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Author Topic: Greetings from Costa Rica/  (Read 3252 times)
Tropic
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« on: March 19, 2007, 09:33:47 PM »

I am sure glad I found a place to share and gather information about bee keeping. I have had some great experiences these past weeks with wild bee swarms and trying to save them from the locals who have managed to terminate about four swarms a day. I started out to try to save these and in so doing, got interested in actually putting them into hives and beginning a new interest ... bee keeping. These bees are africanized and wild to the extreme. But very hard workers and from what I can see ... establish hives and produce in record time.
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Understudy
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« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2007, 09:46:03 PM »

Welcome to the forums. You will find lots of great beekeepers here. Tells us about what types of hives you have. Are Africanized bees the only kind you have in Costa Rica?

Sincerely,
Brendhan
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Tropic
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« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2007, 10:20:03 PM »

My background in bee keeping began in the interior of Guyana, South America where as a teenager some 45 years ago, I established an apiary of about 10 hives on our family ranch. This was in a dry savannah area with lots of good flowering shrubs, trees and considered a prime honey producing area by the local inhabitants who mainly gathered wild honey from the resident stingless bees. My first honey bees for my hives were brought from the apiculture department of the Ministry of Agriculture on the coast. I was then told that these were Italian honey bees, Apis mellifera. My hives were made of local cedar and were based upon the Langstroth design. It was a long road of trial and error before I actually managed to harvest my first honey and demonstrate that it was possible to establish honey bee hives and sell the honey to a very depleated market that at that time bought most of its honey from England. The political climate of the '60 s then forced me into exile in Costa Rica and I had to abandon my few bee hives to the local missionary where they continue to exist to this day managed by some local indian bee keepers.
In Costa Rica I did continue my interest with a few hives ... but with the invasion of the africanized bees, I had to abandon all my bee keeping activity within the urban area I then lived in. Now, with new approaches and managed apiary tolerances using the very same africanized bees, I think I can again rekindle the earlier passion and not only establish working hives, but save so many of the bee swarms that now we find abundant at this time of the year.
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« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2007, 10:58:59 PM »

What an incredible story. I am glad to hear you decided to go back into beekeeping. What kind of pests do you have to deal with? Are you wearing a full suit when dealing with the bees are just a everyday clothes? Africans are known for throwing off swarms. How long does it take for them to build up in a hive to a suitable strength for you?

What are some of the managed apiary tolerances you refer to? We are getting Africanized bees here in Florida. I would love to know how to properly managed an Africanized hive.

Sincerely,
Brendhan
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Tropic
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« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2007, 12:23:04 AM »

There was a time when I would only wear my swim suit to work my bee hives... preferably in the early morning or late afternoon ... and I never had any problem. But now, with these africanized bees I have to go with full sit and take all the precautions that one would think of in an emergency. I never work alone with the bees, make sure not to have any obstruction of an escape route and that no animals are near to the apiary when being worked ... not within 200 meters to be truly safe. A good smoker well loaded with an abundant smoke medium and everything to be done in slow motion. One factor that is to be considered is that they are not truly wild all the time or every day. Sometimes they are very docile and this can fool one into thinking that they are this way most times. But this can change quickly and the massive attack is what can panic most people. I have a way of knowing the degree of wildness of particular hives and so leave them to the very last for checking and try not to disturb them in any way. I am yet to be driven out of the apiary yard by any major frontal attack by the bees.. but it can appear to be a nightmare at times. In time ... and this might just be my opinion and gut feeling ... they do appear to accept me in their area and concentrate their attack then on my assistant beekeeper instead. For this reason we have now got to locate the apiary with no more than 10 hives in remote areas and notify the public with signs of their presence and so far we have not had any confrontation directly with the bees from our established hives. Most of the bee attacks have come from hives that have lodged in areas that were not protected from the general public or livestock. Then again, some of the bee arracks were on the beekeepers who were overconfidant and were not defensively clothed enough to be within their hive radius. They can sure fool us at times.
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Tropic
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« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2007, 12:49:31 AM »

With the wild africanized and general wild bee swarms that we capture ... since not all of the wild swarms are entirely africanized ... the presence of disease is usually critical and great care must be taken to isolate and immediately begin treatment of varroa and other mites, plus nosema. I am sure there are other diseases that we have yet to discover. But even with these common handicaps, the wild bees and in particular the africanized bees, do work harder to establish their hives and within a month can be strong enough to compete with some of the already long established settled hives. One factor that must be noted is that they are also very able to swarm easily and so regular checking of the hives are needed to watch for any increase of queen cells or lack of frames and space. This is generally the case at this time of the year when the africanized honey bee is extremely tempermental.
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« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2007, 06:57:41 AM »

Thank you very much for the information. I have been reading on a docile breeding program in some of the south american countries. The hives have a good temperment even though they are Africanized. I have been seeing some of the brazillian beekeepers who wear shorts and a t shirt on their hives. They also put a piece of corrugated metal on the top pof the hive to deal with the heat.

Sincerely,
Brendhan
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Cindi
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« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2007, 09:29:13 AM »

Tropic, it is nice to read accounts of beekeeping.  You write well and give a very descriptive storyline.  The facts that you have been presenting are  very interesting and when you have time, tell more.  Best of a great day.  Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
Tropic
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« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2007, 01:51:18 PM »

Thank you Cindi for your comment and Brendhan, the situation in some South American countries that are working on friendlier calm africanized bees is of great interest. Here there is some attempt to re-queen hives with known non-agressive bee strains. In this 'macho' society, the ego of a male appears to be hightened when he can demonstrate his status by working almost naked with known active honey bee hives. Some actually enjoy the bee stings and this joins the other near sadistic activities like bull fighting and extreme sports that sometimes terminate in near or complete mortal results. I cannot deny the fact that I have lived on the edge in many activities that now I do recall(what fun still) and were or are still extremely stupid. I was lucky to survive this long ... and having done so, I feel that there is some duty on my part to warn following generations to be less keen to take on adventures that are not safe and condusive to a long peaceful happy healthy pleasurable life. So now I wear a good bee suit regardless of heat and discomfort. Pain for me is no longer a pleasure.
I also do place a painted zinc roof on the bee supers that protect then from the midday heat and rain downpours that can sometimes follow each other and result in extreme humidity and honey bee discomfort. My bee hives are about a meter off ground on stands that allow good air circulation and a safe distance from toads.
There is still a lot more to learn here when dealing with honey bees in the tropics and one never stops learning from other beekeepers. This forum is certainly a very good one and thanks again Brendhan for making this a reality.
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« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2007, 05:04:14 PM »

You have those toads that will build themselves into a tower to get to the bees as i recall. i cannot remember the name of the toads but they are different from my buffo toads as I recall.

Sincerely,
Brendhan
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Tropic
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« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2007, 06:02:42 PM »

Brendhan ... our toads in Florida are the same as yours I think... here in Costa Rica the problem toads are the Bufo marinus that are extremely smart at learning ways to obtain food and so catching honey bees at the hive entrance is one of their special adaptations or tricks. Usually they are not found in any number and as a single toad, this is achieved by it actually 'standing upright' for a second to gain a few necessary inches ... enough to zap a passing bee with gut full of food. They are not too interested in the bees leaving the hive .. just the ones arriving fully loaded. This really has to be photographed to be believed ... and the other more common method is to pile up in a toad scrummage with maybe four toads high and the top toad getting a field day on passing bees. Fortunately this is only an activity found in the rainy season ... otherwise they are quite content raiding my dog's food dish.
So beehive stands have got to be higher that usual, strong and offering no support or protection to bee predators. Again, I am certain that this toad knowlege is learned at toad school somehow ... and once learned, it can be very costly to an apiary. Maybe toads eating all those sweet nectar and pollen laden bees will increase their intelligence and so we should note this as another benefit for consuming bee products.
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« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2007, 06:13:12 PM »

Yes, those are the same toads. I might have been thinking of another toad or frog. In my area my hives are at least 16" above the ground. I have about 4 to 6 toads that gather around waiting for dead bees to be carried out. They eat the dead bee and the bee that carried it out. Nasty rotten pests are those toads.

Sincerely,
Brendhan
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Tropic
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« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2007, 10:19:32 PM »

Brendhan ... catch them toads with a net and take them for a long drive to Homestead ... along Krome Ave. there must be a suitable place for them. It is useless trying to get them changed for the better once they have this bad habit... and worse still, they teach others and become more creative in executing damage to the bee population. Another negative is the toad poop they leave under the hives and this is as bad as the worse bee yard contaminant. My next criminal bee killer is the Derby Flycatcher that just waits on a nearby tree overlooking the apiary and takes regular dives down to grab incoming bees. This bird has quite a great apatite for honey bees.
What bees do you work with?
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« Reply #13 on: March 20, 2007, 10:23:41 PM »

I work with Italians. However according to the state since I do cut outs. I harbor AHB hives.

I would like to look at working with some others but that will happen next year.

I stay away from Krome ave. Homestead isn't so bad but I ate drive the 826 and Krome. Yuck. I see you are familar with dade county. Should I aplogize for S. Florida now or wait till later when we hit the news again?


Sincerely,
Brendhan
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Cindi
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« Reply #14 on: March 20, 2007, 11:05:34 PM »

I am still flabergasted at the thought of a toad causing so much damage and being so intelligent.  You should build a fence like my husband built to keep out the damnable bears.  There must be some system that could/should be designed, like chicken wire teepee fences or something crazy like that.

I keep thinking of our cute little green (or brown, camaflouge) tree frogs that are now croaking their brains out.  Getting louder and louder by the day and they move from the swamps and ditches closer to my place.  They are small, with bodies about the size of about a quarter, no bigger and they are cute.  No if, ands or buts.  I like them.  But I do not ever want to encounter the Bufo toad.  It makes the hair on my neck stand up.  Have that great day.  Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
Tropic
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« Reply #15 on: March 21, 2007, 12:05:43 AM »

Cindi ... I sure think I prefer my ugly smart toads to your fuzzy bears. My few encounters with northern bears have not been comfortable and in one case the experience is best forgotten. This was in Alaska naturally. With regards to other toads and frogs... here we have a grand choice of some of the most interesting in both looks and sound. During the rainy season they are a source of constant entertainment around the water lilly pond.
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Cindi
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« Reply #16 on: March 21, 2007, 10:10:30 AM »

Of course, gotta be the grizzly.  Yep, forget any experience, I know that it would not have been a good one.  Water, insects, frogs, toads, water lilies.  Sounds beautiful.  Something about the pond life.  Best of another great day.  Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
Tropic
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« Reply #17 on: March 21, 2007, 10:27:27 PM »

Brendhan ... was wondering is you could assist me with some Miami or South Florida information? I need to get some queen extruders and wondered if there was a place within the Miami area where I could have someone pick them up and bring over to me here in CR next week? We have none here at present and what there is does not look at all good... sort of 'home made' and not strong enough. There must be some place within the Dade area that had something in the line of apiary supplies ... most of my contacts there would have nothing at all to do with bees ... fishing? Yes .. but no bees  Smiley
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« Reply #18 on: March 21, 2007, 11:31:55 PM »

Just buttin in, dadant and sons is in north florida (gainesville area) and they ship international .  Or I could bring them to you and take a vacation evil
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Tropic
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« Reply #19 on: March 22, 2007, 12:20:05 AM »

Thank you for that information and I will see if I can just order via the Net and have it delivered to Miami in time for my friend to bring it next Wednesday.
If you really want to have a wild time with the bees ... give me a call at 506 289 6611 and come on over. This will afford you some experience with handling these wild africanized bees and capturing their swarms. Be prepared to live wild and rough as we chase them around... prior to them chasing us around, naturally  grin
This might be more like a workout than a vacation, but it is set in some of the most beautiful country that any bee would cherish. Bring a good bee suit and we can face the many challenges they offer ... I am serious   Smiley
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