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Author Topic: Ferals/recent escapees and speculation upon what make up  (Read 562 times)
David McLeod
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« on: November 11, 2010, 07:57:07 PM »

I'm curious as to what others are seeing in the ferals being removed, specifically type of bee and speculation as to ancestry.
I see two types in metro atlanta and for lack of better definition I refer to them as true ferals and recent escapees. The first is a smaller bee and is not bright yellow but darker with the banding being pale tan and narrow. These colonies are always the ones "that were there last year" or "they've been there awhile". When I get into them the comb is dark, especially the brood and gives every indication of having been there awhile. Evidence of wax moths is either non existant or very old and often to one side where  an even older colony once existed but never in the current comb. I have yet to see SHB in these colonies irregardless of where they are found. Cell size, while not measured, is obviously smaller to the eye and is often quite consistant appearing as neat as if drawn on good foundation. These bees are as gentle as any I've ever touched and defensive reactions are the exception not the norm and stings only occur as a result of tangling in clothing or some other blunder on my part. The interesting thing I note is a small compact brood nest and not what I would call a boomer colony just boiling over with bees but a solid strong colony. Behavior on the comb is good not being runny but instead tending to hold to the comb and even to the point of hiding out between combs.
The others are what I refer to as recent escapees. These look like the classic bright yellow italians and almost always "just moved in" or even "saw them move in". The comb is always new or lighter colored and is often in a cavity with evidence of recent colony failures and wax moth damage right in the area of the comb. These ladies will be larger as is the cell size. Comb will be more variable as well with drone and worker all on the same comb. Temper can be a little warmer though not mean by any measure. Some of these can be boomers on into the season and production can be higher than the ferals. Strangley these can be a little more runny than the ferals, and I thought italians didn't show that trait. Not excessively so like the "dutch bees" I remember from my youth just slighty more active enough to be noticable. I am far more likely to find these bees to be either crashing or recently crashed than the ferals.
Neither are heavy propolizers though the ferals are more so but not enough that I would complain about it.
I can only speculate as the their genetic history but if I had to take a shot in the dark I would say that the recent escapees are the "standard" italian production stock (btw, in most of these cases I can usually locate a nearby beek if I ask about it) and the ferals are a total shot in the dark but I would guess strong influence of the carniolan possibly caucasian based upon color and traits, though I am quite sure there is a strong background of the italian and prior "dutch" before that. Whatever the heinz mix is it must be working for them.
So I'll open it up and listen to what y'all are seeing out there.
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