Re: Traits for selecting breeder colonies
The Egyptian bee A.M. Lamarckii has three traits that make it highly interesting from a breeding perspective.
1. Hygienic behavior is most developed compared to all other geographic races, 30% of unselected colonies rate highly hygienic, 70% are moderately hygienic.
2. They have a very highly developed sense of orientation which significantly reduces drifting
3. They are the only race that does not collect propolis.
The Egyptians also have some very bad traits:
1. They do not form a winter cluster
2. They are significantly aggressive
3. They are very poor honey producers because their brood development is not in sync with a temperate climate.
The Saharan bee A.M. Saharensis has three traits as well that we could badly use.
1. They forage over a very wide region
2. They have an extremely high egg laying potential
3. They have a natural tendency to produce very few drones. Did you ever see worker combs chewed out and replaced with drone cells? Well, Saharans don't do it.
Cyprians are interesting for some other traits.
1. They produce very high numbers of queen cells for swarming, this would be an advantage for queen breeders
2. They are extremely calm in winter resulting in very low use of winter stores
3. They are very intent when foraging with a highly developed level of hoarding behavior.
One note that Brother Adam made re Carniolans is that they have very little brood disease in their native environment. This is probably not based on hygienic behavior. Unselected Carniolans test out at 1 colony in 10 having some hygienic behavior. Only 1 in 100 has highly developed hygienic behavior. The advantages and disadvantages of hygienic traits can be debated, but generally are desirable. New World Carniolans are being selected to increase hygienic traits which will lead to long term improvement in brood disease resistance.
Apis Mellifera Mellifera which we used to have in such abundance in this area have the most incredible spring brood rearing buildup. You can talk about Carniolans building up fast in the spring but there is no comparison to a good strain of Mellifera. I split a colony of Mellifera several years ago in early march. They had 3 frames of brood and enough bees to barely cover it at the time of the split. I gave a queen to each of the three splits and within 6 weeks had three powerhouse colonies that made a huge crop of honey. This could not have been done with Italians or Carniolans.
NW Alabama, 46 years, 24 colonies and growing, sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 14 frame square Dadant broodnest