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This photo shows three bees (circled in red) from my hive that seem, to me, very different looking bees that are from the same queen. Actually the one on the top left is yet another type I see frequently, though I didn't circle her (rear half of her abdomen is non-banded dark). Is this the result of open mating with several racially different sperm donors (I know that several matings occur), or can bees just vary that much naturally? This queen was from a package and was sold as an Italian. This degree of variation is the norm; there is no real "typical" bee for this hive.
http://www.totalupload.com/uploads/3b5a8feb2c.jpg
 

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I see the same color variations with my NWC's. Perhaps it is normal to have some color variation???
 

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Yes, a queen does mate with several different drones and combines all of the sperm together, so when she makes a worker it's simply a shuffle of the sperm. This does not mean necisarrily that the different bees are different 'races'. If you were sold an Italian queen, there is no doubt that she is and probably that the sperm is as well (depending on who you purchased the queen from and how comercialized they are), but even within Italian queens there are different strians. They can vary depending on color, habits to swarm, how calm they are, honey yeild, ect. All of your bees are probably italians, just different strains of italian. Don't worry about it, everything is fine inside that hive.
 

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I have one hive of Carniolan that has a small percentage of bees that look for all the world like Cordovans. Does this mean the queen mated with a Cordovan drone? Dunno, but probably. I don't really undertand honey bee genetics that well. Of 25 hives, it's the only one like that. Though they're all supposedly Carniolan, there's some variation in coloring in my other hives, some more so than others. Most of them are some variation of basic-black but some hives are distinctly italian-looking, with a small percentage of black bees.

Unless your queen was artificially inseminated with sperm from a known source, you're likely to get some genetic variety in your bees. This is a good thing.

George-
 

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A lot of the feral hives I extract seem to have this wide variation in color, shape, and size. I chalked it up to them being mutt bees. After a few generations of open mating in an uncontrolled drone population I would assume them to be a good mix of a several different breeds and strains. I think a lot of breeders just call a yellow banded bee an Italian, a black bee a Carniolan or Russian, and a mixed hive some sort of special hybrid that’s probably the best bee on the face of the earth and that’s why you should pay them top dollar for it.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
a mixed hive some sort of special hybrid that’s probably the best bee on the face of the earth and that’s why you should pay them top dollar for it.
We have a winner! I was just testing you guys. The queen's up for sale, these incredible bees are indeed immune to all known diseases and can produce 200+ lbs high-quality honey foraging on SUV exhaust. First $400 in my pocket will get the miracle queen shipped ASAP, chief you can have 10% off for your perspicacity :D
(Been reading ads in Bee Culture, can you tell?)

Seriously though thanks for the feedback all. Would an AI queen presumably lack that variance?
 

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yes, my AI queen spit out only yellow bees with black bands (all exactally the same) for the first year. The next year they swarmed and she left. The hive raised queen must have shacked up with every drone in the area, now I have "mutt bees" they are all different color, some have stripes, some dont. I like these bees much better. They produce great, and they dont have mites like the others did.
 

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AI queens are the only way you can control the race of bees in the hive. You/we have no control over the mating of an open mated queen. That's really a good thing. Cuz most of us don't know what we're doing trying to breed a better queen.

Also I've not seen any longevity from AI queens. Since that statement just slammed an entire industry let me add a disclaimer.

Unless there has been a breakthrough this summer, AI queens seem to last one year. Since we like to requeen and most of us don't even know when she's superceded this isn't causing a lot of problems. But it means you can only control your race of bees for one year at a time.

Please anybody with a marked AI queen in her second or third year, tell me I'm wrong. Lo dudo.

Hawk
 

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I use and make AI queens. It's true they don't last long but their daughters that are open mated do very well. Keep in mind that even though the daughters are open mated the drones from them are pure like their mother queen. A drone has no father but does have a grand father which is the one that mated with the queen your using for AI. If you saturate the area with AI daughters then the chances of them keeping the race pure are increased.
Dan
 

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I have had no success in area saturation. Maybe it works in other places. The more I try the more bees I find from other races. Now there's a guy with a hive in his attic that insists on keeping them. Only one swarm this year. Got it.

AI is the only way to keep a pure race here. Of course i'm not really convinced that purity is desirable.

Hawk
 

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The way I fugure it is if the bulk of the population is what I want trait wise then all is well and they could be blue for all it matters to me.
 
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