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General Q&A, Bee chat and only Bee chat please
 #10721  by AdamD
 30 Apr 2021, 09:02
"Swarm traps work better 8ft to 12 ft off the ground."

Tom Seeley did confirm this. So having a box on the garage roof will more likely to catch a swarm compared to a box on the grass.
I wonder if there was a tower of identical boxes, 10 high and a metre between each, which box would be selected by the scout bees for the colony to go in to. I am not aware that an experiment like that has been conducted.
 #10758  by Bobbysbees
 04 May 2021, 17:53
Oh heres a good one.
Defensive/aggressive bees produce more honey. This sounds unlikely or rather then keeping Buckfasts we would all have hives full of Russian black bees or mellifera scutellata both of of which you can keep for me .
 #10759  by Patrick
 04 May 2021, 18:49
Bobbysbees wrote:Oh heres a good one.
Defensive/aggressive bees produce more honey. .
Indeed probably a myth but two reasons this may appear or actually be the case. One, aggressive bees tend to be left alone and not inspected for prolonged periods aside from adding more supers to offset swarming.

The second reason is being inherently more aggressive they may rob out other hives so they get much heavier but at the cost of other colonies. So the net result is no more than average across the apiary.

But whatever, the cost in unpleasant beekeeping, risk to others and spreading hideous drones far and wide make a few hypothetical pots difference no sort of advantage worth having. If everyone culled such queens we would all be so much better off.
 #10761  by NigelP
 04 May 2021, 19:12
Too true. Although I have to ad that my gentlest hives have always produced the most honey for me. Prodigious in a good year.
 #10769  by Bobbysbees
 06 May 2021, 14:21
I have always wondered if there is much difference across the board with various different breeds such as AMM, Carniolan, Buckfast ect. Although there seems to be enough debate over how pure bred any of the given strains are.
So it might be hard to tell with out a full in depth study and the problem would be what to use as a control group. I suppose a wild/feral or none intervention hive would be the only sensible control group.
 #10772  by Patrick
 06 May 2021, 15:56
Yes there is a difference in geographically pure bred bees. The challenge for beekeepers on a small island with thousands of other colonies pitching out billions of mixed drones is keeping them pure under open mated conditions. That’s why people buy in pure bred queens from all over the shop and they are committed / doomed / pleased to have to regularly replace to keep enjoying the advantage they perceive.

Improving your bees when they are local open mated if the local bees are really terrible is always going to be a struggle. One of the possible alternatives is inseminated queens. I have a personal issue with the whole concept of circumventing polyandry in bees but that’s just an opinion.
 #10773  by NigelP
 06 May 2021, 18:01
I have some fairly scientific (not rigorous) data bearing on this.
Before I tell you what I found it's important to distinguish that there are people who sell Buckfast queens and Buckfast breeders who sell their queens to the merchants who produce Buckfast bees for wholesale supply. In general from my experience these are okay but nothing special. I buy from reputable breeders and the queens cost serious money but more than pay for themselves.

Study one was in the same apiary with the local bees in my area vs Buckfast for an OSR harvest 1 field away. To make it fair I knocked 6 local bee hives into 2 hives to get comparable numbers of local bees to the Buckfast hives.
Result was 4+ Supers of rape honey per Buckfast queen hive vs less than 1 super per enhanced number local bees.

Study 2 was some pretty pure Irish Amms vs Buckfast bees, again in the same apiary and this was a summer harvest.
Both sets of bees were on double brood and numbers of bees were similar. It was a really good warm summer and the Amm's did approx. 60lbs per hive whereas the Buckfast where averaging out at around 140lbs per hive.

I was interested to find out why similar numbers of bees from different strains were producing such different yields from the same apiary. Turns out the reason is quite simple you can select genetically for honey production, as has been done by many breeders of the various Buckfast lines. Whereas your pure Amm's and are bred for purity and not selected on honey yields and pretty much the same can be said of local bees being mainly bred for docility vs Honey yields.

Not really had a lot of experience of other races other than New Zealand Italian queens which were lovely to work with but generated not too much honey.

Worth noting I live in a great forage area so my yields are probably atypical of much of the UK but the differences were pretty clear to me in that you get what you pay for.
And select your Buckfast queen supplier (or any other queen supplier) with great care, there are a lot of stack 'em high sell 'em cheap merchants out there producing sub standard Buckfast/Italian/Carniolan etc queens.
 #10776  by Bobbysbees
 07 May 2021, 00:29
Nice to hear that NigelP. I always prefer observation based data from the uk rather than relying on 100 year old bee books or what some American says on you tube lol.
Seems I went for the right breed for my local area, I would of gone with black bees but heard too many horror stories .
 #10781  by JoJo36
 07 May 2021, 05:25
Interesting to read about your scientific experiments and experience with the queens you have tried and tested Nigel.
For somebody with lots of hives and a serious beekeeper it is of upmost importance selecting the right queens and paying top notch for evidently their worth.
On the other hand, I suppose for the hobbyist beginner such as myself the temperament is probably top of the list with the honey yield further down. Also being clumsy I have accidentally squashed/lost a queen so purchasing an expensive queen would have made me feel even more enraged than I already was!!:)
 #10784  by Patrick
 07 May 2021, 11:55
You make a good point JoJo. It’s horses for courses. I do like the idea of serious vs non- serious beekeepers though. I think I may tie my colours to the mast and wear huge clown shoes with my bee suit 😁.

Nigel has always been honest about his choice vs the available alternative and has consequently changed my view on it. I am fortunate that my local bees are okay in most respects and I can play around with them without too much issue.

The big difference with bees over most stock you buy in is that the progeny of the genetics you buy in will default mate with a random mix of the local drones and can down the line develop temperament issues, so it’s a longer term “policy” commitment. At the moment I can live with roll of the dice queen local mating, but that might change one day.