Do Bees Change Color
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  1. #1
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    Jul 2015
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    Default Do Bees Change Color

    We were changing out our feeder jars today. As we were placing the new jars in, we both noticed several bees that were the same size as our others but had almost jet-black bodies, shiny and smooth. Very different from our normally golden colored Carnolians.
    They didn't seem to be a bother to the others but were certainly very differently colored.

    Is this something that we have failed to notice before, or is there another answer?

    Thanks
    Jeff

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
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    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
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    Default Re: Do Bees Change Color

    Where / what kind is your feeder?

    If you are open feeding, or using a boardman / entrance feeder, you may be seeing some bees from another colony. If you are open feeding, do it away from your hives. If you are using an entrance feeder, consider making or buying an "in hive" style feeder over the winter.

    Bees do lose some of their 'fuzziness' as they age, which might seem like a color change. Queens do store semen contributed by a dozen or more drones, so a given queen can produce offspring with differing color characteristics over her laying life.

    Depending on which study you believe, semen from all those drones is either homogenized, or else used up serially, or some mix of those two scenarios.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
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    shiloh, il
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    Default Re: Do Bees Change Color

    We use two mason jars (quarts) and they are placed in the hive. I should have mentioned that these are Top Bar.
    The jars are in one end of the hive with a feeder board placed between the jars and the rest of the hive.

    The activity was normal today, the bees are always very well behaved and that was the case today as well.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
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    New Haven, CT
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    412

    Default Re: Do Bees Change Color

    Robbing bees are often described as smooth & black. Beats me as to why.

  6. #5
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    Mar 2017
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    Winslow, AR, USA
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    Default Re: Do Bees Change Color

    Because they fight with the home bees and get their yellow hair pulled out. Therefore, they look black and smooth.

  7. #6
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    Jun 2017
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    Rowan County, North carolina
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    Default Re: Do Bees Change Color

    Black shiny hairless bees is a sign of CHRONIC BEE PARALYSIS VIRUS (CBPV)
    My wife and I are not filmmakers but we are documenting our journey at K-n-W Apiary.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Weston, ME
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    Default Re: Do Bees Change Color

    Seems to *me* - if they are fighting enough to get all their hair pulled out, they are most likely dead

    As bees get older their "fuzz" wears off. So yes, they may look darker.

    As for your jet black bees - are you sure they were not flies? There are some flies (can't remember their names) that look very much (kind-of, somewhat - well...at first) like bees.

    Otherwise - as Rader mentioned, queens are not breed to one drone. So it is possible to have variation in colors in your hive. I have seen my hives range from distinct Italian to almost German black.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    Default Re: Do Bees Change Color

    The yellow bees will never change to the orange bees. Certainly the
    Italians cannot change to a complete jet black bee. It is like asking the
    orange bee to change back to the yellow bee which is too far out impossible.

    I've noticed that in my yellow hive there are certain jet black bees. I also know that 95% of my local genetics are the carnis influence from the bee association. And a hive this late in the season will accept any forager that bring back the goodies. This include the strangler bees which is from a nearby carnis hive out there somewhere. So from time to time I will see these healthy jet black and grey stripes carnis bees inside my yellow hives exactly the way you observed it. I'll bet there is a local carnis hive somewhere not too far from your hives.

    In absent of a DNA analysis, I just label the yellow bees as Italians and the grey bees as either carnis or Russians. So if people tell me there are such bees as Golden carnis, I will be very confused indeed as we differentiate the bees by their color most of the time. When was the last time you've seen a jet black Italians? Golden carnis are mutts to me!



    Certainly I cannot label my bees as the:
    Quote Originally Posted by jlw35 View Post
    ....normally golden colored Carnolians.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  10. #9
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    Apr 2014
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    Default Re: Do Bees Change Color

    go figure!
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    Tell the truth, it's easier to remember.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
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    shiloh, il
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    Default Re: Do Bees Change Color

    Thanks to all for the great discussion and answers. We will look again on Tuesday when we change out the jars. I'll post what I find then. Next time, we will do a little deeper inspection, this one was just to change the jars.

    Jeff

  12. #11
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    Apr 2016
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    Mogollon Rim, Arizona 85933
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    747

    Default Re: Do Bees Change Color

    Did you or do you treat for mites? Because this one sign of heavy mite loads.
    The shiny black greasy bees can be a sign of disease, go read about chronic bee disease.
    also Older bees DO loose hair, and get shiny and black, this is normal and very common to see.
    gotta learn how to diagnose.

  13. #12
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    Jul 2015
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    shiloh, il
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    Default Re: Do Bees Change Color

    Thanks DavidZ, we just did a mite inspection 2 weeks ago, so I don't believe that is an issue.
    Certainly we will look a little closer on Tuesday.

    Jeff

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Do Bees Change Color

    I've never seen an "albino" bee in my hives - other oddities just not that one. I guess since it has some color it is not truly "albino".

    Nice pics- interesting.

  15. #14
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: Do Bees Change Color

    >Robbing bees are often described as smooth & black. Beats me as to why.

    Because they are often smooth and black? They often get their hair pulled out (a guard bee's favorite move). They also often get wax and honey all over them in the frenzy of stealing the honey.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Do Bees Change Color

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeJ View Post
    .... - other oddities just not that one. I guess since it has some color it is not truly "albino".

    Nice pics- interesting.
    Whoever said that a true albino is a real change in bee color? I have never thought of or even seen that the Cordovan genetics
    have the odd looking drones before. I know I did not mark it with a color marker. Look at the shine and no body color bands at all. It is all Golden solid body through out his abdomen. How interesting for such a bee! One out of a few thousands perhaps.

    Will he change color to darker or can he maintain his eyes color through out his lifespan? Guess we will never find out because I will take him for my next II experiment at the end of this month. I'm hoping that it can contribute to any future genetic diversity using all such drones (if they expressed at all) in my breeding program. A drone laying queen is waiting to be II along with other normal looking Cordovan drones. Can anybody tell me what is the genes mutation or other influencing factor for this one? Is this color normal?


    One weird looking drone:
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by beepro; 10-22-2017 at 01:28 AM.
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Do Bees Change Color

    Quote Originally Posted by beepro View Post
    ....
    A true albino means the organism does not have the ability to produce pigments (i.e. coloring). There are degrees in which some pigment is present.

    Using odd drones for II (A.I.) is purposely incorporating possibly bad traits into your bees.

  18. #17
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    Zagreb, Croatia
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    Default Re: Do Bees Change Color

    I think that depends on the type of bees. Am I right?

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Do Bees Change Color

    Mike, are you saying that the albino is a bad trait for the bees? Even the
    alligator and pythons have this trait in nature. I think it is special to have the red
    eyes bees just like the fruit flies. Yes, you are talking about the Cordovan bees here with
    blonde color to be this special characteristic. If they survived and able to express then I don't
    mind a bunch of these color eyes honey gathering bees.

    If this trait is special to the drones only then the next 2 generation of the II queens should stabilized
    this trait. It took 2 generation of II to get such a drone eyes color. I think it is a bit special, don't you?
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Do Bees Change Color

    Albinism is a malfunction. If one breed from albino bees, I would expect to find more and more malfunctioning. Malfunctions causing mutations usually results in death (usually quickly, sometimes longer).
    Red eyes in an albino organism is caused because of the lack of pigmentation.

    I am not aware of what causes your drones to have red eyes. There are drones that appear in hives with purple eyes (which is a form of red) - which is caused by a malfunction. In your case I do not know if the red eyes are harmful at all.... if it causes no detraction in health or performance - the you have a kind of signature to your breeding

    I'm not saying to try whatever you want - I just saying, my guess is you will find yourself quickly at a dead end road. Usually a breeding program is planned to enhance good traits - not enhance malfunctions that lead to death.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Do Bees Change Color

    Yes, Mike these are the purple eyes drones. They are already pure enough without the black bands. It is 2
    generation of back crossing done to get this result. The Cordovan bees already got the recessive genes. So I
    figured that the purple eyes are caused by the genes combination. So far this drone is not dead yet. Still saw him
    today with eyes color the same.

    Interesting that the Cordovan queens I bought got 2 different variation. One is the darker banded abdomen orange color
    looking bees. The other is the all solid yellow almost glass like transparency abdomen bees. These 2 once mutt through the II process will give me the purple eyes drone and the lighter abdomen yellow drones without the darker bands. Very strange combination that I've never seen before. Wonder what mutts they will produce once the all yellow daughters mated with the local pure carnis drones?
    Don't mix foreign bees into a virgin hive. She might get balled 100% of the time! When will you ever learn, huh?

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