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So as I medicate my aching back just finishing up with the heavy work of winterizing my hives, like every beekeeper and farmer, I'm starting to think out my ideas from the past season and solidify my plans for the next. I am obviously in an expansion mode and am think about splits and queens so the question is, is there any real differences in what are commonly referred to a "Northern" or "Southern" queens? Last Spring, I was able to add a third deep to 5 hives (as a newbee, I had no real supply of comb) which by late April, fully built out 10 more frames of brood and stores. On May 1st, I did 1:3 splits, moving 2 sets of 8 frames into 10 frame deeps and add 6 frame of blank foundation into the original "mother" 10 frame double deep. May is the beginning of swarm season here and each of splits had a few queen cells and by August, 9 of the 10 splits survived but by season end, while strong, did not produce any excess honey and I am optimistic most, if not all, have a shot to make it through winter.

In retrospect, (and some comments by GG) while my splits worked, they were not the most graceful or efficient splits. This Spring, all things considered, I am going to try the triple deep resource hives and try 1:5 splits with 4 frame (total 16 out of the "mothers" 30 frames) into 5 frame nuc's. It would think I'd like to move a couple weeks earlier on the splits and buy new queens for the splits, rather than wait on new queens developing from swarm cells. So the question is if I can't get "Northern Queens" in mid-late April since most breeders don't produce new queens until mid-June, could I use "Southern Queens" and make a go of it? Is there really a genetic disposition for surviving winters or is it just a matter of adaption? I'm on the line of USDA zone 6B and 7.
 

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I think in NJ southern will be fine. Leave them a bit more honey until you know how they roll.
However, I prefer my own queens. I would run the colonies for honey going into the main flow and only split if you get behind them and they are going to swarm. At which point you should be fine with 2-3 (deep) frame splits. Then pull your honey as soon as boxes are ready and do flyback splits towards the end of main flow if you want more colonies. Feed if needed. I don't like to have queenless hives during dearth as they are more likely to get robbed. Overwinter on 8-12 frames (resource hives?). With good technique and overwintering you will have way more bees than you need....
 

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I am of the opinion that it's more about the genetics of the bees, and the breeders management than it is about the northern vs southern queens locations. Here is why I say that...

I've had queens from Mike Palmer in VT (Northern bees) that were excellent queens. I think his are more Carniolan or Russian based, but over the years he's added in the other races as well. I think, in my mind anyway, that he now has his very own Mike Palmer genetics of bees.

I would say that any major breeder that has been at it for 10+ years, it would be safe to say that they have their own genetic line of bees, especially if they've done like Mike and incorporated other races within the mix over the years. let me clarify, any major breeder that does not buy breeder queens each year from another breeder to breed from that year in his/her personal yards. Mike raises from his best each year, and does not purchase from other places to use as his breeder stock each year.

OK so now I've also been using these past 3 years queens from Wildflower Apiaries in Southern California (Southern bees) and they have also been excellent bees for me. They are more Italian based bees, and have been great bees for me. I would say they perform just as well as Mike Palmer's bees did for me back when I was running his here.

So, that's why I say that to me, it's not about Southern vs Northern bees, it's more about the genetics and the breeder that you purchase from.

Now, as to my location, I'm in Northern California at the eastern edge of the big state long valley, at the very start of the foothills to the Sierra Nevada mountains, my elevation is just over 100 feet above sea level, and I'm at almost the very same Latitude as you are LarryBud.

Ok, that's it for now, these are just my thoughts on the issue of Northern vs Southern raised bees.
 

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there are a few studies
butt one of there "northern" lines came form WV and they were testing in southern Pen...... not "north" to me.. they also didn't test any one the stocks in its home area

SARE FNE10-694 sujest a big difrance
Over the two-year trial, with all colonies included

•lRe queened packages had 50% survivability (local queens)
•28% survivability of the southern packages
•The highest survival rate was the northern nucs at 61%.

but, one has to rember that NZ packages seem to do just fine in CAN
 

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It would think I'd like to move a couple weeks earlier on the splits and buy new queens for the splits, rather than wait on new queens developing from swarm cells.
This year I waited for about 3 extra weeks for a state inspector. I could have gotten local guys but wanted to raise and sell some queens. As a result, I had a few swarms and ended up making some very healthy, well-populated spits with some of the early queens. As I finished up the year having sold nucs, hives, and queens, with no hive beetle or other issues I came to the conclusion that I will never do a walk-away, let-them-raise-their-own split again.

My advice, raise a few queens from your own stock. There are dozens of ways to do it with very little resources. It will change your bee life. My eyesight is not good, my hands aren't as steady as they once were, and I totally don't know what I'm doing. But raising my own queens changed everything about what I do. If I can do it, I am quite sure you can too. :)
 

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There is another option. Here where I'm at, raise queens the end of August and make up nucs with new queens laying by the end of September. Makes nucs with new queens for over wintering so that in spring I have fresh queens with support staff, as Mike Palmer has said, to use for increase or to requeen failing over wintered colonies. This has worked well for me.
 

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LarryBud, I’m your next door neighbor. When you did your original 1:3 splits did you feed the hives? Yes, I know the flow was strong this year but by feeding constantly…not enough to ferment but enough to be taken in 1-2 days, you may have had better success with bees going through winter. Micromanaging hives every other day to feed is a drag but it works. Also you should have forgotten the idea of”make honey“ when the word split came up. Going from May to now is hard for bees to draw 12 additional deep frames (assuming 10 frame boxes) and fill with winter food. I raise my own few queens every year. I go out in early March pending weather/ year and choose my strongest hives to start feeding. I then pull queen 2+ weeks later amd move to an insulated nuc. 10 days after pulling queen, I dismantle hive into as many insulated nucs as I can [email protected] 2 queen cells a nuc. It’s a lazy way but 1) it works, 2) the workers choose the queens to be, 3) I get at least one new queen at a min….best case 4, 5) should I fail…I know of an overwinter laying queen I have in a nuc to pull a frame of 1-2 day old larvae and have a go. This gets you a new queen in mid April to the beginning of May.

Just my thoughts for what’s worked for me. I’m sure I’ll be pummeled by others here but they don’t live where I do.😉 Let me know if you wanna see what I do this spring.
 

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So as I medicate my aching back just finishing up with the heavy work of winterizing my hives, like every beekeeper and farmer, I'm starting to think out my ideas from the past season and solidify my plans for the next. I am obviously in an expansion mode and am think about splits and queens so the question is, is there any real differences in what are commonly referred to a "Northern" or "Southern" queens? Last Spring, I was able to add a third deep to 5 hives (as a newbee, I had no real supply of comb) which by late April, fully built out 10 more frames of brood and stores. On May 1st, I did 1:3 splits, moving 2 sets of 8 frames into 10 frame deeps and add 6 frame of blank foundation into the original "mother" 10 frame double deep. May is the beginning of swarm season here and each of splits had a few queen cells and by August, 9 of the 10 splits survived but by season end, while strong, did not produce any excess honey and I am optimistic most, if not all, have a shot to make it through winter.

In retrospect, (and some comments by GG) while my splits worked, they were not the most graceful or efficient splits. This Spring, all things considered, I am going to try the triple deep resource hives and try 1:5 splits with 4 frame (total 16 out of the "mothers" 30 frames) into 5 frame nuc's. It would think I'd like to move a couple weeks earlier on the splits and buy new queens for the splits, rather than wait on new queens developing from swarm cells. So the question is if I can't get "Northern Queens" in mid-late April since most breeders don't produce new queens until mid-June, could I use "Southern Queens" and make a go of it? Is there really a genetic disposition for surviving winters or is it just a matter of adaption? I'm on the line of USDA zone 6B and 7.
I think you are chasing a ghost. For many years my queens of choice were Martha Carpenter mite biters from Frostprood Fl and they wintered near the 47th paralell famously as their descendants continue you to. My advice is to find the best stock you can local to you or as close as [possible to minimize shipping stress on your purchased queens. I used to organize a cooperative and order enough queens to get the queens overnighted UPS in battery boxes. Those queens were always far superior to the onsies and twosies I had shipped USPS. Slow shipping where queens get cold stressed ruins them. Do you have a local bee club who gets in larger shipments?
 

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Nope, he's right on the money. Get the plans laid before the sales end in case he needs to buy some equipment to implement them. I assume prices are going to be higher in the coming months for our industry....
I plan like this too before the hives are even covered. Not sure what next year will bring for the line of prices thou. Might want to pay in full your order with the supplier of your bees for this years prices verses next years price
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I want to say that this is the beginning of an early assessment of my apiaries. I've taken pretty good notes on the performance of each hive, I guess as a smaller beekeeper I have that luxury of time with that but I can see that line between a hobbyist and a pro. Going into winter, I have 32 hives spread across 6 yards, most look strong but at this point I don't think any of us know how many will survive the winter but I am optimistic. Mostlikley, through reading, talking, studying and some good old fashion dumb blind luck, I had 100% survival over my first 2 winters. Planning at this time seems to be a smart idea at this point and recognizing the financial requirements in addition to the biological limits is a big part of planning. I am toying about going to 60-75 hives this Spring, maybe a few more if I can. (If some of you remember the posts by Scoobertdo a year or so ago about going from 0 to 10,000 hives :rolleyes:) I'm not going to break my back and want to keep it fun.

From my current assessment, I want to triple deep 10-12 ten frame resource hives this Spring which, if successful would result 300-360 frames of comb and bees. I would target my strongest colonies and start heavy feeding as early as possible (as soon as high temps are in the mid 50'sF). Half of this number would be my best performing hives, half strong hives that would show an ability for the "mother colony" to recover quickly. I would want to preserve the genetics of my best performers and since I do not have the skills to produce queens (YET) I would do walk-aways and let the new queens open mate. These hives would need to be split later in the Spring when local drones start flying. The basis of this post's question was getting quality mated queens as early as possible, prior to our May-June swarm season here which I would want to get as early as sensibly possible. Obviously this plan depends on several (a lot of) factors, most importantly weather.

Doing the math- say 10 triples would produce 300 frames of bees, brood and stores (feeding heavily). 150 frames (15 each) would remain with the "mother colonies" with 5 blank foundation frames added and left to grow out into production. The remaining 150 frames, sorted into nucs with brood, nurse bees and stores would produce 30 5 frame nuc's (maybe) and if half are early season, require 15 new mated queens. All of these splits would be heavily fed (per Zippy 69) and our early flow start here with tree and dandelions in late March/early April so mid-April would be the early targeted date. So the question stands (with acknowledgement to Ray, msl and the rest) if I was to purchase "Southern Queens" for my location, would they survive the next Winter or even the first Spring? I would consider possibly re-queening later in the season of necessary.

The economics': (assuming land for bee yards is readily available)

Wooden ware:
30 new Nuc's, complete @ $50 each= $1500
30 new double deeps, complete @ $135 each $4050
Miscl. lumber, hardware for hive stands $1200

Total $6750 plus another $1000 for stuff I forgot

I guess it doesn't get cheaper or easier as you grow.
 

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Larry there's some local queen producers in Allentown area that would likely be able to provide locally adapted queens. That's a location which is just as warm as yours and not too far - but it's still cold enough to have a broodless period, and cold adaptation. I hope that makes sense.

When it comes to queens - always buy local. Michael Palmer, or others that have been rearing queens for 5+ years. They're rare, sell out quickly but the quality is unmatched.

northern queens tend to forage in colder temperatures, they do not tend to brood up early (e.g., mine do not brood until March), and should overwinter on less honey than southern queens. They also "know" not to make a huge brood nest too early in the spring. Southern queens might expand so rapidly that they wind up starving in April, for example.

I notice it with the cold weather foraging. It's really not unusual for my queens to forage out in the 30s and 40s - it's getting more obvious as time goes on. If it's mid 40s and sunny it's a pretty busy foraging day. 50F they'll be pollen/nectar forage.

When I bought California queens when I first started, they refused to leave the hive until it was well into the 50s, and even in the low 60s.

Now after years of overwintering up here, they're all out in the 40s.
 

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.........northern queens tend to forage in colder temperatures, .........
It's really not unusual for my queens to forage out in the 30s and 40s - it's getting more obvious as time goes on. If it's mid 40s and sunny it's a pretty busy foraging day. 50F they'll be pollen/nectar forage.
Good northern bees actually know better to NOT be foraging out when it is cold (even if sunny) - this amounts to nothing by loss of life and wasted resources.

My backyard Italians are ready to forage no matter how cold and keep bringing more pollen (for what?). The "northern" VSH mutts sit tight and don't waste the time. So that is what I observe.

The talk of Northern bee foraging when cold is.... an exaggeration or at least needs contextual qualification.
 

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Northern vs Southern is a bunch of horse hockey pucks unless controlled comparisons of sufficiently large size have been made. Is it the genetics or where they were raised, or could it be performance compromising conditions that may have occurred during shipping or even time spent banked.

For certain there are some predictable differences between bees of typically italian or carniolan characteristics but different people in different situations will come to different appraisals of relative merrits of these differences. As has been mentioned, are carni bees from Hawaii northern or southern bees?:rolleyes:
 

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If anything is worth talking about - the historical bee genetic sourcing.
By this the Carni-derivatives in general are more "northern" than the Italian-derivatives.

Does not matter where you get your Carni blood - from NZ, Hawaii or Wisconsin - the Carni traits will continue the same (if there is appreciable Carni blood presence is there).

Simply Northern vs. Southern bee talk is kinda pointless.
By this logic, the Russian bees are now days mostly "Sourthern". LOL.
 

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Hmm I disagree.

Foraging at colder temperatures for water, more capable of undergoing cleansing flights, brood shut down earler/later, etc etc the benefits go on and on.

As always, Stick with locally bred local queens from nearby agricultural zones.
 

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It's also a good consideration why do Michael Palmer's queens sell out in the fall, as do the other queen breeders up there?

These locally adapated northern queens are simply superior. After decades of selection for northern traits, they are unmatched in their quality.

It's a bit confusing as to why this would even be questioned - but I've learned that almost anything will be contentious with beekeepers.
 

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UN, do realize that the true Northern bees go without cleansing flights for up to 7 months - they do NOT need to get out.
This is how they operate - shut down and consume as little as possible (by being the least active possible). Jumping out at every opportunity is not a Northern trait.

To compare the true Southern bees need a cleansing flight every 2-3 months - else they must defecate. They MUST get out and poop - people then confuse this periodic pooping need as, somehow, a Northern trait. :)

This is a classic problem and rather old news.
Look at all the experimentation done back in the USSR - the subject has been exhausted well before now days - speaking of the Northern and Southern bees (when the Caucasians have been imported to every last Northern villages as a "superior bee" - the very first winter did them in).
Unsure what is the talk all about.
 

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Here's a reference indicating the superiority of Northern queens, just one of many I am sure:

In a US study [found here], packages that were re-queened with stock from northern queen breeders had higher overwintering success in a northern climate, compared to colonies left with the original “package” queen.

 
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