Basswood wants to develop a landrace of corn, a landrace of fava beans, and a landrace of string beans. I am excited about helping him develop each of these landrace varieties but my passion is to develop a landrace of honey bees that can survive in Northern Minnesota. I explained on the landrace seeds page that local bee keepers kill their bees each year and buy new ones in the spring because the honey required to keep them alive through the winter is too valuable. Well... I do not want to be a killer of bees.
This spring I got three packages of bees and set up three hives. They were doing okay... Nothing spectacular because it rained every other day all summer, but okay. Then about a month ago a bear decided she needed to fatten up for the winter and knocked over the hives and ate all the honey. Now... when I was looking for bees in the spring the different suppliers bragged about how they had "mild" bees. They say they get rid of any queens that produce aggressive bees. (And we wonder why honey bee populations are struggling.)
If I want to develop a landrace of honey bees that can survive here I think I need to find some bees with some cojones. (Seeing how it is just the females that sting I might just be out of luck.) I did put up two strands of electric fence and eight strands of barb wire fence around my apiary this year, because the last time I tried my hand at bee keeping a bear destroyed them too. I think the bear appreciated the barb wire I put up this time because she was able to scratch those hard to reach places.
In order to develop a landrace of honeybees I need to figure out how to get them to survive a whole year. Then the strongest hives that survived the winter will produce queens that can mate with the different strains of bees I plan on getting each spring. Hopefully, after a few years of doing this I can develop a landrace of bees that can survive here without too much interference from me.
It is raining outside and the temperature is dropping. We are supposed to get about a foot of snow before the storm is done. That means I have a few months before I can try my landrace honey bee project again, and Basswood comes back home with more seeds for our landrace gardening projects.