they keep whatever they can get.
Yes, this, and the fact that they are absolutely thriving in the wild with no treatments. There is no debate about that. They are very very hardy and (according to Fred Terry), they are good honey producers as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Yes, requeening can get expensive. I am not stupid and would definitely requeen a hive that was too aggressive but if they are manageable and not stinging anybody then there's nothing to fuss about. I am also asking because they are my best producers by far and would hate to replace their queen with an inferior one.
 

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I have had that very mental argument before. Do I requeen or not. Can I tolerate a fussy bees if they make a large honey crop. I had a hive a few years back that had very obvious African traits, but were located well away from people. I chose to let them keep making me honey. They filled three supers from a very mediocre area, and worked out well. I just didn't go digging around in the brood very much. They really didn't care if you messed around with the honey stores. They eventually tried to supercede and lost their queen. Very much a learning experience for me and how to handle touchy bees.

My worst attack to date has been from regular old Italians. Go figure.
 

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How about keeping both the gentle and productive hives? A few website I visited said they are keeping and selecting their
queens just for this purpose as well as others like mite and disease resistant. I believe them do exist so continue to find them.
So far my Italians are productive and gentle. I will only keep the gentle bees hoping to produce drones that are gentle within my
area.
 

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Keeping Africanized bees in suburban Phoenix is selfish idiocy. Sure they are "cheap". The risk (and recorded deaths) from AHB often come from the elderly who are unable to escape an unprovoked attack. The elderly are all over suburban Phoenix. This current fascination with keeping aggressive bees is going to end poorly, and set back back-yard beekeeping by amateurs for a generation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Perhaps you didn't read this whole thread. I created this post to generate a discussion on keeping africanized bees. Not due to a "fascination" but because africanized bees are a widespread occurrence here. Also, not all africanized bees are as aggressive as their reputation suggests. Some africanized bees are in fact, as gentle as some of European strains while some of the Europeans can be worse than the Africans. I also stated that my bees were not overly aggressive as I have read other posts here where people can't even step out of their houses to inspect their hives. Moreover, I also said if that were the case I would requeen immediately. Keeping aggressive bees of that sort is foolish and a lawsuit waiting to happen in a "suburban" area. However, not everyone has the option of requeening yearly and if the africanized bees are maneagable and not hurting anybody why not learn to cope with them instead of trying to fight them? Your condescending comments added nothing to this discussion.
 

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I would not keep mean bees, Africanized or not. I would keep nice bees without concern about their ancestry...
Mr Bush and I agree on almost nothing but here we are in complete agreement. The issue is the behavior, not the pedigree. Bee are hybridized in the USA and south to the extent that there is almost no way to accurately identify these hybrids as belonging to either European or African descent. They may be a mixture, but it is foolish to condemn bees on the basis of DNA or the length of their wings. Also, it is foolish to keep bees that fly off the handle at the least provocation. The original bees of the USA were Apis mellifera mellifera and these bees were not always well behaved, hence they were generally replaced with Italian, Carniolan, and Caucasian types. Now, the bees of the USA are a mixture of these, just as the people of the USA are a mixture of races, and the racial characteristics of an individual are frequently unidentifiable. Same thing with bees and people: they should not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
 

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Mr Bush and I agree on almost nothing but here we are in complete agreement. The issue is the behavior, not the pedigree. Bee are hybridized in the USA and south to the extent that there is almost no way to accurately identify these hybrids as belonging to either European or African descent. Now, the bees of the USA are a mixture of these, just as the people of the USA are a mixture of races, and the racial characteristics of an individual are frequently unidentifiable. Same thing with bees and people: they should not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
I couldn't agree more Peter. Love those multi colored mutts. One observation, though, when working yards of even 30 to 40 hives is how difficult it is to ID an aggressive hive as single mean hive tends to incite its neighbors. I have, more than once, tentatively marked a hive that I guessed was the culprit, only to find the next time through its personality had totally changed and there were no mean bees to be found in the entire yard. Conditions, conditions, conditions.....
 

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I have seen nobody here advocating keeping aggressive bees. None of my bees are any worse that regular bees - they may be fussy, but the mean ones don't last long.
 

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I have seen nobody here advocating keeping aggressive bees.
OK, I will. I think there is good evidence that Africanized are much healthier than European bees. If you have out of the way spots, the more aggressive tendencies are really not that big of a deal. Having bees that take care of themselves is very valuable.

It is only when they are around innocent people that one has to be vigilant in keeping docile bees. The public needs to be protected from bees, they cannot be expected to tolerate preventable stinging events, even if beekeepers think it's no big deal.

In Brazil and most of South America, the beekeepers prefer the African bees because they are much healthier, more viable, and also tend to protect themselves better from predators. European bees do not do well in the tropics.

Whether Africanized bees can survive cold winters has yet to be worked out. Probably depends on the mixture, there may be hybrids that can do it, also depending on the severity of the winter. This year my hybrids all failed but we had record breaking cold temps.

P
 

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Africanized bees are a scourge. No one in countries that have them enjoys beekeeping. You need full suits for anything. Why are we calmly discussing aiding and abetting an invasive species that will ERADICATE native populations.
 

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Why are we calmly discussing?
Because discussing calmly is preferable to shouting and getting riled up. There is plenty to discuss, too.

African bees, Apis mellifera scutellata, are normal bees in their native areas of Africa and are worked very
satisfactorily and successfully by beekeepers. The Africanised bees of the Americas are basically
descendants of African bees and they carry many of the same, often outstanding, properties of their
ancestors. Some of these properties, such as resistence to diseases, parasites, and predators likely will be
recognized and ultimately incorporated into the genetic bee stock used in North America, be that stock
ultimately Africanised, or some genetic combination of Africanised and European. However difficult the
Africanisation process has been and promises to continue to be, much knowledge and benefit already has
been learned and gained along the way. Knowledge from pheromones and its application has benefitted
beekeeping by providing effective tools for attracting swarms and surveying bee populations and
distributions. Further research on Africanised bees is certain to benefit beekeeping by leading the way
toward controls for diseases and parasites of bees.
From:
Justin O. SCHMIDT (2001) AFRICANISED BEES HAVE BEEN GOOD FOR PHEROMONE
RESEARCH AND PRACTICAL BEEKEEPING
 
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