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T'best bees to mek unny oop North.

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wbchive 

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The most prolific bees I ever had came from a swarm that I collected from the middle of a very dodgy council estate in Bradford. When I got there, there was a cordon of police officers across the road to stop the local kids from throwing stones at it. I'm sure these bees had been affected by their environment.
1. It was a massive family and the mother kept on producing more and more kids.
2. Hardly any of them went out to work. When I opened the hive, even on a lovely, warm day, they were all lounging around at home.
3. I suspect that what little honey they did produce was nicked from the other hives in my garden.
4. They were rather intolerant of other races. When I tried to unite them with a failing colony of Carniolans they wiped them out and dumped them on the ground in front of the hive.
5. At the end of each year I had a huge colony and no honey, and I had to pile loads of resources into them.

Anyway, I digress! My colony produced bees, not honey. Does anyone know of a strain that produces bees in moderation, and honey in abundance, that would thrive in the Pennines in West Yorkshire?

Steve J.
 

admin 

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In a word:

"Buckfast".
 

bobandbec 

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We are in the North West and use a buckfast cross. So far they have worked and wintered well for us over the last 3-4 seasons. Temperament has also remained good.

Peter
 

gavin 

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Monkish bees here even further oop north (one colony of mine, a much greater sample of a friend):

- they wear nice robes!
- well organised, keep their homes neat
- wouldn't say boo to a goose
- unlike Monks, tend to sponge off all the neighbours in the vicinity
- also most un-monk-like, they don't get up early in the morning (or perhaps they are all busy inside on devotional duties)
- do well in warm weather when everything in the vegetable garden is rosy
- pretty useless at laying in plenty of goodies for the winter

Local near-native mongrels:

- rather variable, until you put better mums in charge of the rowdy households
- unfazed by cool or wet weather and will still go out to get the messages when required
- a bit squat and surly at times, hairer in places, sometimes pull the hairs on my hands and bash into me, but pretty well-behaved when you get to know them
- up nice and early, long before me, especially when the trees are in flower
- gives you that nice warm feeling that they are basically much the same as the bees of your grand and great grandfathers
- give them a healthy diet and individually they outlive Monkish and foreign bees significantly, meaning that less brood raising is needed for a full colony
- tend not to eat up everything they brought it during the good times
- they are particularly careful with that great treasure of the autumn, heather honey, which they package in a most attractive way with air under the capping to give a whitish finish

The Pennines call for Amm, no doubt about that! There are plenty of native bee enthusiasts around and maybe the secretary of YBKA would be a useful contact. He's active in BIBBA.

http://www.ydbka.org.uk/

all the best

Gavin
 

Hivemaker. 

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The buckfast type strains do very well down here,but so do the local mongrels consistantly,call them what you like. Carniolan....good for producing masses of bee's and making up nuc's with better queens,thats about the only use i can see for them.
Up north.i think you need pretty much the bee's Gavin describes,local productive mongrels,one's that have allready proved they do well in your area.
 
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wbchive 

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Thanks to all who replied. Looks as if it's Amm/local mongrels then. I have local mongrels already, and they are small and quite dark. They didn't make any honey this year because they came as a very small cast with a virgin queen so it's taken them ages to build up the population. Hopefully they'll be set to be productive next year.

As a post script to my chavvy bees story, when I arrived on the estate and got out of my car in my beekeeping suit there was a little girl of about 9 years standing on the pavement. She had the face of an angel and was the picture of innocence. "Are you going to get them bees?" she asked. "Yes, love," I replied, "I'm going to put them in this box and take them away." She gazed at me with her enormous, blue eyes and said, "You must be f***ing mad!"

Steve J.
 

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