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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Amador County, CA
    Posts
    26

    Default Breeding Stock, Help

    I used to be in the cattle business and am going to venture into Beekeeping with the intent on queen rearing someday. I have been reading relentlessly and am stuck on what breed to start out with. I live in northern CA in the foothills about 400' elevation; grasslands and oak trees. We have mild winters....not much of a winter at all so far this year. (Yesterday my son and I were out building fence wearing shorts!) I know from being in the cattle business, it's pretty important to start out with good breeding stock. With that being said, the questions I have (nothing new to this site) are the following: Pros and cons of Italians, Pol-line Hygienic Italians, NWC ? What importance would you put on VSH and other Hygienic traits. Would you lean toward breeders that have lineage from say Susan Cobey, Tom Glenn and the USDA? What are the most common breeds used by CA almond pollenators? Any input especially from seasoned CA operations would be much appreciated.

    Thanks,


    Laurie

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Walker, Alabama, USA
    Posts
    900

    Default Re: Breeding Stock, Help

    Since you are still in the reading stage, try this site (if you haven't already visited them): http://vshbreeders.org/forum/index.php where there is a lot of information on the history and breeding of VSH bees, with postings from some of the folks who actually originated these strains. Since varroa is probably the biggest problem of bees today, this site will give you a good overview of what has been done.

    Personally I put great stock on VSH breeding and am in the process of incorporating these traits in my own bees. However, I am in Alabama and know nothing about almonds or California, so cannot offer any advice there.

    Good luck with this!

    HTH

    Rusty

    edited to add: http://scientificbeekeeping.com/ which is Randy Oliver's site. Randy IS a California beekeeper, so his site is sure to be helpful.
    Last edited by Rusty Hills Farm; 12-28-2013 at 09:56 AM.
    Rusty Hills Farm -- home of AQHA A Rusty Zipper & Rusty's Bees ( LC and T)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Amador County, CA
    Posts
    26

    Default Re: Breeding Stock, Help

    Thanks Rusty, yes I've been on VSH Breeders site a lot. As soon as I get the ok to join the site, I will be asking the same questions there as well. Luckily there are quite a few reputable Breeders in N. Cal stock, it's just hard figuring out which way to go being a rookie and all!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Gainesboro, Tennessee, USA.
    Posts
    398

    Default Re: Breeding Stock, Help

    I suggest buying your colonies and placing 3 different types. All type being hygienic in some form or fashion. VSH, USDA Russians, NWC. find out which ones do best in your area. It varies quite a bit. There will always be those who love one stock or the other. Bees that are tough and better survivors are what will make a difference in YOUR profit margins. The more hives that survive and build strong the more you can sell.

    Each queen has a different skill set. Experiment a little.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    columbus,ohio,USA
    Posts
    518

    Default Re: Breeding Stock, Help

    Go to a local bee meeting and see what those folks are running. You will get many different answers, but that's just how things go. You might even find someone locally raising queens, or there might even bee some big operations out your way that have something that is ideal for your area.
    Chris Cree
    Cree's Bees

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    2,845

    Default Re: Breeding Stock, Help

    There's lots of good bees out there, what is your management strategy you're going to follow and what are you main goals (i.e. honey, pollinations) other than raising queens.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Solano, California, USA
    Posts
    1,356

    Default Re: Breeding Stock, Help

    Quote Originally Posted by JRG13 View Post
    management strategy other than raising queens.
    1. Hope that ol blue boxes doesn't put any radioactive red dye in the barrels when he does open feeding.

    2. Hope that the inhabitants of those thousands of blue boxes around the corner from her place don't suck every drop of nectar out of all the flowers on the parched soil in the lower Jackson Hills.

    3. Find an over the top bee psychologist who can calm down all those hatching virgins when they hear rumors about all those viagra laiden blue box drones looking for good time.

    4. Sorry........ couldn't resist. You have your work cut out for you considering your location. WOW! Work like the devil and raise 5000 queens in March-April and run.....

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Amador County, CA
    Posts
    26

    Default Re: Breeding Stock, Help

    Wow Paul,
    Thanks for all the warnings and your encouragement. Keith said you were a nice guy? JRG13 ... as far as management strategy; still a work in progress. First priority is to decide on what breed as I will need to put in my order soon. Right now I'm planning on starting a hand-full of colonies, learn as much as I can from nice people (sorry couldn't resist) and expand at a reasonable rate.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Solano, California, USA
    Posts
    1,356

    Default Re: Breeding Stock, Help

    Little interpretation on what I stated earlier.

    Key to reading the remarks below.

    "--------" sign means this is not in your favor. "++++++++" sign this is in your favor.

    1. There are way to many hives in your area already. There's a reason the syrup gets brought in by the tanker load to keep them alive. ------------
    A. The only way they will stay alive is if you feed them or they rob. Red dye in the barrels will make your honey look like some weird Manzinita bark colored honey. ---------------

    2. The location is marginal at best for bees for 90% of the year. Think of all those hay purchases that need to be made when the grass isn't under the cows hooves.----------------2x--------------

    3. With the lack of rain it will be horrible at best this year. Think way more HAY!!!!!!! ----------------------4x----------------------

    4. All those drones could be a "free" resource if you want to minimize your colonies and crank up the number of nucs you do during the "Queen Rush" +++++++++++++++++110x+++++++++++++++

    Finding a way to make this work is not going to be easy considering your local..... Make the best of the situation. ????????????????

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    4,139

    Default Re: Breeding Stock, Help

    Hi Laurie,
    I'm in CCcounty & am using a mix of Carni, VSH, Local muts. We have been very happy with them, chemical free IPM, & 10% average winter losses.
    Lost one so far this year winter, the small cluster appears to be queen-less.
    Dan

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,644

    Default Re: Breeding Stock, Help

    Perosnaly I think the first thing you have to decide is what your goal is. Pollination requires lots of bees early, honey requires queens that stop at low nectar flows (big hives eat stores) wintering is a whole other game. If your going to SELL queens then you have to figure what your customers want.... just like cattle belted Galoways are neat, but limited markets.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Amador County, CA
    Posts
    26

    Default Re: Breeding Stock, Help

    [QUOTE=Honey-4-All;1036628]Little interpretation on what I stated earlier.

    Key to reading the remarks below.

    "--------" sign means this is not in your favor. "++++++++" sign this is in your favor.


    Paul, seems you have a ----------------------------------100x -----------------------outlook.

    KQ6AR........thanks for your reply, I appreciate it!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
    Posts
    2,575

    Default Re: Breeding Stock, Help

    If you eventually want to become a queen breeder, then I strongly suggest that you get a variety of bees. I believe you will becomes more effective as a breeder if you have experience with a variety of bees. To start out with pure VSH, for example, and run that exclusively will not give you the broader picture of honey bees, which in my mind is an essential element in your portfolio. I think your goals are admirable, but you're going to need a few years to really get your feet planted and understand the bigger picture. I'm saying this not to pour water on your spirits, but to inspire you to look at the bigger picture, at least for a couple of years. If you're serious, and really want to dedicate effort to learning, then contact some local beekeepers and see if you can help out in their operation. Commercial experience would be a huge plus.

    Your statement "it's pretty important to start out with good breeding stock" may not be as true as you think. I don't know what (if any) experience you have, so please don't be offended. If you're a total newbee, and your objectives are to learn, then its not that important. If you've got a few years behind you and want to jump into breeding, then yes, good stock is essential. The decisions made your first year are really not that critical. I'd put more thought into equipment choices and bee yard locations than what stock to run your first couple of years. That said, I'd select perhaps 3 or 4 different bees and get about 3 queens of each type to start. Certainly don't just get one queen of each and start making conclusions. Even three queens isn't nearly enough to make solid decisions, but it can give you hints as to what performs best in your area and your management style - further and much more extensive evaluation will be needed.

    Good luck and keep us posted on your progress.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Amador County, Calif
    Posts
    3,174

    Default Re: Breeding Stock, Help

    help.....

    Lauri, will be feeding tomarrow morning at the home place 7:00 am.
    Last edited by Keith Jarrett; 12-29-2013 at 04:33 PM.
    NUTRA-BEE feed supplements

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Amador County, CA
    Posts
    26

    Default Re: Breeding Stock, Help

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Jarrett View Post
    help.....

    Lauri, will be feeding tomarrow morning at the home place 7:00 am.
    Thanks Keith! I'll be there!

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Amador County, CA
    Posts
    26

    Default Re: Breeding Stock, Help

    Quote Originally Posted by AstroBee View Post
    If you eventually want to become a queen breeder, then I strongly suggest that you get a variety of bees. I believe you will becomes more effective as a breeder if you have experience with a variety of bees. To start out with pure VSH, for example, and run that exclusively will not give you the broader picture of honey bees, which in my mind is an essential element in your portfolio. I think your goals are admirable, but you're going to need a few years to really get your feet planted and understand the bigger picture. I'm saying this not to pour water on your spirits, but to inspire you to look at the bigger picture, at least for a couple of years. If you're serious, and really want to dedicate effort to learning, then contact some local beekeepers and see if you can help out in their operation. Commercial experience would be a huge plus.

    Your statement "it's pretty important to start out with good breeding stock" may not be as true as you think. I don't know what (if any) experience you have, so please don't be offended. If you're a total newbee, and your objectives are to learn, then its not that important. If you've got a few years behind you and want to jump into breeding, then yes, good stock is essential. The decisions made your first year are really not that critical. I'd put more thought into equipment choices and bee yard locations than what stock to run your first couple of years. That said, I'd select perhaps 3 or 4 different bees and get about 3 queens of each type to start. Certainly don't just get one queen of each and start making conclusions. Even three queens isn't nearly enough to make solid decisions, but it can give you hints as to what performs best in your area and your management style - further and much more extensive evaluation will be needed.

    Good luck and keep us posted on your progress.
    Thanks a lot AstroBee, I really appreciate your input. Yes I am a complete green newbee with so much to learn. I like your advice and again really appreciate it. My goal is just that, to get started with a hand-full of hives and learn all I can, mostly how to keep them alive and healthy. Take care and I'll keep you posted!

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    2,845

    Default Re: Breeding Stock, Help

    That's a good way to start, get a few hives, see how they do. Honestly, I wouldn't put your dreams and hopes on any one stock. The best bees you might get could be some local swarm you happen to come by or catch, you never know. That being said, VSH is a good place to start as well as known breeders. Strachan and Olivarez are big in CA and I'm sure Keith can point you in a direction as well. Honestly, it depends what your goals are and what kind of bees you want to manage.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Solano, California, USA
    Posts
    1,356

    Default Re: Breeding Stock, Help

    If you want to specialize in queens get ready to kiss either your life goodbye or be ready to hire a lot of help. Doing them in the thousands or tens of thousands will require a lot of elbow grease. Ray and Valerie do NOT raise and Cage all those queens in their sleep. The market for additional queens is immense especially the April ones. Making this dream all pay. Thats another issue.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2013
    Location
    Amador County, CA
    Posts
    26

    Default Re: Breeding Stock, Help

    Quote Originally Posted by JRG13 View Post
    That's a good way to start, get a few hives, see how they do. Honestly, I wouldn't put your dreams and hopes on any one stock. The best bees you might get could be some local swarm you happen to come by or catch, you never know. That being said, VSH is a good place to start as well as known breeders. Strachan and Olivarez are big in CA and I'm sure Keith can point you in a direction as well. Honestly, it depends what your goals are and what kind of bees you want to manage.
    JRG13,

    I got on the VSH.org site and asked a few questions and received an overwhelming positive welcome and a lot of private messages with great references for getting stock. Regarding local swarms, there's been a lot of them in my area! I've had a colony living in one of my oak trees for the last ten years that has swarmed the last two years. The neighbors also have spotted swarms on their property. I worked across the street from some of Lyle Johnson's guys last season (as a consultant for Caltrans), they gave me some fixer upper boxes and frames with drawn comb; I'm going to put out some bait hives this spring and see what happens! They're probably some of Keith's bees on the loose!

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    2,845

    Default Re: Breeding Stock, Help

    McCoslin,

    That's a good way to get started if it works out. If that tree has bees in it still, put some old boxes nearby and hopefully they'll swarm out. Some people may encourage you to remove it and put them in boxes, but I honestly subscribe to the philosophy of leaving the wild bees alone when you can and leverage them swarming and hopefully catching the swarm. I'd also let all your neighbors know if they see a swarm to let you know about it. My best advice I can probably give you is remember always, "It takes bees to make bees..." and until you master having strong quality hives around any endeavor you attempt to make with them will be an uphill battle until then.

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