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Northern Bee Keepers

2406 Views 16 Replies 17 Participants Last post by  Cloverdale
Hi all, First year for me and my two hives are doing great. My question is what breed of bees do most northern bee keepers have? I have Italian bees from packages in April. How well do they winter if provided enough food etc.? I was just told they don't winter well in cold climates and I should requeen with buckfast or carnis... I'm located in west central Pa and winters do get bad here, any thoughts or suggestions are appreciated...
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Of the three hives I lost this winter, two were southern bred Italians, and one was a northern carni that was going into her 3rd year (no surprise on not making it 3 years). If you are going to re-queen, may I suggest NWC Queens from Honey Run Apiaries, or queens from Velbert at ?
Carniolans, Italians, and Mutts, aka Mixed Breed.
I've overwintered Italians and Carniolans in the hills of Western Maine, where it also is known to get cool in the winter. I've also lost colonies of both. I prefer the carnis due to their smaller winter clusters, requiring smaller stores.

I just started over with 6 hives with Italian queens here in PA and have 4 Carni queens coming in about a week. I'll move the Italian queens into nucs and perhaps overwinter them.

I've ordered Carni queens from Full Bloom apiaries in Connecticut in the past and can recommend them.

I started with 2 3# packages of Italians and day 10 they appear to be doing GREAT. However, I'm wondering if I should requeen them and change race since I too live in PA and worry about the nasty winters. I'm so new at this, and was just grateful I found packages before they were all sold out. Sorry I can't be of help, but I too am curious about this question.
I don't think if matters so much what "breed" they are, but I think you would be wise to requeen your colonies later this summer with queens that are bred in the North, from reputable breeders.
+1 on full bloom apiaries. I overwintered his bees this past winter with very small stores
I've had Carniolans survive the UP winters here. But the last winter was especially brutal. I lost my bees. My friend lost her bees. And a local apiary had 100% bee loss (many hives)...
Each breed has it's advantages and disadvantages. It is hard to beat a booming Italian hive that overwintered, or the Carniolian population explosion. But be prepared for the Italian that eats it'self out of house and home, and a Carni that wintered on too small a cluster. Find what works best for you.

Crazy Roland
Warm Colors Apiary in Massachusetts uses Russian strain of bees. They have a reputable queen rearing operation with some great results. The owner came to the local beekeeper chapter with some impressive data on using Russian strains in the north. I plan on using these queens for my hives for this season.
keep the feed to them
OK here's some info especially for W. PA. area beekeepers.

I plan to re-queen my 2 new packages this Summer. There is a local beekeeper that raises queens from survivor stock plus daughter queens raised from pure Russian queens. His name is Stephen Repasky. He is a Master beekeeper, President of BurghBees, 2nd vice President of the PA Beekeepers Assn. He has hives all over the local area. And if you go to his website, be sure to watch the video "Portrait of an Urban Beekeeper". The link is on his homepage. It's a very nicely done video.
Here is his website.

Here is the BurghBees website:

You may have seen Stephen on TV recently removing bees from the Penn Brewery wall collapse.!TJjG0

Stephen sells queens that are available for local pick-up or you can have them shipped. I think shipping is very expensive----even locally, but I'm not sure. He lives in Dormont, so that's about as Pittsburgh as it gets. I want to re-queen this Summer because it may help lessen the swarming instinct next Spring if they survive the Winter and it will give me, what I hope, will be a bit more hardy stock than the Southern queens that came with my 2 new packages. I know Stephen as I am a new member of BurghBees and have attended a couple of his classes. He's a very knowledgeable person and an excellent teacher, plus he's a really nice guy.

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My Russian hive made it thru the winter, the Italian did not (even tho there was a lot of honey left in their hive). This winter I will be going in with only Russian hives (if the package I installed yesterday is a success) (and the split with local Russian queen later on this month). If I don't lose any Russian hives this winter, then I will be sold on Russians.
i have bee raising Carnolians, new world Carnolians, Russian x carnolians at 6000' colorado on the grand mesa all these breeds winter over just fine and i don't winter wrap or reduce there entrances.keep in full sun.
Overwintered 2 hives each of Italians and mutts...... Italians died and mutts made it.....
italians wintered fine in michigan last winter. i have a couple of carnis tha I'm testing this year. we'll see how well they do this winter.
I still like the Buckfast bees....they over wintered well here in Western Catskills...I will get 2 new Buckfast queens from Fergusons Apiaries in Canada and requeen 2 four frame nucs the end of June. The new nucs seem to make a lot of propolis and wax around the inner cover this descriptive of carniolans?
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