I am curious if anyone has used Minnesota Hygenic queens? They are very popular in the north especially with migratory beekeepers but I have heard a mixed bag when it comes to keeping them year round in the north.
If you have used them, I would be interested in the following:
1) Were they wintered in the north and if so what was your impression going into the fall, overwintering and entering the following spring?
2) Any thoughts about how they respond to tracheal mites?
i bought 3 last year,one was a dud that i requeened,one did poorly and was combined witha strong hive,the third is my strongest hive,it overwintered well without chemicals and has a very low mite drop.
Can you tell me where you purchased them or if you know what the drone source was for the matings?
Going into last fall, do you happen to recall if/when they shutdown brood production? They are famous or notorious, depending or how you look at it, for tremendous brood in the fall.
I have never had great results overwintering pure italians up here and that is my first concern with them. Any idea how much stores they had going into winter and what was left come spring? Did they ever approach the verge of starvation in the spring?
Sounds like you lost some other colonies but these faired well which is encouraging. Of the lost colonies, were any lost from tracheal mites or do you know if you have much tracheal mite exposure? Tracheal mites are my SECOND concern with them.
i bought them from b+b honey farms,locally my biggest problem overall is varroa,i haven't suspected tracheal mites as a big problem but have never had bees tested.i would say their winter honey consumption was average,but i always leave extra on the hive anyway.
I have two types of bees in my apiary; russian and hygenics. Last fall I combined two young hives of hygenics together for the winter, which by the way is in northern MN. They came through the winter just fine...Honey consumption wasn't overly high and the queen was laying around the 15th of March this year. I got my Hygenics from B&B Honey Farm in Houston MN. Their website isn't up yet... they do have a catolog.
Thanks for the information. I am always interested in hearing about others success/failures with different queens.
Hoosierhiver......you live far enough north that you should keep a close eye on tracheal mites. You might have more varroa than tracheal but as a general rule tracheal mites are a more significant problem in the north than varroa.
the buckfast i've had have done well (from b.weaver texas).
I've had mostly Buckfasts from Weaver for 30 years. They were remarkaly productive, gentle and never had tracheal mites. I had some survive heavy infestations of varroa and but most died from them. Until this last summer, I never had a bad thing to say about them. Then I had two hives of them turn vicious. Now I have a bunch of feral bees and one of them has also turned vicious, so I can't say it's just Buckfasts.
All of my queens have been MN hygenic. Some great, some not, but need to blame some of it on beekeeper error too. Of the 4 that I wintered over my first year, 2 were strong, so I split them, and 2 were weak, but I think the weak ones were the ones that swarmed, so the original queens were gone. Starting second year, 2 new queens in splits and two new packages. The splits both did well, and have now been split this spring, (3rd year) and of the two packages, one was super, and one so-so. However, the so-so one is in a different location, and the hive has had constant problems. Have just put queens in two new splits, so will see for this year. No clue on tracheal mites, some day will find access to a microscope and do some looking.
One thing I have noticed, when doing a split, if I add extra frames of brood, the hygenic behavior seems to really kick in. Tried to boost a split with additional frames last year, and they culled a lot of brood. However, they built up on their own fine this spring. I have mites in my hives, but have used no treatments yet. (Don't plan to)
Any of the hives that were 3 deep going into the winter were fine. I lost one to starvation, but it had been failing anyhow. I probably feed them more than I need to, but it's a security thing.
I cant really comment on the Minn.Hyg. except that they are part of the make-up of the queens I buy (the breeder used some of them for drone source)I wouldnt think of them as a wintering bee so much as a good bee for early pollinating and heavy honey production(just what I need).I live in the cold snowy mountains(My splits had 5 inches of snow on the lids on April 25)but dont winter here.If I did,the dark conservative bees would be my first choice,buckfast,carns or Russians.Probably a home brew mix of all three.Just my opinion.