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Discussion Starter #1
I think the queen I got with my package is Cordovan. The little lady is solid auburn in color and doesn't look anything like the Italians who came with my package.

I've done my first hive check (she'd been released around 19-20 days and was put on drawn comb) and she's got one frame edge-to-edge full of capped brood on both sides. Two brood frames on either side are filling up nicely in a tight circular pattern--saw capped, larvae & eggs on the same frames.

I'm hoping to make a split & time it so the new queen emerges after the summer solstice. Considering that I have no idea about her genetics, what is the likelihood that I'll get another Cordovan?
 

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If your queen is homozygous for the Cordovan trait (she is if she is Cordovan colored), which means she has both genes for the trait. So all her offspring will get a gene for the trait from her, all of her drones will be Cordovan, since they get all of their genes from her and she only has Cordovan genes, all of her female offspring (workers and queens) will be homozygous for the Cordovan trait, like their mother, if they also get the gene for Cordovan from their father, drone. So, if she has mated with any Cordovan drones, then all her female offspring which are fathered by Cordovan drones will be homozygous for Cordovan and they will exhibit the Cordovan color trait.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Bee biology is weird, isn't it? My daughter/grandkids were visiting recently, and I had to keep explaining about the "no sperm=drones" thing.

They were hived April 19 & she was released by the 21st. So with all that capped brood, if she had mated with a Cordovan drone, I should start seeing Cordovan workers pretty soon. I didn't notice any others in the package, but then, I wasn't exactly looking for that.

If we get sunny weather by this weekend, I'm going back in to move some empty frames around & I'll take a good look at the workers then. Should have some hatched brood by then as they'll be close to 4 weeks hived by that point.

By June 7, all the package bees should be about gone, so it should be easy enough to see what her offspring are going to look like. Still plenty of time to make a decision about the split.
 

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Also, any queens produced that are fathered by non-Cordovan drones (they will look normal colored), will be half-Cordovan (they will have one Cordovan gene) and if they mate with any Cordovan drones, then potentially half of their female offspring could be homozygous for Cordovan, those that are fathered by Cordovan drones.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Excellent genetics lesson.

I'm already assuming that she's mated with non-Cordovan drones. I'm just thinking that once 45 days have passed, I should have a fairly good idea of the ratio of Cordovan to non, and thus similar odds of a Cordovan daughter queen.

If the numbers look good, my plan is to move the Cordovan queen to the nuc hive & let the original develop a queen. I may hold off a little while until I see some Cordovan drones, too.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Did a partial inspection today to see if I needed to add another brood box (I did), and there was a significant increase in blond bees. The frame that a week ago had been solid capped brood on both side has started emerging from the center most cells out. Good news is that the empty cells had been pretty much immediately filled because I saw some newly hatched larva.

I'm giving them another couple of weeks so the remainder of the package bees will have died off. But the ratio of goldens to normal colored Italians is looking very promising.

I had my husband videotape for future reference, and was able to show him a new golden baby girl. This was his first look inside the hive, and hopefully not his last. He was amazed at how calm they were, but due to the taping, I was about twice as long in the hive as I normally am. They were beginning to get a little impatient, so I didn't bother looking for the queen. There was plenty of evidence of her diligence.

I did find 2 capped drone cells and another not yet capped. Still loads of brood, both capped & growing. Very pleased with this queen.
 

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Cordovans are a mixed blessing. They are a wonderful bee...Pop the top to say hi to the girls, and they just sit there and wave back.

However, they are pigs during the winter and will eat themselves out of house and home...literally
 

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Cordovans are a mixed blessing. ...they are pigs during the winter and will eat themselves out of house and home...literally
Ditto to that. I still think they are a pretty bee, and I've been in denial about their fecundity (as Brother Adam writes). But the truth is, they are the "octomom" of honey bees. Have more kids than they can care for, and expect you to feed them to get them through the rough spots. They are terribily irresistant to Varroa. I like Cordovans for their appearance, but there's a good reason I nickname them Varroa-magnets. They're still pretty and very entertaining to sit and watch with a cold beer in hand. But don't expect to succeed too much in overwintering them.
 

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I have a cutout that I did recently. The queen looked like a minn hygienic in color, but the drones were a weird orange/yellow. What are the possible situations for this happening?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Ditto to that. I still think they are a pretty bee, and I've been in denial about their fecundity (as Brother Adam writes). But the truth is, they are the "octomom" of honey bees. Have more kids than they can care for, and expect you to feed them to get them through the rough spots. They are terribily irresistant to Varroa. I like Cordovans for their appearance, but there's a good reason I nickname them Varroa-magnets. They're still pretty and very entertaining to sit and watch with a cold beer in hand. But don't expect to succeed too much in overwintering them.
So what would be the best management approach? Requeen in the fall with a Carnolian or Russian to overwinter and then back to the Cordovan for a quick spring build up?

Last year was the first I had even been around bees in 30+ years (in FL) and I started with two nucs of local Italians. Started late due to poor mating conditions, crappy queens, horrible summer weather, wound up having to combine the hives & still lost them at the tail end of a really bad winter.

Neither nuc ever took off like this package with the Cordovan queen. If nothing else, I should have plenty of bees for a split. I have them on a screened bb--will definitely keep an eye out for the varroa. I built my sbb with a slot for a mite board.

As to fecundity, I can relate. I reared 7 kids and we're looking at grandchild #31 :eek: towards the end of this year.
 

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I have a cutout that I did recently. The queen looked like a minn hygienic in color, but the drones were a weird orange/yellow. What are the possible situations for this happening?
Your mystery queen could easily have been half Cordovan, and half of her drones will be carrying the Cordovan gene and be Cordovan colored. Several of my queens turn out to be like that, even though my breeder queens are pure cordovan, they are open mated and their daughters are often normal colored and produce half black drones and half Cordovan drones. It is a very curious combination, to see hives with black and Cordovan drones.
 

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So what would be the best management approach? Requeen in the fall with a Carnolian or Russian to overwinter and then back to the Cordovan for a quick spring build up?
Depends on what you want to do--Cordovans don't easily allow you to have your cake and eat it too...it took me two years to figure this out. If you want bees to overwinter, sell your Cordovan queen now--but first, make sure you have a new queen suited for that purpose. If you want to prevent a varroa nightmare and don't like treating, get rid of your Cordovan now. If you like the look of pretty bees and enjoy looking at little droplets of sunshine flying in and out of the hive entrance --I swear that's what they look like--blonde bees, then keep your Cordovan and enjoy them -- for this season. If you're like me and everything in your bee yard is a science project, keep her around for the ultimate experiment experience. But requeening with a Carnie or Russian for a quick build-up the following spring makes one wonder what you'll do with your Cordie during that time...or will you requeen with a new Cordie?


Neither nuc ever took off like this package with the Cordovan queen.
Cordovans build up packages great, but my experience is they do NOT build up fast coming out of spring.

As to fecundity, I can relate.
I'm glad, ...I tend to lose many beekeepers on that "octomom" comparison. Get your sugar ready for this fall. For every grain of sugar you put in your syrup, Mama Cordie will lay two eggs -- I exaggerate of course but you get the idea. They'll be so built up in numbers by Nov that they'll starve by February. Sorry for the bad news, but Cordies are suited to Florida and California. My experiment in my bee yard was to get my Cordies acclimated to a mild Virginia winter. They are STILL building up 6-7 frames out of a nuc I sold a newbee beek in March.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
The package originally was brokered thru a member of the local beek group. I shot him an email, and he couldn't tell me where exactly my package had come from. The shipper picked up bees in GA, SC & NC for delivery in Virginia and parts north. So now I'm really curious as to how the Cordovan came to be in my package (one of about 40 to our area).

Last year I got a couple nucs of mutt Italians for precisely the reasons you mentioned. I figured local stock, acclimatized to local condition, etc. Still a disaster, but then one of our better local beeks started the winter with 23 hives & lost almost half. We just had a terrible winter. I almost quit entirely.

I've still got a couple of weeks to go before all the old package bees will be gone and I can get a good look at what I've got. I was leaning toward getting a Russian before, but it looks like I've got some thinking to do.
 

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I have had trouble keeping my cordovans from starving or crashing from mites. I was able to overwinter a 5 frame nuc with a cordovan queen which built up to a full size colony this spring. I plan to split it into 5 or 6 nucs and put the cordovan queen back into a 5 frame nuc. The carniolan and russians winter better and seem to have a little mite resistance. The cordovans die from varroa in one season while the russians hang in there for about 2 seasons before they crash from varroa.
 

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Get your sugar ready for this fall. For every grain of sugar you put in your syrup, Mama Cordie will lay two eggs -- I exaggerate of course but you get the idea.
No..You're not exaggerating at all...I swear they keep a bloody brood nest going all year round
 

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Discussion Starter #16
It's been a full month now, so I've had an opportunity to see what the emerging brood looks like. I guess the good news is that there's a definite swing back toward standard Italians. When I checked yesterday there was a substantial increase in bees covering frames. Queen Cordie is still hard at work as I recorded 5 frames--both sides--at about 75% capacity capped & uncapped brood. The remaining frames all had honey, nectar & pollen, so I pulled the outermost side frames & centered them in the second brood deep.

I now have a source for local Russian queens. Still hoping to make a couple of nucs in about a month, & I may let them raise their own queens just to see how they do. I'm not adverse to combining for the winter. And if I get lucky, I might even pick up a swarm or two to mess around with as well.
 

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What about one of glenns Cordovans? All their breeders have VSH and hygienic behavior, right? I do not mind feeding them if they are good producers.

Where can I find open bred Cordovans for a reasonable price?


Kingfisher
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Well, a little bit of karma. Yesterday when I was inspecting the Cordovan hive, I decided to go ahead and set up a second deep in preparation for next month's split. Little did I know that I would get a swarm call today!

I put the swarm in an old deep I keep just for transferring frames. I decided to run home & get a frame of brood from the Cordovan hive, and wouldn't you know it, the very first frame I grab has the queen. I hadn't looked for her the last two mini-inspections because I had plenty of evidence of her bountiful presence. Fat little thing, even larger than when she initially arrived with the package. Put that frame back in & grabbed another from the far side of the brood cluster.

Oh, happy day!
:gh:
 
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