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To me it is very difficult to tell anything about bees by their coloration. They are all nearly the same. I think that my bees now are a mixture of italian and carniolian. I see many black drones as well as some golden, but more drone are in between the 2 exrtremes. They do use propolis, but not so much as to be very difficult to inspect.
I do remember having a hive or two of large black feral bees that would run and make noise when their hives were opened. They would be hanging like a swarm from the bottom and running all over if I held the frame up to view. My bees now go about their business while being viewed.
l thought that this 'running' was a fundamental characteristic that differentiates the 'black' bees from the other European strains. Oh my blacks also made real white cappings and were not afraid to sting as I remember.
I apologize if these issues were already discussed earlier in the thread.
 

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May be a disorder rather than a line.
Joe:

While I am not certain, my research on CBPV would suggest that the relative lack of hair on a honey bee in-and-of-itself would not be a proof-positive indication of CBPV, but might represent other alternatives such as bee age. A couple descriptions and symptoms of CBPV:

Chronic bee paralysis as a serious emerging threat to honey bees

Chronic bee paralysis virus (CBPV) is an unclassified bipartite RNA virus that until recently caused a rare but severe chronic paralysis disease in honey bees, with very characteristic symptoms including abnormal trembling, flightlessness and shiny, hairless abdomens. Infected symptomatic individuals die within a week leading to mounds of dead bees outside affected colonies, which sometimes collapse or are too weakened for pollination or honey production.


Infected honeybees will begin to show symptoms of the illness within five days of infection, and the infection presents in two distinct ways, with Type I infection being the more common of the two infection types.

A Type I infected bee presents with a bloated abdomen due to a fluid-filled honey sac and weak or trembling wings. Type I infected honey bees tend to crawl on the ground or cluster near the entrance of the hive, as their weakened wings lead to an inability to fly.

A Type II infected honey bee presents with complete abdominal hair loss, causing it to appear black and greasy. These bees are still able to fly 2–3 days after symptoms begin to appear, but they lose their ability to fly shortly before succumbing to the disease.

A third type of infection that is a major contributor to the spread of the virus is an infection of CBPV in which the infected bee exhibits no symptoms of the illness. The infected bee does not present with any of the classic symptoms of the disease before death, and, as a result, is able to transmit the virus beyond its own hive.


... And coming back around to the discussion about morphology suggesting genetic background, here are a couple interesting articles about utilizing thoracic hair color and tomenta hair width to assess bee subspecies, specifically focused on AMM:

 

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Thanks Russ,

After looking these over, I'm less convinced that what I have always called German bees are actually A.m.m.. But as far as the actual virus, I've seen thousands of these and even some in my own hives and have yet to see anything unusual or sickly in their behavior. It could be that I haven't been paying enough attention, and this I will rectify. But I've spent untold hours going through hives. As far as seeing any trembling bees or piles or dead bees I do not. A couple of years ago I had a hive with some deformed wing, and I see an occasional K-wing (or at least I think it's a K-wing) but this is usually on a drone and may just be a case of not having them folded up properly.

I know this time of year they outproduce most of their pestilence so it's easy to overlook things. But I'll be keeping a closer eye. Thanks again! :D
 

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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:
On seeing it, that was my first thought too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #206 ·
Struttinbuck, I am not sure because I haven't really measured the bee's abdomens before, but the German black bees do look more stocky from their broader abdomen, I think.

Some strains of Spanish black bees may have more ordinary looking smaller abdomens than the broad abdomen German black bees. Apis Mellifera or Iberian black bee, the native species of the area... (Spanish black bee photo from Northern Spain), Reina en plena puesta..

All our colonies this year have dark thorax haired drones. They don't seem to be Tunisian in looks, so that has made me think that our colonies have a larger percentage of German black than I thought. I may have been missing the Spanish black bees as just hybrids of German black bees, but are actually closer to pure. They are aggressive and do wet cappings on their honey, which matches Spanish black bees. But the majority of our colonies that I remember do wet cappings anyway.

I have looked at videos of some strains of Tunisian bees (aka Tellian bees, Punic bees), and this strain has broad abdomens like German black bees from the best I can tell:
(skip to 2:40)

So I am not sure whether these smaller abdomen "Spanish black bees" are not a strain of Tunisian. I have videos that I took this week that I will upload of them (I don't have the camera right now).
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Oops. The video is of Saharan bees from Algeria, not Tunisian bees. I was told by the beekeeper who took the video:
(skip to 2:40)
 

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Me 2 I checked a d the us has stopped imports from Canada
What I am saying is - IF you really, badly want the Black bees (so to ask about the across multiple-posts) - well, contact this person and ask where can you get then.
Apparently she got them somewhere in Canada, because she wanted them.

How you will get some queens across the border - I am not asking or suggesting (not my problem).
 

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Discussion Starter · #213 ·
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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.

View attachment 63084

This might explain why our Tunisian like bees have light colored forms mixed in a lot of our colonies. Could this selecting for light colored queens be a way to adapt to climate change? Such as an ice age that causes the foraging season to shift to the more warm Spring or Summer time versus cold season foraging during the warm spells in Winter? Dark coloration might be good for cold Winter time nectar flows to absorb heat from sunlight, and light bees for warm season nectar flows.

Western Europe had a little ice age a few hundred years ago:
 

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Discussion Starter · #214 · (Edited)
Me 2 I checked a d the us has stopped imports from Canada
You can import bee sperm here in the United States without a permit from England, France, Canada and a few other countries: Genetic past, present, and future of the honey bee (Apis mellifera) in the United States of America
Quote:
"Currently, the USA allows live honey bee importations from New Zealand and Canada, and germplasm importations from Australia, Bermuda, Canada, France, Great Britain, New Zealand, and Sweden (USDA n.d.). Germplasm from other sources can be used with USDA permission."

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... And coming back around to the discussion about morphology suggesting genetic background, here are a couple interesting articles about utilizing thoracic hair color and tomenta hair width to assess bee subspecies, specifically focused on AMM:

Nice! I will be looking for these German black bee traits.
 

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Discussion Starter · #216 ·
Glad it is of some help to you, Nathaniel. Given that you are in North Carolina, have you had the opportunity to connect with Carl Chesick with the Center for Honeybee Research?

I wonder if he might be of some help to you in researching the genetic background of your local feral stock.
No, I didn't know about him. I will try to send Carl Chesick a message with videos of our strange looking bees. I wrote to the bee geneticist, David Tarpy, about our bees, and showed him videos, but I had a hard time trying to convince him that our bees were from unusual subspecies. He kept saying that it would be impossible for honeybees to be identified by looks because of the mixing of genes from recombination. Which is a good point. But I keep seeing consistent combination of traits of, for example our Tunisian like bees, in a lot of our colonies. If it was true about the recombination from hybridization causing a random mixing of traits in a population of bees, then I shouldn't be seeing such consistency, unless my eyes are fooling me.
 

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Which is a good point.
Well to be sure, genetic testing would be the only way to know with any degree of certainty.

Does Dr. Tarpy's lab offer the ability to test the genetic make-up of your colonies? I understand they are now testing for Africanized genetics?
 

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Discussion Starter · #218 ·
Well to be sure, genetic testing would be the only way to know with any degree of certainty.

Does Dr. Tarpy's lab offer the ability to test the genetic make-up of your colonies? I understand they are now testing for Africanized genetics?
I am not sure. He did say that right now the genetic testing methods are not very good, and that the SNPs would be a better way for genetic testing.

That is interesting that they are doing testing for African genetics. African bees naturally range into areas that get mild winters in South Africa. African genetics have been found in New York and Europe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #219 ·
This might be related to this topic about Ligurian bees. The German black bee does range into Italy a little, and a lot of the German black bees there in Italy may have cross bred with the Italian bees.
Kangaroo Island in Australia is said to have pure "Ligurian bees". The Ligurian bees from northwest Italy are said to be a better strain of Italian bee than the lighter Italian strains. But I think the "Ligurian bees" were actually hybrids of German black and Italian bees.

At the bottom of this website there is a photo of Ligurian bees from Kangaroo Island. The discoidal shift is around 0 or neutral (photos of discoidal shift on wing veins. A Comprehensive Characterization of the Honeybees in Siberia (Russia)) from what I see in the photo. Island Beehive | Kangaroo Island Organic Ligurian Bee Honey

And here is a photo of German black bee like bees from Kangaroo Island:
 
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