Using Africanized bees for a hive

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by 56amboy, Apr 21, 2012.

  1. 56amboy

    56amboy New Member

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    I just completed a 3 hour intro course to beekeeping & have decided to start a hive in the near future. I live in the USVI and both veteran instructors of the course use the local Africanized bees - said they "can" be aggressive at times (I can also be aggressive, especially in the morning if I don't get my coffee). The property where I live & where I'll be putting the hive(s) already has a large Africanized bee population - the wild hive is located in the top of a sugar mill 50' off the ground, untouched. I'd like to weigh the pros & cons of why I should or should not use the local bees, other than they are readily available. And if I tried to introduce another race of bees here, what hurdles would I face?

    Thanks for your help,
    Tom

    PS - I've noted several beginning bee books I'll be adding to my library - thanks to another thread in the forum.
     
  2. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    based on descriptions provided by others I would say the first thing you need to do is locate a bullet proof commercial bee keeping outfit and a large smoker. check the suit out with a magnifying glass to locate any place a bee might enter and attend to these. those small holes and vents in a bee keepers pith helmet are something I was warmed against directly <keep in mind the africanized bee is just somewhat smaller than their european cousins so equipment designed for european bees will not necessarily work for africanized stock.

    if africanized bees thrive in an area then you likely have little option in using these.... they are suppose to do a better job as a pollinator but make only half the surplus (if honey is partially your end objective).
     

  3. G3farms

    G3farms New Member

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    If you are wondering how the AHB act and behave, just ask if you can tag along with one of your instructors when they are going through their hives.
     
  4. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    Like tec. said, and remember if your messing with a AHB hive 50ft. in the air? you really don't have a place to run if things get to hot.:shock: Jack
     
  5. markles

    markles New Member

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    Hi 56amboy

    Firstly welcome to the group – I see you joined this month.

    I live in South Africa and also have no choice other than to keep AHB’s. It’s no biggie – as Tecumseh says they don’t produce like some bees but I’ve had a hive that drew comb and filled a 10 frame shallow super with capped honey in 10 days.
    It’s like anything in life – what you know and experience becomes the norm. As for the aggression aspect, again, it becomes the norm. I’ve had a couple of really “pissy” hives in the past that I re-queened and they were fine. I visit all of my hives often and sit within three feet of them (no protective clothing) to observe the comings and goings. A suggestion is to pay attention to the things/manipulations that will set any colony off and perhaps take extra care. This will become second nature. I find slow movements and a good smoker essential.

    This forum is fantastic with a great bunch of patient, knowledgeable, helpful people. Use it, participation is welcomed and anything that applies to the more desirable bee races applies equally to our AHB’s.

    Good luck and don’t be intimidated – you’ll love them in no time.:smile:
     
  6. 56amboy

    56amboy New Member

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    Many thanks to all of you who taken the time to share your thoughts. I'm not intimidated by the AHB's -- but I am respectful! In fact one of the instructors was dressed only in flip-flops, shorts & a short sleeve t-shirt when we went to look at the hives (he also had the smoker). The other person had a bee jacket with hooded veil. Good point about the aggression becoming the norm -- if I start out with these bees, then their behavior is what I will learn to understand. The chance to interact with these creatures is what intrigues me; I'm not in it for the money. Small supers is what I think I wil l start with -- just because of the weight I'll have to deal with when it's time. And as for the bees in the top of the sugar mill -- they are managing just fine without my help.

    The bee club here has a longer 5-6 week course coming up, which I will take before I dive in. This is odd for me, learning about something before I dive in. I like to get this as "right" as I can to start with -- there will be plenty of opportunity for mistakes as I learn.

    I'll keep you posted & start thumbing through the forum topics.

    Take care,
    Tom
     
  7. gunsmith

    gunsmith New Member

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    Tom:
    A belated welcome.
    I would go along with the rest of the replies-go with the local bees. Even if you did start out with imported European bees-and I'm not certain that's it's even legal for you to import them into the VI-within a generation or 2-you would have the genetics of the locals throughout your yard anyway.
     
  8. Americasbeekeeper

    Americasbeekeeper New Member

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    Africanized bees came from an environment where swarming and absconding were necessary to survive. The AHB is four to five times more likely to swarm every year or just pick up and leave when stressed. AHB are not a “temperate” honey bee and as such are not genetically programmed to prepare for winter by storing lots of honey. As such they turn most all resources coming in into more bees thus more swarming. When things get tough they “abscond” meaning the whole colony gets up and leaves. This is a trait that allows them to survive pest, parasites and diseases. For instance when Varroa levels reach a negative tipping point the whole AHB colony leaves (absconds) leaving behind most of the Varroa. Many people think this is resistance and it is a basic kind of survival resistance but beekeepers need honey bees to stay in the hive in order for them to be managed.
     
  9. markles

    markles New Member

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    There are some interesting points here for me. Unfortunately I haven’t kept bees through a full seasonal cycle yet so I can’t comment/disagree with the tendency to swarm 4 to 5 times more than the “temperate” bees. I have done as much reading relating to our local AHB’s as possible though and have come away with the conclusion that they are flora diversity challenged to the extreme. In my little corner of the world our temperature range is from 40˚C (104˚) to -16˚C (3.2˚F). Not 10 kms from here the winter temperature doesn’t go below -8˚C (17.6˚F) so as you can imagine the plant life is completely different. I have two hives in this area 10 kms from me and you wouldn’t believe the elevated forage levels at this time of the year (autumn). I believe that a lot of the “absconding” behaviour can be attributed to “following the flow”. I have no doubt that diseases and infestations also play a big part. Anyway, hopefully as time passes the now murky picture will change (I try to keep a fairly detailed “bee diary”). I haven’t had a hive swarm yet (that I know of) but I’m sure that’s on the cards.

    Good catch 56amboy – respectful is far better word than intimidated. Don’t do the flip-flop and tee shirt thing – it can hurt. Dress with respect when you pay a visit to/manipulate your bees!:lol:
     
  10. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    excellent comment markle... I think some of your comments in regards to 'respectful' might also apply to european honey bees.