Hive Beetle fresh opinions. New spring hives. WolfCreek and Georgia Bees 2013

new bee hive

First new hive, Italian bees, all stragglers vacating the box after dumping.

WHY I PICKED THE BEE BREEDS I DID
I said previously that all my bees didn’t make it because of the beetles, and that I’d be ordering bees to start fresh with this winter, and I did, but in a totally unexpected way.  THIS time I decided I was going to try some new kinds of bees instead of my normal Russians.  I always loved Russians, but then I’d never had any other kind.  And although I didn’t worry about Varroa Mites, they were not immune to beetles, and they were very, very SWARMY.  Sometimes even though I did the early checks, giving more room, checkerboarding techniques, etc, they might even swarm several times per hive.  Sometimes they would swarm late in the season.  And when they got too many beetles they were out of there!

So I explored some of the others, researching and running all over the internet getting opinions.  I thought hmmmm. . .  CARNIOLANS.  But couldn’t find anyone close to get pure forms of.  Then I thought VSH resistant types.  But ultimately, I ordered some Italians from Georgia Bee, because I was just plain curious.

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Georgia Bees (Italians) on the front porch of their castle!

Then I found another breed that wasn’t even a breed.  They were from Wolf Creek Apiary, and were called survivor bees, a combination of feral, Russian, Carniolan, Italian.  In other words tough like a mutt dog!  In addition, they were purported to never have been raised with pesticides, and also were raised on small cell foundation.  They said they were gentle, productive, bug resistant, etc.  I was really attracted to that.  And here is the reason why:

I do not have an isolated bee yard, and in fact my Russians weren’t originally pure bred.  And I have not requeened by ordering a queen yet, so they basically breed with whatever is running around out there anyway.  I just end up with mutt bees in the end, because my queens breed wherever they want.  I may do the requeening, but without killing any of the original queens, as for instance if I just do a split.  But I figured I’d just get some tried and tested mutts from somewhere that at least knew the traits their bees had.

GEORGIA BEES
April 14th I when to the post office, got my bees, and went home to install the Italians from Georgia Bees.  Golden in color, and very gentle.  Not so much after they took posession of the hive, but that is normal for any bee I think.  But definitely not stingy.  NOTE: For some reason the queen didn’t have any “attendants” in her cage with her.  Possibly an oversight, but she didn’t have any girlfriends inside with her to take care of her.  Just all the strange bees in the whole cage outside HER cage.

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From Wolf Creek. So gentle I installed without gloves or suit or smoke.

WOLF CREEK APIARY
April 20th we went to meet Ruth Seaborn and her husband of Wolf Creek Apiary from up around Nashville, and met her in the parking lot in Memphis.  They were delivering a large batch of bees to some beekeepers around Arkansas, and she said I could save shipping if I just met her and she’d bring my one little package of their bees.  We called it an outing, and took off for a day of getting bees!

They had brought many many cages of bees for a bee club also, and one woman came just to pick up some queens she had ordered.  I asked a lot of questions, and Ruth is the greatest.  You can tell they care a lot for the bees they raise.  Her husband calls them “his girls”.  (so do I)  She also brought some of the essential oils I ordered which were Peppermint, and Lemongrass oils, which can make the bees attracted to the food, and I guess much else.  I figured I could use them for anything, not just bees.

I was so impressed with how healthy the bees looked that I remembered that I wished I had ordered two boxes instead of one, and she said I could order another one right then and THERE.  Very nice, I sure did so, because I didn’t want to wait until next year.  Now that is handy.  Normally by this time of year (April), nobody HAS any bees to order.

SPRING HIVE BEETLE OBSERVATION
Hey, I had my FREEMAN BEETLE TRAP, the oil pan one under the first hive I installed in April.  We had, last year, sprayed nematodes, sterilized all equipment, and I was hoping that they all died from not having a hive to overwinter in.  Well, I think they lived somewhere around that I missed, because I find it hard to believe that 15 beetles came with a box of bees.  But my Freeman Beetle trap caught that many and I killed just two.  One in the hive lid, and the other scampering on the deck by the bee hive.  I BELIEVE THESE BEETLES HATCHED AND CAME OUT OF THE SOIL OF MY YARD, not the bees I ordered, but I can’t proove it.  If that’s true, then the nematodes either didn’t kill them all last year, or they overwintered somewhere else.  I couldn’t afford to nematode my whole yard.

THE FREEMAN BEETLE TRAP FROM LAST YEAR
I can say that this a really GREAT beetle catcher/killer.  It differs from the regular under the hive oil pan trap, in that the screened bottom goes all the way to the edge, and there are no ledges for the beetles to hang out on.  The bees can then just herd and push them off through the screen as they enter the trap.  But I advise continuing to check the lid of the hive and crushing or vacuuming those so that they don’t reproduce.

I’ll keep you all posted on what happens with them.

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