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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I thought this was cool!
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/apr/18/black-honeybees-rediscovered-in-britain
Reminds me of the 'black German bees' an 80 yr old beekeeper near me talks about his bees being descended from. His bees are indeed darker then most italians around here. My own bees seem to be getting darker every year as my new queens mate with local drones, less yellow/golden. I do know of several long-term feral hives within 5 miles of me, but they're so high up I can't see them closely to look at their color.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Well his bees and my bees all seem to have normal dispositions, and i don't know what exactly the British ones are, so I can't really say!
 

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Hi Omie,
Great article. Reminds me of the German black bees too. Most of the older keepers in my area kept the ‘black bees’, as they refer to them as. One neighbor some distance up the road from me kept them, stock he received from his father in northern Minnesota. He wasn’t a very good keep, and not a very friendly or likeable guy, (still isn’t) but the bees always swarmed on him.

One day one of the professor’s up the road from me called just hollering excitedly into the phone. I went up to her place to find the unlikeable guys bees had swarmed over her and lit on her barn. :lol:

We don’t have swarms here except another’s bees, but I sometimes see these real black honey bees flying around and foraging,(not my stock), and can’t help but wonder if these are stock of the old keeps, (wishful thinking) or feral bees that have managed to survive somewhere here.
 

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a snip..
'black German bees'

tecumseh:
my old abc/xyz informs me that these are actually Dutch in origin... somewhere and at some time in America Dutch and German became equivalent terms. I don't think the Dutch would be well disposed to hear of themselves described as German???

Brother Adam informed us the 'the brown or black bee' of northwestern Europe did not fare so well when the trachael mite found England about 100+ years ago. Some isolated hive may have survived but then again this could well be any of the other darker stock from Europe. The Caucasian bee (I myself suspect this is the primary blood line of the Russians) is fairly dark and even the Italian bee has a sub set that is totally black (although we often think of these as being yellow with black striped simply because the original stock brought to this country were of this vintage of Italian).

I then might inquire as to why these particular bees are considered to be resistant? Given the relative numbers presented in the link so kindly provided by Omie you might come to the conclusion that this stock (if it does exist) is not really hardy or viable in the current environment... 1% of 250000 hives just sounds to me more like statistical out layers.
 

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When someone mentions the German Black bee, the first thing that comes to mind is PAIN.:shock: When i went with dad and my uncles to cut a bee tree along the river (in the winter) that was all there was, wearing a straw hat,mosquito net, overalls, flannel shirt, and brown cotton gloves was not enough. They were good honey producers, we would usually get a wash tub full of honey along with tree bark and dead bees. Then we would brag about who got the most stings,and act tough like they didn't hurt.:grin: If you got close to there hive in the summer (i think they had radar) they would hit you with a missile. I have hives in that area now, and haven't had any problems with them superseding with feral mean drones, i haven't heard anyone in that area talk about those german black bees in years:thumbsup:. I think they died off or have interbred with nicer bees, (Thank God) and their are still feral bees in the area. Omie, take it from tec, G3, and me, you don't want that bloodline. Jack
 

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my original mentor had german black bees... mean as a snake and sneaky.. you had to be real organized... in and out and quickly and don't dare let your smoker go dead. I had read enough by the time I got bees that I knew Italians would be my choice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Well the article doesn't really make it clear if these black British bees are related to the black German bees or not. Seems they were surviving in some remote parts of Britain.
 

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well Omie I think the British bees were carried to England from Northern Europe and there still seems to be folks in Northern Europe that are trying to protect there last remains of population there.

I would really wonder Omie on what the Brits are basing this observation. are they using genetic technology or physical identification or behavioral clues to come to the !%?

furthermore at 1% this can hardly represent a viable population... essentially to me this suggest this branch of the honeybee super family is now functionally extinct.
 

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I can't get excited about this report.

For the last few years the British media have carried reports of the problems for honeybees. Public awareness and sympathy for the plight of bees has increased greatly. The 'quality' newspapers, such as the Guardian, now regularly have items about bees, beekeeping and bee related issues. I suspect that quite a few pieces are written by freelance journalists.

BIBBA has been going for many years. Its original aim was to find and promote the British Black bee. I think the name was changed a few years ago to BI bee breeders association. UK books generally regard that the British Black was mainly wiped out about 100 years ago ----- possibly by acarine. Members of BIBBA have been searching for isolated apiaries and wild colonies where this bee may have survived. I am aware, over the years, of announcements that survivor colonies had been found.

These survivors do not appear to have had any impact on the bees used by UK beekeepers. I cannot recall seeing them offered for sale.

Beekeeping, once started allows a person to expand into his or her niche. There are people who work their bees hard for a crop, others are not interested in a crop but just like keeping bees and some like to discover bees under the microscope. In my last contact, years ago, with a BIBBA member, the talk was of breeding to get a pure strain and checking the wing venation and Cubital Index to determine progress. I think I recall that hair density was also checked.

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thanks for the information Barbarian. information close to the source always seems more reliable (at least to me).

so the basic measurement is morphological... kind of the same way (prior to the current ear of dna technology) that they determined 'africanization' here.
 

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It seems like every time I do a cut out that the home owner claims is a 3 or 4 year old hive they're always grumpy black bees. I have 6 hives of them although they're getting blonder thanks to my Italian drones but I love me some German black bees. They are excellent honey producers! :thumbsup:
 

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CharlieB writes:
They are excellent honey producers!

tecumseh:
there is some confusion here that there were several races of dark bees (from Europe and western Asia)... often described as being grey, black or brown. most all of these that remain here were pretty well mingled in with the dominate italians which actually got here a bit later but were quickly accepted by beekeepers simply because they had the capacity to collect larger honey crops than the dominate 'german' bees of the era. structurally the tongue of the italians is just a bit longer than their german cousins so they had the capacity to obtain nectar from flowers that were slightly deeper.
 
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