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  1. #1
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    Question

    I ran across information some time back on the characteristics of various types of bees -eg.Italian, Carnis, Buckfasts, Russians...
    And have searched for it but can't find it.
    Anyone know where I can find information on that?
    I smile like this because I have no idea what I\'m doing :-)

  2. #2
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    Races
    There are several popular races of honey bees raised in North American for honey. There are others around the world but I will just talk about the ones that are here in North America. I will preface this with this observation. I have not seen dramatic differences in the races of bees. They all do well when managed well. They all do poorly when they are not managed well. The differences noted are slight. When a race is mentioned as “swarmy”, keep in mind that all bees swarm if crowded. A “swarmy” race is just a little more prone, not a lot more prone to swarm. Differences of individual colonies is often greater than the generalizations mentioned here. Another example is a race that is known for being gentle may not be any more gentle than any other gentle hive of some other race, but are less likely to have a hot one.

    Italian. Apis mellifera ligustica. This is the most popular bee in North American. These, as all of the commercial bees, are gentle and good producers. They use less propolis than some of the darker bees. They are usually a have bands on their abdomen of brown to yellow color. Their biggest weakness is that they are prone to rob and drift. Most of these (as all of the queens) are bred and raised in the south, but you can find some northern breeders.

    Starline. There are just hybrid Italians. Two strains of Italians are kept separate and their hybrid is what the Starline queen is. They are very prolific and productive, but subsequent queens (supercedures, emergency and swarms) are disappointing. If you buy Starlines every year to requeen they will give you very good service. I don’t know where to get them anymore.

    Cordovan. These are a subset of the Italians. In theory you could have a Cordovan in any breed, but the ones for sale in North American that I’ve seen are all Italians. They are slightly more gentle, slightly more likely to rob and quite striking to look at. They have no black on them and look very yellow at first sight. Looking closely you see that where the Italians normally have black legs and head, they have a purplish brown legs and head.

    Caucasians. Apis mellifera caucasica . They are a silver gray to dark brown color. They do propolis excessively. It is a sticky propolis rather than a hard propolis. The build up a little slower in the spring than the Italians. They are reputed to be more gentle than the Italians. Less prone to robbing. In theory they are less productive than Italians. I think on the average they are about the same productivity as the Italians, but since they rob less you get less of the really booming hives that have robbed out all their neighbors.

    Midnite. These are, sort of, to the Caucasians what the Starline is to the Italians. I’m not certain but I always thought they are a pure hybrid Caucasian. But I’ve also heard they are a cross of Caucasian and Carniolan. The have that hybrid vigor that disappears in the next generation of queen. I don’t know where to get these anymore

    Carniolans. Apis mellifera carnica . These are darker brown to black. They fly in slightly cooler weather and in theory are better in northern climates. They are reputed to be less productive than Italians, but I have not had that experience. The ones I have had were very productive.

    Russian. Not sure of the variety here, but they were used for breeding mite resistance because they were already surviving the mites. They are a bit defensive, but in odd ways. In my experience, they tend to head butt a lot while not stinging any more. They are watchful guards, but NOT “runny” (tending to run around on the comb where you can’t find the queen or work with them well). Swarminess and productivity are a bit more unpredictable. Traits do not seem well fixed.

    Buckfasts. These are a mixture of bees developed by Brother Adam of Buckfast Abbey. I had them for years. They were gentle. They built up rapidly in the spring, produced awesome crops and dropped back in population in the fall. They are just like the Italians as far as robbing. They are resistant to the tracheal mites.

    German or English native bees. Apis mellifera mellifera. These are the bees native to England or Germany. They have some of the characteristics of the other dark bees. They do well in damp cold climates. They tend toward being runny (excitable on the combs) and a bit swarmy, but also seem to be well adapted to Northern climates.

    LUS. Small black bees similar to Carniolans or Italians in production and temperament but have mite resistance and have the ability of a laying worker to raise a new queen. This ability is called Thelytoky.

    Africanized Honey Bees (AHB). I have heard these called Apis mellifera scutelata But Scutelata are are actually African bees from the Cape. AFB are a mixture of African (Scutelata) and Italian bees. They were created in an attempt to increase production of bees. I think, if you have a hive hot enough that you think they are AHB you need to requeen them. Having angry bees where they might hurt people is irresponsible. AHB are very prone to swarm especialy in droughts or hard times. They are very defensive and very productive.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
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    Post

    WOW, Thank you Michael for the information. I am thinking that the swarm of bees I have in that Lang must be Italians, or maybe AFB, as well as the package that I just installed (ordered from Alabama).
    Have you ever seen or heard of a bee w/ black and bright yellow mixed on the abodmen almost like leopard spots instead of stripes? I ask because I thought I saw one in our pasture and wondered what the heck it could be. Maybe it was some other kind of hymenoptera.
    I smile like this because I have no idea what I\'m doing :-)

  4. #4
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    >Have you ever seen or heard of a bee w/ black and bright yellow mixed on the abodmen almost like leopard spots instead of stripes?

    A picture would help.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  5. #5
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    Cool

    Yep, a picture is worth a thousand words... Someday if I catch one and my friend w/ the digital camera is available I can get one until then - It's a mystery.
    I smile like this because I have no idea what I\'m doing :-)

  6. #6
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    Post

    There are lots of hymenoptera bees that aren't Apis Mellifera at all. Many bees which look like slim smaller honey bees are a variety of solitary bees. Hymenoptera with spots seem more to me like a variety of wasp than bee. Apis Mellifera bees I think are almost always striped whether those strips are obvious or subtle.

    You can see loads of them on http://pollinator.com and follow the appropriate links.
    Scot Mc Pherson<br />McPherson Family Honey Farms<br />Davenport, IA<br />BeeWiki: <a href=\"http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org\" target=\"_blank\">http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org</a> <br /><br />Pics:<br /> <a href=\"http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/\" target=\"_blank\">http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/</a>

  7. #7

    Post

    Thanks Michael for nice introduction to characteristics of different races of honey bees. May be you or some other beekeeper will know what to think about spotting a few differently looking bees then the rest. I noticed several bees which are morphologically the same as the rest of my italian bees but their abdomen is completely black. The color is the same as color of abdomen of queen. The size and behavior is like other bees.
    I received 2 lb box with queen from California, and I noticed this about 7 weeks after I installed this in TBH. Bees are developing excellently.
    I think that this is a normal anomaly, but may be this is something different?

  8. #8
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    Wojtek,
    Sounds to me like you are starting to see bees that are showing the characterstics of your queens parentage and mates. Packages are often created with a variety of races because package suppliers get the package stock from any and every hive they have usually. It takes a while before you start to see what your bees are going to look like. Black bees are northern bees.
    Scot Mc Pherson<br />McPherson Family Honey Farms<br />Davenport, IA<br />BeeWiki: <a href=\"http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org\" target=\"_blank\">http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org</a> <br /><br />Pics:<br /> <a href=\"http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/\" target=\"_blank\">http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/</a>

  9. #9
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    Post

    Curious as to where you would get LUS queens or bees from.
    I don't recall seeing anyone offering them.

  10. #10
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    &gt;Curious as to where you would get LUS queens or bees from. I don't recall seeing anyone offering them.

    As far as I know they are not available. But some research has been done on them, so I included them. It's possible Lusby's might sell some, but I don't know that they are presently.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  11. #11
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    Post

    I noticed several bees which are morphologically the same as the rest of my italian bees but their abdomen is completely black.
    What you refer to is most likely the older more mature bees of your colony. As the bees age they will lose the hair on their abdomen, as well as the rest of their body, and the abdomen darkens. The body looks more shiny and smooth due to the lack of fuzz.

    Does this sound like what you are seeing?

  12. #12
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    Post

    The body looks more shiny and smooth due to the lack of fuzz.
    Even more so when robbing is going on. Some look as though they've gone over to "The Dark Side"

  13. #13
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    Post

    The lusbys are selling their bees, BUT they are in middle of major move and so that might be halted temporarily. You can find pricing on their AOL membership homepage, but I can't remeber what the address is.
    Scot Mc Pherson<br />McPherson Family Honey Farms<br />Davenport, IA<br />BeeWiki: <a href=\"http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org\" target=\"_blank\">http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org</a> <br /><br />Pics:<br /> <a href=\"http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/\" target=\"_blank\">http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/</a>

  14. #14

    Post

    Probably you are right Scot, that this black "girl" is a northern type of bee but since I have never see such kind I can't compare it.
    This is a picture of this "Black sheep" for better identification.
    http://homepage.interaccess.com/~net...sheep%2001.jpg

  15. #15

    Post

    “Black Sheep” among the other has got me to an interesting observation. Since I noticed them 1 month ago there was 2 the same events which surprised me. The colony has been developing very well covering very densely existing combs and building a new. Population has been increasing as well as amount of “Black Sheeps”. Finally there were, may be even more blacks then normal, stripped. One day, without any external symptoms, thanks to a window in my hive I noticed that about a half of bees vanished, and combs were hardly covered by bees. Despite of it this colony still behave in a normal way and population was increasing. When it reached similar level of population as before, on 6. 26, the same thing happened. As of present time there are only a few blacks bees, plenty of black drones and I noticed 3 queen cells.
    Probably the black queen took her black daughters and flayed away for better pasture or better hive, unnoticed. I noticed this only thank to the window in this hive. Otherwise I wouldn’t know about it, because externally everything looked normal.
    This, at least, convinced me about usefulness of a window in a hive and the reason for very slow build up new combs.

  16. #16
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    I have some of those in every hive of the feral bees. The majority are striped but there are always a significant number of all black.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  17. #17
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    Sounds to me like they may have swarmed, and maybe twice.
    Scot Mc Pherson<br />McPherson Family Honey Farms<br />Davenport, IA<br />BeeWiki: <a href=\"http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org\" target=\"_blank\">http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org</a> <br /><br />Pics:<br /> <a href=\"http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/\" target=\"_blank\">http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/</a>

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