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Author Topic: Keeping feral bees (German here in TN) just because they survive mites?  (Read 152 times)

Offline JojoBeeBoy

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I recently "coursed" a tree of German bees just outside family property lines. The owner would let me collect a few eggs to raise queen, buy the tree, or whatever to get the stock into or around my yard. I am doing some splits soon with certified Russian queens. Like everyone else (hobbyist), I am interested in bees that have some chance against mites.

That said, I remember my Dad's Italian bees going through a supersedure or two and the queens picking up some defensive genes from the feral drones. You couldn't get within 15 feet of the hive(s) without getting stung. I also remember doing a cutout of these feral bees in the late 80s and they did swimmingly and were almost as gentle as Italians.

I'm wondering if the "swarminess" and therefore brood-cycle interruptions are helping the feral bees survive without treatments or if their defensive behavior extends to pests, or both.  i.e. if I get these bees and do the same things as my regular colonies, will I water down anything gained by the new genetics? I know this is a lot. I just really need someone to tell me that bringing them closer than they are now (about .4 miles) is a bad idea. Thanks.

« Last Edit: May 20, 2020, 05:14:15 pm by JojoBeeBoy »

Offline iddee

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In my opinion. 2 feet or 2 miles is the very same thing to the bees. You have them ""in range"" now. How much closer will not make any difference.
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Offline JojoBeeBoy

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Thanks iddee, I should have worded that post differently. I work my Italian bees in shorts and a t-shirt, usually with a veil but rarely even need smoke. My question really is: Do I want to bring potentially aggressive/defensive bees into the bee yard? just for the chance of doing some breeding that may or may not help with mites? (which have finished off many colonies despite treatment)

And secondarily, does anyone have experience raising feral (in my case little black bees)?

Thanks! js

Offline iddee

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One day, when the weather is just so-so, your gentle bees will teach the little black bees how to be mean, then you will use smoke. If you have raised your own queens for 3 or more years, you already have those genetics in your yard. It's just a matter of time as to when they will show it to you.

Also, there is a widespread belief that testy bees produce more honey than docile hives.
"Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me . . . Anything can happen, child. Anything can be"

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Offline Ben Framed

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'Also, there is a widespread belief that testy bees produce more honey than docile hives."

What is your opinion iddee?



Offline iddee

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My opinion is, the weather and location means a lot more.
"Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me . . . Anything can happen, child. Anything can be"

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Offline JojoBeeBoy

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You're probably right. Hives have a lot of bees with different colors/races/genes. Occasionally I'm 50' from a hive and a head-butter stings for no reason whatsoever. As far as testy bees making more honey, this is also very possible.

I use smoke if I really have to break down boxes or keep them open more than a few minutes. Sometimes I realize too late that I've been in them too long or the weather was too cold/moist/windy. Getting 10-12 stings on bare legs within a few seconds makes one wish they had taken time to light a smoker.  Thanks

Offline Hops Brewster

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Since those ferals are just over your property line, why not try them out just inside your property line, before moving them to your primary apiary until you can determine their characteristics?
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Offline JojoBeeBoy

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Since those ferals are just over your property line, why not try them out just inside your property line, before moving them to your primary apiary until you can determine their characteristics?

That's a good idea. While a tornado made them difficult to reach through our property, they are a straight walk down a fence line from the neighbor's 10 acre lot who owns them. It's rarely traveled except by the occasional hunter who can't/won't read signs.

Get a box going over there and see if they are amiable to being kept. Thanks!