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Hera 

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As a new beekeeper, part way through the basic course and hoping to get started in the spring, my classmates and I have been warned off having Buckfast queens in the first couple of years. Is this the general consensus?
 

drdrday 

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You'll find every beekeeper has their preferred strains of bees, and they're usually pretty vocal about their reasons.
I started with Buckfasts, and they've been great. Good honey producers, big colonies, and friendly too.
Of course no two queens are the same, so it will depend where you get them from.

What were the reasons you were given for avoiding Buckfast?
 

Patrick1 

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No, defiantly not. I have Buckfast and Carniolan, I would suggest Buckfast are generally the most docile bees, perfect for beginners.
I have just started with some black bees and they seem also calm.
It is not so much about the bees as the method of beekeeping, learn how to inspect your bees, keep them calm and they will be good to you.
 

Hera 

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You'll find every beekeeper has their preferred strains of bees, and they're usually pretty vocal about their reasons.
I started with Buckfasts, and they've been great. Good honey producers, big colonies, and friendly too.
Of course no two queens are the same, so it will depend where you get them from.

What were the reasons you were given for avoiding Buckfast?
The only reason seemed to be that they are quite prolific, but from what I have read, they seem ideal for newbies as calm and less likely to swarm.
 

Erichalfbee 

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“Local” dark bees from my association were my first bees. I found them difficult as a beginner and lost no time replacing the queens with Buckfast from Pete Little (Hivemaker…. RIP but the bees go on)
I never regretted it. The ease of management was a revelation. They are a great beginner’s bee.
I now keep all sorts including dark bees but Buckies are still my favourite
 

drdrday 

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The only reason seemed to be that they are quite prolific, but from what I have read, they seem ideal for newbies as calm and less likely to swarm.
They are quite prolific, but as far as I'm concerned a big strong colony is always a good thing.
I keep my bees on double brood, simply because they need the extra space, a single standard national brood box is not quite enough for them. So from that point of view, as a beginner you'll need to be prepared to give them more space as and when they need it.
Other than that though, they're great bees. Lovely to work with and really productive too.
 

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The only reason seemed to be that they are quite prolific, but from what I have read, they seem ideal for newbies as calm and less likely to swarm.
Ah Yes! That was the only issue that I found with the Buckfast Bees, they did build up faster than I expected and also put on more honey as well, as I didn't have enough boxes and stuff this was difficult to juggle... basically make sure you have a spare box, frames, etc. and you'll bee good!
 

Apiarist 

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I have just started with some black bees and they seem also calm.
You may find that the 'breeder' / supplier of the Amm's may be a bigger factor in their characteristics than the fact that they are Amms; I've observed / heard of a very large variation in Amm's characteristics... but have observed / heard of more consistent characteristics from Carnica and Buckfast Queens (which are then enhanced by the breeder).

It is not so much about the bees as the method of beekeeping, learn how to inspect your bees, keep them calm and they will be good to you.
YES very much so!
I used some top bars for an experiment, and quickly learned that whenever I got brace comb, etc. the act of cutting it annoyed the bees, also other things such as bees beside OSR (Oilseed Rape) are less forgiving, found the same on more exposed sites... lots of little things affect your bees, learn and see!
 

Patrick1 

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Apiarist said :- " I used some top bars for an experiment, and quickly learned that whenever I got brace comb, etc. the act of cutting it annoyed the bees",

Another good point, I never scrape and clean during the season, they are only going to replace it and that is a waste of energy for the bees.
Something else I realized early on was that if the bees are a little stroppy to nasty often produce more honey they definably get a bit more stroppy when a flow is on. Work with the bees and learn from them with a book as a reference tool is about all that is needed.
 

The Poot 

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I too started with Buckfasts from Pete Little and found them to have an excellent temperament - best bees I’ve had.
 

Ian123 

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Something else I realized early on was that if the bees are a little stroppy to nasty often produce more honey they definably get a bit more stroppy when a flow is on.
The stroppy bees get more honey is the worst bit of beekeeping folklore going. In regards to tetchy bees on a flow if your talking about a single source crop like osr then yes it does have an effect IMO. If there’s a decent summer flow my bees are as happy as Larry! To the original poster I’ve had many types over the years and I’m more than happy with my BKFS just get them from a reliable source, Exmoor bees as mentioned provide queens and Nucs get in early if you want a spring nuc. In an ideal world see if they have any Nucs with isolated apiary mated queens even if a few £ more. BS Honey also do some decent first cross queens and Nucs, in my area there pretty reliable in subsequent generations as well.
 

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I started with Buckfast in the back garden and first year they were fine with all the positive attributes. Second year superseded and I got a really unpleasant hive that had to be moved some way away from people. I'm now using near native and finding them fine and raising a few of my own. Obviously choices you make don't have to be for ever and if you get from reputable source they should all be fine irrespective of race.
 

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Have found buckfast great bees to own and work. Have had them from various sources ( bs, denrosa, exmoor, and God marshal) over the years as well as home bred and all are productive and placid in my experience. Never had any issues with f3 + generations either. Find them better than my darker local mongrel colonies on the whole.
 

Erichalfbee 

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You could always try bees from Ceri Morgan, (mbc) I have two colonies.
I would love to try a queen from Murray (Into The Lions Den) He has made great strides in his breeding programme....or should I say Jolanta has. They are a Carnica type but her own
 

PeaBee 

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Murray's home bred queens are great but the Italian buckfast lines he has are really good too and I figure if they work well commercially in the glens of northern scotland they will work well pretty much anywhere.
 

Patrick1 

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Have found buckfast great bees to own and work. Have had them from various sources ( bs, denrosa, exmoor, and God marshal) over the years as well as home bred and all are productive and placid in my experience. Never had any issues with f3 + generations either. Find them better than my darker local mongrel colonies on the whole.
Yep Ged Marshall was probably the best breeder, although I am not sure about elevating him to “God” status not worthy :ROFLMAO:.
The problem with local mongrels is we cannot control the progeny, to breed good queens we must concentrate on the drones from the best colonies we have.
 

BigAshW 

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I have purchased queen's from Northumberland Honey this year.

One mated but the rest as virgins.

Will be interesting to see how they go next year compared to my original stocks.
 

madasafish 

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I started with Carniolans as a beginner. Gentle but I was not expert enough to control swarming.
Moved to buckfast - lovely temperament ,less swarmy, good yield.
Trialled one Jolanta Q (Denrosa,ITLD) last year. Will have four this coming year.. nice, prolific not swarmy.


My experience of local black bees is not repeatable in public!
 

RichardK 

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I'm a first year beek and started with black local bees caught via swarm traps. I've found that as the colony grows in size so their temperament has changed....or it's seasonal thing. Nuc's are fine, sure there are some buzzing around your head but it's OK. A strong 10 frame hive though ups the anti somewhat and they are far less forgiving.

In August I did two splits and purchased two F1 Buckfast queens. These are now on 8 frames & quite populous - massively more than a couple of black bee nucs I also have. Yet....I can open the lid and not one will fly out. There is something nice about not being hassled, or in the case of the larger black bee hives harassed from time to time! None of them are nasty. I can stand 40cm from any hive (beside it) and I never get pinged. There is no doubt from my side though that the Buckfast are easier to work. As such I've made the decision come spring to offload all my black bees and invest in a couple more Buckfast Queens with a view to just keeping them.
 

pargyle 

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I've found that a lot of bees that are classed as bad temperament become pussycats when they are handled properly ... I helped out a new beekeeper this year who was complaining that his bees were the bees from hell. I watched him inspect the first hive which was, (according to him) the better of the two - he swamped them in smoke through the entrance, then crashed the crownboard off and they came up at us like the swarm from hell .....I just told him to shut them up and leave them be.

I then did the second hive, gently cracked the crownboard, tiny puff of smoke before I lifted it - gave them time, pulled the end frame out (there was no dummy board) and very gently went through the frames .... you would hardly think the bees noticed that we were there ... They were buckies and really very calm.

So ... yes, there are agressive colonies and depending on the weather and the forage they can be unpleasant to handle but I rather suspect that the way some beekeepers handle their inspections may be as much to blame as the bees.

The bloke I was helping had taken his inspection technique from some USA You tube videos .... scary ! He tells me his bees have now completely changed and are a joy to handle ....I do wonder.

My bees are mainly small black ones - three colonies from Ceri Morgan queens ... plus a few colonies of local mongrels which are also predominantly small and black. I've really never had much of a problem with any of my colonies - past or present - although I have experienced a few that have been really unpleasant to even get near let alone inspect and one colony, sold to a new beekeeper as a 'good colony', that were true haridens ... Vile, stingy, defensive, following ... ghastly experience and requeening them was a nightmare. It put the poor woman off beekeeping altogether and she gave up - although after requeening the bees were much better.

Buckies from a reputable breeder seem to me to be a good starter bee for anyone coming in to the craft - on balance they do seem to offer enough good traits to get a new beek off the ground without too many problems.
 

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