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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Frankfort, Kentucky


    A good summary of Characteristics of Races of Honey Bees. I found it at

    Good work, and well done on your web page - Mid Ohio Valley Beekeepers' Association

    Italian Bees
    Probably the most common race of honeybees in this area.
    Colonies are usually large and winter well.
    Very good honey producers.
    Usually gentle and non-aggressive.
    Swarming instinct is not especially strong.
    Minimum propolis.
    Keep a clean hive and are quick to get rid of the wax moth.
    Queens lay all through the summer, so a large amount of stores are used for brood rearing.
    Italian bees have a strong tendency to rob.
    Yellow coloring with bands on the abdomen.

    Caucasian Bees
    Very gentle bees.
    Do not swarm excessively.
    Brood buildup is later in the spring.
    A good honey producer, not exceptional.
    Caucasians produce and use a good deal of propolis.
    Brown in color.

    Carniolan Bees
    A very gentle race of bees.
    Probably the best wintering bees.
    Little use of propolis.
    Builds up very rapidly in the spring.
    Summer brood rearing depends on pollen and nectar flow.
    Usually not inclined to rob.
    These bees tend to swarm more. Probably due to rapid spring build up.
    Not as productive as Italians.

    Buckfast Bees
    Developed by brother Adam at Buckfast Abbey, Devon, England.
    Very rapid spring build up.
    Very gentle bees.
    Low tendency to swarm.
    Low consumption of winter stores.
    Well adapted to areas with damp cold winters.
    Excellent honey producers.
    Inclined to rob.

    Midnight Bees
    Hybrid bee.
    Very gentle.
    Developed for hobbyist beekeepers.
    Not as productive as the Italian or Starline races.

    Starline Bees
    Hybrid bee based on Italian stock.
    Rapid spring build up.
    Winter well.
    Good honey producers.

    [This message has been edited by Rob Mountain (edited February 13, 2004).]

  2. #2
    Jason G in Tennessee Guest


    I have often wondered, is there a place I can find close-up color pics of the different races anywhere?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Frankfort, Kentucky


    Glenn Apiaries
    Dedicated to breeding honeybees for high honey production and disease resistance. We provide instrumentally inseminated queen bees for stock improvement and research.

    Tom Glen does a good Job

    If a job is worth doing - Then do it well

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Frankfort, Kentucky


    Diagnosis of failing queens by inspecting the spermatheca

    There are times when a queen bee is failing in some way that it becomes necessary to perform the unpleasant task of killing her. Most beekeepers feel a pang of compassion for the queen as they pinch her head and also a sense of economic loss for the money they spent to buy her. There is however a very simple test that can be performed on her dead body in a few seconds, that can at least provide some valuable information to beekeepers, so that the process does not have to be a complete waste. The technique is surpisingly easy and can be performed in the field with bare hands.

    When the queen is mated (by 10-20 drones) the sperm is stored for her lifetime in an organ called the spermatheca. By removing and examining the small, liquid-filled sphere one can tell how much sperm was available to the queen at the time of her death. You may ask what good this information does you now that the queen is dead. Well, by confirming or denying your suspicions about her, you educate yourself over time as to the appearance of queens in different conditions and so make more accurate assessments.

    This technique is especially important for queen breeders and people who cage the queens for sale, by improving their culling accuracy.


    Kill the queen by pinching her head.
    Grasp the last two abdominal segments (where the stinger is) with either your fingers or forceps and pull this segment away from the rest of the queen. Make sure you grab just the last two segments, and don't worry about being stung.
    Discard the queen's body but keep the last two segments..
    The spermatheca is buried in the mess, but is remarkably sturdy and can be squeezed out by rolling your fingers together, or between the backs of your thumbnails.
    The spermatheca rolls out as a perfectly round sphere about 1 mm in diameter. It appears white because it is covered with a tracheal net to provide oxygen to the sperm. This covering is removed by rolling it for a few seconds between your fingers. Now it is ready to analyze.
    1) If the spermatheca is perfectly clear, the queen has not been mated. She was a virgin queen.

    2) If it is tan and opaque there was plenty of sperm to fertilize eggs. This was a well mated queen.

    3) If it is milky and translucent, the supply of sperm was running low, either from age or inadequate mating.

    It may take a couple examples to distinguish the tan / opaque condition from the milky / translucent appearance.

    What to do with this information.

    Once you determine the state of the queen's spermatheca, go back and take another look at the brood pattern, egg placement, condition of hive, queen cells, how did the queen look, how did she act?

    The next time you see these signs you'll have a better idea of what condition the queen is in. More information makes for better decisions. With a little practice this technique will prove to be a valuable tool.

    If the queen was newly purchased, and the spermatheca was not opaque, therefore not fully mated, let your queen breeder know this information. This feedback is important so queen breeders can remedy the situation by providing more drones. Weather conditions, such as cloudiness or temperatures less than 69 degrees during mating periods can contribute to low sperm count. We can't change the weather but we can add more drones.

    If a job is worth doing - Then do it well


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