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  1. #1
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    This thread is being started for my friend Clayton.

  2. #2
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    Hi Dee,

    I guess this will be the category I would like to start under since I will be keeping carniolans (hybrid at some point I'm sure). What are some basic characteristics of black bees prior to 1959? How are they different than todays bees? Mellifera, carniolan, and caucasian have their own set of characteristics due to their place of origin. Did they change when they were brought to the US if so how? Any thing else I need to know to get this thread off the ground? Thanks.

    Clay

  3. #3
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    Hi Clayton. Saw your post to get started 12-22-2000 at 08:49 AM concerning to know what old characteristics written for Carnolian are in the old texts.

    I am now looking at ABJ, 1888, page 19, now quoted for your benefit:

    "Our bees fly in dark and cool weather, and suffer very little from diarrhea and other spring maladies...they are used to rapid changes of temperature. Our bees are preverbially kind and gentle.

    ...These bees are great beauties, being nearly black, with white stripes - the white being probably due to hairs, as they all seem to be young bees...

    Their flight seems to be very strong, and I am inclined to think them large as compared with the Italians...these mountain bees flying very freely, with the mercury at 45 degrees, when not a wing was to be seen about my other hves (Italians)."

    I am now looking at ABJ, 1888,pg 519 in a letter written by Frank Benton, now quoted for your benefit:

    "There is in the race a tinge of yellow blood that crops out every now and then, do the best one may. I breed only from such queens as produce gray workers--such as no yellow or orange bands--not even a tinge of orange, and I permit no drones to be reared in any apiary except those from Carnolian queens whose workers and drones are quite gray; but there are several native apiaries near me, over which I have no control, and whose owners care nothing for yellow bands if they exist.

    There were at my residence today, two intelligent beekeepers from the northern part of Carniola, and I questioned them on this point, and they replied that an occasional tendency toward orange or rusty-red bands was always the case with all Carniolans, but that it was no mark of impurity in the race, since it exists so all over Carniola.

    ..When now we take into account the fact that Carniolans are much hardier and more prolific than Italians,we have more abundant reason, to place them as superior to Italians... "

    This text from ABJ, 1888, pg 765 on Carnolians is now quoted:

    "the most notable new trait about them is, their freedom from the disposition to 'rob' or their vigilance in guarding their hives."

    From ABJ, 1922, pg 113 quoted on carnolian bees.

    "The Carnolians also swarm much more readily than either the common bees or the Italian."

    From ABJ, 1927, pg 492 quoted on Carnolians:

    "The carniolans are not so quite on the comb as the Italians, but fully as gentle.When I open a hive, as many as a dozen may fly at my hands or face, but they hardly ever sting-simply touch with their antennae as if curious, and fly back to the hive. They never rob or drift, but resist robbers well.They build up faster than Italians and are ready to swarm a week or ten days sooner. They build more queeen cells and will swarm more if left alone.Sometimes a queen will not be satisfied with two hive bodies, but starts to fill the third with brood, when kept in Langstroth hives.

    They fly farther than Italians and are usually the first to find new sources of honey....They keep the colony up to honey-gathering strength later in the season.

    The only cross that I would recommend is between leather-colored Italians and Carniolans...The first cross is usually good; further crosses are more uncertain.I have never known a Carniolan or the first cross to rob, but when crossed with Italians so that the hybrids were mostly Italians robbing would sometimes occur."

    From ABJ 1935, pg 578

    " The purest type of the Carniolan race is dark gray, or steel colored, larger than our common bees, and wholly free from yellow bands...always gentle and easily managed."

    From ABJ 1951, pg 60

    "In ABJ for 1890...described the carniolan bees as follows: The carniolan workers are not very large, but the abdominal rings of hairs are very plainly marked. The hair is light gray, so that the bees seem distinctly banded.The color of the abdomen is grayish-black, or dark drab, and so it is not so black as the typical German bee. The wings are large and strong.

    The Carniolan queen is very large -larger perhaps, than the queen of any other of our domesticated bees. As is well known, while the common black queen is very black above, she is bronze-colored beneath.The typical carniolan has this rich bronze color on the entire abdomen."

    I hope this helps you out some Clayton. The next post will concern Caucasian bees for you for reference.

    Very best regards to you. Looking forward to your comments.

    Dee


  4. #4
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    Thanks Dee,

    I made a list of these characteristics from the info. They are:

    1.fly in dark, cool weather (45 degrees)
    2.suffer little from disease
    3.used to changing weather
    4.kind and gentil
    5.dark gray w/ white stripes (occational orange or rusty-red bands)
    6.hardier and more prolific than italians
    7.rob, drift very little
    8.guard hive well
    9.swarm readily
    10.not as quite on combs as italians
    11.build up fast- sometimes need three hive bodies
    12. flay farther than italians
    13.honey gathering strength lasts longer into season

    Do you have any info on honey production, ability to draw comb, use of winter stores, ect? The only draw backs to carniolans I can see is there higher tendency to swarm. I am planning to use three hive bodies per colony to over winter. Split to two bodies to control swarming and the third will be a single for honey production or used as mating nucs. Then recombined for winter. Have any recomendations? Also I over winter nucs to have queens for spring this also culls those that don't cut it. However regression is my top priority over queen rearing at this point. OK, how about caucasians?

    Clay

  5. #5
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    Hi Clayton. This is in reply to your post of 12-23-2000 at 10:32 AM.

    I just loved the listing you did from the excerpts of the ABJ articles I
    quoted for you. Before I answer your questions at the bottom from the
    archives also that I;ve read, here's background on Caucasian bees for you to
    make another listing since you did such a good job on the first!

    Taken from ABJ, 1888, Pg 778 Caucasian bees are;

    "They are remarkably gentle, seldom stinging, yet they can sting when
    abused...These bees cling to the combs firmly when the frames of combs are
    handled. As honey gatherers they are as good as the best. Their cappings are
    equal to that of the blacks, being very white and thick. The bee-glue or
    propolis is not half as sticky as that of the blacks or Italians.They gather
    immense quantities of Pollen. The queens are remarkably prolific, and
    colonies swarm once a week, of left to their own management.

    They build more queen-cells than any other race of bees. The brace-combs
    seem to be made of dark wax, a kind of mud color, which is objectionable
    when cappings are stuck to the seperators. They are extra hardy, and stand
    our cold, bleak winters splendidly.

    Their color is of a dark copper hue, or fine orange like...They are large
    bees, yet long and slim. Their wings are long, and will carry a big load.
    They work when Cyprians and blacks are idle, and are out earlier in the
    morning , and fly later in the evening.They gathered honey right along
    during the drouth of 1886 and 1887, when the blacks, Cyprians and Italians
    gathered none...

    They not only stand the heat, dryness and cold better, but against robbers,
    insects, moth-millers and fungus they have no equal; and when properly
    understood and managed, they will gather as much honey as any bees, but they
    require another system of management...

    The queens want more room than any race of bees that I ever owned. The
    pecular device I have adopted in my management of them was that I gave the
    queens more room."

    Taken from ABJ,1915, pg 209 for Caucasian bees

    "...There is another great trait of the Caucasians, and that is the way they
    stick to their location.../we found practically no drifting with them, but
    not so with Italians.

    They are the first to build up in the spring, and the first to enter the
    supers, and are very quiet, no disturbance excites them;and the best of all
    is they cap their honey snow white, which means thick well ripened honey.
    The queens are long lived, doing good work at five years if well bred and
    well developed."

    Taken from ABJ, 1915, for Caucasian bees:

    "varying from a dark smutty greyish color to a very bright grey and some
    almost yellow...So all Caucasians are not alike in color...The great
    objection to Caucasians is the difficulty of recognizing a small amount of
    hybridization with the common bee.In the Italian race, the crosses show much
    more readily..Yellow Caucasians are not liked in Europe."

    Taken from ABJ 1922, page 471 for Caucasian bees:

    "This opinion was also given by Frank Benton...who said: 'the most precious
    bee which I will bring to America from my world travels is the grey bee of
    Caucasus."

    Taken from ABJ, 1927,pg 573

    "There are two main sorts of the Caucasian bees. The typical bee for the
    Caucasus is the mountain gray Caucasian bee..We find at Caucasus also the
    second sort, the yellow Caucasian bee. She lives in North Caucasus.

    She has yellow or orange areas on the two or three bands of the abdomen
    counting from the thorax. The mountain gray Caucasian bee is extraordinarily
    peaceable, laborious, tolerant to the cold and rought wintering which she
    finds at high mountain localities.The bee of this gray race has also very
    prolific queens and swarms moderately. These bees fill the cells with honey
    very much before they cover them with cappings...

    The gray mountain caucasian bee is so peaceable that the native beekeepers
    manipulate the frames and bees commonly without veils and smoker."

    From ABJ, 1931,pg 14

    "The queens of the Caucasian bee are dark."

    (note-Our caucasian queens backs are black with copperish-orange
    underbellies, some queens with this color inbetween the tergits when the
    abdomen is extended and she is fully laying. -Dee)

    From ABJ, 1932,pg 201

    Caucasians...undoubtedly fly at from 2-5 degrees lower temperature than
    Italians with which they hve been compared. The colonies are extremely
    thrifty...there are always stores in the brood chamber for use, and no
    surplus is stored until the brood chamber is amply stocked for current use
    of the bees in their own domestic economy.The queens rather definitely fill
    one brood comb full of brood before expanding to the next comb.

    Caucasian queens are apparently more easily introduced than Italians...The
    tendency of Caucasians to close the entrances more or less with propolis is
    quite definite...They also seem to stand more crowding without undue
    tendency to swarm than do Italians. This may be realted to their tendency to
    a compactness of brood chamber and their habit of occupying additional space
    only as absolutely required."

    From ABJ 1933,pg 214

    Pure Caucasian workers call for gray bodies with silver bands. When they get
    mixed with either of the black races, they are all black but if they get
    mixed with Italians, they are either all black, or some yellow with the
    black...The queens hold their color better than the workers even when mixed
    with other races and so will the drones...As to honey production, they are
    equal to any other race and they are far earier to handle."

    From ABJ,1933,pg 349

    "It was found that these Caucasians had a tongue length exceeding that of
    any other race or strain of bees in the United states at the time."

    From ABJ, 1933,pg 436

    "they go into the winter with a smaller population of bees, but come out in
    the spring stronger than the Italians...Spring dwindling is very uncommon
    with caucasians and very common with Italians...outright winter losses are
    much fewer...they consume far less stores during winter than do the
    Italians."

    From ABJ, 1940,pg 215

    "Other dominant characters indicate that the caucasian is basically
    resistant to American Foulbrood, a disease to which the yellow bee is
    particularly susceptible."

    From ABJ,1951,pg 59

    "The bees of the caucasus area could be broken down into 6 separate
    areas...The caucasian reveals a similar variation with the darker color
    approaching black instead of dark leather...this is important, because,where
    variation exists, selection is possible."

    I could probably find more Clayton, but let's start with this for you to
    list. Then we can go into comparing the two together.Please note Clayton,
    that the common black listed, are references to the common black bee of
    Europe, the other Black race you are looking to define, in case you want to
    start a third listing, we can add to. We can end up comparing to yellow
    races then after you and I or others participating, also go through the the
    yellow races.

    Waiting for your comments.

    Regards,

    Dee



  6. #6
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    Hi,

    The list for caucasians was a little more difficult to gather being a lot more info. Here it is:

    1.gentil (seldom stings- unless abused)
    2.good honey gatherers (as good as the others)
    3.close entrances w/ propolis (but is not as sticky as other races)
    4.cappings are white
    5.gathers large amounts of pollen
    6.build some brace comb
    7.winters well- small populations-build up well
    8.color- anywhere from grey to dark grey, some are almost yellow, dark copper hue or fine orange(God help me, more variations possible)-have long wings, too
    9.fly early, late in evening
    10.prolific queens-often needs more room(same as carnies above)-queens long lived
    11.fly at 2-5 degrees lower temp than italians
    12.can stand more crowding than italians
    13. long tongue
    14.AFB resistant ???(this may have been selected by beekeeper)
    15. little drifting

    Sound like good bees to me. To add to the carniolan list: 14.also have long tongue
    15.winters well- small populations
    Seems to me that caucasians and carniolans have quite a few similar characteristics. I wonder why? Both should not be managed in the same way as italian colonies thats for sure. To be sucessful with any race one should have a deep understanding of their characteristics. OK how about apis mellifera mellifera (black bees)? Any thing you want to add to my list that I missed?

    Clay - merry christmas

  7. #7
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    This post is in reply to dialogue started for Clayton in December 2000 and in reply to some of his comments posted between 22 Dec - 27 Dec on information I looked up for him.

    In conversation, Clayton wants to know how todays black bees are different from the same types written about from about 1888 to 1959, and did they change when they were brought to the US and how?

    Reply:

    Well, this would probably have to be my opinion here, and will probably start some big disagreements, but basically I would say today's bees are different because they:

    1. Have been bred for a more uniform consistant color and specific sizing quite different from when they originally arrived in the USA.

    2. They are more prone to disease and parasite attacks due to unreasonable
    enlargement placing them out-of-tune with more natural floras for foraging and artificial enlargement of brood combs.

    3. They no longer propolize the same, store honey the same, and collect/store pollen the same.(not to say that some still don't do, but many do not).

    4. They are shorter lived as queens, in laying ability, having to be replaced on a yearly basis, rather than every 2-3 years.

    Clayton wrote pertaining to my posting of characteristics on Carnolian bees,

    'I am planning to use three hive bodies per colony to over winter. Split to two bodies to control swarming and the third will be a single for honey production or used as mating nucs. Then recombined for winter. Have any recomendations?'

    Reply:

    Yes, Clayton. I believe that you will need to have more supers ready for use thanyou are planning.

    Clayton wrote further pertaining to Carnolians:

    'Also I over winter nucs to have queens for spring; this also culls those that don't cut it. However, regression is my top priority over queen rearing at this point.'

    Reply:

    This is wise Clayton, to have spares available to take up deadouts. Then you
    can dispose of them by either selling to others or combining for use of the
    best queens for usage.

    You write that 'however, regression is my top priority over queen rearing at
    this point.'

    For this I must say then, you need to plan to get equipment ready for when your bees are first brooding and whitening combs, to start, so you can gain survivalability first, then go for gaining variability by adding numbers, and finally then start to go into breeding. It will be a three step process, no matter what scale you do it on, I think you will find.


    Clayton wrote further pertaining to my posting about Caucasian characteristics:

    'Sound like good bees to me. To add to the Carnolian list: 14.also have long
    tongue 15.winters well- small populations'

    Reply:

    Actually, no, do not post this to the end of the Carnolian list.

    Caucasian bees have longer tongues than any other race, not Carnolians; Caucasians
    also winter well with smaller clusers in size, compared to Carnolians.

    Clayton, I noted you saw caucasians and carnolians have quite a few similar
    characteristics. This is because they are both black bee type races of northern temperate latitudes and also both cold-weather type bees.

    Now before I end. Clayton you wanted to also know about apis mellifera mellifera characteristics. Well a few were noted in the comments while writing about the Carnolian and Caucasian bee characteristics for you. But, for more detailed information here is a good site for your to look at and
    read about their characteristics there from the UK.Please reference apis mellifera mellifera characteristics are available at

    http://homepage.tinet.ie/~eduard/

    I hope you have had a very Merry Christmas and celebrated a great New Year in for 2001.

    Best regards to you:

    Dee


  8. #8
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    Hi Dee,

    I didn't mean to imply that carniolan bees had alonger tongue than caucasians. Just was saying their tongue is "longer" than italians.This info was gathered from Apiservices under an article titled Apis Mellifera Carnica a site from their homeland. Check it out (Don't have address at the moment, search apiservises). Should bee easy to find.

    Clay

  9. #9
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    Hi again,

    Here is a copy of a letter on A.m.m. sent to me:

    I promised this posting early last year! I am glad to be jogged into
    writing this though I should be doing my tax return!

    There is much research and development going on in Europe into A.m.m.
    You have been referred to BIBBA and the Galtee group and German sites.
    DNA work has been started and is very promising. Bee Improvement, the
    journal of BIBBA has many excellent articles and the many publications
    of BIBBA since the 60's are a fine start to a library on A.m.m. with Beo
    Cooper's Honeybees of the British Isles (1986) also available from
    BIBBA. For those unfamiliar with the different races we are talking
    about one race (possibly with 3 subdivisions in France) which colonised
    the whole of Europe *north* of the mountain ranges which separate it
    from southern Europe - from the Pyrenees to the Caucasus. After the last
    Ice Age, the small pocket of bees left surviving during the long Ice Age
    in S.W. France expanded following the growth of trees.

    There are many identified pockets of almost pure A.m.m. which we tend to
    call "near native" since cross mating with many imported races started
    in the mid 1800's and intensified after the 1914-18 war. Nevertheless
    the climate is a harsh selector and many of us are convinced that the
    imports have a harder time especially where it is wet and cool in spring
    (and wet and relatively cool every other time too!).

    Being one who selects for the native characters along with a group of
    local friends also BIBBA members they are as follows.

    Cool weather flying (some local bees have been seen flying at 8C shade
    temperature from a sunny wall - wild colony). Mine regularly fly from
    9C. Beo Cooper reported bees flying at 7.2C to collect pollen from
    turnip. The same goes for drones - black bees are the first to fly and
    often the only bees flying if there are mixed races or hybrids present
    to compare with. Beo estimated that in favourable areas dark bees have
    the advantage over yellow bees for half the time rising to 95% of the
    time in areas like where I keep bees. So the selection in mating is
    high. This may be reversed in hot summers (like once upon a time we did
    have!). Beo suggested that Workers flying in bright sun should be able
    to collect pollen at 5.5C in still air and drones from 7C. I have never
    attempted to measure this but identify colonies which start flying
    soonest as ones to breed from. He also saw queens flying at 9C.

    Tends not to fly over snow but will fly in light rain. I haven't been
    able to test this as we rarely have snow here.

    Dark - black or brown and shades between. They can have yellow
    underneath.

    Hairy - long abdominal overhairs. I have not measured these.

    Non-prolific but long-lived. The two together with low temperature
    flying means that in our "marginal" climate it out performs other bees
    most years. I have not yet marked workers to test how long, but 10 weeks
    as adult is mentioned by Beo from studies of workers marked in May.
    Hence the smaller British hives. Most years colonies will not fill a 11
    frame hive of 8 1/2" x 14" frames. I have some that push this a bit but
    the idea of 2 Langstroth hives for one colony is far-fetched! I have
    some colonies on the "Unified" frame of 14" x 14" and they go up to 9
    frames absolute maximum with a lovely oval brood shape (vertical axis -
    better for heat conservation). It means also that queens can last longer
    - 3 years would be common and 4-5 years would be reasonable for bees
    kept in one smaller brood chamber. They also seem to be more
    "compressible" i.e. less liable to a "compression" swarm if they are
    confined to a smaller hive.

    Storage of pollen is very high - this gives it a strong cushion when
    they cannot get out. They will still collect large quantities of pollen
    even when queenless! In spring and summer they may have 2-3 weeks pollen
    stored. Also pollen is stored anywhere - under the brood and even in
    amongst the brood. I have several colonies where the pollen is all round
    the brood. They also lay up stocks of pollen in late summer. I haven't
    investigated this myself, but Beo reckoned that most of the late pollen
    was eaten by early October even if the bees stopped rearing brood in
    late August. Here we think the bees winter on fat stores in their bodies
    and use little honey in the winter. This is a selecting character again.
    If they can do this they can survive if cut off from their stores in
    cold weather.

    There is a characteristic wing type which members measure diligently and
    which differentiates it from Italian and Carnican bees (and others). Beo
    suggested it allows large pollen and nectar loads which are helpful with
    poorer nectar. he also suggested they fly more slowly, rest more
    frequently, but have greater staying power than Italians in the wind.
    (Is this the kind of bias you have met?)

    Beo *suggested* a genetically larger bee size - 700 foundation producing
    bees with 5-10% greater wing breadth and length with corresponding
    increase in size. Italians and Carnicans don't increase much if put on
    700. I have always taken this to be true having seen my dark bees as
    larger than many others. Please note I am not getting into the cell size
    discussion here though I will be assessing this next year along with
    some other BIBBA members.

    They are thrifty and adjust brood rearing to income or stores. They will
    not go flat out regardless of the position and starve if they run out.
    They have been observed to stop even with 9kg stores (20lb). I have not
    paid particular attention to this but last summer I had to feed one
    colony only - 2 weeks of May were good then the last 2 weeks in July and
    the first 2 in August - the rest were poor - wet and unusually cool -
    prolonged! Recently we have had long mild winters and cool springs - the
    result larger than usual colonies in May.

    Honey cappings convex. There appears to be a small air layer over the
    honey. This seems also to be a selection character as the cells are
    protected from weeping in wet autumns. I have not tested for air myself.

    Cool air clustering helps them make wax on old nights.

    Brood pattern compact - spherical or taller than broad (in hilly and
    northern latitudes).

    Winter honey storage in the brood chamber near the entrance. Lots of my
    colonies stock up from late July as the brood nest is contracting and
    the whole thing fills up. It is usually easy to have the recommended
    40lb honey in the brood chamber without feeding, though I know lots of
    beekeepers who take as much as they can and feed sugar syrup to get
    maximum profit. Few of my colonies need feeding, though I sometimes
    leave a super on if there's less than 20lb. 30lb I leave them to the ivy
    to fill up - hopefully. The compacting of stores near the entrance seems
    to help them stay in contact with stores and defend the nest better as
    well as get it all properly ripened.

    Broodnest temperature varies. It can go down as low as 18C. I have never
    measured this at all. It may be associated with a greater susceptibility
    to chalk brood. This year we had a lot, but the colonies recovered in
    May very well (all except one of mine which presumably found difficulty
    covering the brood, which never provided sufficient bees to replace the
    dying ones, so could never keep the brood temperature up).

    Low tendency to drift. Marked drones tend to stay in the same hive over
    months (Beo). This tendency helps apiary vicinity mating keep an apiary
    within strain. The spread of disease is reduced.

    Drones expelled earlier and in times of nectar dearth. This can happen
    several times in a season. So there may be several batches of drones
    reared in a season.

    Drone assemblies and apiary vicinity mating - in addition to major drone
    assemblies there are local assemblies which form in changeable weather
    or warm humid periods of thundery or showery weather - often within 200m
    of the apiary (Beo). However, where the weather is less settled or more
    rainy there may not be enough time for these to form so queens and
    drones mate close to the hives in bursts of sunshine for example. Queens
    may mate with drones that follow them out of the hive! This has been
    seen - but not by me. One queen was seen mating on the side of a hive!

    Compatible temperament! Over generations, whilst a proportion of
    colonies may be bad tempered and the queen is culled to keep good temper
    as a major characteristic of the apiary strain, on the whole, they tend
    to keep the temper good.

    Supersedure is common - Beo reckoned at least 10%, many native strains
    being 25% - some approach 100%. I have not counted over the years but I
    am selecting the breeder queens to have survived at least 2 years and
    superseded if possible. Even better are queens whose daughters let her
    live - I had 1 definitely confirmed this year. This year there were some
    late supersedures (September) one of which was too late because of foul
    weather for a very long time

    Overall the climate selects for characters assisting survival, even
    where we beekeepers try to assist our colonies. Beo used the term
    "ecological" isolation to contrast with the more easily understood
    "geographical" isolation breeders often use and those wanting within
    strain mating to be more guaranteed. Several of the factors mentioned
    above fall into this category and explain why black bees seem to select
    themselves if you don't import new queens on an annual basis.

    I would dearly love to have figures of productivity comparing races and
    hybrids over the years as unless you are a migratory beekeeper I see no
    reason to import non-native bees to the UK.
    > Also info on them from the turn of the century 1800's to
    >1950. State source please, thanks.
    I don't have any but if there's no response from others, I will have a
    look at some of the old texts we have in our library.


    --
    James Kilty

    Ignoring the cell size part their is quite a few characteristics in their about Apis mellifera mellifera. Comments or what do you think?
    Clay

  10. #10
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    Post

    Well Clay, you sure watch things close and are fast to reply. Liked your two posts today (5Jan01).

    Well you now write:

    Comments or what do you think?

    Reply:

    Could you please explain to me (reasonably simply)what's the difference
    between the bee races? Ironically this is something I've been asking from
    day one, what makes ligustica different from capensis? They all look like
    honeybees to me. It appears that if they can interbreed, then the genetic
    information is common to both, and OTHER FACTORS must determine the apparent
    characteristics of the individual. These are not horses and donkeys here.

    Reply:

    Color and size relative to latitude and altitude, with genetics/characteristics that reverse themselves in dominance between tropical and temperate zones, both North and South of the Equator.

    Well, Clay, what I see is what I posted on another thread, in this area of queens and breeding, etc; and that is

    Take away the names and all you seem to have are color, size and characteristics very similar for black bees relative to latitude and altitude.

    You know Clayton, yellow bees naturally range the least amount of land area naturally on our globe compared to the natural distribution of black bees, which range and cover the most land mass on our globe.

    You hear beekeepers always telling of small black bees surviving for years out in the wild, but at the same time, where are the yellow ones doing this?

    I look at these lists of characteristics for the three written so far and there are more similarities than dissimilarities. Even color is very close. Look at apis mellifera mellifera compared to Caucasian, then the small Caucasian compared to Carnolian.

    On our enlarged system today of bigger cells and all on 5.4mm foundation or bigger, seems all we have done is make all the bees the same, taken away their variability, and in the long run then their survivalability.

    Kind of makes one wonder why we even bother to call them seperate names anymore?

    Maybe in a way, that is what going back to biological beekeeping is about. It gains control of problems back, sizes the bees back down, and then the beekeeper can let the bees kept by him/her continue going smaller as combs age older, or size back up, introducting new comb, or do what ever he/she pleases, once he gets a handle on his problems of parasites and secondary diseases within a clean sustainable beekeeping system.

    Comments from you Clay, What do you think about the similarities from the late 1880s - 1950 or so for the three races so far?

    Are you seeing what I am seeing in similarities? So why do people fight over it?

    Very best regards

    Dee
    P.S. Want to try Italian characteristics next to go over, to add to?

  11. #11
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    Hi Dee,

    Here is some info from THE HIVE AND THE HONEYBEE, pg. 29:

    Even though these two species of bees are closely related, crossbreeding between Apis cerana and Apis mellifera does not produce viable offspring (Maul and Ruttner,1969). Although both species share the same sex attractant, it is difficult to maintain them together in the same area (Ruttner, 1975).

    My question is why don't they produce viable offspring? They both look similar don't they.

    You said: It makes one wonder why we even bother to use different names any more?

    Here's my two cents worth. It doesn't matter anymore. These "black bees" are from Europe and they developed in certain climates that are distinct from one another thus "races" or sets of characteristics developed to help them survive in these areas. Well there not in these climates or areas anymore when brought to the new world. Thus to try to keep they same characteristics that say for example someone in Italy or England might need would be foolish since we don't live there. These bees need to adapt to their new surrounding(new plant,mountains, and differences in seasons). Or in a nut shell we should allow bees to adapt to the area where thy live. This poses problems when we ship queens from north to south or east to west. This is not to say the bees have changed but it would make it impossible for them to acclimates to their indvidual microclimates so that they would be more able to survive. With that said I think it is undesirable reproduce bees that mimic characteristics of other areas. Instead one should breed bees based on survivability (black in this case since we are discussing black bees here) and allow the bees to point to what is needed to do this. This means using local stocks and breeding uniformity to establish bees that are tuned in to the area where one keeps them.(Yes, one can still do this and have commercial aspects so man can make a profit from them.)

    My overall objective as a beekeeper is to have bees that are healthy,survive, and thrive. So in my above ramblings NO names of races probably aren't important, just the bees themselves.

    Ya lets talk about them yellow girls now. I have some of them too.

    Clay

  12. #12
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    I wonder whether the 'small black bees' Dee describes are the same as the A. m. m. we know in Britain? Going by what Beo Cooper says, together with my own observations of black bees among my hybrids, the British bee is a large one. This is what one would normally expect in a race adapted for a cold climate. Dee lives in very different climatic conditions; I wonder whether she has a bee (possibly descended from A. m m. and hybridised or adapted for new conditions) which is significantly different in some respects?

    Has anyone done any work on the old American black bees which everyone seems to curse? I'd be very interested to know whether they were an inferior race of A. m. m., as I've seen suggested, or whether they were hybridised.

    Regards,

    Robert Brenchley

    RSBrenchley@aol.com

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    I've now learnt that A. m. m. displays considerable 'plasticity', and varies considerably in size. So Dee's bees could be the same subspecies that we see in Britain - but if so, how is it that a northern bee apparently adapts so well to a desert climate?

    It would be really interesting to know whether anyone has done any morphometric or genetic study of American bees, as this would tell us so much about their origin, and clear up the question about 'native' bees at the same time.

    Regards,

    Robert Brenchley

    RSBrenchley@aol.com

  14. #14
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    Robert Brenchley posted Jan 15, 2001, 06:36 PM the following:

    "I've now learnt that A. m. m. displays considerable 'plasticity', and varies considerably in size. So Dee's bees could be the same subspecies that we see in Britain - but if so, how is it that a northern bee apparently adapts so well to a desert climate?"

    Reply:

    Not all deserts are hot and not all deserts are cold. What do you consider a desert climate?

    We are in the northern temperate zone just like your are,of which black bees are the most widely dispersed with yellow bees being the least.

    Plasticity here being relative to variation by latitude and altitude, which naturally changes cell size, and therefore the size of the bees themselves.

    As for the origin or our bees. You think they didn't come across the old land bridge early on? Maybe you think the early Spanish didn't bring them also? Maybe for two hundred years the Europeans didn't bring them first either?

    Robert, why do you call them different black bees in origin from yours? Comments?

    Regards,

    Dee

  15. #15
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    Dee,

    I'm thinking of different environments. I don't know what the temperature in your desert is, but it will be a contrast with our damp climate, that's for sure. You've had several centuries of hybridisation going on - I'm assuming that settlers would have taken bees from different parts of Europe, correct me if I'm wrong. So what I'm imagining is the development of a hybrid which shares the same colour as A. m. m., but may have acquired other, less obvious, characteristics from other races. Obviously the end result is a desert-adapted bee, but I'd be really interested to see what genetic material went into the making of it.We may not be very good at producing consistently good hybrid bees, but I suspect natural selection can do it quite easily.

    Regards,

    Robert Brenchley,

    RSBrenchley@aol.com

  16. #16
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    Hi Robert. Please reference your post of Jan 19, 2001, 04:40 AM during which you wrote:

    I'm thinking of different environments. I don't know what the temperature in your desert is, but it will be a contrast with our damp climate, that's for sure.

    Reply:

    Contrast yes, this past October it rained and flooded out all the fall flow, besides washing out a few communities on our flood plains, and in November it froze out much our coldest in history. We lucked out with a winter flow that helped avoiding to have to feed back 6+ barrels of honey to our bees. It's January now and been raining and snowing all around now for half the month and I must say I don't like the temperatures down in the 20s at night. Some desert! But it is nice from May until September, though the monsoons do start around 4 July traditionally each year and then it is humid as you know what!

    You also wrote:

    You've had several centuries of hybridisation going on - I'm assuming that settlers would have taken bees from different parts of Europe, correct me if I'm wrong. So what I'm imagining is the development of a hybrid which shares the same colour as A. m. m., but may have acquired other, less obvious, characteristics from other races.

    Reply:

    Sounds like the hybridization I read about in UK with yellow and carnolian stock from mainland Europe this whole past century of 100 years+. Technically we're only 100 years more give or take!

    You also wrote:

    Obviously the end result is a desert-adapted bee, but I'd be really interested to see what genetic material went into the making of it.We may not be very good at producing consistently good hybrid bees, but I suspect natural selection can do it quite easily.

    Reply:

    Other than latitude and altitude, I would imagine the hybridization to be about the same, including artificial insemination butting in, and shipment of packages back and forth from there to here and here to there contributing, to a similar mix for the both of us.

    We have been into studying it, to reverse now for about 18+ years and I understand so has Dave Cushman, etc. Maybe someday we'll compare notes.

    As for us both having A. mm. Yes, we do!Also as altitide equates with latitude, I see no difference, just stigmas in peoples minds!

    When we get over the stigmas, we'll all progress forward.

    Regards,

    Dee


  17. #17
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    Dee,

  18. #18
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    Dee,

    Sorry, this thing forwarded the last post when I wasn't ready for it. Our rainfall here varies from, if I remember correctly, about 40 inches per year to 200 plus in some mountain areas.

    Yes, we have a situation with uncontrolled hybridisation here, and I'm sure it happens on your side of the atlantic as well. Apparently in some areas of the States, at least, there is genetic distinction between feral and managed stocks. So what's going on there? Whatever they are, they will have succeeded in adapting to conditions which, in most cases, will be significantly different from those in their area of origin; it would be interesting to know what the feral bees are descended from.

    You say that your situation only goes back about 100 years before us, so when did the bees arrive? Importation of Italians here began in the second half of the 19th Century, and accelerated greatly after the First World War. So were early imports over there all from Northern Europe?

    Regards,

    Robert Brenchley

    RSBrenchley@aol.com

  19. #19
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    Hi Robert. This is in reply to your post of 19 Jan 2001, 03:44 PM during which you wrote:

    Yes, we have a situation with uncontrolled hybridisation here, and I'm sure it happens on your side of the atlantic as well. Apparently in some areas of the States, at least, there is genetic distinction between feral and managed stocks. So what's going on there? Whatever they are, they will have succeeded in adapting to conditions which, in most cases, will be significantly different from those in their area of origin; it would be interesting to know what the feral bees are descended from.

    You say that your situation only goes back about 100 years before us, so when did the bees arrive?

    Reply:

    That is open to debate as I have said before,both yellow and black bees in appearance, like bees from Europe, were reported here prior, by early explorers and the question of native bees has never been qualitatively answered. However IMPOV I believe that the yellower ones were further south in the Americas and the black ones were more to the north.

    C.P. Dadant did however write that the first importations were in 1859, from Germany for Italians, who had succeeded in bringing them across the Alps where they were breeding them in several districts of Germany. Then in 1860, S. B. Parsons also imported a number of colonies from Italy as this is where the bees were most accessable from. This is probably similary here for UK getting the queens from Italy because of the easyness of it as the fad got going.


    Robert you also wrote:

    So were early imports over there all from Northern Europe?

    Reply:

    That is hard to say really. If one talks about European history and UK well yes. However, you must remember that the spanish were here first and colonized much and sea routes were different.Trade winds do come across the Alantic in the South and it is possible ships from Spain went down the African coast and then across the waters to here bringing things in the way of livestock and possible bees. We were invited to Seville to check out the various early ships manifests to see. But it was to costly to go and see, to be honest with you.

    Much of our high mountainous regions is still quite rural and unsettled and we have vast national parks. Even along our coastal plains there are few settlements due to vast marshes were bees are known to be. Even in the early travels of De Soto, there was written much of black bees in the Americas. Are they hybridized and different? Some DNA analysises say they are not like that which was brought here. So the question then becomes. If they do not match, then what are they and where did they come from? In my POV I would say many bees in the feral do not match bees in the domestic and this indeed has been verified. Are they A.mm? Yes, for all A.mm is is a small black bee that varies by name given by man and localized area in which it resides. Is it different from yours?
    Yes and No. Depends upon what you call different.

    Comments?

    Regards,

    Dee


  20. #20
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    Hi Dee.

    What do I call different? To explain that I'll have to insult you with some basic biology. What we have is a very variable species, which can adapt, it seems, to almost any environment which allows a reasonable foraging season. There are numerous local variants, or 'races'.

    We moved bees around in large numbers, mixed everything up, and introduced them to a new continent, where they met conditions (desrts) which EHB had never (probably) encountered in nature.

    We now have two processes going on:

    1) Continuing movement of bees, along with AI, which obscure:

    2) Natural selection, which will rapidly, in any given area, remove those genes which hinder the survival of the local bees, and multiply those which do. This is what fascinates me; as far as I'm aware, there's no similar opportunity to see natural selection at work anywhere. In my own area, we have cool wet summers, with sometimes long periods when the bees cannot forage effectively. A bee with a large broodnest, such as the Italian, will tend to eat its way through the stores in these periods, and thus possibly fail to survive the winter. So we tend to have bees with smaller broodnests, and longer individual lives to compensate. In other areas, other environmental characteristics will produce bees with different characteristics, probably drawn from a number of different 'races'.

    As far as I know, nobody's studied this in any detail; the information is undoubtedly there within the beekeeping community, it would be interesting to find out, for instance, whether an 'Italian' bee from Italy differes from one in Texas, and that from one in Alberta, and if so, how.

    Regards,

    Robert Brenchley

    RSBrenchley@aol.com

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