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I would consider myself a somewhat sustainable beekeeper. I only buy a small number of queens each year. The two reasons are: to maintain diversity and to have a few nucs started early in the season. My queen rearing and mating from my yard has not been all that impressive. My most sought after trait is winter survivability then they can't be too mean then 3rd make some surplus honey. Now, here's where I would like to hear some opinions especially from the "old timers". Which would you rather have a locally mated queen or your favorite race of bee if you couldn't have both?I am not talking about pure bred or breeder queens.
There are so many locally raised Italians but not all that many carniolans and am considering a caucasian or two. Carniolans and carniolan/Italian mix are my favorite. Don't really want just Italian.
 

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It's like the best tool for the job is the one in your hand.

If you can find local bees that are regularly surviving your winters and doing what you want, it doesn't really matter what breed they are or how they look. If you really wanted to experiment, setup a few hives of each "breed" in question against some local survivor "mutts". I'd put my money on the mutts any day.

This is also coming from the guy who keeps a few hives of Cardovan Italians...they are just so yellow and cute.
 

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Nc, you should try a few queens from Baynyard Bees. He advertises them as gentle, they would have no problem overwintering in North Carolina, and the honey production is not bad either. I favor the Carnis and Caucasian bees because that is what I believe I have. And my mutts have done well for me.
 

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I think the best would be to breed from your best. I'm very leery of introducing outside genetics into my yard. However, if what I have is not satisfactory, I have purchased outside queens and give them a try. Once I find one that gives me the results I like in my yard with my management regime, then I breed from her and always then use the best in my yard to increase from, and also requeening any that do not perform up to my expected standards.
 

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I've bought queens from many different sources. I've tried run of the mill Italians, Old Sol survivor queens, Caucasians & Canadian-Buckfasts from New River Honey bees and some other Carniolans and Buckfast from a beekeeper in MI, along with local queens from a 70 year old beekeeper. It is really interesting to see the different race characteristics in all of them. I no longer intentionally run full Italian colonies due to too much brood in the winter and having to feed in the coastal Virginia summers. I dearly love the gentle nature of the Buckfast bees and have bought a breeder queen this year to keep a pure line going but I also raise a fair number of queen cells from all the different stock so there is a large gene pool of drones for all the area beekeepers. I found my Caucasians didn't build up well naturally to take advantage of the early spring flow, although that was the only colony that made me any excess honey last year. The Buckfast are my top choice for gentle (even into the 3rd generation) and they make a good honey crop.
 

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I honestly have no idea what breed my bees are. I have some that are very yellow and others that are tiger striped. My striped bees have taken over the yard as I selectively breed for traits I'm looking for in my area and those seem to be it. We have a terrible summer dearth so prefer bees that shrink down during that time, low robbing, but build up quickly in November when our first bloom comes around. By January, if you aren't at least 2 supers deep then something is wrong and you get replaced - after equalizing and giving everyone a chance of course.

I do bring in outside "premium" stock every year to test their traits. This year I'm trying Cardovan Italians (admittedly because they are adorable) as well as some Carniolans from the same supplier who mates their queens openly in their Cardovan yards...dark bees mated with blonde bees. I'm intrigued!

Here is a 4 year old queen mated on my property from a Saskatraz line. I lost all my Saskatraz queens (why is another topic) except the mother of this girl. Apparently her, mated with our local drones created some great stock! Don't mind my commentary. I didn't want to disturb the poor girl!


Santa Cruz Queen
 

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I've bought queens from many different sources. I've tried run of the mill Italians, Old Sol survivor queens, Caucasians & Canadian-Buckfasts from New River Honey bees and some other Carniolans and Buckfast from a beekeeper in MI, along with local queens from a 70 year old beekeeper. It is really interesting to see the different race characteristics in all of them. I no longer intentionally run full Italian colonies due to too much brood in the winter and having to feed in the coastal Virginia summers. I dearly love the gentle nature of the Buckfast bees and have bought a breeder queen this year to keep a pure line going but I also raise a fair number of queen cells from all the different stock so there is a large gene pool of drones for all the area beekeepers. I found my Caucasians didn't build up well naturally to take advantage of the early spring flow, although that was the only colony that made me any excess honey last year. The Buckfast are my top choice for gentle (even into the 3rd generation) and they make a good honey crop.
I bought some Carnica virgins from Jason Bragg this spring. Hopefully I will be picking them up in April or May.
I love everything about my Caucasions and Russians except for the propolus from the Caucasions can be a little sticky, but more than worth it in the other traits. Once they get started they rock and roll.
My Russian mutts kept a cluster size of a softball all winter. And thats 3 hives of them. They really do overwinter very very well.
 

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I honestly have no idea what breed my bees are. I have some that are very yellow and others that are tiger striped. My striped bees have taken over the yard as I selectively breed for traits I'm looking for in my area and those seem to be it. We have a terrible summer dearth so prefer bees that shrink down during that time, low robbing, but build up quickly in November when our first bloom comes around. By January, if you aren't at least 2 supers deep then something is wrong and you get replaced - after equalizing and giving everyone a chance of course.

I do bring in outside "premium" stock every year to test their traits. This year I'm trying Cardovan Italians (admittedly because they are adorable) as well as some Carniolans from the same supplier who mates their queens openly in their Cardovan yards...dark bees mated with blonde bees. I'm intrigued!

Here is a 4 year old queen mated on my property from a Saskatraz line. I lost all my Saskatraz queens (why is another topic) except the mother of this girl. Apparently her, mated with our local drones created some great stock! Don't mind my commentary. I didn't want to disturb the poor girl!


Santa Cruz Queen
The link isnt working.
 

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Try the link now.

And a lot of people love their Russians. I bought a couple queens about 8 years ago to try and it was a disaster! They were chasing us around the yard, attacking children during a birthday party and even attacked a fire truck with its sirens on, about 100 yards away. I had to wear 3 pairs of pants and a hoodie under my jacket with duct tape on my ankles and gloves to murder those queens. I'm pretty sure they mislabeled African bees as Russian. I still have that attack pheromones smell imprinted into my permanent, traumatized memory. I ended up splitting that entire hive into 2 frames nucs and introduced new queens.

I'm sure my experience was a little on the defensive side, but I hear a breeder keeps Russians and I run. I no longer want any part of that again!

I now work all my bees without a suit and as you see in the video, they are calm as cucumbers.
 

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Try the link now.

And a lot of people love their Russians. I bought a couple queens about 8 years ago to try and it was a disaster! They were chasing us around the yard, attacking children during a birthday party and even attacked a fire truck with its sirens on, about 100 yards away. I had to wear 3 pairs of pants and a hoodie under my jacket with duct tape on my ankles and gloves to murder those queens. I'm pretty sure they mislabeled African bees as Russian. I still have that attack pheromones smell imprinted into my permanent, traumatized memory. I ended up splitting that entire hive into 2 frames nucs and introduced new queens.

I'm sure my experience was a little on the defensive side, but I hear a breeder keeps Russians and I run. I no longer want any part of that again!

I now work all my bees without a suit and as you see in the video, they are calm as cucumbers.
Were they stapling your socks to your ankles?! Lol.
Yea, they have the like FDA approved Russians, then the mutt Russians like I have. The queens I got are jet black though. So I know they are not part of the FDA deal. And you need to get to know mine. If you move slow and dont need to get into their brood they are perfect. Once you get into the brood chamber your probably going to get stung. But not a crazy amount.
 

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What line of bees did you say your Queen was? Thats the first time I ever heard a bee going Bock,Bock right before she lays an egg! Lol!
 

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I'm planning on bringing in some F1 VSH Italian Queens this year and add them to splits. I'm hoping to spread the wealth through open breeding and am in the process of building up a few small out yards nearby. I'm looking to breed for mite resistance, build up, overwintering and then honey production. My current stock of Italians did show mite resistance, did over winter well and each of the hive produced at least a 100 # of excess. As a newer beek, I want to build up comb early this year and be able to introduce the VSH queens to new hives with lots of nurse bees taken from the donor hives the same day I get them. My area has only a limited number of beekeepers and no commercial or migratory so getting those F2 drones flying is important-gonna flood the zone .
 

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What line of bees did you say your Queen was? Thats the first time I ever heard a bee going Bock,Bock right before she lays an egg! Lol!
Haha!
Queens aren't the only ones with "attendants" everywhere they go!
 

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I'm planning on bringing in some F1 VSH Italian Queens this year and add them to splits. I'm hoping to spread the wealth through open breeding and am in the process of building up a few small out yards nearby. I'm looking to breed for mite resistance, build up, overwintering and then honey production. My current stock of Italians did show mite resistance, did over winter well and each of the hive produced at least a 100 # of excess. As a newer beek, I want to build up comb early this year and be able to introduce the VSH queens to new hives with lots of nurse bees taken from the donor hives the same day I get them. My area has only a limited number of beekeepers and no commercial or migratory so getting those F2 drones flying is important-gonna flood the zone .
Breeding for mite resistance takes time. Testing for mite population growth and selecting the colonies that inhibit the growth, untreated, is the best way to get the resistant ones. You would be getting F1 drones from the F1 queens you are mentioning as the drone's genotype is one snapshot of it's mother's.
Adam
 

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My uncle has Carpathian bees. I do not know where he bought such a queen bee, but he says that Carpathian bees give a huge amount of honey. More than Italian. I do not know how easy it is to buy Carpathian bees in the USA, I only in theory asked my uncle what is better, which honey is more useful, and many other theoretical questions. He has been in the apiary 5 times in the last 7 years. It's a pity that I can't travel often and get hands-on experience in caring for bees.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Well, I couldn't get the carniolans locally like I originally wanted. However, I did drive to Georgia to a breeder that I have confidence in and got two queens that are caucasian/carniolan mix. Kinda excited about these since I have never had that combination of genes.
 

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Try the link now.

And a lot of people love their Russians. I bought a couple queens about 8 years ago to try and it was a disaster! They were chasing us around the yard, attacking children during a birthday party and even attacked a fire truck with its sirens on, about 100 yards away. I had to wear 3 pairs of pants and a hoodie under my jacket with duct tape on my ankles and gloves to murder those queens. I'm pretty sure they mislabeled African bees as Russian. I still have that attack pheromones smell imprinted into my permanent, traumatized memory. I ended up splitting that entire hive into 2 frames nucs and introduced new queens.

I'm sure my experience was a little on the defensive side, but I hear a breeder keeps Russians and I run. I no longer want any part of that again!

I now work all my bees without a suit and as you see in the video, they are calm as cucumbers.
I'm wondering where the Russians were from, to be Africanized. No African bees here, but in the old days the mixed breed bees were quite aggressive. IOW, they don't need to be African to be nasty.
In the US, most all of the bees are mixed breed. If they are 'yellow' we call them Italian. I can't tell the difference, appearance wise, between Caucasian and Carniolan, but both seem to need longer days to get their brood rearing into high gear. And not all Italians overproduce brood wise. It's true that the goal of many commercial beekkeepers to have big brood producers. in order to max out the rental colonies for the almonds, etc.
 
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