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What's wrong with local bees? :)

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Finman 

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You mean that they ice age bees have not evolved and adapted since 10000 odd years ago?
Do the Russians beekeepers still dress up like a bear and get an accomplice to open the hive and take the honey?
If Ice Age bees are original, they have not evolved. They are so good. Tundra bees.

We started to keep bees 150 years ago. Only few hives.
 
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RichardBeeW 

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I like to rear my own queens that are 'locally adapted' and occasionally bring in new genetics in the form of queen cells, virgin queens donated by like-minded beekeeping friends & mentors, who keep good bees. Tend to have dark bees & I try to keep to this i.e. select from these rather than keep yellow queens that emerge.

I'm fairly early on in my queen raising experience but have learnt the following points over the last 3 seasons:
-Raising your own is challenging but interesting & exciting & you learn a lot along the way about bee behaviour, makes it very rewarding to do
-Need a place to rear queens where mating success is good (I live at 1000ft in Yorkshire but my 'mating' site is now down in the valley at 300ft. Good diversity and good mating success)
-Avoid areas (if you can) where fellow beekeepers have completely different philosophies (eg at home my first black queen, turned to yellow within 2 generations & became more susceptible to sac brood (my nearest neighbour buys in Buckfast from Devon!)
-Decide on what's important to you & rate your colonies on these attributes. Mine are good temper & calm on comb; reasonably productive (good honey, frugal on stores), relatively free of disease, e.g. chalk brood, sac brood, lower end of varroa numbers, come out of winter on a relatively clean floor ie show some form of hygienic behaviour
-Keep good records & divide your colonies into groups based on the criteria that are important to you & based on analysis of your records at the end of the season . My groups are A) Your best that you want to rear from (2 out of my 12 colonies). I put extra drone comb in these colonies & make nucs from these. I keep the original queen for as long as possible if her daughter queens show similar traits; B) Ok but not sure, need more time to assess. I keep as these production colonies. Don't queen rear from these but I might let them re-queen if still assessing, I also use these to help other colonies out e.g. share brood when needed or use to draw comb if they're a good comb builder (7 out of my 12 colonies); C) Ditch, re-queen (3 of my 12 colonies next year) - usually due to poorer temper or pest/disease weakness e.g. chalbrood, sac brood, high varroa

I am definitely leaning to keeping locally adapted bees & don't think I would buy in from overseas. This is driven by where I live but also I think it's better for biosecurity and the health of our bees in the long run. Raising your own is more challenging but also if you've got 'bee fever' like me, it's very rewarding :)
Thanks for that 👍 I really like the clarity and the division of colonies into three. I think I’ll develop along very similar lines 🤞🤞🤞
 

fiat500bee 

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Wonderful to hear, Richard. Excellent post by elainemary.
I agree; much along the lines described here by Jo Widdicombe...I found nothing that I disagreed with. Again, I can see it's been done to death before my time but it answers all of my questions. :)

 

Nige.Coll 

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Never managed to work out the rhetoric behind the local bees are best movement.
In my experience they are sub standard in every way.
They make less honey.
Behaviour is a lottery.
Overwintering is either no different or worse.
Disease tolerance is normally worse.
Swarming is normally worse.
Most of the local bees sold around here are ones dragged out of a hedge and put into a box for a month then sold to a beginner that then complains they have swarmed or stung them senseless. Easy money I guess.
 
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Never managed to work out the rhetoric behind the local bees are best movement.
In my experience they are sub standard in every way.
They make less honey.
Behaviour is a lottery.
Overwintering is either no different or worse.
Disease tolerance is normally worse.
Swarming is normally worse.
Most of the local bees sold around here are ones dragged out of a hedge and put into a box for a month then sold to a beginner that then complains they have swarmed or stung them senseless. Easy money I guess.
Not all local bees are like this.. I've Italian locals that I've reared and they are prolific, good honey producers and gentle.
There is definitely cow boys out there for sure.
 

Hachi 

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Damn! A lot more than I ever thought I'd have
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.
Hi Phil I'll answer your Q's in turn:

No time or desire to make my own right now, I buy in.
I work on replacing end of every 2nd year or two summers. After this they're gone.
Abroad. They are very competitively priced and cracking Q's. Tried UK Q's most were average at best. The one's I like were round the £40 mark this year I seem to recall which for the numbers I need, is way too pricey for my pocket.

Interestingly, didn't they (UK Q's) all go up a couple of quid this year :unsure:

I'm yet to be convinced Q's are worth the money they're being sold for in the UK but that depends on what you want from them and the reasons why your a beekeeper.

I have a Q for you Phil et al, What the heck does "locally adapted" actually mean?? Is it just another buzz word (no pun intended) or have I missed something?
 

elainemary 

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Hi Phil I'll answer your Q's in turn:

No time or desire to make my own right now, I buy in.
I work on replacing end of every 2nd year or two summers. After this they're gone.
Abroad. They are very competitively priced and cracking Q's. Tried UK Q's most were average at best. The one's I like were round the £40 mark this year I seem to recall which for the numbers I need, is way too pricey for my pocket.

Interestingly, didn't they (UK Q's) all go up a couple of quid this year :unsure:

I'm yet to be convinced Q's are worth the money they're being sold for in the UK but that depends on what you want from them and the reasons why your a beekeeper.

I have a Q for you Phil et al, What the heck does "locally adapted" actually mean?? Is it just another buzz word (no pun intended) or have I missed something?
To me locally adapted means the following:
-Locally reared ie allowed to develop without proactively ‘introduced’ foreign sources, which can cause variability and instability, making it near impossible to create a locally adapted bee
-Adapted means has genes that makes them fitter ie more likely to survive in the prevailing local conditions
-This doesn’t mean isolation. Concentration of genes can result in loss of adaptability to local conditions as they change, ie genetic diversity is a good thing
Agree there is probably a confusion of terms and creating a locally adapted bee is very difficult to achieve without everyone buying into the idea. However selecting and rearing queens from your best has to be a good place to start
Elaine
 

Hachi 

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Damn! A lot more than I ever thought I'd have
To me locally adapted means the following:
-Locally reared ie allowed to develop without proactively ‘introduced’ foreign sources, which can cause variability and instability, making it near impossible to create a locally adapted bee
-Adapted means has genes that makes them fitter ie more likely to survive in the prevailing local conditions
-This doesn’t mean isolation. Concentration of genes can result in loss of adaptability to local conditions as they change, ie genetic diversity is a good thing
Agree there is probably a confusion of terms and creating a locally adapted bee is very difficult to achieve without everyone buying into the idea. However selecting and rearing queens from your best has to be a good place to start
Elaine
Thanks Elaine so in reality, its just trying to get a pure local bee which, as you say, is virtually impossible to achieve? But I understand the "principle" behind the theory.
 

Nige.Coll 

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Not all local bees are like this.. I've Italian locals that I've reared and they are prolific, good honey producers and gentle.
There is definitely cow boys out there for sure.
A lot would say if their italians they cannot be locals.
 

Finman 

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I can see that locally adapted can mean what ever, except not adapted. It is just a word and it can be used as you like.

My friend professional beekeeper said, that his bees are not the same as 10 years ago. Continuos beebreeding changed genepool. New genes come in to the genepool. But they are locally adapted.
 
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A lot would say if their italians they cannot be locals.
The queen's have been reared locally and the original stock was my grandads Italians from 2015.. They are more Amm than Italians as all my other bees are so.
The queen's that I selected have still the Italian colouring and the colonys act and perform in much the same way.

Here's a video of one of our local Italian colonys.
As you can see they are very dark.. But the Queen is as orange/yellow as you like.
I'll post some pictures in the future of my Italian local queens for you to look at
 
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Finman 

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A lot would say if their italians they cannot be locals.
But we talk about locally adapted. In Finland bees are locally adapted even if lots of queens are imported directly from Italy. In Italy bees have ability to do well in Finland. If we buy Italians from Australia, they probably die next winter.

In Finland 90% out of bees are Italians.
 

Finman 

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The queen's have been reared locally and the original stock was my grandads Italians from 2015.. They are more Amm than Italians as all my other bees are so.
The queen's that I selected have still the Italian colouring and the colonys act and perform in much the same way.

As you can see they are very dark.. But the Queen is as orange/yellow as you like.
I'll post some pictures in the future of my Italian local queens for you to look at
They are more black bees than Italians, because they have black color. Difficult to say them yellow. Ordinary mongrels then, if the queen is yellow. ...
 

Apple 

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That is right. Local mongrel is equal to local open mating. And they mate locally.

I do not accept supercedure queens, because they are not selected by me. My experience is that supercedure queens quality is under average. Daughters are not from best hives.

After number of years.... original genes have vanished. What you have is village genepool.
Once upon a time a highly respected entomologist and beekeeper by the name of Beowulf A. Cooper formed the Village Bee Breeders' Association, that was 1963.

Since that time there have been many successes in improving our local stock of native bees.

Sadly ( in the UK) there are some who continue to mess around with imported exotic bees and then complain that due to their own ineptitude and inability to select and breed good gentle and productive bees that they have to continue to import and requeen annually as they claim their local bees have turned nasty.

Northern Continental Europe is a different case, and I recall from my studies of Scandinavian history that during the great retreat from Finland that the fleeing and eventually defeated army was instructed to burn all the beehives... leaving a massive void in the honeybee population.
I presume that you have been selecting from the now village genepool brought in to replaced the vanished bees ever since?

Chons da
 

Erichalfbee 

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The queen's have been reared locally and the original stock was my grandads Italians from 2015.. They are more Amm than Italians as all my other bees are so.
The queen's that I selected have still the Italian colouring and the colonys act and perform in much the same way.

Here's a video of one of our local Italian colonys.
As you can see they are very dark.. But the Queen is as orange/yellow as you like.
I'll post some pictures in the future of my Italian local queens for you to look at
I have a swarm that arrived last year; a large Prime. The queen is so yellow she stands out like a Belisha Beacon but her bees are all dark; not black but very few bees with even one orange stripe. So I should imagine she is somebody’s open mated F1 from an Italian queen
 
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