Welcome, Guest

Author Topic: Panama, AHB, Top Bar, and Such  (Read 1698 times)

Offline VincentGrey

  • New Bee
  • *
  • Posts: 6
Panama, AHB, Top Bar, and Such
« on: December 02, 2012, 05:52:25 AM »
Okay, since my intro is getting a little derailed (I want to keep talking, Jim!) I figured I should talk to some folks more in depth

I've never seen a honey-bee hive, ever. I've never entertained the idea of keeping bees before, but the job is being plopped on me. I like bees. Hell, I once attempted to save a bee from drowning--- but the bastard stung me. Okay, she really wasn't a bastard, it's just sad that help isn't a universally understood action by every forms of life. She didn't know any better. Anyways....

I'm moving to Panama at the end of February, and I'm not talking about Florida. The people I live with now, an older couple, own land out there and plan on starting a whole bunch of coffee and such, as well as other things. They invited me to come along, and are even paying my way, giving me land, all in return for me to work for them. I wholeheartedly intend to. One of my jobs will be raising bees, mainly for their honey.

Right now, I'm just trying to make sense of things, and really, I don't know what to expect. I think I like the idea of a top bar, and letting the bees do what they do naturally, rather than trying to make them appease my sensibility. I would want to alter the plans for the top bar, as I LOATH the idea of crushing the bees every time I go to close up the hive. I'm kinda curious as to the whole queen excluder really does, because I keep seeing that she only tends to make brood near the entrance anyways, and it's not like I can't keep brood from showing up in my honey with a strainer, since I will need the strainer to keep out the wax too.

My first hive is likely to die a miserable death, because honestly, I have the feeling that I'm going to make a lot of mistakes. I currently live in Seattle now, and everyone is burying the hatchet for the season, and won't be opening their hives again until after I'm gone. But I'm going to try and hunt down someone who will let me see a hive in person.

Panama uses African Honey Bees, and their temper is not one that I'm fond of, so I'm not sure if I will use them or not. I like the idea of not needing more than a vale, as Panama is hot and muggy--- or so people say, so the less I have to wear the better. But that being said, I don't want to introduce a non native bee either....

So much to say, so much to think about, I suppose this is enough for now.

Offline RHBee

  • Queen Bee
  • ****
  • Posts: 1095
  • Gender: Male
  • That's my pooch.
Re: Panama, AHB, Top Bar, and Such
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2012, 08:29:44 AM »
Wow!! Buy a book on Beekeeping. You Tube is your friend. Google is your friend. All kinds of information is out there for free in electronic format (.pdf). Good luck, you sound enthusiastic enough
FYI: I don't think anyone uses AHB on purpose in the Americas, they're a lab experiment that went wrong.
There are no native honeybees in the Americas all were introduced by Europeans when they came here.
« Last Edit: December 02, 2012, 12:07:00 PM by Ray Bayless »

Offline VincentGrey

  • New Bee
  • *
  • Posts: 6
Re: Panama, AHB, Top Bar, and Such
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2012, 02:14:45 PM »
:) Oh, I've been youtubing and googling it up! and I have the 'Green Guides Keeping Bees'

I will look into the bees people are already using there, and if someone in my area has a nicer breed, then I'll do my best to get my hands on them.

Offline Gord

  • New Bee
  • *
  • Posts: 11
Re: Panama, AHB, Top Bar, and Such
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2012, 08:52:34 PM »
Buy an ultrabreeze jacket or suit.
They're pretty much bee proof, and you want to be comfortable.
Read Micheal Bush's website.
Good luck.

Offline CapnChkn

  • House Bee
  • **
  • Posts: 491
  • Gender: Male
Re: Panama, AHB, Top Bar, and Such
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2012, 09:10:26 PM »
I lived in the Canal Zone between 1966, and 1968.  I was all of 6-9 years old, but I remember some of it.  I have to say the only experience I had with getting stung was actually Yellow Jackets, once on a Boy Scout hike we came across a wild tree, but I was too terrified to actually see it.  Needless, there was no AHB there at the time.

AHB are nothing more than regular bees with a neurosis.  The key word here is DEFENSIVE.  Think a sick dog, or cat.  When the don't feel well or are fighting with another dog or cat, you might not want to get too close to them, or you might get bitten.  You may see the mellifera scutella around, not even know they're there.  Get too close to the hive, and it could be bad news.

The problem isn't in their heads, but actually in their noses.  Bees can smell stuff Dogs can't.  In fact, that's the general means of communication with their species.  Sometimes the pheromone triggers a hyper sensitive reaction in the colony, but this can be true of any race of bees.  The original honeybee, Apis Mellifera var. Mellifera is notorious for being a "hot" bee, in fact comparable to AHB.  Mellifera are selected for tolerance with having their hives fiddled around with, look for "requeening" or "hot bees" in these forums.

You would probably be better off with the local bees.  It's a saying, "All beekeeping is local."  You could get some highly bred queen from GA, but they probably wouldn't do well in Panama.  AHB have been around for long enough that they've been gentled.  Here's a link:


The sad thing about the introduction of Mellifera in the tropics of the Western Hemisphere is they're taking over.  The destruction of the habitat of the local honeybees, stingless and domesticated for thousands of years, and better yields from the introduced species is pushing the practice of keeping the "Royal Lady" honeybees out.


I don't know what your chances of getting hold of a log are.
"Thinking is like sin, them that doesn't is scairt of it, and them that does gets to liking it so much they can't quit!"  -Josh Billings.