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Author Topic: Africanized bee takeover  (Read 530 times)
Dr. Cricket
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« on: December 27, 2013, 02:31:59 PM »

Hey, has anyone here who lives in an Africanized bee zone had colonies get taken over by AHB's?

I only run five hives, and I've changed queens out at least once per hive in the last year, but currently, at least three of my hives are obviously producing at least partially Africanized offspring. Those are some nasty little buggers. I'm used to working my bees with just a veil, but for these I have had to wear two long sleeve shirts, two pairs of gloves, a veil, jeans, a towel pinned around the shoulders, and plenty of duct tape - and I still get stung a lot.

I figured that I might have lost a queen or two and they had replaced her with a new queen that mated with feral AHB drones, but it's happened so often that I'm wondering if they're being aggressively overtaken, but I wasn't sure if that was possible. If so I have a plan to isolate my good queens and brood chambers behind a queen excluder and use a top entrance.

I get all my queens from out of state and it's getting expensive to change them out so often.
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rwlaw
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« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2013, 07:54:32 AM »

I see nobody's gotten back to you, so I'll comment to keep your thread at the top till somebody more experienced can comment.
 If I were you I'd contact the local bee inspector and get some DNA tests going, because there's a couple things that could have happened besides a hive takeover (the term is upsurp I believe).
 Where are you getting your queens from? Sometimes 2nd generation hybrid queens (from a supersedure) will start producing hot bees, I can speak from experience on this one. I bought a carnnie queen, made splits and the splits were less than satisfying, neurotic to say the least.                   
  It is possible that any time the hive supersedes, the new queen can mate with AHB drones but with the amount of hot hives you've got, I'd really be looking at the original queens and maybe trying another queen source.
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RC
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« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2013, 10:02:00 AM »

I'd have to agree with rwlaw. Try a different queen producer. You're close to several that have some sweet queens.
The state guy should be able to help identify AHB.
If my bees were that hot, after an attempt to requeen, I'd think seriously about filling the hives with dry ice and starting over. Particularly if you have neighbors.
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jredburn
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« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2013, 08:30:57 PM »

Dr. Cricket.
I have my apiary in Ft Myers and i deal with aggressive bees on a daily basis.  I do 1 or 2 cutouts a week and I always approach each job in armour plate.  I have found that it is better to have the protection and not need it rather than need it and not have it.  There are a few colonies out there that are not aggressive but they are the exception. 
The Africans have cross bred with the Europeans  and we now have mostly all mongrels living out in the wild.   The Europeans that get imported here do not live very long.  It is almost impossible to get a European queen to live a year any more.  (Read James Tew's article in March issue of Bee Culture)
We are not going to ever get rid of the Africans no matter how many feral colonies the State destroys so we just as well learn to live with them.  I move my cut outs to a yard that is miles away from people and agriculture and try to get them to survive the move.  I let them build up their colony even if they are aggressive, if they live long and produce honey, I will cross them with gentler strains and hope to end up with bees that live long and well.   To me it is more important to have bees that live long and produce lots of honey than to have gentle bees  that die young.

I have found that you can limit the amount of aggressive behaviour by putting a screen in front of the hive so the bees are forced to fly upwards at least 7 feet before they can fly horizontally.  This works outside of the immediate area but does not make them nice when you get close to the hive,  IE inside the screened area. 
It also helps if you soak your suit in soapy water and let it dry with the soap in it.   The soap smell keeps most of the bees off of you.  Don't use leather gloves,  get the heavy duty propylene ones from a garden centre.  The bees can't get though them.  Use a water spray when you open the hive instead of a smoker.   Get one of the $15 -> $20 ones that you  pump up to pressurize.
Regards
Joe
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asprince
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« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2013, 11:56:52 AM »

Joe, I found your post to be very informative especially from someone in the trenches with Africanized bees.


Thanks,

Steve
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capt44
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« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2013, 05:51:00 PM »

Africanized bees tend to throw smaller swarms and more numerous swarms than the standard Honey Bee.
They will make a nest in anything from a mailbox to a hole in the ground.
Having that many small nest will cause more Africanized Drones to be around.
The Domestic Honeybee Queens will mate with the Africanized Drone making the Domestic Honey Bees become more aggressive.
I had 2 hives tested this past season, both test came back negative.
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Richard Vardaman (capt44)
jredburn
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« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2013, 11:01:14 PM »

A couple more thoughts on AHB's.
A queen mates with many males over a couple of days and then starts to lay eggs.   Some of the experts claim that the sperm is stored in layers and is used in the  sequence that it was deposited.  If this is true then the characteristics of the offspring will change as the layers of semen are used up.  This means that a colony that is mild and produces lots of honey can change to aggressive bees that die quickly and do not produce much honey.  As that layer of sperm is used up the hive will change characteristics again.
This means that a gentle hive that changes it's attitude does not mean that the queen has been usurped or killed by AHB.  Remember that there have been very aggressive bees in many different locations at different times as far back as the 1850's.   The Univ of Calif  received 200 hives in the early 1960's and they were tested to determine their ancestry.  They were 100% African and they were as mild as any Europeans.   The German Black bees from the early 1900's were so mean that beeks would not keep them.
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