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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I read some old threads on caucasians. Has anyone had any recent experience with them? I have a friend that wants me to pollinate his blueberries. Sounds like these might do well at that because their tongue is longer. My concern is they are slow to build up in the spring and blueberries are early bloomers. Any info would be appreciated.
 

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I am interested in them too for another reason, I read where they forage in cooler and wetter weather than Italians do. I could surely appreciate a bee like that, with the weather we have up here in Michigan.
 

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I too am interested in caucasians, and will probably end up ordering some of the old world stock imported through the WSU breeding program in the coming years.

However, as noljohn stated, they are reputed to build up slowly, which is far from ideal for blueberry pollination.

Secondly, I suspect that a lot of the studies cited that compare the different species are probably old and probably used either feral or otherwise old world strains, in other words, bees that were not submitted to heavy selection pressure by commercial breeders in North-America. Caucasica probably is more winter-hardy than italian ligustica. Is it more winter-hardy than the ligustica mutts bred in northern North-America, though? I'm not convinced. I'm sure the caucasica has a lot of potential, but I also suspect that it will take a proper breeding program to make it an interesting commercial strain.
 

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Caucasian do have longer tongues, they are huge propolis gatherers. They will actually build their own entrance reducers with propolis. That's why they are very seldom used by most beekeepers.
 

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I won't touch them with a 20 ft pole. Had them years ago and found all the good and all the bad about them. The excessive propolis collection is by far the worst trait I have ever seen in a bee. They do not make a honey crop in area with spring flows. They are not adapted to my area.
 

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We used to run lots of them purchased from Howard Weavers down in Texas years ago but havent seen anyone marketing them in quite some time. I felt they were pretty good bees just loved to propolize. There was always this story that they could work red clover because of a longer probiscus. I had whole yards of them next to such fields in Minnesota and never saw a bee on one or anything which I felt was a flow from it. While there may well be something to their having longer "tongues" I put the notion that they are uniquely suited to working red clover as nothing more than a beekeeping myth.
 

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In general I like bees to propolize. I'd put up with Caucasians if I had them partly because I think it's good for the bees to propolize, but it is frustrating when you can't let go of things because of that "flypaper" propolis the put on everything...
 

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Don't know where you'd get the Caucasian strain. York bee company in Jesup Ga. ( twenty five miles from me ) had Midnites that were Caucasian/Carniolan crosses, so they must have kept pure Caucasians, they changed to H&R bee company in 2005, I don't think they carry those anymore.
Someone did keep about a hundred hives of Midnites about a mile from where I live. When I moved here and captured ferals to start my present strain, most had the coloring of midnites. Some of the colonies propolized like crazy. Some colonies exploded in the spring and some didn't build up until mid summer. I sure wouldn't want pure Caucasians, but the Midnite ferals sure added some good traits to my bees ( JMO ) like MB I like a bee that propolizs readily, just don't want to use a crowbar to remove the frames.
 

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I read some old threads on caucasians. Has anyone had any recent experience with them? I have a friend that wants me to pollinate his blueberries. Sounds like these might do well at that because their tongue is longer. My concern is they are slow to build up in the spring and blueberries are early bloomers. Any info would be appreciated.
I'm sorry, I have having a hard time stifling the juvenile giggling over this.
 

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I don't believe their tongues are that much longer to make much of a difference. That being said, I made a sort of a statement that I would lay out for a WSU Caucasian breeder queen next year if I landed a job soon and it seems I have.... She'll be shipped to another Beesource member for daughter queen production but if there's a fair amount of interest I could do it this year if people want to try queens. The only issue is, WSU doesn't ship out until July or even August, but now that I'm saying that it would make sense to get her sooner to have queens available next spring. If you're really interested in trying some daughter queens, send me a pm or post in this thread and it'll happen this year for sure.
 

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Would the tongue length make a difference? Hard to say. Bee size might make even more of a difference, if a smaller head allows them to stick it deeper within the flower. A longer tongue probably doesn't hurt, though.

I'm seriously considering going out with a vernier scale in blueberry fields to look up flower sizes, and try to determine if flower size impacts foraging behavior.

It's a hypothesis worth testing. Longer tongues for the sake of longer tongues probably isn't worth it, but if blueberry pollination is important to a beekeeper, it'd probably be good to know if tongue length affects that activity.
 

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I don't believe their tongues are that much longer to make much of a difference. That being said, I made a sort of a statement that I would lay out for a WSU Caucasian breeder queen next year if I landed a job soon and it seems I have.... She'll be shipped to another Beesource member for daughter queen production but if there's a fair amount of interest I could do it this year if people want to try queens. The only issue is, WSU doesn't ship out until July or even August, but now that I'm saying that it would make sense to get her sooner to have queens available next spring. If you're really interested in trying some daughter queens, send me a pm or post in this thread and it'll happen this year for sure.
If anyone buys these queens and exports queens to Canada, send me a private message. Some daughter queens would interest me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Dominic
From what I've read Caucasian bees have the longest probiscus of any honeybee. I've also read that bumblebees are better pollinators of blueberries than honeybees are because they have longer probiscus. Thats the reason why I'm interested in Caucasians to begin with. I was hoping that some commercial beeks or some of the old timers on here might have some experience with this already. Being a first year beek I can use the help.
 

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Caucasian do have longer tongues, they are huge propolis gatherers. They will actually build their own entrance reducers with propolis. That's why they are very seldom used by most beekeepers.
Sharp, you are quite correct in that they will reduce their own entrances. One of ours compared to one of our Italians TBHs entrances.



 

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Dominic
From what I've read Caucasian bees have the longest probiscus of any honeybee. I've also read that bumblebees are better pollinators of blueberries than honeybees are because they have longer probiscus. Thats the reason why I'm interested in Caucasians to begin with. I was hoping that some commercial beeks or some of the old timers on here might have some experience with this already. Being a first year beek I can use the help.
Bumblebees, as individuals, are better pollinators for a number of reasons. The proboscis length is but one factor out of many. However, bumblebee colonies top at about 500 individuals, and only forage out for about 500m I believe. I've also had some mitigated blueberry grower feedback on their worth, due to the fact that they are not managed. If I were a blueberry producer, I would absolutely put a few bumblebee colonies in my production, but just as a failsafe, because honeybees are way more cost-effective. Heck, down the road, I'm considering raising bumblebees myself to stack on as a package bonus for hive rentals.

Sharp, you are quite correct in that they will reduce their own entrances. One of ours compared to one of our Italians TBHs entrances.
Free mouse guard! That's amazing. The more time passes, the more I'm inclined to believe that some of our practices are more of a stress to our colonies than a boon, and that extra-wide bottom entrance is one of them.

Also read an article recently in Apidologie about how propolis use increased brood viability and worker lifespan, while lines bred for low propolis use had more brood mortality and lower lifespans. Sure, gummy is messy, but if it makes the colony more productive...? And with the price of propolis on the markets...
 

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Dominic,
With them it sure seems they don't need much entrance space or additional ventilation holes we think they need.. Here is the same TBH and they blocked the holes.
Have you noticed them unplugging the holes or the entrance at certain times in the year, when the weather justifies it, or do they permanently keep it all to a strict minimum no matter what?
 
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