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Is there such a thing as a calm honeybee type

 
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charentejohn
Guard Bee


Joined: 26 May 2012
Posts: 95
Location: Central France - Charente

PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2016 11:46 am    Post subject: Is there such a thing as a calm honeybee type Reply with quote

My existing bees are leaving tonight for pastures new, see previous posts.
I will be looking to fill my proper hive with another lot but am sure the original bees that arrived 4 years ago were darker, no yellow more brown/grey and black.
Is that just a perception or time of year colour change ? I have looked at photos of bees and can't seem to see what I remember, but am probably remembering wrong.

Either way is there a type I should look for that tends to be calm. I know they are no problem but my wife is worried having been stung. It would help to say they are not agressive types. The hive will be 3m from the grass she mows with a ride on mower, the hive is on a gravel covered area and should be no problem. Just the usual steady stream of workers. She was stung a few weeks after this lot took over the hive so maybe they were a bit on edge.

I can call local keepers to ask for a swarm but would like to also ask what type in case I should exclude any particularly territorial ones ?
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rmcpb
Scout Bee


Joined: 17 Jul 2011
Posts: 447
Location: Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2016 8:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I take it that no matter how calm the bees are your wife wears a veil when mowing in front of the hives? Its always better to have it on and not need it than to get stung on the face or neck.

Cheers
Rob.
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1568
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2016 12:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You are certainly not wrong in thinking that the previous bees may have looked different. There are different "breeds" of bees and some are more docile than others. Interestingly the "yellow" usually indicates Italian breeding and they are usually very docile but once they are crossed with other breeds they can become rather feisty. Unfortunately because of the nature of bees it is difficult to restrict when and with whom, new queens mate, so whilst you might initially invest in a docile breed, the following year when they swarm, the new queen who takes over the parent colony may mate with less docile drones and a very placid colony can suddenly turn unpleasant. If you wanted to keep them pure, then you would probably need to find and kill the old queen and replace her each year with another pure bred one..... this is obviously not sustainable beekeeping.

The time of year and local conditions can also affect their temperament. I keep up to 10 colonies within 15 feet (5 metres) of my back door and very rarely have a problem, but occasionally at this time of year during swarming season, they become a little less tolerant.

Some bees don't like the vibration of the lawn mower and others don't seem to care at all. Some don't like perfumes and aftershave and that includes perfumed skin and hair care products like shampoo and hair spray. Some take offence if you eat bananas.

I agree with Rob that if you are intent on keeping bees, then it might be prudent for your wife to wear a hat and veil whilst cutting the lawn or being in the general vicinity of the hives. I took 5 stings in the face one day and my face swelled up so badly that both my eyes were closed for 2 days and I couldn't see to drive or work and it was very sore as well as looking grotesque, so I can sympathise with her. Of course my interest in bees overrides any unpleasantness like that and I have not had such a severe reaction since although I have also taken steps to prevent multiple facial stings since then..... as a beekeeper though you do have to accept that some stings are inevitable.
Perhaps siting the hives in a more remote part of the garden or screening them with fencing or hedging might be a better option.

Placid bees will only stay placid as long as the current queen is in residence....once she swarms, it is a lottery as to the temperament of future generations. Most honey bees are reasonably tolerant providing you understand their likes and dislikes..... you have to learn to be good neighbours and avoid upsetting them.
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charentejohn
Guard Bee


Joined: 26 May 2012
Posts: 95
Location: Central France - Charente

PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2016 10:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the info. As in another post here I have decided to buy a protective suit and get on with things, should arrive later next week.
This lot had not been here long so I think would be a little defensive and looking for trouble ? Once my suit arrives they will be off to pasutres new anyway as once I can repair the box the local keeper can re-home them.

He should be able to provide a swarm when he has one, should be possible this time of year.
I will take whatever turns up as it seems they will cross breed anyway and I want them to stay wild. I figured if I buy a suit I can intervene for any problems in future. The new TB hives are very robust so should last a while.

I have two but a neighbour is interested in one so works out well, spreads them about. So I will have one hive away from the edge where she is cutting. If she is unhappy she can cut round it and I will do the near bit. I would have guessd 3m from the hive would be safe but she was 3m from this one when it happened. I would assume, apart from the odd aggressive one, most bees are not defensive once a metre or so from the hive under normal circumstances.

A few times I have waved my hand a couple of feet in front of the entrance as they come and go to show people they are not a problem. Hasn't happened for four years so hopefully just a one off, just the time of year.
My wife likes the bees and is, like me, sad they are leaving so is ok with replaceing them just not near the main gate. She can have the veil from my suit if needed and it makes her feel safer.
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AndyC
Scout Bee


Joined: 04 Jul 2014
Posts: 289
Location: Uk/Horsham/RH13

PostPosted: Wed Jun 15, 2016 6:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not only do different colonies display different temperaments. in my very limited experience, the way they are managed/handled makes a difference too,

I am always calm, slow and gentle around the hives.

I have two colonies, one of them, no smoke and I can lift the lid off, open the access hole in the cover board, drop a feeder on and fill it, with no issues whatsoever,

The other, as soon as I lift the lid off they are up and feisty and I have had a couple of stings on the hands.

A small puff of smoke across the entrance, around the hive lid and under the top cover, wait two minutes and they are fine.

Both are local girls.
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catchercradle
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 May 2010
Posts: 1487
Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Wed Jun 15, 2016 8:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have been lucky over the past 8 years or so and have never had a feisty colony. Colour has varied from almost black to very yellow/tan. For cutting the grass in the allotment apiary, I always either do it early before they get out of bed or evening when they are mostly back indoors. I use a scythe rather than a lawn mower though and just do it a couple of times during the season, taking the hay as a crop.

I would echo what has been said about gentle handling. If I get stung, almost inevitably it is my own fault.

Dave
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madasafish
Silver Bee


Joined: 29 Apr 2009
Posts: 880
Location: Stoke On Trent

PostPosted: Wed Jun 15, 2016 12:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My criteria for calm bees is that I can garden/cut the grass WITHOUT any special attention to safety from bees.

I had a hive this year which was horrible: following etc. Now re-queend.

Bees at home should be enjoyable. Having to wear a veil when gardening is not.

Calmest bees are Carniolans followed by Buckfast. But their offspring depend on whom the queen mated with - and so on. I have two hives of 4th generation Carnies which are soft and gentle. no smoke needed. (BUT they are swarmy).
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charentejohn
Guard Bee


Joined: 26 May 2012
Posts: 95
Location: Central France - Charente

PostPosted: Sat Jun 18, 2016 11:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This lot seem ok with me, fly a bit cloer than the previous ones maybe but not threatening. Could be on edge as the hive/box is open to predators as it has a bird box sized hole and a rotted corner about the same size. Easy for wasps etc to enter so maybe they are a bit more defensive.

I will have to take pot luck on the new lot but if local and wild they should be ok. I would assume plenty of food and a comfortable hive count for something as reduces stress?

A ride on mower 3m minimum from the entrance should be no problem. I use a brushcutter but it is a 4stroke so lower 'tone' ans speed than 2 stroke ones.
I will be moving the new unocupied hive a few feet and when I do I will put it on solid plastic with a thin cover of gravel to stop weeds so I won't have to spray under it, the rest I can cut as I am not worried by stings. Best avoided but I would feel sorrier for the Bee that wasted it's life stinging me for nothing.
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druidsgarden
Nurse Bee


Joined: 09 Jul 2014
Posts: 32
Location: Morecambe, Lancashire

PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2016 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The bee's I currently have are quite dark as they are part of a local black bee project and I have to say the calmest gentlest bee's I've even had apart from my original foundation stocks 10 years ago.

I once had a colony that absolutely despised me, I couldn't get near them as they'd start to attack, I got 20 stings in the top of my arm. They were also extremely swarmy and swarmed about 7 or 8 times. This was in the 3rd year of beekeeping and I very nearly gave it up there and then.

Eventually I had to ring my mentors and they came down and sorted it. Once it had only one Queen left it was much more stable. Still was little bit narky though.
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charentejohn
Guard Bee


Joined: 26 May 2012
Posts: 95
Location: Central France - Charente

PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2016 8:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Iknow I really miss the original bees as they were never any bother, they were dark but perhaps not actual black bees.
This lot are ok now, for me anyway, and often people walk uner the hive and don't notice. Normally about 10 or 12 coming and going but sometimes a few dozen or more.
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charentejohn
Guard Bee


Joined: 26 May 2012
Posts: 95
Location: Central France - Charente

PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2016 12:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Back again with additional question on moving them away and back again.
My local keeper is on holiday at the moment but I may be able to fix up the box, I have made a replacement corner and can fill/tape the dodgy bits.
How do I post Photos here, what is the best way ? I can make then small size no problem.

My main question is (as I now have a suit so am more confident) can I move this hive/box a few miles away and then move it back a couple of months later and then cut out the comb and put it in my new hive.

I have a neighbour with an old barn about 4miles away. The barn is well away from nearby houses and I could put the hive inside near an open window or similar. Lots of open spaces.

I can stand it on blocks on the ground but would worry about predators ? I guess most would keep their distance. As I recall there are wooden supports in the barn and I could fix the hive to one of them about 2m from the ground.
This should reset their satnav after 6 weeks ? so end of august I could bring them back. Would this be Ok as regards overwintering, I would guess they have good stores as a bumper crop around here this year.
I could do the 'take these away and bring another swarm to replace' option but would that be a bit late to install a new swarm and would those with a honey supply be better ?

Edited to add photo link of rotting hive and new TBH inc location (facing SW) http://s86.photobucket.com/user/charentejohn/library/Bees
You can see the rotting joints, also the TBH slats covered with beeswax melted into grooves as a starter for 10. The entry slot is narrow in the centre, bee sized but tight for wasps (I hope). I assume this is big enough, slats in the top have gaps they can fill or open to allow air through, top space is ventilated, covered by plywood top and tiles for weight an waterproofing.
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Bees Knees
House Bee


Joined: 25 Oct 2015
Posts: 13
Location: Chesterfield, UK

PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2016 6:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have just started bee keeping and Im a total novice but I just got a nuc and there buckfast, Im totally amazed that they are so calm. I can go inside and handle all the frames without smoke and not a single bee has even tryed to sting me. I was expecting at least something but they are so calm. Haveing never handled bees and getting such a good expereance in handleing them I would recomend them to anyone. Comeing from someone who has always hated them and run away at the very sight of them it says a lot about the strain, I no longer have a fear of them. It took me 20 mins to get the guts to open them up and once I did I knew they were very calm bees. I can sit in front of the hive and let them land on me now and I know Im safe but saying that I know Ill get stung sooner or later I just know there not agressive. OH and there 20 feet from my door and already my kids know there not nasty but to keep away from the hive. They sit and watch them but know that they have to keep a distance or they could get stung. The vibration from the mower will probably tick the hive off just do the lawn near the hive yourself to put her mind at rest and if you have to wear your suit. As I understand it its about as perfect a bee you will get and a huge amount of work went into developing the strain over a lot of years and thats why I chose it. You have to requeen from a reliable keeper to keep all the good stuff
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AndyC
Scout Bee


Joined: 04 Jul 2014
Posts: 289
Location: Uk/Horsham/RH13

PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2016 11:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In my limited experience the weather is a big factor.

Warm, sunny and calm and my hives are fine.

Cold, overcast, changeable and windy and even my home girls get a bit tetchy and generally I can handle them without a veil or gloves.
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jnickison1
Guard Bee


Joined: 20 Mar 2016
Posts: 69
Location: USA, Michigan, Mecosta.

PostPosted: Fri Aug 05, 2016 11:52 pm    Post subject: ...what you eat... Reply with quote

...and don't eat cheese and onion buttys before working with the little darlings.
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madasafish
Silver Bee


Joined: 29 Apr 2009
Posts: 880
Location: Stoke On Trent

PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2016 4:35 pm    Post subject: Re: ...what you eat... Reply with quote

jnickison1 wrote:
...and don't eat cheese and onion buttys before working with the little darlings.


Or drink alcohol , this day and the day before, eat bananas or have a curry..
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