The three packages I added were italians, been using them for years. Found a local who was advertising in Bee Cuture. Drove over to his operation two weeks ago and picked them up, saved on shipping, man did he have a lot of hives probably over 100 in that location alone. He does the pollenation thing, starting in Florida and working along the gulf coast for almonds.
Almost ready to super up with the three new hives, boys are they going strong, lots of brood and am still feeding them. The queens look fat and healthy so hoping for a good year. Surprised as to how gentle they are also, have had a couple "hives from hell" in my time so nice bees are a treat. The wife even had her face only a couple of feet from a hive after I opened it up to take pictures and didn't get stung.
Just started using pine needles for my smoker, if I'm gong to be tearing the hives apart I'll stuff a few small pieces of pine cutoffs in on top to keep the smoker going. Read in Bee Culture that sumac leaves in the smoker will kill mites, haven't tried it yet.
Hey David, glade to hear you got hooked up with some bees, you are so right, the first package is downright scary, wait till you have to release a queen and see the workers ball up on her or have the queen fly away.
I only wear my moon suit to do major work on the hives, for regular checking and supering it's the hat with the net, gloves and a light colored T shirt.
Anybody using the screened bottom boards from Mann Lake? I have and like them so far but they seem to need a weekly cleaning. I'll try to get some pictures of my little bee yard posted for everybody's enjoyment. Finally found some people as crazy as me about bees, cool