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Still unsure about what type of bees?

3500 Views 22 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  Stempi
I really don't know what kind of bees to get. Italian , all American, buck fast, or carniolan. I read about them and still undecided. Plus I was wondering if I can have 2 types of bees with 2 hives? Any suggestions would be appreciated.
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Yes, you can have more than one race of bee in the same apiary. Often they require different management techniques, but that is no major problem. Weaver All American and the Italian will be the same, they are both Italian strains. The Buckfast is a cross of several geographical races and is a good wintering bee, at least in my beekeeping conditions. The Carniolan winters well, but they swarm a little more than do the others. The Buckfast and the Carniolan are frugal with their food supply and will get by with 2/3 of what it takes for the Italian/All American strains.
Buckfast are my favorite....and I do think it is a good idea to have several strains of bees in a apiary. Deb
So u recommend having 2 different types of hives? I was thinking a Lang and a warre hives
As I read it, the recommendation is to have multiple races of bees....not multiple types iof beehives. ith that said, many folks have a few different types of hives, if for no otehr reason than the novelty of it.
I was thinking of having a Lang hive with 1 type of bee and a warre hive with another type.
I would stick with the Langstroth hive until you are comfortable managing bees in that type. Then if you want to try other styles start with the Long-Idea hive which uses the Hoffman frames that you use in your Langstroth. I have not tried the top bar or the Warre, but I don't think I would like them as well as the Langstroth or the Long-Idea.
I suggest that you have two of the same style hive before you add another hive style. With two hives of the same style (lets say Lang), it is easy to move frames back and forth if necessary. With two Top Bar hives (of the same design) the same concept applies. If you have only one of each style its tougher to share resources.
Can I still put foudationless frames in the Lang with regular frames?
Perhaps you are referring to 'foundationless' frames. If so, yes you can mix foundationless frames with frames that have foundation in the same hive. The frame dimensions are the same regardless as to whether they have foundation or not.
Thanks for the info. I want to try different things.
As I read it, the recommendation is to have multiple races of bees....not multiple types iof beehives. ith that said, many folks have a few different types of hives, if for no otehr reason than the novelty of it.
Not two types of hives, two different bee types, say Italian and Buckfast....
Do you think those types,are the easiest to deal with overall. Like with winter, swarming, more or less KEEPING THEM ALIVE.
From what I heard, the Primorsky russian bees are a bit trickier to deal with. The others don't all behave in the same way, but their "difficulty" to manage is rather pretty similar. Whatever you chose, read up on them to get an idea of what to expect.
My preference is Russian hybrids. I think they are a little tougher bee, and mine are as docile as any Italians I have had. I know I have a much better winter survival with the Russians over the Italians. I am just as sure that Russians are the best bees, as I am Ford is the best pickup!!! (It's all about preference):lpf:
Don't make yourself crazy over choosing the bee types - yes, they are different, but they will ALL be novel and challenging to you. And queen bees don't last for a many years, either, (alas!) so it's not the same as, say, choosing a breed of dog.

Whatever you choose, try to get them from a local supplier of locally adapted bees, if at all possible. Many "local suppliers" are just bulk purchasers of southern bees, and merely middlemen between you and bee producers. I think this maybe more important even than type of bees, particularly in NY where winter is a challenge.

I am probably just prejudiced in this area because my three hives are swarms which just showed up on my farm - aka "mutt bees", so I have no investment in imagining their specific characteristics. OTOH, my mutt-girls are all still alive despite this fierce winter.

I second the suggestion to start with just ordinary Lang-style hives. (And I wouldn't make yourself too nuts over choosing between deeps + mediums, or all mediums for just two hives. Even if you started with double deep hive bodies with medium supers on top and decided to change to all mediums later, you could have the deeps cut down, or use them in other ways - nuc boxes, for instance.) I think the decision to use 8 or 10 frame is more critical (because the box widths are different so they won't easily stack on one another), though the frames in 8's and 10's are completely interchangeable.

I would also start with at least some foundation to give the bees a leg up in their first critical period. The queen can't lay, nor can the foragers stow nector or pollen until there are cells for them to do that. Even if you want to go foundationless eventually (and you can mix foundationless and frames in the same hive in the meantime) having some frames in the center of the boxes will offer your bees some ready-made cluster space (important if there is a cold period right after installation) and cell-building surfaces right from the start. You can eventually change out the foundations after you've built up a surplus of drawn comb (in a couple of seasons).

The only other thing that I strongly suggest to new or would be beekeepers who ask me what to buy is some form of a screened varroa monitoring/sticky-board frame. No matter what you hope or plan to do about varroa, understand that your bees will probably come with varroa, or will bring some into the hive almost at once. So you NEED to know what your mite levels are right from the git-go. By far the easiest way to determine this is with sticky board testing. It requires no beekeeping skills and doesn't disturb the bees in any way. I keep my bees on a solid bottom board with a screen bottom board above that under the hive body. This gives me a place for the sticky board, while still providing the hive environment of a solid board. Yes, it's an extra piece of equipment to buy, but I consider it an essential piece.

BTW, if you want expert, in-person advice about what to get have you considered making a day of it and driving up to Betterbee in Greenwich, NY? I'm sure they would send you a catalogue in advance so you could see what they offer. But they are very helpful to new beekeepers who are sorting out what they need.

I hope you have as much pleasure from your bees as I have had from mine this first year.

Also: one of the things which I found confusing about buying equipment was that the identical pieces might have different names depending on their intended use. A deep (or medium) box is just a size designation. You could have medium hive bodies (a common set-up) or deep supers (less-common, but sometimes used by commercial honey operations which have motorized hoists.) Planning to use deeps as hive bodies doesn't mean you'll need to lift them very often, nor will they likely be full of honey - which weighs a good deal more than combs being used for brood and bees, in any case. So don't let the 90-lb weight quotes scare you off using deeps as hive bodies just for that reason. And a 10-frame medium full of honey is not a powder-puff either!

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Changing the genetics of your bees is the easiest thing to change. Changing the equipment you choose is the hardest thing to change. All of them do well or people wouldn't be keeping them...
Free bees are best. Other than that, I have enjoyed keeping all the different races. If I was choosing, it would be Buckfast #1, then Carniolans a close #2.

I would get all the same.
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