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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Posts
    51

    Default Informal Survey: What stock(s) and where?

    I'm about to start a bit of research and a part that isn't directly related to what I am doing is my curiosity about what stock(s) or bloodlines people prefer in the US, and their general geographic location. I'm not looking for a recommendation for myself so much as to get a general overview of what beekeepers are keeping where, and I suppose why as well.

    Please take a moment and tell us what, where, why?

    *Edit* I am not looking for recommendations. I use localized feral stock, likely of Italian/AHB/whatever hybrid. I'm curious about YOUR bees.*

    ~Tyson Kaiser
    Last edited by Tyson Kaiser; 12-29-2013 at 06:10 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    3,482

    Default Re: Informal Survey: What stock(s) and where?

    To Paraphrase Mel Disselkoehn: Live ones! Bees that will thrive and survive In your area. They are usually mutts and survivors. Get your stock local if you can.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    rensselaer, ny, USA
    Posts
    303

    Default Re: Informal Survey: What stock(s) and where?

    My bees chose me, not the other way around. They are, all three, cut-out swarms which appeared at my farm last Spring.

    Their pedigree: ferals or whatever-my-neighboring-beekeepers-got-the-year-before.

    Enj.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Posts
    51

    Default Re: Informal Survey: What stock(s) and where?

    Thanks, any idea what might've been used in your area traditionally?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Hudson, WI USA
    Posts
    2,134

    Default Re: Informal Survey: What stock(s) and where?

    In this area there is a Minnesota loyalty to the Minnesota Hygienic. I raise my own stock MDAsplitter style, but I moved away from Minnesota Hygienic descendants to Carniolan descendants because the former were too defensive for my tastes.
    I select for bees that are not too "fighty"; I have kids, and don't want them bothered in the yard by my bees. There are other beekeepers in the vicinity, and so half of the genetics come from whatever those folks are running. Calm bees that have survived a winter get to pass their genes on. If it were not too much bother I would add hygienic behavior to my very short list of criteria, but it seems like it is so I don't (or haven't yet!).

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    Posts
    557

    Default Re: Informal Survey: What stock(s) and where?

    Tyson, you may want to check out the hive overwintering challenge spreadsheet we have going. Most participants listed their bee type and region. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/...Gc&usp=sharing

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    1,319

    Default Re: Informal Survey: What stock(s) and where?

    When I first started, I purchased Carniolans, but they pretty much all died off, and the ones that did not were requeened with local New Mexico Zia Queenbee survivors, which were open mated Russian hybrids at one point from what I understand (way back in the beginning). Then I started collecting swarms and feral hives from the mountains where I live. These are the bees I breed from and use the most, though I do have a line of Bees started from a Noble Apiaries Italian queen, who was open mated at 8000' feet. That original queen was superceded and her replacement turned out jet black. Most of my bees are very dark and cold hardy, and some of my queens are a bit ruddy colored or simply blackish like a carnie. Not sure what they are mating with. Pretty sure they are not Italians. Some flavor of AMM comes to mind (probably Iberian). I run trap hives in the surrounding national forest to catch wild swarms too. Some of these are in some pretty remote and inhospitable places.

    Down in the desert - about 4000' down - I keep a mix of Beeweavers, ferals, and Italianish survivors but I don't really breed from them unless they make a huge amount of honey for me. I am less interested in propagating bees for the desert, I would rather have them be acclimated for high altitude cold weather tolerance. There are lot's of desert aclimated bees already, but not so many in the high mountains, plus there tends to be a Brazilian genetic influence which can be annoying. But by and large, most of the feral bees down there are just desert hardy honeybees.
    NM desert/mountain beekeeper - Black Mesa Honeybees.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,571

    Default Re: Informal Survey: What stock(s) and where?

    Back when I was buying queens, I tried Italians and Buckfasts mostly. (Some of the Italians were Starlines). I liked the Buckfasts for my climate. They were frugal and productive. The Italians were very prolific, but not frugal. I've since had Russians, SMR (now VHS), MN Hygienic, Carniolans and local mutts. My favorite is the local mutts. The SMR were not very hardy or prolific. The MN Hygienics one year were hot. Another they were not so much. But they never wintered as well as the Carnis or the locals. I had some Italians from Ontario that did well in my climate (can't get them any more). I've had Cordovan (Italian) and they never really did well over winter.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Posts
    51

    Default Re: Informal Survey: What stock(s) and where?

    Thanks Michael! Your input is always welcome. I have a question though, beyond the overwintering issue, how are Cordovans different in comparison to Italians?

    ~Tyson

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hamilton, Alabama
    Posts
    1,189

    Default Re: Informal Survey: What stock(s) and where?

    Cordovans can vary quite a bit, but in my experince, the light yellow version of cordovan is extremely un-thrifty. They make about half as much honey as a typical Italian colony, then waste most of it producing excessive brood in mid-summer's dearth and overwintering with a beach ball size cluster of bees. They did not winter effectively for me either. Note that cordovan can be bred into a black bee yielding a purplish-black color. It was never popular and to my knowledge is not currently available from any supplier.
    DarJones - 44 years, 10 colonies (max 40), sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 11 frame broodnest, small cell

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    JACKSON OHIO
    Posts
    479

    Default Re: Informal Survey: What stock(s) and where?

    Mutts for me. All are swarms,splits and cut outs.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,571

    Default Re: Informal Survey: What stock(s) and where?

    >how are Cordovans different in comparison to Italians?

    In theory it's just a color variation. But most seem to come from a particular line of Italians. That particular line is very much into rearing brood constantly, which works well for people in the south doing package bees.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    1,319

    Default Re: Informal Survey: What stock(s) and where?

    >Cordovans

    I have a single hive of cordovans. They do make a lot of bees, but I have never gotten a decent amount of honey from them. I thought it was just a fluke. I didn't realize others had the same issue. I did notice, that my particular colony, is not hygienic at all and seem prone to illness and mites. I constantly have to mess with them to keep them on track. I do not plan to get any more of them.

    I am sure they are good bees, but they are not what I want. They have taken too much of my resources to keep them going. Others may have a different experience, I am sure. They are kind of neat looking, but that only goes so far.
    NM desert/mountain beekeeper - Black Mesa Honeybees.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,571

    Default Re: Informal Survey: What stock(s) and where?

    >They do make a lot of bees, but I have never gotten a decent amount of honey from them. I thought it was just a fluke. I didn't realize others had the same issue.

    I think it's obviously because they burn it up rearing bees. It may be that in some climates this would make some honey... but not in mine.

    >I did notice, that my particular colony, is not hygienic at all and seem prone to illness and mites.

    I had the same issues. I have to wonder if that is also realated to constantly rearing brood.

    >I constantly have to mess with them to keep them on track. I do not plan to get any more of them.

    Me neither.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hamilton, Alabama
    Posts
    1,189

    Default Re: Informal Survey: What stock(s) and where?

    I am sure they are good bees
    I have not yet found a good use for cordovans given the overwhelming genetic disadvantages they carry. Note that it would be trivial to breed a better performing cordovan, yet nobody has done so.

    From a genetic perspective, the most useful bee for honey production in the U.S. is Carniolan or derived from Carniolan stock. For pollination and commercial migratory beekeeping, some type of Italian is best. For bees that survive pests and diseases and produce some honey and winter well, you just about have to go to either Russian or else ferals where the genetic makeup is a hodgepodge of just about everything that has ever been imported to the U.S. including Apis Mellifera Mellifera.

    If I were importing bees to the U.S. I would definitely be interested in getting some Apis Mellifera Lamarckii and Apis Mellifera Sahariensis but only for breeding purposes to introgress some useful genes.
    DarJones - 44 years, 10 colonies (max 40), sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 11 frame broodnest, small cell

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    1,319

    Default Re: Informal Survey: What stock(s) and where?

    I have heard that in areas with an African background to the ferals, Carnie or Russian bees are the best to cross with them to "tame" them down. I am no expert, but I would say that my observations seem to support this.

    We do have a small percentage of Lamarckii and a few other rare African types in my region's ferals. My unsupported theory is that it gives them an advantage over the imported types from producers.
    NM desert/mountain beekeeper - Black Mesa Honeybees.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Jacksonville, Florida
    Posts
    1,487

    Default Re: Informal Survey: What stock(s) and where?

    Italians for me in NE Florida. Carines don't seem to do very good with out summer dearth. The Italians will go through more feed during the summer dearth but, they at least keep raising brood. Our fall flow can be very lite so the Carines never really get going enough in the fall.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Los Angeles, California, USA
    Posts
    51

    Default Re: Informal Survey: What stock(s) and where?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fusion_power View Post
    I have not yet found a good use for cordovans given the overwhelming genetic disadvantages they carry. Note that it would be trivial to breed a better performing cordovan, yet nobody has done so.
    This is puzzling to me as well as utilizing the cordovan recessive gene for color should be useful in tracking traits and determining outcrossing. I'm picking up on a few queens this year to try out the local strain, perhaps for future tinkering.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hamilton, Alabama
    Posts
    1,189

    Default Re: Informal Survey: What stock(s) and where?

    Tinker away, just remember that at the end of the day, something has to be sold to justify keeping bees. Honey, pollination service, pollen, propolis, royal jelly, and honeybees are all salable.
    DarJones - 44 years, 10 colonies (max 40), sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 11 frame broodnest, small cell

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Tulsa, OK
    Posts
    3,311

    Default Re: Informal Survey: What stock(s) and where?

    In theory, I like some Platonic ideal "local bee" the best.

    In practice, I get "local" bees from swarms, and they are all over the map if they come from kept hives and are not really feral or local. I've caught swarms that run the spectrums from very light to very dark, from gentle to want to sting your face off, from very thrifty to "full speed ahead" always. Nevertheless, they mostly work out, except the really mean ones.

    At least when it comes to bees obtained from swarms, I think the fact that they have managed to swarm suggests that they are at least somewhat "fit" for the location. If their genetics were terribly out of place for the environment, then I don't think they would be swarming at all. Also, Oklahoma is sort of a tough place in that it gets really hot, but also pretty cold in sharp bursts, plus we have dry spells and wet spells and the wind blows a lot during spring. (There is a reason they moved the Indians here.) The net effect is that most well-suited local bee would probably act like a mixture of Italians and Russians/Carnies but tend to build up earlier in Spring than Russians/Carnies.

    Also, for my location at least, I think the laying ability and age of the queen and how much disease/pest issues a swarm has are more important than genetics that relate to thriftiness and cluster size.

    All that being said, I think that, on average, if you live in Oklahoma and are looking to buy a particular race of queens, then I would go with Italians. The feral, mutt bees are probably closer to Italians than any other pure "race" (if there is such a thing).

    Actually, in the purchased queen category, I've had the best luck with Cordovan queens from Pendells' Apiaries, primarily because the queens were of very high quality and good layers. Where I live (in town, Tulsa, OK) there is a good early nectar flow. The Pendell Apiaries Cordovan's build up their population early in the year, and they are ready to make surplus honey by the time Hollies bloom. They are less thrifty than what I think is customary for the "platonic ideal" local, feral, mutts. That has not been a big problem for me. Just make sure they go into winter with plenty of stores, which may require feeding, but the early honey production the next spring will pay for whatever sugar you had to buy the previous fall.

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