What Bees have you?

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What Bees have you?

Post by wayland on Thu Jun 14, 2018 9:16 am

My new colony grows apace. These are the Blacks that I have heard about but never kept before. The first thing I noticed was how white their wax is compared to the Italian Bees. After reading up on the blacks and their history I am even more pleased to have them. Being indigenous they are far more suited to our climate and are apparently less susceptible to CCD and Varroa infestation. I have also noticed how far behind the times I have become. Top frame hives!, Quadrefed`s, Varroa checks with Icing Sugar etc etc. Its good to see such activity around to ensure the survival of the Honey Bee. I am curious to know how widespread the Blacks are in Ireland. In the UK they were deemed as extinct for many years but they are making a good come back thanks to the beekeepers efforts to reintroduce them. They now have strongholds in many UK counties. So as a rough survey I would ask you lads to report Honey Bee sightings in your area. The kind of thing I am looking for is straightforward enough. First. Recognise a Honey Bee. Second. Has the Bee got Yellowish Bands at the top of its abdomen or is it completely dark brown to black? Third. Where did you see the Honey Bee. Please post here whether you are a member or a visitor. Many thanks Wink
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Re: What Bees have you?

Post by Sean Ph'lib on Thu Jun 14, 2018 10:37 am

Native blacks here.

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Re: What Bees have you?

Post by wayland on Thu Jun 14, 2018 12:51 pm

I would not have dreamed that you would have any other Sean Very Happy
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Re: What Bees have you?

Post by jjstyle on Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:42 pm

I had native blacks but at the end of last year wasps attacked my hive left them very week going into winter.

I am very sad not to have any bees this year but I hope to get started again next year. I will aim to set up 3 hives next time, last time I had just one hive.

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Re: What Bees have you?

Post by Sean Ph'lib on Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:28 pm

wayland wrote:I would not have dreamed that you would have any other Sean Very Happy
Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy  you know me well !
But in my decades of beekeeping I have tried Italians, Buckfasts (imported direct from Brother Adam) and various other subspecies. After years of trial and error, I have found our native black bee to be the best.

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Re: What Bees have you?

Post by wayland on Fri Jun 15, 2018 4:53 pm

I had a Queen from Brother Adam many years ago. My uk colonies were Italian hence my hives being Lonstroth. Some of my fellow Beekeepers would feel it necessary with national`s to run a brood and a half with the Italians. I just went for a larger hive. Happy as I am having Bees again I would need to increase next year (providing we get through the winter), and so am not considering taking any honey for quite a while.
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Re: What Bees have you?

Post by Sean Ph'lib on Fri Jun 15, 2018 7:16 pm

You might consider taking a nuc from your hive in a few weeks' time. A three-frame nuc taken in July (must be fed) will build up to a strong colony before winter.

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Re: What Bees have you?

Post by Sean Ph'lib on Fri Jun 15, 2018 8:15 pm

If we had a Mediterranean climate, the Buckfast bee would be great. I don't feed my bees, and some of my Buckfasts starved to death in June - huge colonies, bad weather. Irish Blacks weathered the storm, built up again and produced a crop.

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Re: What Bees have you?

Post by wayland on Sat Jun 16, 2018 9:18 am

Sean Ph'lib wrote:  Irish Blacks weathered the storm, built up again and produced a crop.

This is what I have heard Sean Very Happy . If the colony builds strong enough I may well divide it this year. I have tried on two occasions in Ireland to get a swarm established only to have to watch the colony dwindle and die Queenless Crying or Very sad So I am watching closely and judging by the amount of pollen going in she is fine and laying well. I have not been in too much of a hurry to get in there at the moment. She can throw another swarm anytime and I have a catcher hive set up nearby. So fingers crossed.
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Re: What Bees have you?

Post by Sean Ph'lib on Sun Jun 17, 2018 2:33 pm

The biggest problem over the past few years was getting queens mated. You could divide colonies, but the queenless half would die out due to the weather being so bad that the virgins couldn't get mated in the requisite time period. I used to make up a dozen or so nucs for sale every year but abandoned it after too many mating failures.

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Re: What Bees have you?

Post by wayland on Mon Jun 18, 2018 5:30 pm

This was my experience also Sean. I was also thinking of putting in a sheet or two of drone foundation to smother the area with drones. I see there is such a thing as a mating hive yoke. Have you any knowledge of these?
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Re: What Bees have you?

Post by Sean Ph'lib on Mon Jun 18, 2018 6:08 pm

I think mating hives are just small hives which require small numbers of bees and a queen cell. They generally need insulation and feeders and all that rubbish. I think you can raise plenty of good queens in 5 frame nucs without feeders or insulation and can then use the nucs to build up into full-size colonies. But I'm an old-fashioned beekeeper - I follow a lot of the teachings of R. Manley, the great English beekeeper of the early 20th century. As regards drone foundation, I regularly put a few frames of drone foundation in the first super (which I never rob). If the queen doesn't lay in it, the bees fill it with honey. I'm a firm believer in having plenty drones in the hive. Bees in their natural state, building combs without any foundation, will have roughly 20% drones. I'm experimenting this year with using foundationless frames in the brood chamber so the bees can make up their own mind what sort of combs to build.

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Re: What Bees have you?

Post by wayland on Tue Jun 19, 2018 7:35 am

Interesting this is Sean. After reading about Top bars and Quadratics I have set up a super without foundation. Well not quite, only half inch at the top of the frames. I noticed a few beekeepers with Top/Quad hives dont use bottom supports on the frames, others do. This all seems a bit strange to me but they seem to work. I was at a demonstration many years ago by a beekeeper who had designed a hive which had frames shaped like natural comb. The brood chamber was likewise shaped. He was more or less laughed at out of the room. Now we have Top Bars which is similar to what he was advocating. Old men in modern times I suppose. So whats the plan with the foundation less idea?
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Re: What Bees have you?

Post by Sean Ph'lib on Tue Jun 19, 2018 1:25 pm

The main reason is that nearly all commercial foundation in contaminated with all kinds of chemicals and antibiotics and crap that most beekeepers dose their bees with. And that stuff is not good for bee larvae to be in contact with. Secondly, we have now, by the use of unnaturally sized foundation bred a bee which is bigger than the one we started with. It will take quite a few generations of naturally bred bees to reduce their size, but there you go - the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Also, bees just do not like foundation. Give them a choice between an empty space and frames of foundation and they will nearly always go for the empty space. Your practice of a half inch of foundation at the top of the frame is the right way to go about it. The only thing you must ensure is: the hive must be absolutely level as the bees will build their comb plumb whether or not the frames are plumb. If the frames are out of plumb, you'll end up with combs crossing from one frame to the next.

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Re: What Bees have you?

Post by wayland on Tue Jun 19, 2018 5:12 pm

Cheers Sean. I had not considered being plumb overly important. In fact I am in the habit of a slight slant out of the door. Now where is my spirit level?
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