Category Archives: Bee Breeding

How to Feed a Winter Apidea

If you are overwintering an Apidea you will need to keep a close eye on the stores – especially in a mild winter when the queen may start to lay early. This one in the picture above has a double brood box and was well stocked with ivy honey in autumn but it felt a bit light so I fed it today.  If you are wondering why the air vent is left open – that’s because they have it completely propolised and I don’t want to leave the front door wide open.

Here’s what to do with the feed though: Continue reading How to Feed a Winter Apidea

How to overwinter an Apidea

At the end of the summer, it is not always possible to find a colony in need of a new queen, especially after a summer as good as this one (2014) when it seems all the queens mated well. Nor is it always possible to find colonies with sufficient sealed brood to make up a nuc without weakening them unduly before winter. So what to do with those last, late queens in your Apideas?

Here is the quandary I found myself in this year: I had several sad little queenless Apideas and two other strong ones, each with five frames (feeder removed) and with good laying queens in them. I can never quite face shaking the poor queenless bees out, nucs weren’t possible and there’s nothing so sad as watching an Apidea dwindle its way into winter with laying workers and a bellyful of slugs.

So here’s the recipe: Continue reading How to overwinter an Apidea

Quick queen-bee introduction – Matchbox Method

There are many reasons during the course of the season why you might need to replace a queen bee. She could have become a drone layer, you may have killed her by accident or it could be that the bees need to be improved by the addition of a new queen with better genes. Whatever the reason, you can’t just put her in because they will almost certainly kill her – although I have known cases where clipped queens have fallen to the ground in failed swarming attempts and have then made their way back up the stand legs and into the front door of a queenless neighbour! Continue reading Quick queen-bee introduction – Matchbox Method

Overheating Apideas

If, like me, you have placed your Apidea/s in a spot that overheats in very hot weather you can easily cool them down and stop them from absconding by draping a white flannel or a strip of pale towelling over them like an Arab headdress. The pale colour will reflect a lot of the heat and if you periodically drench the cloth with cold water the problem is solved.

Alternatively you could just put a big sponge on the roof and wet it at intervals. Make sure there is a slope is away from the entrance or water will run in.

Also, make sure that you have the ventilation grille partially open so the bees can circulate the air. If you fully open the door you will fully close the grille so avoid that – see the photo above.

Click here for instructions on how to set up an Apidea

Click here for how to overwinter an Apidea

Click here for how to feed a winter Apidea

Copyright © Beespoke.info, 2014. All Rights Reserved.

Carniolan Bee

The Carniolan bee also known as Apis mellifera carnica or A.m.carnica for short has its origins in Eastern Europe and is therefore adapted to a continental climate with cold hard winters and long hot summers. It is now the main bee in Germany.

Carniolan Bees
Carniolan Bees

Photo from https://beeinformed.org/2012/04/queen-bee-identification/

It is also known as the Grey bee because 3 segments of its abdomen are broadly covered in a thick pelt of short grey hairs which partially conceals the underlying dark abdomen giving it a frosted look. Photo from queen bee identification article on www.beeinformed.org

It is similar to the Italian bee in that it is a medium sized bee with a long narrow body and limbs and it also has the same long proboscis which enables it to make full use of the red clover – an important forage crop in Europe.

It also shares the same gentle nature as the Italian bee but has a stronger swarming tendency. Coming from further north it fares better over winter being very thrifty with a smaller brood nest. Come spring and the build-up is very rapid indeed an adaptation to take advantage of an early flow.

If you are thinking of importing Carniolan bees – or buying from somebody else who imports Carniolan or any  other bees for that matter – remember Small Hive Beetle is out there waiting for somebody like you. You don’t want to find yourself in front of god explaining why you introduced the most devastating bee parasite to Ireland now do you?  Click here for more on Small Hive Beetle

Click here for more about the Native Irish Bee

Click here for updated list of Irish Native Honey Bee suppliers

Click  here for more about the Italian bee

Click here for the Buckfast bee

Copyright © Beespoke.info, 2014. All Rights Reserved.

 

Buckfast Bee

The Buckfast Bee is named after Buckfast Abbey in Devon, in England, where it was first bred by famous bee breeder Brother Adam.

Brother Adam
Brother Adam

Brother Adam (Karl Kehrle 1898-1996) came to Buckfast Abbey from Germany at the age of 12 and began to assist the beekeeper. In 1916, 30 of the 46 beehives at the Abbey were wiped out by Isle of Wight disease, now recognised as Acarine – a parasitic mite which moves in and occupies the windpipes of bees. Continue reading Buckfast Bee

Italian Bee

The Italian bee – also known as Apis mellifera ligustica or A.m.ligustica for short – is perfectly adapted to the Italian climate and flora and a very glamorous bee altogether.

As you can see from this photo, borrowed from http://beeinformed.org, it is mainly light brown in colour and strikingly striped with dark brown on the abdomen.

Italian Bees
Italian Queen with retinue

Continue reading Italian Bee

Book Review: ‘Breeding Techniques and Selection for Breeding of the Honeybee’ by Friedrich Ruttner

This is a book for the winter; it is a slim volume – a mere 150 pages – but like a nutritious meal with plenty of fibre it requires time, concentration and a lot of chewing. When you read a book like this you realise just how little you know about bees – it really is packed with information.

He begins with queen rearing. Every aspect of queen rearing, from the selection of a queen rearing method, selection of starter and rearer colonies, queenright versus queenless, selection of eggs and larvae or queens and drones, even selection of the right bees for mini-nucs all is gone over with meticulous attention to detail, logical consideration and backed up with scientific study.

Detailed information on the mechanics of the various queen rearing manipulations is also supplied.

After pointing out the difference between queen rearing and bee breeding he moves on to consider which bee to breed from and points out that only breeding within a pure species will result in traits which are heritable. Good qualities often found in hybrids are not passed on reliably to the next generation so: “The starting point in breeding must therefore be the race, that is to say, a combination of genetic qualities sieved and tested by Nature herself.”

There is variability within each race, the performance of colonies can be evaluated and stocks either included or excluded from the breeding program depending on their characteristics. He gives six factors to be evaluated –

  • Honey production;
  • Spring build up;
  • Urge to draw foundation;
  • Absence of signs of inbreeding – gappy brood;
  • Gentleness;
  • Steadiness on the comb.

The identification of the chosen species is vital of course and much information is given on the methods such as observable characteristics such as colour, size and hairiness and less obvious features which can only be detected by more scientific methods such as wing morphometry.

I’m not going to go into wing morphometry here except to say that it is the study and and measurement of the veins and panels in the wings of the honeybee. From a distance this can look like a bottle of smoke until when you realise that these measurements are calibrated against those of preserved museum samples of bees from as far back as the Vikings – long before the importation of bees was thought of.

A chapter on bee genetics is never going to read like a bodice ripper but there should be a better way of getting this message across. Simply put – inbreeding is to be avoided or you’re going to get sluggish bees with gappy brood that don’t build up, can’t be bothered to go out to work and don’t overwinter with thrift or efficiency. Ring any bells?

This book is no walk in the park, nothing containing this level and amount of detailed information could be, but it is a vital reference-section occupant for the beekeeper’s bookshelf and for anyone serious about conserving their native bee it is essential reading – however difficult.

Good luck!

Copyright © Beespoke.info, 2014. All Rights Reserved.