Buckfast Bees

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New Bee
Aug 31, 2009
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Hi Everyone,

I'm planning a breeding project for next season and am thinking of trying a couple of different strains. Just wanting to ask those with some experience of Buckfast bees what their pros & cons are.

Look forward to reading your comments.

Cheers :)
I would think that a major disadvantage now is trying to get hold of anything pure 'buckfast' now...

Or am I wrong?
i am with marcros there is quite a few so called buck fast that have been improved!!!

i was looking into some serious breeding queens for next years season but found so much bad information and evan more bad queens i gave up looking i have ten queens to start with and i will just breed from my own mongrels for want of a better description
I've used buckfast bees (or bees with "Buckfast" somewhere in it's name) from 4 different sources over the last 6 or 7 years. Temper is usually extremely good but not always. They are always prolific bees and Nationals aren't really big enough. Swarming tendencies vary a lot (the least swarmy probably Ged Marshall's Buckfasts). Biggest disadvantage is the next generation can be very different. I wouldn't try breeding from them unless you can flood the area with Buckfast type drones, which is probably not realistic with 15 colonies.
Food for thought

Thanks Marcos & Hedgerow Pete for your input. That is one of my major concerns too. Although, I would hope that someone somewhere has breeding stock which as close to the "original" strain as possible with the genetic records to match.
Chris B's remarks are interesting with regard to the bees propensity for producing brood, one of the reasons why I opted for langstroths on double bc. The issue regarding the presence of drones is interesting in that flooding the area with drones is what I have planned to do. I'm hoping that since my apriary is in a clearing within an area effectively surrounded by trees, I'm hoping that this will serve as a "funnel" to retain a high proportion of drones in close proximity to the mating hives. This may well turn out to be "pie eye in the sky" idea!!
I take the point regarding the number of hives which is why next season I plan to concentrate exclusively on making increase rather than securing a crop. I reckon that I could triple the number of colonies before the end of the season using the same technique I used to get from the initial three colonies I started with to the 15 I now have. Breeding has always been an interest of mine but have never had the time to devote to it until recently.
Hi Bdaddy
i see you are also asking for pure carniolans,do you intend on mixing these with the buckfasts,or isolating them as much as possible so there drones don't interfere with your buckfasts,drones travel great distances.Perhaps you would be better to go in for II to keep them pure.
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close to the "original" strain as possible with the genetic records to match..

What is original? What is the value of it?

During my 40 years beekeeping bee strains have become better and better. I surely not want to see any "original" bees.
The biggest change was when I got inseminated queens. They were like Angels from Heaven.

Some years ago I had 5 very different strains of queens. When they mixed, it was a chaos: stings and swarms. So I returned nicely to "pure like" Italians.

But however, I breeded chalkbrood off from my yard.

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Finman,your bees are from Italian blood?
Thats interesting,are they ok weather/stores in winter?
Finman,your bees are from Italian blood?
Thats interesting,are they ok weather/stores in winter?

Italians are the most popular race in Finland. Carniolans has been only 20 years.

The must feature is that the stock, every hive, stops brooding in right time. Those who continue brooding over September, will be dead.

They have big clusters in winter and they have no special problems in wintering.

Many keep Italians near polar circle. No problems.
If you want as near to pure Buckfast as you can get then you will have to import them. You can get island mated Buckfasts from Denmark but they will cost you 90 euros. I have heard reports about people who have used them in this country and found them exceptional. This strain was taken from Buckfast and with island mating has remained as pure as possible but inevitibly, and rightly, there will have been subsequent selection so is it still pure Buckfast? You will also have to keep importing queens more or less every year if you wanted them to remain pure. An expensive business and currents thoughts are to stick with your local bee and through selection improve it.

Pure Buckfast means that the stock keeps its features in inside crossings? It cannot be Brother Adam's original.

But when you have what ever drones around you, next generation has only 50% those genes.

However, remember: what ever bees you have, the pastures rules how much you get honey.
Pleasant to handle, slow to swarm etc are those features which are not favorit in nature but are good in domestication.
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Italians are the most popular race in Finland.

Many keep Italians near polar circle. No problems

Thats interesting as I have being trying to get an understanding as to the different strains of bee I have heard a lot regarding Carniolans and on this thread Buckfast and older threads in the archive and yet its the first remarks to Italian Queens and yet the books tel you they are good bees and have being exported and bread from for many years the only fault I have red is they tend to drift and that can lead to robbing and the Queen often carries on laying when theirs a food shortage which are probably not a good thing if your colony starves but with our winters and good management
Tom,in my experience Italians are very prone to disease in a colder climate.
Nosema,DWV etc.
Maybe I have just been unlucky with them in the past or the strains I have worked with were from bad initial stock?

I had one colony that made over 100 swarm cells in a hive over 5 days.

I would not waste my time with them again though.
Im sure there was someone on here (might have been in blogs) that said they wouldnt use them again.
Hi Everyone,
I really appreciate the comments and inout you've made. They are certainly food for thought and will definitely help me in choosing the way I want to go.
Finman: I might have been somewhat vague when I used pure. I didnt necessarily mean the orginal strain but I do want as close to that as is possible. What I want to avoid as much as possible is any hybrid inconsistencies.
Rooftops: Thanks for that. I have just had a look at that site and am talking to them as we speak :) A couple of years ago I'd go with the principle of sticking with the "local bee" but I'm not convinced that a "local bee" exisits anymore, especially with the massive influx of imported queens whose genetic history is uncertain. I've found that when I have asked specific questions about the lineage the responses in many cases are far too vague. I'm using Carniolan queens at the moment and their beating the "local bee" hands down in every respect. Its early days but I'm waiting to see how they get through the winter.
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Tom,in my experience Italians are very prone to disease in a colder climate.

It depends where you get the origin. When I bye queen from northern Finland, they surely are more tolerant than from south.
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Finman said:
lowsy national hives

Lowsy is a small peninsula on the West coast of England, near Barrow-in-Furness.

As far as I'm aware disease in National hives is no worse there than anywhere else.

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