So I'm looking to introduce some Italian stock to my apiaries. I haven't bought Italian queens in at least 15 years. I remember using Wilbanks Italians years ago but I prefer not to get queens from package mills.... Looking for stock that is for honey production and not major brooders that will not starve to death here in northern NY. Stock specifically tailored to pollinators is not preferred. Something that is a bit more frugal in wintering than some strains. Any suggestions? Something to offer with mite resistance could be nice too?
I bought a couple Koehnan Italian queens last year, I'm impressed. They wintered nicely with a thrifty cluster and are building up really well this spring. I'll let you know how honey production is in a few months.
You really need a response from a commercial beekeeper who's gotten 100+ queens from multiple breeders over several years. Unfortunately most of them don't want to hurt anyone else's business and won't say much.
I'll share my very limited experience but you should mostly ignore it because of small sample size and the fact that differences were probably due mostly to my own mistakes.
I've gotten Italian queens from Olivarez, Koehnen, and Wildflower Meadows. All had good customer service, and every queen arrived healthy and on time. If forced to draw any distinction between them, I would say Koehnen is more friendly while Olivarez is more efficient and professional. If anything I prefer the latter style but who really cares. You ask for queens, you get queens.
Because of my own errors and small sample size I can only really speak to the qualities of the Olivarez queens. They have been excellent. Gentle, good honey producers, and overwintered successfully.
Every queen I've purchased has been better than any queen my bees have made for themselves, assuming the purchased queen was accepted. So I don't have anything bad to say about any of them.
I appreciate your answers guys. Was hoping for more responses. I hope that people aren't replying because they don't want to hurt others businesses. I asked a specific question about Italian stocks that are non-pollinators (excessive brooders), but bees that are excellent honey producers and can handle wintering in the great northeast. Specific stock for a specific job. For me it doesn't mean pollinator type bees are bad just not needed for the job I want them for.
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