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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    Marietta, Georgia USA
    Posts
    58

    Question

    Some times I see that bees in one hive are different color. Most of them are regular color but some are more darker almost black. Is this normal? I think I saw somewhere that it could be sign of robbing.

    Thanks,
    Andrey.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, United States
    Posts
    397

    Post

    Andrey wrote:

    Some times I see that bees in one hive are different color. Most of them are regular color but some are more darker almost black. Is this normal? I think I saw somewhere that it could be sign of robbing.

    Reply:

    Andrey, this is not a sign of robbing, and yet technically in Nature it is not normal either, but it is unfortunately all too common today.

    Basicly in Nature you have yellow strains and black races/strains of bees, that are then small, medium, big in sizing.

    Where yellow and black bees come together you have simple hybrids made that are half yellow and half black in coloring. Then as subsequent matings take place, and bees by the way follow plant genetics in mating, you get wider variations of yellow to black mixtures.

    Now with bees since each queen can mate on average 10-17 times you can have numerous color combination formed within a colony each being representative of one of these 10-17 individual mating acts.

    Black bees to black bees would be black, to yellow bees they could then be half black, or to a mixed color bee to then another color combination. This is as simple as I can explain it here without going into detail and fancy words.

    However, to go deeper into the subject the best to read would be Mendel who is known to many for his records of pea plants and the variation they produced which is a good basis for understanding basic bee genetics for color variation.
    http://www.biopoint.com/engaging/MENDEL/MENDEL.HTM

    Regards,

    Dee A. Lusby

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, United States
    Posts
    397

    Post

    Andrey,

    Here is another good paper on Mendel Genetics
    http://www.netspace.org/MendelWeb/Mendel.html

    Regards,

    Dee A. Lusby

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Location
    Birmingham, West Midlands, UK
    Posts
    751

    Post

    This puzzled me as well when I firswt saw it, but as Dee says it's just down to the queen having mated with drones of different types. The advantage is that you'v got a wide range of genes there, and a combination of natural with beekeeper selection means that you should end up with bees that are really well suited to your locality, if you raise your own queens. The disadvantage is that they will show unpredictable variations from one hive to another. I raised two siste queens this year, one hive continues to forage for a couple of hours in the evening after the otehr has given up, and has quite a high level of hygienic behaviour, while the other has very little. Using open mating it would probably be difficult to breed a more predictable strain, so be prepared to select like mad, especially breeder queens.

    Regards,

    Robert Brenchley

    RSBrenchley@aol.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    Overbrook, KS USA
    Posts
    8

    Question

    Hello,
    On the topic of bee coloration, I've noticed that as cooler weather approaches, my bees seem to get darker. Am I imagining this?
    If they are getting darker, is it likely a case of older (and more golden) bees dying off and being replaced by younger, darker bees? Or are the bees capable of becoming darker in response to seasonal changes so they can warm up sooner in sunlight?
    Thanks.

    ------------------
    PJ Adams

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Location
    Birmingham, West Midlands, UK
    Posts
    751

    Post

    Are you saying this is something you get annually, or is it a one-off? It sounds as though your queen could have superseded if the colour's changed. Was she marked?

    I don't know what your climate's like, but in mine there's a definite tendency to select for darker bees, so I find each generation is noticeably darker than the one before.

    ------------------
    Regards,

    Robert Brenchley

    RSBrenchley@aol.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    Cortez, Colorado. USA
    Posts
    5

    Post

    If you want more information on bee genetics taught in a "simple" manner. Then contact Dr. Medhat Nasr at Rutgers University. I worked for him in Guelph, Ontario Canada when he taught at the University of Guelph and was the head researcher for the Ontario Beekeepers Association. He wuld know of this coloring trend and what it means. Happy New days and good ways.

    ------------------
    BobBee

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    Overbrook, KS USA
    Posts
    8

    Post

    Hello, all,

    Mr. Brenchley asked:
    >Are you saying this is something you get annually, or is it a one-off? It sounds as though your queen could have superseded if the colour's changed. Was she marked?

    This is my first winter with bees so I can't answer whether it's an annual phenomenon. Two of my four hives showed this darkening tendency. Because I have such a small number of hives, I'm able to watch their behavior closely; hence I'm confident supersedure didn't occur even though neither queen was marked. Perhaps I'm being overconfident of my observation skills.

    >I don't know what your climate's like, but in mine there's a definite tendency to select for darker bees, so I find each generation is noticeably darker than the one before.

    My climate is what I consider miserably hot summers (90-100F) and mild winters (15-40F) with not enough snow (need the moisture badly!). The wind does blow ALL THE TIME in Kansas, so it always seems hotter or colder. One of my hives, my good Italian girls, stayed a beautiful golden. My fourth hive is German -- small, dark bees.

    I'll just have to keep making entries in my bee journal and see what happens in 10 months.

    Thanks!




    ------------------
    PJ Adams

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