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fiat500bee 

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I ask this with a smile and I hope it can be answered the same way. I admit that I have almost zero experience and that I'm therefore, largely a theoretical beekeeper.

Some of my "hero","celebrity" bee-gurus advocate using queens raised from your own stock and say that if we allow the bees to choose when to raise their own new queens and allow a healthy population of drones to exist we will be rewarded by having the best colonies we could hope for.
Whilst this idyllic philosophy appeals to me and is one that I presently hope to be able to put to the test, having read some previous threads in which strong opinion :sport-smiley-002:in favour of bought-in queens was expressed, I suspect that majority opinion is against these ideas.

I accept that beekeepers may have reasons such as wanting to try new or favoured strains, seeking to have more productive bees or even to have bees less prone to swarming.
But really, my question is, if I repeatedly allow my bees to do as I describe and presumably to get increasingly varied genes, including from the drones of neighbouring beekeepers who possibly do buy-in their queens, will I end up with a pathetic, unproductive bunch of bees rather than the thriving colonies of my dreams? ;)
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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my question is, if I repeatedly allow my bees to do as I describe and presumably to get increasingly varied genes, including from the drones of neighbouring beekeepers who possibly do buy-in their queens, will I end up with a pathetic, unproductive bunch of bees rather than the thriving colonies of my dreams? ;)
Depends on many things - what you started with, what exactly your neighbours have or how good/poor a beekeeper they are and also how you and your neighbours manage their bees. Nothing wrong with sticking to your own bees but it's always good to bring in a few new genes from further afield/other beekeepers.
I think most on here would be hypocritical in the extreme if they hadn't brought in stock from further afield (even if only a few counties away or just from another part of the British isles) to improve their local lovelies.
 

Apple 

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I ask this with a smile and I hope it can be answered the same way. I admit that I have almost zero experience and that I'm therefore, largely a theoretical beekeeper.

Some of my "hero","celebrity" bee-gurus advocate using queens raised from your own stock and say that if we allow the bees to choose when to raise their own new queens and allow a healthy population of drones to exist we will be rewarded by having the best colonies we could hope for.
Whilst this idyllic philosophy appeals to me and is one that I presently hope to be able to put to the test, having read some previous threads in which strong opinion :sport-smiley-002:in favour of bought-in queens was expressed, I suspect that majority opinion is against these ideas.

I accept that beekeepers may have reasons such as wanting to try new or favoured strains, seeking to have more productive bees or even to have bees less prone to swarming.
But really, my question is, if I repeatedly allow my bees to do as I describe and presumably to get increasingly varied genes, including from the drones of neighbouring beekeepers who possibly do buy-in their queens, will I end up with a pathetic, unproductive bunch of bees rather than the thriving colonies of my dreams? ;)
Are the bees you have unproductive and not thriving?
The choice is yours, either buy in queens with all the problems of disease, unknown genetics etc etc
Or take time to improve your own stock by careful selection of the best and most productive and non swarmy bees for your location and local environmental conditions... and curse the lazy beekeeper down the road for importing rubbish bees and messing up your bee improvement programme!
 

fiat500bee 

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Are the bees you have unproductive and not thriving?

Or take time to improve your own stock by careful selection of the best and most productive and non swarmy bees for your location and local environmental conditions...
Thank-ypu for that. I've got some locals and some Buckfasts. I can already see the textbook differences in characteristics. Both colonies were started late and with different growth curves have ended up at about the same lvevel at this point in the year. I'm looking forward to cultivating my stocks initially, at least, without importation of externally produced queens.
 

Bryang 

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Locally to my hives I have a problem with the local mongrels... They are very "unsettled" on the comb,and tend to be very defencive/aggressive when I inspect them...I've tried Buckfast Qs from 2 different suppliers, and when I raised new Qs from them them the bees were VERY aggressive, making it impossable to inspect them...Tried some Qs from a supplier recommended by JBM....Best thing I ever done...They are quite calm on the frame (like Buckfast)... Always get a good crop of honey, (like Buckfast)...If I let them raise their own Q, unlike Buckfast the new bees are fairly calm on the comb, not aggressive, but a bit deffencive, and give me a good crop....I find Buckfast very swarmy (in this area), even after doing swarm prevention....The Qs I now use rarely swarm..but they supercede late in the year...The supplier is based not far away from me..
 

Apple 

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Oh my.. since we are opening up the BKF winter can of worms......
I just have to ask... what is a Buckfast?
 
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I have both local mongrels reared from my own stock - the offspring of swarms I have collected over the years (these have all tended to be small black bees) and bees from bought in queens ... which have also been black bees ...

They are all nice bees, reasonably productive and not that swarmy .. and healthy. Whether this is the result of the stock or my inept beekeeping I know not ..

So...my view .. whether you have local mongrels, collect swarms, rear your own queens, buy in queens ...preferably from UK breeders ... the main thing is that your colonies need to be what YOU want from them. If local mongrels have the qualities you seek then that's fine.

I buy in occasional queens .. I have bought AMM's from Ged Marshall, Jon Getty and Ceri Morgan amongst a couple of others. I've had a Nuc colony of so called Buckfasts who requeened themselves almost as soon as I got them home .. I buy in more to see what other stock is like as opposed to wanting to see any improvement in what I already have .... I've not been disappointed in any of the bees I have or have had.
 

Murox 

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Locally to my hives I have a problem with the local mongrels... They are very "unsettled" on the comb,and tend to be very defencive/aggressive when I inspect them...I've tried Buckfast Qs from 2 different suppliers, and when I raised new Qs from them them the bees were VERY aggressive, making it impossable to inspect them...Tried some Qs from a supplier recommended by JBM....Best thing I ever done...They are quite calm on the frame (like Buckfast)... Always get a good crop of honey, (like Buckfast)...If I let them raise their own Q, unlike Buckfast the new bees are fairly calm on the comb, not aggressive, but a bit deffencive, and give me a good crop....I find Buckfast very swarmy (in this area), even after doing swarm prevention....The Qs I now use rarely swarm..but they supercede late in the year...The supplier is based not far away from me..
40 years ago I had Buckfast, they were nothing like your description.
 

Bryang 

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40 years ago I had Buckfast, they were nothing like your description.
The bees from the original Buckfast Qs are wonderful to work with, calm on the comb, non aggressive...But for some reason they are "swarmy" in this area...and if I raise a Q from them they are not nice..Most of my problem with the local bees has been caused by a local "beekeeper" who has delibretly chosen to keep very deffensive bees because he has had a lot of vandalism problems with his hives....When I started to keep bees I visited his apiary, and he boasted that nobody could get within 10 mtrs of his hives without being stung. He never inspects them.. Hard to believe...but sadly true..
 

Angry_Mob 

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Personally I buy in a fair few queens and have tried quite a few suppliers, part of the fun is comparing and contrasting the different strains. My preference is still for Buckfast but I'm trying to figure out what works best for me so I have introduced some recommended Carnica queens. In a few years I expect I will settle on one or the other however I will continue to buy in queens as the variability in the weather where I am makes queen rearing difficult and unpredictable.

I think whatever you strain you choose starting with the best queens you can buy as a baseline and periodically brining in new genetics may be the way to go.



I buy in occasional queens .. I have bought AMM's from Ged Marshall..
I didn't know Ged even sold AMM's or was this many moons ago?
 
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Personally I buy in a fair few queens and have tried quite a few suppliers, part of the fun is comparing and contrasting the different strains. My preference is still for Buckfast but I'm trying to figure out what works best for me so I have introduced some recommended Carnica queens. In a few years I expect I will settle on one or the other however I will continue to buy in queens as the variability in the weather where I am makes queen rearing difficult and unpredictable.

I think whatever you strain you choose starting with the best queens you can buy as a baseline and periodically brining in new genetics may be the way to go.

I didn't know Ged even sold AMM's or was this many moons ago?
Some years ago now, I can't remember what the Queen was described as, so I may have been mistaken, but she produced small black bees.... recent queens bought have been from Jon Getty and Ceri Morgan.
 

Hachi 

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Personally, sick and tired of working my butt off trying to live with the local nasty bas***ds. Low yields, vicious on a good day and just a pain in the butt to me and all those round them. Bought in Q's starting with UK suppliers but the numbers now needed they are cost prohibitive. My bee's now are calm giving good yields and pleasant to be round. Happy days.
 
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Personally, sick and tired of working my butt off trying to live with the local nasty bas***ds. Low yields, vicious on a good day and just a pain in the butt to me and all those round them. Bought in Q's starting with UK suppliers but the numbers now needed they are cost prohibitive. My bee's now are calm giving good yields and pleasant to be round. Happy days.
Nobody should allow really agressive bees to continue ... there's no need. Do you raise your own queens now or just buy in ? How often do you re-queen ? Are they UK stock or from abroad ?

The cost of good queens is going up every year but I don't bregrudge the breeders their prices, they do all the work and a good queen will more than repay her cost in honey crop over a couple of seasons.

I have heard of some queens failing after just a season but not from the recognised reputable suppliers.
 

Antipodes 

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I'm pleased with the Italian queens I purchased. So much easier to work with, and big colonies. Having said that, the best of my other queens (calmness wise) is from a very dark queen. Agree with Angry M, it's fun to compare and contrast.
 

hemo 

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My best bees/queen is from a swarm collected early April 2019, very yellow Q and bees. Able to inspect with no gloves and just a veil, they swarmed this May and were placed in another hive to build up nicely for next year. Replacement Q #1 in parent hive acquired the same calm nonchalant genes of the mother and the bee have remained the same.
Spanner in the works the replacement also swarmed late July, may have been down to varroa load as they dropped a lot during vaping late summer . Again Q & swarm is now in a nuc will see if they make it thru winter/spring.
Replacement Q #2 again appears to have the same qualities as the previous pair and the bees also, quiet on the comb and non defensive.
108lbs crop taken mid June from an exceptional spring how ever summer forage was good for the colony but no excess for the beekeeper to remove.

Check on all three last week and all behaving like pussy cats.

All my colonies over the 14 years I have had bees have always been swarms or colony Q replacements except for the first colony I was gifted. I have yet to pay for a queen.
 

jmallchorne 

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I have a number of Irish AMM (British/Irish Black bees), I also have localised hives (originally Buckfast type). I consider the AMM to be a more natural type that show more natural traits for defensiveness, winter cluster size and foraging, the localised bees will slowly approach similar traits. Over defensiveness is a common genetic correction when localising hybrids. Personally I think we should stop importing hybrid F1s and work towards local types selecting out the unacceptably defensive etc.
 

boywonder 

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The way I look at it is that, in bee husbandry, there is a sliding scale of practice in regard to sustainability/bee-friendliness. One end (typically) is inhabited by commercial bee-farmers - the other by people wearing jesus sandals. One end of this scale is pragmatic (i.e. bought in queens) - the other dogmatic (i.e. locally adapted). I generalise.

Most of us here are hobbyists, and, sitting somewhat in the middle of the spectrum, wring our hands about what is the "right" direction of travel.

As has been said above, there is no right answer. You need to evaluate your own goals before deciding what is right for you.

I have previously bought-in good Queens (e.g. from Hivemaker, BS, Ged Marshall etc.), and have been pleased with the quality, smug about improving the genetic diversity in the gene pool, and happy to learn their individual characteristics. I've swung, incidentally, from being a Carnica-lover, to Buckfast and am now swinging back to Carnica. In the main, when rearing my own queens, I generally select from my best performing/behaving girls, irrespective of their origin. My personal favourite colony is mongrel (my legendary "white Queen" then "yellow Queen" who was superseded perfectly this year (by a hopefully equally legendary "blue Queen"). My best performing colony was a captured local swarm.

I am personally very tolerant of a range of behavioural traits... and, as I evaluate (at a more profound level) why I keep bees, and what is best for them, I (at the same time as considering the merits of top-bar beekeeping) wonder whether I shouldn't just allow nature to serve-me-up more "locally adapted" bees, and stop buying-in entirely.

Locally adapted means not just to the climate, but the forage (which has implications for general health, co-evolved disease and mite resistance and e.g. overwintering). That may (or may not) be at the expense of temperament and yields, but, (generally) in the great scheme of small-scale beekeeping, probably not to a great degree.

Since watching Attenborough's latest documentary, I have been thinking more deeply about how human intervention in the world order is nothing but destructive to ecosystems (and the world) ... so know which direction I will be travelling in - but there is no "right" answer. Good luck, and don't worry, bee api about it all!
 
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The Poot in Somerset 

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Mine are progressively becoming darker as each year passes. All now from locals and swarms, as a local keeper has introduced some very dark queens from Cornwall over the last two seasons. So far all prove to be garden friendly. I have two queens from supercedure, so I hope the offspring next season remain so.
 
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