How mean are "mean bees?"

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How mean are "mean bees?"

Unread post by Countryboy »

How mean are "mean bees?" What's the difference between mean and defensive bees?

This past spring, I bought a load (90) of package bees from a beekeeper in South Carolina. He's a young guy, about 30 years old. He raises queens himself, and said they are mainly an Italian stock but are a mongrel bee.

I sold some packages, (no complaints from buyers) and kept about half of them for myself. (2 yards of 10 hives, and the rest into 5 frame nuc boxes which were repeatedly split over summer and used as mating nucs.)

These are some mean bastards. Extremely runny on the combs, inferior honey production to my other bee stock, about 20% died over the summer, they won't rob a deadout or stacks of honey you are pulling, (even during the August dearth) and they are just plain mean. You can go into the yard with no problem, but the moment you crack open a hive, they come pouring out like crazy. Smoke has little to no effect on them. Once they are mad, you have to drive 1/4 mile before you can take your jacket off.

I had thin cotton pants on when I tried pulling honey. My legs felt like I was walking through briars. After one got through my pants, boxers, and nailed the tip of Mr. Happy, I decided to go home and put on better pants. I left the stacks of pulled honey supers. When I returned 45 minutes later, the bees hadn't even thought about robbing yet, and there was no nectar flow either. The gloves show the number of stings I got on my wrists, after only pulling honey from 4 hives.

10 years ago, I got 5 queens from a beekeeper in New Mexico. I think one of those queens mated with an Africanized drone, because those bees were hot. The bees I got this spring acted almost identical to the AHB I had 10 years ago.

At the beginning of this month, the package producer emailed me (and other package buyers) offering me the first chance to reserve packages for next year. I replied to him, telling him how mean his bees were, and including pics of my gloves. I told him that I might be interested if he used a reputable queen supplier, but I wanted no part of any queens he produced. He still hasn't bothered to reply.

From the info I can find, AHB are not in South Carolina. But an AHB cross is what they put me in the mind of.
How do we define a mean bee? How hot is too hot? My test is that if bees are so mean they are not fun to work with, then they are too hot.

How hot is acceptable? How hot can non-AHB European bees be?
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Allen Dick
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Re: How mean are "mean bees?"

Unread post by Allen Dick »

interesting video. That's how I do it, too.

Those bees remind me of Dee Lusby's bees.

Aggressiveness of bee stock will vary with region when they are moved around. Andy Nachbaur ... -nachbaur/ said that bees that were gentle in California immediately got mean when trucked to Arizona.

I saw that when I bought bees in Ontario and took them to Alberta. They were mean in Ontario and I needed a veil to even peek into them, but I worked them in shorts without a veil in Alberta.

Time of day matters, too. When pollinating canola in Southern Alberta, even walking through a yard before 9AM got me stung multiple times, but an hour later, the bees could care less.

BTW, when combining hives, I quit using newspaper except during serious dearths. Found it unnecessary.
Allen Dick, RR#1 Swalwell, Alberta, Canada T0M 1Y0
51° 33'39.64"N 113°18'52.45"W
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