Lessons Learned

While we are still putting together a game plan on moving Marge’s hive, I thought it would be a good idea to run a post mortem on my experience with this hive. Not only will it help me formalize my approach to urban beekeeping in the future, but hopefully it will help some new beekeepers out there avoid an experience with an agressive and possibly AHB hive.

Talk to Beekeepers in the Area
If possible, get in touch with beekeepers who have hives in the general vicinity of where you plan on placing yours. Ask about the prevalence of AHB in the area, and if they personally experienced problems before. When I spoke to Konrad about Marge, he said that his hives south and south east of the river always seem to run hotter than his hives up north. Having this information ahead of time can help you make decisions on hive management and/or factor in to your decision on placing a hive in a certain area.

Requeening Philosophy
My initial game plan was to let my hives requeen themselves the old fashioned way with the thought of taking advantage of the feral bee population that had the genetics to survive the often extreme Texas seasons. In the case of Knives, this worked out well. The hive overcame a lot of initial hardships (pesticide poisoning, worst drought in 50 years, etc.), survived the winter, and is still mostly calm during inspections. Marge, not so much.

My new game plan is to requeen with known genetics for all my hives in urban areas. I’m lucky that Marge’s hive is in a location with no real neighbors on the sides or back of the property line otherwise the situation could have ended up a lot worse. My beekeeping friend said it best, “Queens are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.” This is especially true if they are mating with drones of unknown and potentially AHB origins.

While it will be more expensive to buy new queens, the expense totally outweighs the pain (literally) and heartbreak this hive has caused. It can also give you a chance to experiment with a lot of different breeds that are now available to see which works best for your style and area. I mean, who wouldn’t want to tell their beekeeping buddies about the new Tiger Queen you just installed.

Urban Beekeeping is a great hobby, and I hope my posts about this hive don’t discourage anyone from picking it up. I’ll be sure to have a follow up on moving Marge, and if I decide to requeen Knives this spring or wait until fall.

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