April Showers Brings May Showers

While threat of snow has finally abated for the spring, or so we hope, the rain continues to pour. We have received 8 inches of rain in the last 11 days causing Lake Ontario to hit a 157 year high after rising 43 inches since 1 January (numbers as of 8 may). This weather has put a bit of a damper on beekeeping operations at Sandy Creek and likely many areas in the northeast. Despite the low temperatures and wet conditions packages and nucs are still showing up as expected, people may be scrambling to prepare or wondering how their stocks will fare. The south doesn’t need to worry about low overnight temperatures and fields unwillingly converted to swampland.
This caused me to ponder the origins of package bees, nucs and queens. Last year a friend ordered a southern nuc that turned out to be extremely aggressive; he was not terribly disappointed they didn’t survive the winter. It is important to know where your queens are mated. Open air mated queens can mate with 10-20 drones before they retire to their life in the hives. This means there can be a diverse mix of genetics she pulls from to build her colony. In some southern and western states, it’s possible that some of the drones your queens come in contact with are from feral Africanized stock. Obviously, this may lead to a rather unpleasant experience if some of your bees have these genetics.
​While we are relatively safe in Upstate New York from the proliferation of Africanized Honey Bees due to our climate, hybridization remains a threat along with a new colony containing some AHB traits, potentially their inability to overwinter well in the north. Please keep this in mind when ordering your bees and try to source from locations with no evidence of AHB activity.

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