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Bought a package this year through Hardeman Apiaries (Spell Bee) to help build out my baby nuc frames for queen rearing. Upon hiving them (was wearing a Thornes LTD veil, only, no suit--which is what I usually wear, as I go suitless/gloveless most of the time) I caught about 15-20 stings in the forearms before I decided to go to a jacket with arms (still no gloves). Stings from a package are rather rare in my experience. The Hardeman package also almost had ZERO dead bees at the bottom. A hotter bunch of Italians (if they are Italians???:waiting:) than I've ever seen before.

Contrast with the Wilbanks package, of which I got two (one with queen & one without) to hive my TBH: Not a sting from miles around. Shook the bejeezies out of 'em getting them into the box, just like the Hardeman package, but nada on stings. There were a few more dead bees in the bottom of the package. In both packages, bees had been shook about 4 days before they were hived.

I've heard rumors that Hardeman gets queens from more reliable sources, better genetics, some stock from up north. I understand Reggie rears his own stock in Claxton, Georgia. Not to badmouth Reggie at all, but it was very tell-tale to me in noticing the difference in quality between the two packages.

Has anyone else noticed any differences this year? Or is my experience just a single data point fluke?
 

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Genetics is key. Yesterday, I went out to one of my outyards and my God, I thought I met the spawn of the She-devil herself and yet other hives are sweet.

I would be really curious to find out which of your hives thrives and how each does in honey production.
 

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I got 2 packages from Hardeman's. They are pretty hot for Italians IMO. I got 2 packages from CA which were Australian bees and one package of Carnolians. The bees from Hardeman's are by far the hottest. I will re-queen them in July with Carnolians.
 

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That's interesting. Two days ago, I helped hive 5 packages from Hardeman Apiaries (Spell Bee) and was commenting on how gentle they were. Almost a direct opposite of your experience, there were some dead bees in the bottom (about a cup).

All hives have different personalities, I guess!

DS
 

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Since when was Hardeman associated with Spell Bee? I thought Gardner bought out Spell...not that it matters for this discussion. I know the Hardeman's used to buy Russian breeders each year, so I wouldn't doubt that they've got a pretty good mix of those genes in the pool. The Russian/Italian hybrids are sometimes pretty 'spicy'.
 

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Ordered two packages from Kelley's they arrived in fine shape, cages marked Hardeman, very gentle on installation. But, were heavily wetted to minimize flying. Both queens are released and laying and both packages continue to be gentle. What will be relevant is when the daughters of the new queens come into play then I can honestly appraise for gentleness.
 

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I hived 4 from Gardners, all very gentle. But I did loose one because Queen was dead in the box. Did not know until I got home and started to get it ready to hive.

Combined with another package because I had no Queen available.
 

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UPDATE. 2 of my 4 hardeman packages have had queen issues. One queen was never released by the hive. The other was not accepted. Requeened both and both new queens were not accepted.

I have a laying workers problem.

I just did a shake out a few hundred feet away and requeened. Time will tell. If they kill the queens again. I am out of time and will have lost both hives.

THe other two hives started slow but are realling humming now.
 

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17 April, three Hardeman packages, bees and queens are doing great. I set up the hives on two medium eights with a mixture of foundation, drawn comb, and foundationless frames. Each hive also received one frame of brood. Queens were accepted and laying well. They are more gentle than my other hives

After four days, released one queen, other two were already out. Still feeding even though flow is on to help wax production. They are still taking syrup and eating protein patties. The foundationless frames were drawn out out with problems.

In third medium, I'm going to put in all foundationless frames and see how they do. If they get that filled before flow is over, I'll super them.

Just shows the variability within the population.
 
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