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Author Topic: Controlling AHB  (Read 4708 times)
Jon McFadden
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« on: July 10, 2005, 02:39:38 AM »

Do you think a simple device like this could keep AHB from taking over a hive? Has anyone tried it?
http://nordykebeefarm.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=17&PN=1
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Jon, N6VC/5
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« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2005, 01:28:07 PM »

Typically speaking, AHB do not just "take over" an existing hive.  You don't need to be concerned with putting on robber screens to prevent AHB from forcing out your colonies inhabitants, that's not how they work, they don't just swarm into your hive and force out the existing colony and their queen and take up residence.

You need to be more concerned with your existing queen being superceded if you are in an Africanized zone.  Also, if your in AHB zone you will need to be concerned with your hive swarming as the europian queen will leave with the swarm and leave behind a virgin queen, that again, will have to take a mating flight and possibly be mated with Africanized drones.  If in fact AHB are in your area, and you are as concerned as it sounds, your best defense would be to preven swarming and supercedure, and re-queen your hive every year with a mail-order queen from an area that is not in an AHB zone.
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Barny
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« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2005, 01:29:57 PM »

I doubt that it would.  If bees can still go in and out of the hive then so can AHBs.  

AHBs do sometimes send in assassin (sp) bees to find and kill the queen.  Then they swarm in and take over with their own queen.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2005, 11:56:40 AM »

>Typically speaking, AHB do not just "take over" an existing hive.

There have been a lot of reports that AHB do take over an existing hive.  Usually a weaker hive.  But basically the swarm moves into the hive and the AHB kill the old queen and their queen takes over.
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Michael Bush
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FordGuy
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« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2005, 01:03:33 PM »

Quote from: Michael Bush
>Typically speaking, AHB do not just "take over" an existing hive.

There have been a lot of reports that AHB do take over an existing hive.  Usually a weaker hive.  But basically the swarm moves into the hive and the AHB kill the old queen and their queen takes over.


if they move in and take over, what is the effect, if any, of using small cell?  do AHBs care? ( I realize teh intended purpose of small cell has nothing to do with this, but just thought I'd ask about this)
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Phoenix
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« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2005, 02:40:51 PM »

Quote
There have been a lot of reports that AHB do take over an existing hive. Usually a weaker hive.

Ok, I stand corrected, but I was under the impression that it was rare.

Is this something that everyone needs to be concerned with, if they are managing hives in AHB zones?  Or is this causing undue panic?
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Joseph Clemens
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« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2005, 04:38:07 PM »

I too have read that this take-over happens with AHBs, but even though I've considered some of my hives to have some AHB traits, especially being very nervous on the combs with queens that often hide on the walls or bottom of the hives, I've never seen any hive to be taken over by other honeybees, Africanized or otherwise.

Can anyone attest to witnessing this behavior?
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Joseph Clemens
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Jerrymac
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« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2005, 10:33:14 PM »

Quote from: FordGuy

if they move in and take over, what is the effect, if any, of using small cell?  do AHBs care? ( I realize teh intended purpose of small cell has nothing to do with this, but just thought I'd ask about this)


African bees are on naturally drawn cells. Small cell is their thing. One of the theories of AHB being able to take over so readily is the fact that their smaller drones out fly the larger drones and mate with the europian bee's queens.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2005, 03:38:28 PM »

>if they move in and take over, what is the effect, if any, of using small cell? do AHBs care?

Since small cell is not in the mainstream I don't know of any info on this.

Since AHB aren't around here, I have no experience with it.

Since AHB seem just as willing to lay in small cell or large cell (as do EHB) my GUESS is it's irelevant.
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Michael Bush
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Apis629
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« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2005, 10:55:06 PM »

Now I'm scared.  If AHB can just come and take over a hive then what if they do that when I'm not arround.    Would and enterence reducer help the weaker colonies like they do for robber bees?  AHB just got in this area this year so I've been very worried.
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Phoenix
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« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2005, 11:38:03 PM »

Just as I suspected... the panic ensues.
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Joseph Clemens
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« Reply #11 on: July 13, 2005, 02:16:57 AM »

Somehow AHB have apparently gained the reputation as a "Super-bee". They fearlessley go where no bee has gone before.

Maybe the AHB's I've had the fortune/misfortune to experience were just the wimps of the AHB world. Somehow between scientific investigation, rumor, and media hype AHB's have grown to be quite an Urban Legend. Before ya know it there will even be Vampire Honeybees.

From what I've read about AHB, they seem to have many, less-than-desirable genetic traits, most annoying and undesirable would be a heightened level of defensiveness. To make matters worse they have reproductive strategies and behaviors that help them to preserve these AHB traits in their offspring. However, I don't perceive African honeybees to have exclusive claim to these traits. I've personally seen most of these traits in presumably EHB's decades ago.

Now, here I am, presumably in the heart of the AHB invasion and it just doesn't seem as insidious as I would expect it to be with all the hype I've heard about the "Killer Bees". They are foul tempered when they have large populations and there is no flow on, when the weather is cooler and overcast, and generally whenever a hive of EHB would have a tendency to be more aggressive too. They do seem to be elusive. It seems kind of suspicious that intricate biometric measurements need to be performed to positively identify AHB's. If they are so extremely insidious as the hype portends them to be, then why do so many of the bees involved in alleged AHB incidents turn out not to be AHBs once the biometric tests are performed and why can't they be more easily identified if they are so different in behavior from the EHB's? A "Star Trek" episode comes to mind; one where a storm during a transportation event sends the away team to an alternate universe. One of Spock's lines in that episode, "It is far easier for a civilized man to behave like a barbarian than it is for a barbarian to behave like a civilized man." My question is this: if AHB's are such barbarians, how is it that they so easily pass themselves off as EHB's? Another question: how is it that EHB's are so often mistaken for AHB's?

For my mind its because, "Bees will be bees". It is a well accepted fact that wild animals (make no mistake, bees are wild animals) often behave in unpredictable ways. Even the family pet can turn unexpectedly on its master. Sometimes these behaviors can be explained, but often they cannot.

I no longer have "fear" of my "somewhat AHB's" attacking me or family and neighbors. I've been attacked more viciously by some certain EHB colonies decades ago than any AHB has ever done and I've discovered that management techniques used to help keep EHB's calm works well with AHB's too. What is most annoying about AHB's is that they always seem nervous on the combs, never just calmly going about their business once I open a hive for inspection, that the queen's are even more nervous and usually hide out somewhere off the combs, but mostly that they seem more difficult to requeen. I finally discovered that using nucleus colonies and push-in cages overcomes this difficulty.

Bottom line: Where are the "Killer Bees" I've heard so much about?
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Joseph Clemens
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stilllearning
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« Reply #12 on: July 13, 2005, 06:39:55 AM »

Thanks for your input Joseph.
I live in the Panhandle of Texas, and so far there has been no
offical confirmation of africans in my area, although I am currently
trying to get test results from a recent extermination, that the
exterminator has declared as africans, It was withing 3 miles of my apiary.
If postive I will have to requeen all my hives without marked queens.

I think the Media hype has put so many people in fear of all bees, expecially the movies of killer bees.  

I think it would be of an advantage to all of us if some of the people with
personal expereience with know africans, would give us the details or how
the bees acted, reacted and such.   There is so much hearsay on the
net and in the media, that I am not really sure what I would say are
the true signs of an african colony.  I do know they are agressive,
I have had EHB so agressive that I killed them out over the years,
I know that in some instances that they start bumping into you
when you approach their hive.

I got both of those bits of information from a South African exchange
student who happened to be a beekeeper and she lived with my wife
and I for 6 months several years ago, she worked with the africans,
and not the hybrids that we are now experiencing.  She worked my
bees with out benefit of veil or gloves, but said she would not do that
at home, that is how I was taught but I have since learned the comfort
of useing the proper equipment. My first teacher used a smoker and a brush and that was it.

I would like to hear from those beekeepers with personal experience with
know africans, they are now a fact of life here in Texas and many other
areas Panic in the public areas, can get all our bees killed by uncareing
pest controll people and the general public alike.
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Wayne Cole
Michael Bush
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« Reply #13 on: July 13, 2005, 09:40:33 AM »

From back in the 70's up to today I've seen some viscious bees on occasion.  They are the exception, but they have always been around.  Maybe that's related to the fact that the USDA was breeding AHB for thirty years and shipping them all over the continental US.  Smiley  Or maybe it's just reality that some occasionally get that way.  But whatever the cause it's not something new.  When you get viscious bees, you need to requeen.  Divide and conquer.  Buy a full suit with a zip on veil, if you don't already have one, and split it up into managable parts and then requeen.  If it never happens, be happy.  Smiley
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Michael Bush
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Barny
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« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2005, 09:55:09 PM »

A zip on veil alone is not all that is required for africans.  They will crawl their way into every available crevice that they can unless fully taped up.  They have also been positively identified in Lubbock county as well as another close county and that Is in the panhandle of Texas.  

My question about identification of AHBs is how can they be positively identified by markings if they are hybridizing?
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stilllearning
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« Reply #15 on: July 14, 2005, 10:45:24 PM »

The only sure way I have ever heard of identifying them is through
microscopic exams that are conducted at College Station . I have
never heard of any different marking on them, only their attitude.

To my knowledge I have never been exposed to any of them, and
all of the pics I have seen of them look just like my Italians, I wonder if the have crossed with the other breeds of bees here.
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Wayne Cole
Joseph Clemens
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« Reply #16 on: July 15, 2005, 02:15:10 AM »

I postulate that if AHB were the only honeybees to exhibit extreme defensiveness then it wouldn't take an expert and a microscope to identify them or even a mitochondrial DNA test. The fact that "they" can pass themselves off, be mistaken for EHBs seems kind of suspicious. Any honeybee can exhibit all the traits normally attributed to AHBs, I've personally experienced those bees, decades before AHBs were reported to be here in the USA. I've even experienced the extreme crawling attacks mentioned by Barny.

At 10 years of age, I began keeping honeybees in Lompoc, California; and I grew up keeping bees in many of the locations I've lived: Key, Ohio; Meridian, Mississippi; Virginia Beach, Virginia; Memphis, Tennessee; Oak Harbor, Washington; Las Cruces, New Mexico; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Santa Fe, New Mexico; many other locations in Southern California; and now Marana and Tucson, Arizona. It's true that I never liked honey, I still don't (too sweet). I was never a commercial beekeeper. I just kept bees for the joy of watching their amazing "civilization" and to see if I could learn to out-guess them.

I have never used any of the usual chemical treatments for honeybee maladies and I guess I've been fortunate never to have any disease worse than a little chalkbrood. Ants and waxmoths have been my major problem pests, and they still are.

Back to the topic: AHB vs EHB; seems like a police line=up where all the "suspects" can be identical twins. Who's the "bad guy". Where is the "bad guy".
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Joseph Clemens
Beekeeping since 1964
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12+ hives and 15+ nucs
No chemicals -- no treatments of any kind, EVER.
Michael Bush
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« Reply #17 on: July 15, 2005, 09:40:15 AM »

>I postulate that if AHB were the only honeybees to exhibit extreme defensiveness then it wouldn't take an expert and a microscope to identify them or even a mitochondrial DNA test. The fact that "they" can pass themselves off, be mistaken for EHBs seems kind of suspicious. Any honeybee can exhibit all the traits normally attributed to AHBs, I've personally experienced those bees, decades before AHBs were reported to be here in the USA. I've even experienced the extreme crawling attacks mentioned by Barny.

I have also seen very viscious bees as far back as when I started (1974) from time to time.  Especially in feral colonies.  Most feral colonies were not viscious, but it was not at all unusual to find some that were.

Maybe this would explain some of that:

http://www.beesource.com/pov/ahb/viciousbee.htm

Note how many of these viscous Africanized bees were shipped by the USDA all over the US from 1942 to 1970.

But then I heard the same complains about being viscious concerning the "German black bees" from old beekeepers all my life.

Sometimes you get a mean colony.  Usually you don't.

The biggest worry I have is that one of the methods of identifying AHB is to look at the comb size or the bee size.  I already know that you can get that same size from domestic bees if you let them regress and I WANT that size.  So how will they distinguish them if AHB get this far North?  So far since my bees are nice and since no one believe they can live this far North, that hasn't been a problem, but I worry about the future of feral bees when they are being destroyed based on comb size and bee size and any of us who are paying attention know that has nothing to do with genetics.
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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Jerrymac
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« Reply #18 on: July 15, 2005, 09:52:13 AM »

I thought Firetool would get on here and tell his story. But I will tell it as I know it.

I went down to Abilene a while back. On the way down I saw what looked like bees covering a comb hanging from a building. As I was headed back home I stopped to check it out. Sure enough it was a colony of bees that had built  on a flat ceiling right out in the open. I didn't have all I needed at the time to capture them so I called Firetool when I got back home. He went out and caught them. Said they were no problem.

Now while he was gathering up these guys his wife discovered another colony in the wall of another abandoned building not 70 yards away. Now he tells me as soon as he walked into the door of the building the bees were coming out of the wall to check him out. Then as soon as he stabbed the sheetrock once with the hive tool the bees came pouring out of the wall. He got stung about ten times in about as many seconds. Bee suit, gloves, and vail were not much use. Then they stayed after him for nearly a half mile.
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Apis629
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« Reply #19 on: July 15, 2005, 03:18:14 PM »

Quote
The only sure way I have ever heard of identifying them is through
microscopic exams that are conducted at College Station . I have
never heard of any different marking on them, only their attitude.


In the 1970s there was another meathod of identification of AHB invented.
Given AHBs' wings beat faster than EHBs' special michrophones have been developed that can determine this defference in pitch.
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