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Discussion Starter #1
I have notice over the year with me making my own queens they are starting to get darker and have black rings around there Abdomen.
There's what most looked like 3 years ago

now days they are starting to turn to this

not all but about half my hives have queens like this.
What your thoughts? :rolleyes:
 

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Your bees genetics are changing.
 

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Yep, your first photo is a queen homozygous for Cordovan Italian coloration. For their daughters to also exhibit this coloration, those daughters must also be fathered by drones that also carry the Cordovan gene. Your darker daughter queens may carry one copy of the Cordovan gene from their mothers, but not from their father drones. Queens that are homozygous for the Cordovan trait will only produce drones that carry this gene, also. Daughter queens from these mothers that aren't homozygous for the Cordovan trait, will only produce half of their drone offspring with the Cordovan gene. See --> Cordovan genetics.

Many producers of Cordovan Italian queens, intentionally position their virgin queens to be mated primarily, for instance, by Carniolan, or Caucasian drones, this creates hives of bees that exhibit hybrid vigor, called heterosis. So, this does make it more challenging to maintain queens and bees that continue to exhibit the Cordovan color trait, but they are very strong colonies, until after they begin segregating in subsequent generations.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Looks like I have all 3 colors is this a good thing?

Does this look like a Cordovan Italian
Thank you.
 

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I notice that not only have your queens become darker so have your worker bees. Changing genetics, a good thing. May be feral drones. Or may be another beek nearby with Carniolan bees, if so you should have noticed very large dark drones.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I notice that not only have your queens become darker so have your worker bees. Changing genetics, a good thing. May be feral drones. Or may be another beek nearby with Carniolan bees, if so you should have noticed very large dark drones.
I have seen big black drones and then some like this.
I don't have a pic of my black drone{I will}:(
 

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. . .
Does this look like a Cordovan Italian
Thank you.
Yes, she sure does. Cordovan coloration is expressed by an absence of "black" in the exoskeleton. Lighter colored bees, such as Italian will be a golden brown color, aging in a year or two to a darker brown. If you look closely at the queen's thorax in good light, you will be able to discern that it is brown and not black. I have yet to see a queen with Cordovan coloration, to have a thorax that is actually, truly black. So, a careful examination of the thorax is a good indicator, for me, of Cordovan genetics.

Compare that with any of the queens exhibiting darker stripes, you should be able to see that their thorax's are actually black and not just brown or dark brown.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
This is my workers 4 years ago
 

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I caught a swarm in may of this year and the queen is very dark but the workers are not which I found rather strange. She is an older queen and they are starting to supersede her.
 

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Local genetics are being introduced with each new queen. I hate the term. but I have herd it for years your hives are Mutting!
 

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Interestingly enough, your "now" queens looks very similar to two of the swarm queens we captured this year. They look so similar to the workers it's difficult to spot them.

swarmqueen2.jpg

swarmqueen1.jpg
 

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I'm afraid that when I googled "Cordovan Italian honey bee", most of the pictures that came up, of actual Cordovan Italian queens, were my own photographs. So, here's a pic of a Cordovan Italian queen, that's not one of my own photos -->

Queens that are not homozygous for the Cordovan color trait, have black legs, antenna, heads, thorax, and dark bands on their abdomen. If the lighting is poor, the thorax of Cordovan Italian queens will appear darker than it actually is. Perhaps that is why they don't appear correct to you, JRG13.
 

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What would the darker Queens be mated with?
It isn't so much, what drones the darker queens have mated with, as which drones their mother mated with, and which drone is their father. In all the cases of darker queens from a Cordovan Italian mother queen, the darker daughter queens will need to be fathered by a non-Cordovan drone. Only when a female (queen or worker), receives a Cordovan gene from both their mother and father, that they too appear Cordovan in color. That's called being homozygous for the Cordovan trait.

So, if there are many drones around, who do not carry the Cordovan gene, it is highly likely that daughter queens will, soon, not exhibit the trait, though some of them, if their mother was Cordovan colored, carry the Cordovan gene from her. Even queens/workers whose mothers only carry one Cordovan gene (from their mother, or father), can then produce Cordovan daughters - if some of the drones they mate with are also Cordovan. Half the drones produced by half-Cordovan queens will also be Cordovan.

Also, if a new queen, has a father who was Cordovan, she will also, then be laying drones, where half will be Cordovan, and if she mated with only Cordovan drones, half of her female progeny could also be Cordovan colored. That is how the trait can be bred into any different strain of honey bee.

It is explained, with diagrams, here, at the Glenn Apiaries website.
 
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