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I have my order ready to send in tomorrow for my bees but I was asked which package I want, Italian - Carniolan or MN Hygienic. Does anyone have some advice for me on that. I've read online the pros and cons of Italians and Carniolans. I don't like that Italians don't winter well considering I do live in MN. I don't like that Carniolans tend to swarm more than others. I know MN Hygienic tend to defend themselves better against diseases but what type of temperment do they have? I was thinking Carniolans sound great because they have the best temper but that whole swarming issue makes me nervous.
 

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Given those choices........ I prefer the Mn Hygienic.
Frugal on stores and good honey producers.

Lately I have developed a hankering for Russian. They
winter really well compared to most for me. Velbert on
this site raises some nice Russian (and other types) of
queens.
 

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MN Hygenic would be my first choice from your list.
 

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I got some of the Mn. Hgy. when they first came out and they tend to be a little hot, but they are probably milder now. I like the Carniolans myself, they do tend to build up fast and will swarm if you don't keep an eye on them in the spring, but so will the other breeds. Jack
 

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BEE CULTURE magazine June 2009 issue: "The most effective method to combat Varroa mites is to use honey bees that are resistant to Varroa mites. They exist. You can buy them. You can make them. They are Russians. They are the survivors. They are hygienic. They are better than the rest. If these bees aren't in your colonies, on your list to buy, on the way to your colonies today...then you are on the list of those who are on the way out. That we continue to pour poison into our boxes when we could be pulling pure and perfect honey out of them instead is amazing. It boggles the mind that this industry hasn't adopted these bees yet." Kim Flottum, editor

Several (if not all) Russian Honeybee Breeders Association members are treatment free. Carl Webb, Georgia, and Hubert Tubbs, Mississippi, are two that I'm aware of. They are both primarily honey producers with the queen business and nuc sales secondary parts of their operation. I've been treatment free for two years with good results.

Read the quote carefully. There should be no doubt as to the strength of Mr. Flottum's conviction as to where the industry should be headed.
 

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To me, the best bee is the one that survives the winter and can build up to make a decent honey crop. I have Italian queens that have wintered quite well for three seasons in New England. I don't requeen with purchased queens. They figure that out for themselves. Which means, my queens have been open mated with whatever is in the area.

I've seen workers with different colors coming and going from both hives. I'm assuming there's some Russian stock in the area.

My point being, unless you want to continually purchase new queens to requeen at least once a season, you'll probably have a hard time keeping your queen MN Hyg., or Russian for that matter. Until that time the standard has indeed turned to Russian or some other varity.

So stick with what works for your area and yourself. And I usually add, consider your goals. Learning, large honey crop, queen rearing should all be part of your decision.
 

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My standard reply to "Which bee is best?" is "Local bees". Bees raised from survivor stock in particular area tend to do better than bees brought in from a different climate.

That said, since you're in MN, given the choices you listed, I'd certainly take the Minn Hygenics. There were two primary traits that were selected when this line of bees was developed: 1) surviving Minnesota winters and 2) hygenic behavior. Other traits, such as gentleness, honey production, swarming, etc, are not as important as having bees that make it thru the winter.
 

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Love my MH. Built up great last year, even produced a surplus, but i left it to them. They were busting at the seams, and I even did a split from them already.
 

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I'm not sure about Minnesota Hygienics being bred to over winter well. My understanding was that they were developed as commercial bees, bees for migratory operations.

I like the ones that I have from MH stock. However, they do not overwinter as well as the Carniolans or even the mutt bees around here.
 

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If I were you I would start out with multiple lines. It will probably take years to find the right bee for your enviroment. I know I am still trying to find a bee that can thrive without feeding on a year to year basis. Observation of your springs, summers, falls, and winters and the way in which your bees react to the seasons will be key in finding the correct bee for you.
 

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I'm not sure about Minnesota Hygienics being bred to over winter well. My understanding was that they were developed as commercial bees, bees for migratory operations.
That is my understanding as well. They can be hot
ladies to be sure.

I am going to stick with Russian for the foreseeable
future.
 

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I'm not sure about Minnesota Hygienics being bred to over winter well. My understanding was that they were developed as commercial bees, bees for migratory operations.
When Marla Spivak was the speaker for an Indiana State beeks meeting, she said that surviving Minnesota winters was the first requirement in trying to develop the breed. And, yes, there was a deliberate effort to target commercial beeks with this breed in order to have a wide base for collecting data.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
I know I'm just a newbie but I just finished the course with Marla and Gary and I can tell what we were told about the MN Hygienic bees.

Someone in class asked which bee was best for MN, they heard Italians. Marla told us "a bee is a bee" and not to worry about which type we had for our first hive. She suggested the MN Hygienic (although she said they are hard to get this late, must be ordered in Dec. Jan) because she said they were bred to protect themselves from AFB. She said Hygienic bees can smell the disease and remove the infected pupae. She never mentioned anything to us about the MNH bees over wintering well.

Here is a link to a site that says basically what she told us:
http://www.honeybeeworld.com/misc/hygienic.htm

Hygienic behaviour is assuming increased importance as its potential to reduce economic losses and to reduce the use of chemicals in bee management is increasing appreciated.

Marla was all about not treating bees and letting them grow strong on their own. She said much of what they taught in the past has changed with new information coming out. There is no more preventative treatments, avoid antibiotics, etc... She covered the testing they do to see if a bee has hygienic behavior and then explained how it relates to AFB and the benefits of that.

That is why I was curious about experiences with bees on this forum. I read that carniolans (?) are the most docile but swarm often, Italians are great bees for beginners because they don't swarm but they don't winter well and all I know about MN Hygienic bees is what Marla told us. She didn't mention anything other than their ability to defend themselves against AFB and possibly control mites (but she said more testing is needed on the mite issue). She didn't mention anything about temperment or over wintering.

The good thing is she and Gary were very thorough about protocol for keeping bees as a beginner in Minnesota :) I've just heard so much about the "type" of be from classmates, I thought I'd better ask here because it nice to get know what others experience so I can make an informed decision about the bees I choose.

Thank you for the responses, it has helped me decide.
 

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. . . she said that surviving Minnesota winters was the first requirement in trying to develop the breed. -indypartridge
Interesting. I haven't been very impressed with their over wintering. They maintain large clusters in the winters, often burning through their stores before winter is through. Winters in the Twin Cities are more mild than winters here, so maybe that has something to do with it. They can be tremendous honey producers, from what I've experienced. And they build up well in response to feeding and spring weather.

Only a small percentage of hives in this part of the country stays through winters. Most of the hives here go south for the winter. Given the prevalence of migratory beekeeping here, I'm surprised they would choose to breed for wintering ability in this climate.
 

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I love my Italian Cordoven's Most beeks that Know me and see my bees are impressed with how well they do in the wet pacific north west.
 

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...." It boggles the mind that this industry hasn't adopted these bees yet." Kim Flottum, editor
I believe I replied to the passage this quote is from, often posted before.

If Mr. Flottum is arguing for a universal adoption of a single race of honey bee, then he is dangerously wrong.

A mono-cultural approach in any agricultural pursuit limits the gene pool necessary to pull ourselves away from the disaster that may result when all bees have an identical genetic makeup and a predetermined limit of resistance to diseases that may strike in the future.

We need the variety that our many races or strains of bees offer.

Wayne
 
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