Conditions, conditions, conditions.

Alf Brugman Beekeeping Blog

There is a perception among beekeepers that commercially bred queen bees are essential to achieve very populous colonies and therefore large yields of honey. This is not necessarily always the case because local bees which are endemic to an area for several generations can also be very successful.
Colonies which have been hived from swarms from tree trunks and cavities within buildings are known as feral bees.
These bees are adapted to their local conditions and react differently to commercially bred colonies. I have found in the past that colonies with a bought queen will build up their numbers very quickly when the weather warms up after the winter and if there is a nectar flow will exploit it efficiently. However, when conditions deteriorate, these colonies can build up too quickly and starve during a cold spring,whereas the local queens will lay less at the start of spring and only reach full capacity when conditions are suitable.
Last season I took 20 newly hived feral swarms collected from Melbourne suburbs to a forest site in West Gippsland and left them to forage on a Messmate Stringybark flow followed by Silverleaf Stringybark and Mountain Grey Gum in the autumn. All of these Eucalyptus species produce excellent pollen and copious nectar when conditions are favorable. The colonies built up into very populous hives and produced as much honey as commercially bred bees would have.
I am not suggesting here that beekeepers do not use well bred queens, indeed I prefer to use them for several reasons including the fact that they have a lovely calm temperament and are a pleasure to work with. The feral bees can be more feisty and would be difficult to handle by inexperienced apiarists.
The main point I am making is that what determines success in harvesting a crop of honey is conditions,conditions, conditions.