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I was curious what you guys thought about dark bees...?

I watch a lot of youtube videos a lot. And there's a certain guy in Vermont, and other places that their bees look really dark in their videos. And that guy's not the only one, there are others. And I'd heard of people in the southwest and Britain even ending up with dark bees too.

It seems also like all over the place there's all these dark bees. You don't see them a lot. But they are around and often from the wild places, caught.

I guess you can't put them all in the same box. And some are going to be different than others.

Who doesn't want to talk about bees though? That's why we're here right?

I wondered how much of that is from Carniolan genes, and how much of that is really AMM genes?

Just seemed fun to talk about. Because we all love bees.
 

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I have mutts and they are multi-colored. I don't think you can determine the pedigree except thru autopsy at a lab, The drones that mated with the queen determine a lot of things so if the queen is open-mated you get a lot of diversity.
 

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I like dark bees generally but that coloration often makes queen locating difficult for my deteriorating old eyes! MY bees started out carniolan but I have mostly bought italian queens. I do not know if it is natural selection but my bees just keep getting darker. I do not tolerate defensive colonies so any swarm that I suspect has russian heritage, does not go to my fairly isolated apiary. My dark bees as a rule are pretty mild bees that are pretty italian feeling judging from sizes of colony and buildup. But like 99% of our bees, they are mutts.
 

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I think it's safe to say that Carniolan/Caucasian/Russian queens are generally dark striped to black. Being able to handle colder weather, being able to absorb as much heat as possible would be an advantage and evolution seems to agree.

Lighter colored bees tend to be from slightly warmer climates with "less harsh" winters. It's interesting to think why evolution pushed them toward being more yellow, of all the colors they could have been.

I have Italian Cardovan queens in my yard that make beautiful yellow bees, almost perfectly blonde. I also have carniolans which are almost entirely black. As all our queens in the states are mutts we can breed for certain cosmetic traits but it seems the traits most often bred for come from all kinds of different lines.

And as far as Russian bees go? They have NO place near me. I made the mistake of trying them once and I could care less what positive traits they had because they chased me and my family around the yard, waited for us to come out of the house to dive bomb us...even the dog couldn't go outside. If I didn't know they were Russian I would have taken them for African. I had to wear 3 pairs of pants and duct tape my waist and sleeves to kill that queen!
 

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My bees seem to always be darker in the winter, turning more Italian colored in summer. They are all caught swarms or splits therefrom so I guess they're mutts, but their color does change throughout the year.
 

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My bees seem to always be darker in the winter, turning more Italian colored in summer. They are all caught swarms or splits therefrom so I guess they're mutts, but their color does change throughout the year.

As bees age their body hair thins or wears away and more of the dark background shows. Young bees are fuzzier and appear lighter color. You might see a color shift in a nuc too if it was made up in the spring from old almond bees and not many of the new brood has emerged.
 

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I was curious what you guys thought about dark bees...?
Here is the darkest queen I have. She was late in season and late emerging compared to her siblings. She was mated, came back and laid a frame in Oct, then shut down when everyone else did.
http://instagr.am/p/CJg2KCtl6u6/
At emergence she was solid black, then after swelling up to lay she had a bit of brown showing. The video was taken on Jan 1, 2021 and she had atrophied back down from not laying so she is back to black.

I like dark bees generally but that coloration often makes queen locating difficult for my deteriorating old eyes!
Right there with you Vance, that's the reason I mark them, even virgin queens. If I lose a few to predators because they are marked then so be it, they are very difficult for my old eyes to locate.

Lankford Partain (Woolie B's) told me once that all queens have yellow legs. While I have found this to be true, it did not really help me find them. I have taken out a frame, found the dark queen, laid the frame against the hive to get out a marker, and taken 5 more minutes to find her again turning and re-turning the frame.
being able to absorb as much heat as possible would be an advantage
Never once considered the heat angle.
My bees seem to always be darker in the winter, turning more Italian colored in summer.
I thought that was just me. I had an Italian I couldn't tell from the brown Russians and I thought I had moved the nuc. Turns out she was just darker than I remembered.
 

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I think it's safe to say that Carniolan/Caucasian/Russian queens are generally dark striped to black. Being able to handle colder weather, being able to absorb as much heat as possible would be an advantage and evolution seems to agree.

Lighter colored bees tend to be from slightly warmer climates with "less harsh" winters. It's interesting to think why evolution pushed them toward being more yellow, of all the colors they could have been.

I have Italian Cardovan queens in my yard that make beautiful yellow bees, almost perfectly blonde. I also have carniolans which are almost entirely black. As all our queens in the states are mutts we can breed for certain cosmetic traits but it seems the traits most often bred for come from all kinds of different lines.

And as far as Russian bees go? They have NO place near me. I made the mistake of trying them once and I could care less what positive traits they had because they chased me and my family around the yard, waited for us to come out of the house to dive bomb us...even the dog couldn't go outside. If I didn't know they were Russian I would have taken them for African. I had to wear 3 pairs of pants and duct tape my waist and sleeves to kill that queen!
I don't what to tell you. I have Russian bees that I work with no smoke.
 

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My bees seem to always be darker in the winter, turning more Italian colored in summer
According to the bee morphometry sources - there are, indeed, seasonal changes in the bees.
Make up of summer and winter colony are expected to noticeably differ.
This shows on the morphology readings.
 

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Some of mine are are dark, some are lighter. I have not adequately traced lineage to know anything of significance about their origins. Add in some colonies acquired secondhand, brood comb transfer between colonies, etc. and they are all mutts to me.

I just try to propagate the producers, and cull the mean ones, and don't give a second thought to lineage, color, etc.
 
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My bees last year all had black to very dark brown drones, and dark brown queens. The workers varied from black to blond, but most were dark brown. Definitely darker in early spring. I thought I had pure black bees for a while until the new brood started hatching.

None were particularly hot, but each hive certainly had its own temperament even though all the queens were from one queen mother. Some hives I could easily inspect bare-faced, one hive in particular was more aggressive.
 

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I got one nuc that was mite resistant that was grey, and both the ittalian packages I got were yellow. All of my splits and supersedes that raised their own queens have ended up in the gray bee category. I also had a hive(s) that had a mix of yellow and gray (to black) bees. I think it was dependent on the males that mated with the queen. The grey bees seem to do better for me, I think they have some mite resistance, but not enough that I don't need to treat. None of my hives have been agressive, so I am not to concerned with what breed my mutts are.
 

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I run the dark Carniolans up here in Maine. I tried the Italians a couple of times, but they don't do well up here where it gets to -25F in the Winter and sometimes having snow from October to May.
 
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