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Would you be interested in analyzing for Tunisian bees? Right now most of our colonies are showing Tunisian bee traits (only 8-12 colonies left, but am multiplying now).

-Nathaniel Long
Sorry, I have no ability to distinguish the Tunisians.
That will be no use effort.
 

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I plan to check the black-bee tree this afternoon. We’ve hit another cool snap. It was 33F at daylight. Supposed to hit close to 60F this afternoon. If they didn’t die out in the fall (which I kinda suspect) they should be working today. Hopefully they made it.

I began seeing them in 2016 or 2017, then found them last year. I was starting to think they were invincible last fall, but couldn’t find movement on 2 warm(er) days in winter. I’ll update on their status.
 

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Discussion Starter · #184 · (Edited)
Now I am thinking there could be a few different strains of Tunisian bees here in our colonies in North Carolina... I used to think that possibly it was hybridization that caused some of the variations in some Tunisian like colonies we had in the past.

Here are some videos of Tunisian like bee in our colonies (some of these videos I have already posted here on this topic, but I am organizing them to strain of Tunisian the best I can tell):

First:
Colony #1
Colony #2
(?) Colony #3

Second:
Colony #1 Light colored bees August 2020
Colony #2 Tellian bees? North Carolina April 10th?
Colony #3 Thin banded strange bees

Third (Really a different strain or the same as or hybrid of First?)
These are almost as if they are slightly hybridized with German black because they could be all black, and might have slightly wide abdomen and solid colored, compared to the first translucent strain posted above. These might be what I have been thinking were Spanish black bees in this post:


Sluggish build-up in Spring, but produce drones at the usual time as other colonies, so proportionately more drones than workers in early Spring. Propolizes a lot and are aggressive.

Colony #1 Honeybee colony August
(?) Colony #2 2020 February 24th #9
Colony #3 March 5th? 2021 bees
Colony #4 2020 February 25th Dark bees (Carniolan?) #2

Bear in mind that most of this I am uncertain of and I am doing a lot of guessing.


An interesting light colored colony that looked somewhat Tunisian. Hybridization caused light coloration?

This video is sort of what I have been thinking were the Spanish black bees with the smaller abdomens than German black bees:
And this I took recently:
The "Third" strain is too similar to the "First" strain in looks. So I was most likely wrong. It is a mystery why some colonies are sluggish in Spring build-up. It seems as if it is related to these Tunisian like colonies though. Also, it is only the two or more story colonies that have had this problem of breeding only drones in the Spring, and not workers. When they do this it doesn't help with Varroa. Replacing the queen fixes the problem I have noticed.
"Sluggish build-up in Spring, but produce drones at the usual time as other colonies, so proportionately more drones than workers in early Spring. Propolizes a lot and are aggressive."

It would be great if someone could do genetic testing on our bees. If Saharan or Tunisian bees are already found common in our colonies, they might even find some other kinds of strange, hot climate bees, like Persian (Apis mellifera meda) or Greek bees (Apis mellifera cecropia).

Maybe the "A" lineage mitochondria could be found in our colonies if drones contribute occasionally their mtDNA through mitochondria mixing DNA within the queen and then being passed on to the eggs? And if some reason the mitochondria of a subspecies has a preference for it's subspecies of bee?

Mitochondria hybridizing in honeybees in Siberia:
 

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Discussion Starter · #185 ·
Is it possible there is any German black in the Russian honeybee imports to the US?

Photo of Russian bees. A few look a little more thin banded, unless those are just old bees losing their hair?
https://flic.kr/p/eztu7h
Russian Ural mountain strain of German black bee (They have thicker rings of hair than some other German black bees that I have seen in photos online):

"Morphological studies of honey bees in the northern wooded steppe zone of the Republic of Bashkortostan"
 

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Discussion Starter · #186 ·
Saharan like bees here in North Carolina:

This colony we have here in North Carolina has lighter bees with thick bands:
(sorry for bad, shaky video!)

I am wondering whether it is possible that these have Saharan bee (Apis mellifera sahariensis) genetics in them because of the lighter color, and because I have read from here (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23802359.2017.1365647) that Saharan bees live in areas where the temperature can get cold:
"It has the ability to adapt to extreme conditions like temperatures in Saharan zones ranging from −10 °C to over 50 °C to drought conditions (Adjlane et al. 2016) and high altitudes (Haccour 1960)."

Light colored, thin banded Saharan bee video on YouTube to compare:

Saharan bee picture from Wikipedia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apis_mellifera_sahariensis#/media/File:النحل_الصحراوي_Apis_mellifera_sahariensis.jpg

View attachment 57537 View attachment 57539 View attachment 57541 View attachment 57545

I still doubt that we have Saharan bees here in North Carolina because we have a humid climate, while the Saharan desert is very dry.

We still do get a little heat or dry dormancy during our summer, which you can see in these Tulip poplars loosing leaves in July 25th 2020:
View attachment 57543
A few more photos of this colony from last year:
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Less lighting in the evening did not make good photos:
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Video of thicker banded, Saharan (likely hybrids) bees from Ouarzazate, Morocco:
(Skip to 0:49 and 0:58 and 1:29 in video to see the bees. Dark thorax haired at 1:29 in the video, to the right? When the drone turns its angle the drone is not so dark haired.) In the comments below the YouTube video they are said to be Saharan hybrids from migratory beekeepers (Google translate the Arabic). That probably explains their thicker bands.

Video of dark Tunisian bees from Northern Africa (?). They are similar in looks to German black bees:
(Skip to 7:29 and 8:30 in video to see the bees.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #190 ·
Nathaniel:

Good article in the April 2021 ABJ (attached)- thought it might be interesting to you.
Russ, how did you get the ABJ articles online? I would like to link online photos of interesting bees that I see in the ABJ magazine.

From the article about Yemeni bees found in New York there are no sightings of the honeybee before the colonists settled America. I thought that the Spaniards had brought their native Spanish black bees to California or Florida before the British brought their German black bees, but now it seems to me as if the colonists were indeed first to bring bees to the United States.

Nathaniel:

I have enjoyed reading this thread. You may have already had the opportunity to read this series of articles written by Dr. Everett Oertel, USDA Research Entomologist published in circular in the American Bee Journal c. 1976, but if not they are well worth the read. It is the most comprehensive and well-researched summary on the topic I have found, at least without the benefit of background genetic testing.

A summary of this information was also included (attached) in a 1980 USDA publication.

Have a great weekend.

Russ
The article you showed me before says that Spaniards brought bees to Florida, but if the Spaniards had brought them earlier than the German black bee, then the honeybee should have been found already in America when the colonists came.

Quote from page 4:
"
Florida



Barton (1802) stated that the honey bees in Florida, after having been introduced by the Spaniards, had by 1785 “Increased into innumerable swarms.” Unfortunately, he gave no details as to the source of his information. Bartram (1792), on the other hand, recorded his own experiences. He noted that he and his friends cut down a bee tree on the banks of the St. Johns River in 1765 and obtained considerable honey. In several instances he was given a drink consisting of honey water in northern Florida by plantation owners. The Indians in East Florida traded beeswax and honey to the Spaniards in Cuba and to white traders in the area for trade goods. In 1765 De Brahm, according to De Vorsey (1971) began an official land survey in East Florida. He noted that honey bees, honey and beeswax could be taken from hollow trees. Bees were frequently seen and honey obtained for his use. Contrary to the statement made by Barton (see above) Villalon (1867) stated that honey bees were brought to America by English colonists and that the Spaniards first introduced honey bees in Cuba in 1764 when they fled from Florida. I believe that if Spaniards brought bees to Florida they would have left some in Cuba."



Our bee colonies seem to outcast the dark queens when several queens hatch out, and keep the lightest queen in the brood chamber warm and alive to mate. Splits with one queen cell produced more dark queens than splits with several queen cells I have noticed years ago. I was confused and wasn't quite sure that I was correct. But now I have seen queens killed at the front entrance of mating hives that were dark queens and the queen inside that mated successfully was light. One hive even had 5 or so dead dark queens at the front of the hive. It is strange.

63084


 

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Russ, how did you get the ABJ articles online? I would like to link online photos of interesting bees that I see in the ABJ magazine.
Nathaniel:

I take the digital subscription of ABJ. For only $16 a year, the information contained within is well worth it.

When you subscribe, you receive a monthly link to the latest edition which allows you to read it online, download it as a PDF and search back copies (among other things).
 

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Discussion Starter · #192 ·
Nathaniel:

I take the digital subscription of ABJ. For only $16 a year, the information contained within is well worth it.

When you subscribe, you receive a monthly link to the latest edition which allows you to read it online, download it as a PDF and search back copies (among other things).
Okay, thank you. I looked at the ABJ website and found out that the older magazines are free to look at online:
 

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Update: The tree hive of black bees near me didn't make it this winter.
Sorry to read this, Joe. Surely there has to be more of this genetic strain in your flight path and maybe you can luck-into some in a swarm trap here soon.

Do the black bees around you look more AMM or Carnica-type? I do get a lot of dark bees in my colonies with narrow light-colored banding at tergites, but morphologically they are not blunt in the abdomen like the photos I see of true AMM- makes me think there likely is some dark bee influence in there but a whole lot of ligustica and carnica too.
 

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Sorry to read this, Joe. Surely there has to be more of this genetic strain in your flight path and maybe you can luck-into some in a swarm trap here soon.

Do the black bees around you look more AMM or Carnica-type? I do get a lot of dark bees in my colonies with narrow light-colored banding at tergites, but morphologically they are not blunt in the abdomen like the photos I see of true AMM- makes me think there likely is some dark bee influence in there but a whole lot of ligustica and carnica too.
There's no hair between tergites to speak of, except one vareity that consistently has hair between 2 tergites (can't remember which) near the end of the abdomen. There were several on my feeder yesterday so either:
a. the genetics show up occasionally among Russians - I have seen a few in the hives, the slick, blunt black ones without the one ring of hairs
b. my hybridized mutts picked up some genetics from black (possibly A.m.m. drones) in the area
c. there are other trees in the neighborhood
d. something else I've overlooked

We also still have the feral bees that have one band of black high on the abdomen then shiny jet black as if you dipped their little butts in paint. No idea what they are except to say they are colored different from anything else.

At this point it would be difficult to "course" or beeline anything close to the yard. Like everyone, my colony count is on the rise and the air has a lot of bees in it. Just happened to look down in my field toward some small pines today where I saw the 2nd swarm of the year. So I've dropped the ball somewhere. It's been too cold here to risk splits until the last few days so equalizing and checker-boarding have won the day so far.

Take care Russ
 

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We also still have the feral bees that have one band of black high on the abdomen then shiny jet black as if you dipped their little butts in paint.
Joe:

Thank you for your feedback. I do apologize for the delay in reply. If I am following your description, we've had bees with this coloring in the past as well- predominantly orange colored with a solid black tailgate. However, I have not observed too much of that coloration this year.

In fact, while there is quite a lot of variation in the coloring/banding of the bees in the home yard (see the attached photos), it seems to me that the colonies here are tending toward a yellower coloring than in the past few years.

Most notable has been the drones- in past years most the drones I have seen have been consistently dark colored, and this year I have seen a range of drone coloration- the most striking being what I would consider almost a Cordovan color (attached).

The coloration and attendant genetic speculations is always an interesting topic to me, but I decided what I am most interested in is whether they can survive or not ;).

I do hope you have a great bee year.

Russ
 

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Russ, I caught a pic of one today. This one has been into a bit of sugar-water, but you get the idea.
Now that is a black bee- I've never seen one so dark and devoid of any variation in color. If I didn't know better, I would wonder if that bee is suffering from CBPV:

 

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Now that is a black bee- I've never seen one so dark and devoid of any variation in color. If I didn't know better, I would wonder if that bee is suffering from CBPV:

They have some caramel in the upper abdomen once full. Someone else mentioned disease a while back as a possible cause but didn't have details. I can't say for sure, but I can say there were as many as 10 working an outdoor feeder at any given time today. I'll have to say the "Window Bee" pic looks cloudy across the thorax. These don't have that. They have quite a bit of short hair, the one in the pic has been swimming in sugar water.

Could be disease, but I've seen a lot of black bees in my day. Not as much a novelty now. I'll look into it. Thanks Russ

edit: I'm attaching another pic where the same virus is described. This looks very much like a whole colony living across the highway from my house. I've been referring to these as a separate race, but they very well may be viralized. It's not exact but very similar. They've been around for several years and forage just fine by the hundreds, but the end of the abdomen looks like you dipped them in paint. Otherwise, they look/act healthy enough. May be a disorder rather than a line. I'll try and get some more pics of these.

63253
 

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That's a really black bee! I get a few that dark, but mainly in the early spring and I assume they are very old winter bees. The early spring bees are darker than the mid summer bees.
 
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