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Discussion Starter #1
I tried my hand at grafting queens last year with good results. This year I'm thinking about buying an II breeder to graft from. I'm looking to improve varroa resistance/tolerance by doing this. I usually keep around twenty hives and as many nucs/mini nucs. I produce honey for local sale and also sell a few nucs and last year sold a couple of queens. My question is what is a good source for the breeder and what strain should I look for? Most local feral bees are very aggressive so last year as I was learning I grafted from my most gentle hives. The resulting queens were good but the gentle hives (commercial Italian) hives they came from had poor varroa tolerance. I'd like to use a VSH queen to graft from to reduce the need for treatments but docility is very important as well. As far as sources I've seen New River an VP queens but I'm unsure which strain would be best. Any first hand experience is greatly appreciated. Thanks
 

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I agree about using more than one breeders II queens to improve my stock. Fusion Power suggests another good source on top of the ones that you mentioned.
I have been working to add Carni and VSH traits to my bees.
No matter what you choose from whom, time is running close for availability of queens before May. I tried to buy one in early April once and waited until the following year for delivery.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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My hope is that I can stay awake long enough to get my order in to New River for one of their WSU caucasian open mated queens. Ordering for 2020 opens at midnight tonight. I already run mostly Caucasians but want to get some purer stock into the yard. Not ready to do a full blown II queen yet.
 

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My hope is that I can stay awake long enough to get my order in to New River for one of their WSU caucasian open mated queens. Ordering for 2020 opens at midnight tonight. I already run mostly Caucasians but want to get some purer stock into the yard. Not ready to do a full blown II queen yet.
One has to be a young person to stay up that late or take a good afternoon nap... I hate having to wait for the possum to drop.
 

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My hope is that I can stay awake long enough to get my order in to New River for one of their WSU caucasian open mated queens. Ordering for 2020 opens at midnight tonight. I already run mostly Caucasians but want to get some purer stock into the yard. Not ready to do a full blown II queen yet.
I would second the recommendation to order from New River Honeybees. I've bought his open mated Buckfast and Caucasians and dearly love working with the Buckfast. You may have heard the 2nd generation is "spicy" but not Jason's bees. They are a dream to work. Can't really say for honey yields as I'm running topbar hives and sell bees and queens, not honey. Most all my self made queens last year came off the Buckfast stock. I do have 2 of his Caucasians, one that overwintered from 2018. Nice solid black queens, and gentle bees as well. The overwintered ones didn't build up quick enough to take advantage of our spring nectar flow, but I have 2 colonies this year in different type boxes to see if it was just an "off" year.

I also have a queen line from Old Sol apiary out west that do extremely well here in Virginia. It was a last minute purchase in 2017 so I don't know if it was a "mixed" queen or one of his solid lines. Also very gentle bees.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Ruth, not to hijack the thread, but did you early feed pollen sub to your caucasians last year? I find it necessary to get a foraging force early enough to catch the tulip poplar flow. The only downside to caucasians IMO is the propolis. Lot and lots of it. But I guess that is a desired trait for you. May try the tincture you mentioned in another thread for the same health reasons.
 

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Ruth, not to hijack the thread, but did you early feed pollen sub to your caucasians last year? I find it necessary to get a foraging force early enough to catch the tulip poplar flow. The only downside to caucasians IMO is the propolis. Lot and lots of it. But I guess that is a desired trait for you. May try the tincture you mentioned in another thread for the same health reasons.
Hope you got your order in with New River Honeybees, as they sold out in 15 min. If not, you are welcome to make a trip down to Smithfield to graft from my queens from him. As for the pollen sub, my bees won't take it as I'm in a really good area with natural stuff just about all year. I can see them bringing in bundles of it now. And yes, I bought the Caucasians specifically for the extra propolis that they like to pack into my propolis traps.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Hopefully, Muenster got his or her order in and remembered the time zone difference. I face planted my pillow at 11:15pm, had been up since 5am. Tried to place my order at 6 this morning.:( No idea that Jason would sell out so quickly. I will PM you later this Spring about grafting if he is unable to get a few more queens out or if I am unlucky enough to not get one in time.
 

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New River has II queens still available this morning...
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Luckily (I think) I was looking for an II breeder. I can’t believe I just spent $300 on a bug! This hobby is spiraling out of control, lol.
One of my main reasons for wanting to buy the II queen was to ensure that her daughters’ drones would be straight up gentle stock. That should really help with the traits of the queens I raise NEXT year. Happy beekeeping in the ‘20s to all!
 

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You made an investment in your bees. With the price of packages being asked right now, you did fine. Offset your costs by raising and selling 20 or more queens along with your daughters. Drone saturation is a real advantage in controlling genetics. You are well on your way...
PM me if I can help your efforts..
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Jason just posted that even the breeder queens and nucs are sold out as of 7:00 pm. Wow. Even if I manage to get one of his mated queens this year, a breeder queen next year sounds like a doable plan for me. Right behind ya at $300 bucks for a bug.
 

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I would second the recommendation to order from New River Honeybees. I've bought his open mated Buckfast and Caucasians and dearly love working with the Buckfast. You may have heard the 2nd generation is "spicy" but not Jason's bees. They are a dream to work. Can't really say for honey yields as I'm running topbar hives and sell bees and queens, not honey. Most all my self made queens last year came off the Buckfast stock. I do have 2 of his Caucasians, one that overwintered from 2018. Nice solid black queens, and gentle bees as well. The overwintered ones didn't build up quick enough to take advantage of our spring nectar flow, but I have 2 colonies this year in different type boxes to see if it was just an "off" year.

I also have a queen line from Old Sol apiary out west that do extremely well here in Virginia. It was a last minute purchase in 2017 so I don't know if it was a "mixed" queen or one of his solid lines. Also very gentle bees.
Caucasians are not known for spring build up, they're actually kind of slow to build up, but once they get going they do alright.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Caucasians are not known for spring build up, they're actually kind of slow to build up, but once they get going they do alright.
And this is why I am a strong advocate of early feeding my bees. They will build if you give them pollen early, but yes they are otherwise a little slow out of the gate.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
The Caucasians I got from Old Sol did very well here. I don’t need a quick spring build up. Elm trees bloom in early February and the flow doesn’t start until May so they’re raising brood for several cycles before they need to make honey. In fact I’m going to graft from those queens, as I did last year, while waiting for the II queen. Those daughters have done pretty well so far
 

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The Caucasians I got from Old Sol did very well here. I don’t need a quick spring build up. Elm trees bloom in early February and the flow doesn’t start until May so they’re raising brood for several cycles before they need to make honey. In fact I’m going to graft from those queens, as I did last year, while waiting for the II queen. Those daughters have done pretty well so far
Just curious, if the local ferals are aggressive, how do you plan to mate your grafted queens? Is there a place down there where you have more control of the DCA, the queen side is 1/2 the equation. The Daughters,, drones would stay true. to the line so with 2 different lines could use 1 for the drone pool and 1 for the queen line.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Of course. In my experience as long as the queen mother is very gentle her open mated daughters will produce hives of tolerable disposition. I also have a scheme for producing a mating yard with mating nucs in the middle and 8-10 drone hives in a circle of 3/4-1 mile around them. I’m not seeking perfection on carrying out mating but good results should be obtainable
 
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