Feisty F2 Buckfast Bees

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Jon.21

House Bee
Joined
Aug 13, 2021
Messages
118
Reaction score
61
Location
Derby, UK
Hive Type
14x12
Number of Hives
4
After some advice please as not sure what to do - I have 1nuc (F2 buckfast in progress currently in mating period) and 3 hives - 1off F1 buckfast 2021 queen, 2off F2 buckfast 2022 queens in a garden which borders onto a neighbours garden with a 2.5m high conifer hedge in between. I have kids who regularly play within a few metres of the hives.

Last year the F2’s were a little more feisty than the F1’s but this year they are noticeably more feisty. More flighty and started following after I have left the hive and on a couple of occasions this week have started following and hassling my wife and kids when they are 20m away from the hive. Think these are guard bees that are constantly patrolling after an inspection for a day or two.

So the question is how do I proceed as I am now in my 3rd year of beekeeping and want to maintain no more than 4 hives in this garden setting with impacting my neighbour or family.

Researching into it some people say go carniolan as these are the calmest F1 you can buy but highest risk of F2’s being aggressive and then some people say go local black bee amm as although they are generally be a bit more feisty than carniolan F1 the amm daughters are more likely to be consistently the same as mothers.

So it feels like option 1 is buy F1 carni and then have to buy a new mated carni if I need to replace or lose a queen in the future to avoid F2 carni being more aggressive or Option 2 is go local black amm and accept increased feistyness as standard but can requeen myself when the need arises.

Any help on what to do would be appreciated as feel like I need to take some sort of action this week.
 
The immediate thing to do is to erect a fence between the bees and the rest of your garden. The quick way is fence posts and windbreak netting. If they can't see you then that helps. It also needs to get any flying paths above headhight. I am not a great lover of bees on the garden but I have bamboo between my bees and neighbours and a large Oak tree between them and my garden.
Next you have to requeen. They won't get any better
 
First off f2 and 3 are not bucks there more local mongrel. I get some quite reasonable 2/3 but there’s a lot of variation as you should expect when something has been open mated for several generations.
As above get some temporary fencing up!!
If you only have a couple of hives I’d simply buy in a couple of queens for the price of a dozen jars of honey they’ll more than pay for themselves.
If you have more hives or intend to expand I’d consider a breeder queen that should ensure several years supply of good bees.
Over the years I’ve had the lot and the race/strain can be irrelevant once the local mongrel gene pool and open mating take effect!
Even going down the line of good local bees😉 is full of issues first off I’ve seen very few! I once acquired 😉some from a breeder involved in a known breeding program, 1 was good(probably not as good as an average f1 from a race/strain)the other very average!
When rearing from the better 1 over some time very few ever matched the mother. Thats also my experience with my own selections, the down side as well is you also can’t really judge most till they are at least filling a single box. That’s an awful lot of boxes and bees to acquire a couple of queens😂
Not an issue you’ll have buying in a couple of f1 queens or rearing your own from a proper breeder queen.
What ever you do you’ll need to act fast and consider your longer term options. Any questions ask away.
 
Thanks both for your reply’s. I’ve got some bamboo that was planning on doing a bit of screening with but may also put up some netting as well until the bamboo gets some height.

What mated queen would you buy - carni, buckfast, jolanta ?
 
Thanks both for your reply’s. I’ve got some bamboo that was planning on doing a bit of screening with but may also put up some netting as well until the bamboo gets some height.

What mated queen would you buy - carni, buckfast, jolanta ?
The choice really is yours if your newish try a little variation your mixed couple of hives will have little influence on any future matings given all the other hives in the area.
Most of mine are bucks but I have some of Jolanta’s and I believe there’s a bit of carni in there. In the past I had carniolans but moved away from those due to the ease of acquiring good Buckfasts I could rear from.
Carni or Buckfast from a reputable supplier will both be very quiet.
 
I will tolerate defensive but definitely not followers. Their queen gets the chop, no messing. Even if you requeen it will be 6-8 weeks before all the bees are her progeny. Screening as above, but as JBM, get an out apiary site, even if you never have cause to use it. Never kept bees at home.
 
Whether it's Buckfast, Carnis or Ligustica, you can still get nasty crosses as their genes mix with the locals a couple of generations down. Buckfast seem to have the worst reputation in this regard. (Is it justified?). That's why I rear from my best each year and they are decent bees as they sit in the local genepool OK. However if I have the odd 'flighty' colony at the first inspection of spring, I usually cage the queen so there are no more bees from her until I decide what to do with them a few days later - requeen or unite. A badly behaved colony in March will be much much worse come May or June.
I have a colony this year where I replaced the queen earlier and they are still unpleasant - need to wait for another 2 or 3 weeks until all the old girls have gone. Occasionally a new queen helps the behaviour of the bees a little, a week or so after she has gone in.

I have also seen it where the removal of a queen improved the temperament which is not supposed to happen! She was quite new and being superceded but kept killing her daughters in the (supercedure) cells as they were broken down each week. Obviously something wrong with her so the bees thought, and she refused to let them replace her! What a cow!
 
Thanks. Could it be the case they are more defensive as a result of the oil seed rape I have close by that they seem to be foraging on ( heavy bee traffic seen coming and going in that direction ) or is this a myth ? Can’t seem to find any definitive answer on the subject.
Trying to reason in my head why both colonies would become more defensive this year compared to last year. The F1 buckfast is a little more defensive as well.
 
Thanks. Could it be the case they are more defensive as a result of the oil seed rape I have close by that they seem to be foraging on ( heavy bee traffic seen coming and going in that direction ) or is this a myth ? Can’t seem to find any definitive answer on the subject.
Trying to reason in my head why both colonies would become more defensive this year compared to last year. The F1 buckfast is a little more defensive as well.
It’s often suggested that they are more grumpy on OSR, and I also find that to be the case….I’m sure others will disagree.
 
They definitely more feisty than last year all of them. I’ve dispatched one queen out of the 3 colonies with view to requeen in a week. Just wondering whether to dispatch the others or wait till OSR flow is over.
 
more defensive as a result of the oil seed rape I have close by
Very likely.

When the flow stops give them a while to get over it. OSR has, (or used to have, though strains have changed) a natural chemical that was addictive/poisonous and made bees very defensive.
 
When the flow stops give them a while to get over it. OSR has, (or used to have, though strains have changed) a natural chemical that was addictive/poisonous and made bees very defensive.

Do you have any references for that. I'd love to find out more about it.

James
 
Do you have any references for that. I'd love to find out more about it.

James
Wish I did, James. At least ten years ago Epping Forest had a Beekeepers' Question Time and a person in the audience had the technical knowledge. Naturally, I cannot recall his name.
 
One potential way of reducing the issue of crossing Bf with local blacks could be to put some drone brood foundation into your Bf hives, so there are a large number of Bf drones to mate with your virgin queens. I have seen large drone populations on such frames. However your Bf drones would happily mate with queens from other beekeepers local colonies so you might not be very popular if their progeny turn out to have aggressive characteristics.
 
Bees can be feisty after the OSR has finished, even if they were all fine before-hand - not all colonies exhibit this trait though. It's part of the selection process for me.
 
Update on progress. Dispatched 2 queens from the feisty colonies a week ago and ordered replacements from bs honey bees. Yesterday they arrived and I knocked down all queen cells and put the queens in with the release tabs intact. Plan is to release tabs in 2 days. See video below of the queens that arrived - think that sound is one of the queens piping.
The irony is that the 2 queenless hives are much calmer now and the hive with the queen I didn’t dispatch (original F1 buckfast) is calmer too - pretty much with how I remember them last year. Is this coincidence that the osr has gone over here now 🤔.
My nuc with the queen in that I thought hadn’t got mated properly was now laying and larvae so I moved them into a colony and made up another colony in a spare hive with my spare mated queen. Just preparing myself now for the comments from the mrs when she notices another colony appearing. I think I’m going to extract this week as although I’m over 6ft I’m struggling to access the top box on the far left colony And also suspect there’s a load of osr in there as well.
 

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