Carniolans - suitable starter bee for a new beek?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2015
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    Savoy, IL, USA
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    Default Carniolans - suitable starter bee for a new beek?

    I'd like to start beekeeping, and I'm thinking about starting with Carniolans. I'm here in central IL where the winters can be hard. The reported overwintering ability of the Carniolans along with their gentle nature and disease resistance apeals to me. However, I've read that these bees are especially prone to swarming. How difficult is their swarming tendencies to manage? Is it just a matter of keeping enough space on top for them? How often should I open the hives to check on them? Lastly, how does their honey production compare to Italians? Thanks for your insights.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    Westchester, NY
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    229

    Default Re: Carniolans - suitable starter bee for a new beek?

    I have carniolans and this is my first year of beekeeping. So far so good. They built up very quickly from a package and now have two deeps and a medium drawn. I reckon they have 70lbs of honey stored for the winter.

    They do seem to have a propensity to swarm so you need to keep an eye on them. Weekly inspections a must. Mine seemed to want to swarm anytime I gave them syrup. Solution? Don't give them syrup if the hive is booming. They want to party with all the extra feed

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
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    Clinton, Iowa
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    Default Re: Carniolans - suitable starter bee for a new beek?

    I think people get too hanged up on what "kind" of bee they have. There are certainly differences. Italian bees seem to like to rob, they brood like crazy, they raise drones like crazy... they raise mites like crazy.

    The "Carnis" I have look mostly Italian in their first generation after their dark black momma. And they look pretty much completely Italian in the 2nd generation. If lucky might get a few stripes that remind you a little what the mom looked like. I think Italians are still the predominate "race" around here and in turn... that's the kind of bees all mine are going to trend toward because I'm no where near big enough to have a great influence on the drone population. The Carnis don't seem interested in even cleaning up honey'd equipment left out in the yard for the most part.

    Just remember, that queen is only the queen until she isn't. Her daughter will be a mishmash of whatever her momma mated with and then once you get a couple generations into it... they're all a mishmash of whatever is around if you let them raise their own.

  5. #4
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    Jun 2015
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    Midland, Michigan, USA
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    Default Re: Carniolans - suitable starter bee for a new beek?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pooh Bear View Post
    I have carniolans and this is my first year of beekeeping. So far so good. They built up very quickly from a package and now have two deeps and a medium drawn. I reckon they have 70lbs of honey stored for the winter.

    They do seem to have a propensity to swarm so you need to keep an eye on them. Weekly inspections a must. Mine seemed to want to swarm anytime I gave them syrup. Solution? Don't give them syrup if the hive is booming. They want to party with all the extra feed
    My package of Italians has built up even faster, it has built out 3 1/2 deeps of comb, and now, even with the sad laying pattern of the queen, has been split into two 2-box 5-frame hives,(and now her daughters have a good laying pattern) AND, has made a box and a half of comb distributed between 3 other colonies I have.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
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    Joliet, il
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    Default Re: Carniolans - suitable starter bee for a new beek?

    I live just north of you and this is my first year I got Russians due to the colder winters here just south of Chicago. I started with 2 packages they built up quick, they are not mean like others say they are. I think it's all the queen who gives you mean or calm bees. They are a little bit more feisty right now, others say they are girls and its that time of year. Just protecting their honey. So I have to say everything's been smooth so far. Next year might be a different story but as having Russians and being advised not being a first year beek, I'm glad I chose them. They gave lots of honey too. What ever you choose I think you will be happy. They all come with pro's and cons. Choose wisely tho. Lol.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Rockford, Il
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    Default Re: Carniolans - suitable starter bee for a new beek?

    I'm in N IL and I started with 2 Carnies and 2 Italians. I've also done Beeweaver Buckfast queens.

    For the most part I've noticed very little difference in swarming.

    In my experience, Carnies over winter in a smaller cluster, thus tend to use less stores, a good thing in colder climates. Despite the smaller cluster Carnies and Italians seem to build up about the same speed but Italians seem to build larger more often and seem to produce a bit more aggressively.

    Carnies have been a "Hit and miss" as far as "Gentle nature" and about the only ones I can honestly say have been generally more aggressive where the Beeweaver ones. Not "Hot" just tend to be a tad less happy when you are around compared to the other hives.

    As others have said even if you start with "Pure breeds" they are all muts in a couple years anyway.

    In the end, again in my experience, it's all about how you take care of them and less about the species.

    I actually had the opposite results in color as jwcarlson with the carnies. My carnie hives got darker with new brood. The first year when they were "Pure" there was a massive difference visibly from a carnie hive bearding and an Italian hive bearding. I think the group I got was actually packaged with Italians as workers with a Carnie queen. By the end of the first summer the group was really dark.

    ~Matt

  8. #7
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    Mar 2013
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    Seattle WA
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    Default Re: Carniolans - suitable starter bee for a new beek?

    I love my Carnis. They are gentle, produce well and overwinter well. You will not be sorry you got them. My Italians may produce slightly more (I have only noticed it under certain circumstances like early spring maple flows) but I do not believe it is significant.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
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    Clinton, Iowa
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    Default Re: Carniolans - suitable starter bee for a new beek?

    MJuric, I'm talking about generations of the queens getting lighter in color. The workers themselves are a bit darker from a "carni" queen, but the queen is only part of the puzzle. Lots of people like carni/italian crosses so if you're buying a package with queen she is likely crossed with italian drones largely. So her offspring are a mix and any queen she is mother to will be a mix. And then subsequent generations of queens will trend more or less towards whatever is kept in your area + local feral bees... which are likely very much like what's kept in your area.

    Part of me thinks that putting a good colony in a single deep and letting them swarm and swarm and swarm might not be a bad way to help change the population in your area more towards something you want rather than what's already there.

    But if you have lots of new beekeepers around you can figure you're going to have a large influx of package Italian drones every spring. I'm going to try grafting pretty early next season and maybe avoid the sudden influx of drones that packages seem to produce.

  10. #9
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    Dec 2013
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    Austin, Texas
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    Default Re: Carniolans - suitable starter bee for a new beek?

    Quote Originally Posted by jwcarlson View Post
    I think people get too hanged up on what "kind" of bee they have.
    If they are dark, call them Carniolan, bright yellow is Italian, and in between Survivor.

    Lets be honest, in North America what you are really getting are mutts. Sure there are some using II with imported drone semen and/or open mating in a relatively controlled environment but not many... You should be more concerned with who the breeder is than what color the bees are.

    Honestly, I find the color of a queen more of a novelty than anything else.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Ottertail Minnesota USA
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    Default Re: Carniolans - suitable starter bee for a new beek?

    The Italian packaged I received from California in the spring are colored from yellow to Black. For sure they are a mixed breed of mutts. The nuc I purchased from a local commercial keep Italian Minnesota hygienic also look like mutts. If they survive the harsh Minnesota winter I would think the next generations will adapt to there environment. Keepers have success with Italians north of me.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
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    Oyster Bay, NY, USA
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    Default Re: Carniolans - suitable starter bee for a new beek?

    I have Carnis and am in my first year, and I love them. Mine are super gentle and have been very productive. Like you, I was worried about the swarming thing, but mine have not had any issues with that in their first year. Next year, I will keep an eye on them though, just in case.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Rockford, Il
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    Default Re: Carniolans - suitable starter bee for a new beek?

    MJuric, I'm talking about generations of the queens getting lighter in color.

    I agree. The first queen there is a significant difference in color. Subsequent queens from the same hive the difference is less and less significant. Obviously because of the "Mutt" effect.

    ~Matt

  14. #13
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    Dec 2008
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    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
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    Default Re: Carniolans - suitable starter bee for a new beek?

    Try a few Strachan NWC queens. I believe you will find them suitable to your climate.

    Crazy Roland

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    New Castle, IN
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    31

    Default Re: Carniolans - suitable starter bee for a new beek?

    Same here I started with Russians because of their cold weather propensity. They are claimed to be more higenic and mite resistant. I was also told not to go with them as a first year beek, thay they were rowdy and agressive. Nothing could be further than the truth. I have yet to wear a vale or gloves and the only stings I have gotten is when I made a mistake and the girls remind me to slow down.

  16. #15
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    Jul 2013
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    Bloomington,In
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    Default Re: Carniolans - suitable starter bee for a new beek?

    I have the Strachan NWC queens. I would also recommend them. Easy going build up nicely and hygienic.

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    Lincolnshire, UK
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    124

    Default Re: Carniolans - suitable starter bee for a new beek?

    Carnies are an excellent choice of the beginner. Two things to be aware of: firstly - their numbers will explode in the spring, so you need to give them plenty of room then, and mind you stay on top of your inspections for swarm cells - otherwise they'll be off ...

    Secondly, pure-bred Carnies are delightful to work with, as are their offspring (F1) - it's with the later generations where things can (but not always) turn pear-shaped. Crosses with AMM or Buckfast drones have a reputation for being vicious - so if your bees should turn nasty - re-queen asap with another Carnie queen, and you should be good to go for another 4 or 5 years ... and that's not a high price to pay for such a lovely bee.

    LJ

  18. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    Neosho, Wisconsin, USA
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    Default Re: Carniolans - suitable starter bee for a new beek?

    Roland, have you tried the Strachan queens? Do you have them now? We very similar winter weather.
    Thanks,

  19. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
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    Default Re: Carniolans - suitable starter bee for a new beek?

    Bought 100 Strachan NWC queens this year, so yes we have them now. We have been buying them for quite a few years, and find them very consistent.

    Crazy Roland

  20. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Clinton, Michigan, USA
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    447

    Default Re: Carniolans - suitable starter bee for a new beek?

    I'll also recommend Strachan and Heitkams as suppliers with the disclaimer that I haven't purchased much of anything from either in last few years. However, I found them to both have very consistent queens when I was purchasing them and I can't believe that would have changed for the worse since then. Both suppliers were a fundamental component of the stock that i used to eventually get what we wanted to raise ourselves; to me their endearing quality is widespread hygenic behaviors. And both outfits are large enough that I suspect they have decent control of mating but I think Dr. Harbo said it best--- we basically have american bees here that are a mix of everything that has been imported. Bees just hold genetic traits and some of those traits are expressed more or less than others.

    I'll agree that what is normally labelled as carniolans can be swarmy and that might be a hard thing for a beginner beekeeper to keep in check. Heck i'm a few decades past beginner and its a trait that I really don't like. My personal management method for that is to eliminate those queens that push the envelope too far and want to leave immediately when crowded. You can eliminate some of that swarmy trait out over time just as you can calm a common trait of maintaining a huge 3 deep brood nest that we might commonly see in italians but to do any of that requires a large committment to selection and some ability to control matings

  21. #20
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Bozeman Montana
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    Default Re: Carniolans - suitable starter bee for a new beek?

    I love mine. They are gentle and hardy and so far have produced above average. Iam sure they are mutts but my queens we're advertised carnis from kona. I live in a very extreme climate and so far they seem right at home.

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