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Author Topic: Russian or Italian?  (Read 7768 times)
Guest
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« on: January 04, 2005, 09:34:47 AM »

Hello to all of the bee experts out there!

I am just getting into to beekeeping for the first time.  I would like to order my package of bees this week to ensure I get them in April.  I just can't decide if I should order a Russian hybrid queen, or be safe and purchase an Italian.  The Beekeeping for Dummies author states he would use Italian bees.  But I have the 2002 edition, and he didn't put much information about Russians in it.

I would appreciate any advice or personal experiences of your own that would help me make my decision.  I live in Michigan and it can get very cold here in the winter, Russians may do better here?


Thanks!
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Jerrymac
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« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2005, 09:38:58 AM »

I was going to try out the russian for my first time beekeeping this year but then read where they do better in colder climates. How many hives do you plan to start with? Perhaps you coould go one of each or something. I'm sure someone with some smarts on the subject will be by shortly.
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« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2005, 12:48:54 PM »

I have limited experince keeping bees over winter but my Italians seem to be doing fine so far this year. The carnolinas seem to be doing better though. That queen stopped laying sooner than the Italians did and I am told she will start laying sooner in the spring.
The Carnolinas filled up a deep with honey a week before the Italians did sitting side by side on the hive stand.
I'm in Michigan too, where it is mud season once again cry .
Cheesy Al
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Finman
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« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2005, 02:08:54 PM »

Quote from: trail twister

* I have limited experince keeping bees over winter


I had carniolans 10 years but they are eager to swarm. When best hives escape to tree tops, I changed them back to Italians.  I have had Italian 30 years.

For beginner swarming is worst trap. In that meaning Carniolan is bad shoice.

I do not know, what is Russian, but somehow I read that is easy to swarm.


Italians are many kind.  If it is from very south, it perhaps does not own the ability to keep good  winter rest.

Quote
* The carnolinas seem to be doing better though. That queen stopped laying sooner than the Italians did and I am told she will start laying sooner in the spring.


Old queen stop egg laying sooner than this summer queen.

Carniolans have quick start at spring, because they have more pollen in hive. When I started to feed pollen to hives at spring, I did not noticed difference in spring development or honey collecting on early summer.

When I started to keep my first 2  carniolan, I wondered why they boath collected honey 80 pounds per hive, and Italians nothing.  Colonies were all as big and I assume that the reason was spring development. Carniolans had more old field  workers  than Italians. That was the reason why  I started pollen feeding 12 years ago.

Quote
* The Carnolinas filled up a deep with honey a week before the Italians did sitting side by side on the hive stand.


That is the early spring start. They had more old workers. The winter bees die before summer bloom starts.

Why Italians sit on hive stand ? - They had too little space in hive and they were not able to work.  If you keep extra deep as lowest, you do not see that "rest phenomen". Also keep entrance wide open for ventilation.

Carniolan are dark and they can fly during lower tempetarutes than Italians. It can clearly seen on cold summer. But that swarming...

I would recommend Italians, because swarming is the worst for beginners.

You have too easy winter in your country and you are afraid over wintering.  With proper procedures there is no risk at that issue. You have shorter winter than we have. I can see, you do not use insulated boxes. That thin wood box spend winter food 50% more than insulated.

And winter wind is really bad.

And with insulated wall you get rapid spring develompent. I had 35 years ago same kind of wood box like you. They are still as honey boxes.

I just ordered 6 queens from Italy. I will manage with them, and as you can see, we are at the latitude of Alaska.
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Sting
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« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2005, 02:38:58 PM »

Hi Guest!  The advice you get on this forum is best when members know your location.  Much of the art of beekeeping varies with climate and with season lengths.  Where are you located?
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« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2005, 02:56:20 PM »

The post said they were in Michigan.
I replyed it is mud season again here in Michigan.
 Cheesy Al
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Horns Pure Honey
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« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2005, 05:25:03 PM »

I like the calm disposition of the Italians, bye
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« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2005, 08:27:09 PM »

I have Italians in Georgia. Never tried another kind, so I wouldn't know.

Beth Smiley
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Horns Pure Honey
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« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2005, 08:36:20 PM »

Are the Italians as good as they say Beth, I have seen so much info on how nice they are. thanks beth, bye
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Ryan Horn
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« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2005, 09:05:36 PM »

Hi!

Thanks to all the replies to my inquiry about using Russian or Italian bee queens.  I couldn't decide if I should purchase one or two hives.  I like Jerrymacs idea to give them both a try, so I will.  Two hives it will be with a Russian and an Italian.

I willl conitnue to monitor this posting in hopes that someone out there has experience with the Russian hybrids.

Thanks!

Jami
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Jay
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« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2005, 09:09:14 PM »

Russians may do better in the cold, but I have read that they have a tendency to be more aggressive, and as Finnman has already expounded on, more of a tendancy to swarm. As a first year beekeeper, you should either stick with Italians, or keep more than one hive and expiroment with the Russians as a second or third hive. Cheesy

And by the way, welcome to the forum Jami. Hope you can pick up some usefull info here, and share your expirences with the members. We're always glad to hear how other fellow bee nuts are making out with their girls! Keep us posted. Cheesy
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pardee
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« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2005, 03:58:11 PM »

I have currently have three races of honeybees. Italian, Buckfast, and New World Carniolan. The Buckfast  winter like polar bears in our cold and damp Southwest Michigan winters, produce a lot of honey are tracheal mite resistant, and don’t seem to swarm much. They will forage at very cool and wet days I have seen them in our blueberries as low as 48 degrees. HOWEVER they are very aggressive, I have to work them in a full suit if I don’t  want to get stung.
   The New World Carniolan perform the same but are quiet gentle. Strachan Apiaries Inc. Have done a good job in breeding out the swarming porblem.
   The Italian’s don’t winter as well are more prone to mite mortality and disease, and won’t forage unless it’s sunny and over 60 degrees. They are quiet gentle and fun to work with. This year I plan on switching over entirely to NWC.
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Finman
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« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2005, 04:21:02 PM »

I had Carniolas 10 years. They were eager to swarm. I returned to Italians. I have had them 30 years.

Italians are so many.  If we by them from Italy direct, they are not good winterers. When I buy Italians from our Inland professionals, 400 km to north from me, they go over winter perfectly.

Also Carniola bees are many.
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pardee
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« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2005, 03:59:02 PM »

Here is some interesting information about the New World Carniolan, if we are ever going to be chemical free, we have to have a better Honeybee. I think NWC shows a lot of promise, so far my experience with them has been very good.


Susan Cobey and the New World Carniolan® Breeding Progam
By

M.T. Sanford
Retired Extension Beekeeping Specialist
Professor Emeritus
University of Florida
http://www.shorturl.com

There’s something about Apis mellifera carnica, the Carniolan honey bee.  This child of the Balkans, originally from Slovenia, the future site of the 2003 Apimondia Congress, holds a special place in the hearts of many beekeepers.  Although a minor component of U.S. bee stock, it is the majority in other parts of the world from Egypt to Chile.  It has a panopoly of characteristics that are increasingly important to beekeepers, including gentleness, less-than-average propolis collection, and little inclination to rob, the real bugaboo of its cousin, Apis mellifera ligustica, the Italian honey bee.  It is known as the “spring” bee for it builds population rapidly early in the active season.  More importantly it closes down its brood rearing quickly when environmental conditions deteriorate, resulting in less food consumption and a potentially increased winter survival.  It is considered in many parts of the world as the best bee stock in which to find resistance or tolerance to the Varroa mite.  Some of the first evidence of Varroa tolerance, in fact, came from a population of Carniolan bees in Yugoslavia described by Dr. Jovan Kulincevic, an associate of the late Dr. Walter Rothenbuhler of The Ohio State University.  This bee was subsequently introduced into the U.S. and is known as the “Yugo” bee.

Carniolan behavior, therefore, is equivalent to the “holy grail” in some beekeeping circles, and the raison d’etre of the New World Carniolan® Breeding Program, run by Susan W. Cobey at The Ohio State University.  Sue is easily spotted in a crowd, as I recently noticed at the airport in Santiago, Chile.  She is tall.  This and her long blond locks stand out in Latin America, but it is her expertise and enthusiasm for bee breeding that beekeepers of that region and around the world really take notice of, and with good reason.  Not only does she run one of the premier honey bee breeding programs in the U.S., but she is also the only person to my knowledge who is training others in this important arena.

Sue and I sat down in her office on the Ohio State University campus and her home in the environs of Hilliard, OH to discuss her career and aspirations.  It is immediately apparent that, although greatly influenced by those at institutions of higher learning, she is not an “academic.”  Sue is one of those rare people who easily spans the gap between the ivory tower of higher education and down-to-earth beekeeping.  Her entomological career began early, when tent caterpillars she collected escaped to terrorize kindergarten class.  She switched majors at the University of Delaware and graduated with a B.S. in entomology, her only academic degree.  A student exchange program provided her first honey bee experience with Dr. Michael Burgett at Oregon State University, where she was able to first work outside and actually rear insects, instead of focusing on killing them with pesticides.  

Her training really began by doing grunt beekeeping work at Wenner Apiaries, where she learned practical beekeeping management from Clarence Wenner himself, who she says was “a true naturalist.”  Sue’s mentors in bee breeding include Dr. John Harbo, who taught her instrumental insemination, and Drs. Robert Page and Harry H. Laidlaw, who inculcated her with the philosophy of the closed population honey bee-breeding protocol that bears their name.1  She also had ample opportunity to participate in practical breeding programs as a technician at the now defunct Genetic Systems, Inc. in Labelle, FL, as well as those of  the University of California at Davis and the USDA Bee Breeding and Stock Center at Baton Rouge, LA.

Enter her husband, Tim Lawrence.  His influence was important to her career in that he helped “push” Sue out of her shell of “shyness.”  He continues to support her as she travels the world teaching queen production and instrumental insemination.   Together they developed the “idealistic dream” of their own beekeeping and fruit producing business in California’s Vaca Valley.  However, they were victimized by unpredictable change that so often afflicts agriculture.  Closure of the Canadian border in the 1980s because of discovery in the U.S. of both tracheal and Varroa mites meant loss of many key customers.  At the same time, the Kiwi fruit market collapsed.  By then, Sue had developed her passion for instrumental insemination, the basis for true bee breeding, and began to do and teach this on a limited basis, identifying a “niche market” for this activity.  She assisted Dr. Orley (Chip) Taylor at the University of Kansas in his efforts to understand honey bee mating behavior, and was invited several times to Mexico, as that country attempted to confront the challenges of the introduced Africanized honey bee.

Uprooting themselves out of one of California’s finest valleys and moving to the U.S. heartland was difficult for both Tim and Sue.  But a steady income and the opportunity to continue her breeding program at the Ohio State University as apiary technician was not easy to pass up.  So in 1990, Sue became the Staff Apiarist at the Walter C. Rothenbuhler Honey Bee Research Laboratory, where she coordinates research projects and also is able to continue her passion by producing New World Carniolan (NWC®) queens, as well as conducting classes in queen rearing and instrumental insemination.  It seems somehow fitting that one of the best honey bee breeding programs in the U.S. is now administered from a building that bears the name of perhaps the greatest of apiculture’s genetic pioneers.  

Indeed, as we discussed the status of breeding programs around the world, I thought Walter would have been proud that many of the necessary links he described in his seminal paper on the topic have been put in place in the facility that bears his name.2  In addition, he would also be happy that the University he worked at for over two decades now supports an innovative bee breeding program that is available nowhere else.  And that it could be a model for a “new wave” of queen production, via true breeding, that might help the beekeeping industry recover Phoenix-like from the ashes of a potentially disastrous session on the pesticide treadmill.  

Sue and I agree that the vast majority of queen producers do little breeding.  This is not a criticism; producers must concentrate on production as their livelihood depends on sales out the front door.  The driving force in the market is price.  Beekeepers have been lulled into a false sense of security that good queens should be available relatively inexpensively.  Although economical queens were readily available when there was a relatively large genetic base, which also included feral honey bees, and no exotic mites, that is no longer the case.  The appearance of antibiotic tolerance (Terramycin®-resistant American foulbrood) and resistance by Varroa to fluvalinate and coumaphos, along with appearance of a totally new organism, the small hive beetle (Aethina tumida), has turned U.S. apiculture on its ear.  The long-range solution to these problems must come from bee genetics (breeding) and the resulting queens will not be cheap.

The results of Sue’s New World Carniolan® Progam are positive and encouraging.  She has been able to develop bees that require no fumigillin for nosema control, no tracheal mite treatment with minimal chemical application for Varroa, and no antibiotic treatment for foulbrood.  Sue and I agree that Varroa is the biggest problem facing beekeepers today.  The most important task for any beekeeper in the present environment is to control this mite first.  All other concerns must take a back seat.

The basis for any breeding program is stock selection.  Thus, Sue and Tim, originally collected bees from across the U.S. and Canada to establish their base population in the Vaca Valley of California.  This initial genetic collection was moved to Ohio, a very different environment with harsh winters.  The stock has now become adapted to those specific conditions over time, and Sue continues to search out genetic material to be incorporated into the program.  

It is important to realize that Sue’s program is based on traditional Carniolan behavior, not the vaunted Carniolan honey bee itself.  This at first seems confusing, given the name.  No morphometric, allozyme, cuticular hydrocarbon, nor DNA analysis is performed to verify the bee she uses is indeed Apis mellifera carnica.  Nevertheless, Sue continues to select for darker bees in general, an indication of the Carniolan race, to ensure that the stock has a different look than that regarded generally as Italian (yellow).  The primary focus of selection is general performance, not specific individual traits, like hygienic behavior or SMR (suppressed mite reproduction), although these have been added to the criteria in the selection process.  As she says, when describing her stock “there’s no Russian, no Yugo and no SMR.”  

Again, it is the behavior that Carniolan honey bees are known for that is of utmost importance in the New World Carniolan® Breeding Program.  These include productivity, gentleness, and specifically for Ohio, winter hardiness.  Since traits for “mite resistance” or “tolerance” are common, but often rarely expressed or shown, they can be selected for in almost any stock, and so this has also been incorporated into the program.  Sue feels it is important for the industry to have choices via a variety of specialty stocks, of which hers is but one.  A description of several, including New World Carniolan®, is found in an article by Dr. Stu Jacobson in the November 2002 issue of Bee Culture.  

Sue’s secrets are simple.  The keys are assiduously keeping records and controlling gene flow through instrumental insemination and a closed breeding population.  The selected traits that are part of the New World Carniolan® Bee Breeding Progam are the following:

Industry:  Honey producers and pollinators.  Those found susceptible to disease or mites are eliminated, as are those that dwindle in winter, which is a final selecting criterion.

Rapid Spring Buildup:  The signal trait of the Carniolan honey bee.

Gentleness: Calm, gentle and a pleasure to work with no matter the size of the population.

Overwintering: Efficient use of winter stores and winter clusters having a high tolerance for severe cold.  Those that dwindle and do not survive winter are automatically eliminated.

Pollen Collection:  Efficient pollinators that work in cool and drizzly weather.

Brood Viability:  Solid brood patterns to maintain the integrity of the breeding population.

Resistance to Parasitic Mites: Undetectable levels of tracheal mites; reduced levels of Varroa.

Hygienic Behavior:  High uncapping and removing of brood killed by freezing.

Sue looks at the above criteria at a rather gross level.  These estimates or evaluations are something any beekeeper can do.  She has and continues to give her talk on the specific details of her system at many different venues across the world.  These are also available on the World Wide Web.3  Importantly, they are done continuously so that each year a new generation of New World Carniolan® queens is instrumentally inseminated and then evaluated in the field.  The top performing colonies are selected as breeders to establish the next generation in accordance with the Page-Laidlaw Closed Population Breeding Program.4

The bottom line, according to Sue, is annually producing a test population of 200 instrumentally inseminated queens. The better performers are then used as breeders and provided to cooperating New World Carniolan® producers, who sell open-mated daughters to the beekeeping public.  This brings in about $25,000 gross income each year, which the University allows Sue to spend in further developing the program.  Clearly, it is heavily supported by the University, which in the final analysis is providing a subsidy to the beekeeping industry.

Sue knows that there is no way her program can supply the necessary quantity of stock to an industry hungry for a selected honey bee that will enable it to gracefully exit an increasing chemical dependency.  Thus, she sees her future in educating a cadre of individuals who will take on the task using the tools she and others have developed.  Surprisingly, her message has been heard in other countries far more than in the U.S.  Thus, she has worked mostly with producers in Mexico (Enrique Estrada, Ernesto Guzman), Chile (Alberto Poch), Argentina, Australia, South Africa, Egypt, Costa Rica, Jamaica and Canada.

The cornerstone of Sue’s training program continues to be the courses she has developed in queen rearing, instrumental insemination and bee breeding offered each summer at The Ohio State University.  These have been well attended by an able and willing corps of students, again mostly from outside the country, presumably aided by advertisement via the World Wide Web.4  In the future, she hopes to be able to deliver packaged courses on site that incorporate all of the pieces that now comprise her breeding program

In conclusion, Sue Cobey’s goal is to help beekeepers develop a more professional and responsible beekeeping.  As she said at the latest Eastern Apicultural Society meeting at Cornell University (August 2002), step-by-step beekeepers are emerging from the “hype” and “hyperbole” of crisis management, which has resulted in maintaining susceptible bees through chemical treatment.  In the future, therefore, they will increasingly let the honey bee rely much more on its own devices through the results of conscious, committed breeding like those of the New World Carniolan®  Bee Breeding Progam.

References:

1.      R.E. Page and H.H. Laidlaw.  1985.  Closed Population Honey Bee Breeding Program.  Bee World, Vol. 66, pp. 63-72.

2.      W. C. Rothenbuhler. 1980.  Necessary Links in the Chain of Honey-Bee Stock Improvement.  American Bee Journal, Vol. 120, pp. 223-225, 304-305.

3.      New World Carniolan Breeding Program, accessed November 12, 2002 <http://www174.pair.com/birdland/Breeding/NWC.html>

4.      Cobey S. and T. Lawrence.  1988.  Commercial Application and Practical Use of The Page-Laidlaw Closed Population Breeding Program.  American Bee Journal, Vol. 128, Vol. 5, pp. 341-344.

5.      The Ohio State University Honey Bee Breeding Program, accessed November 12, 2002 <http://www174.pair.com/birdland/Breeding/>  

  ® M.T. Sanford, All Rights Reserved
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Finman
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« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2005, 05:31:53 AM »

Quote from: pardee
Here is some interesting information about the New World Carniolan


Thanks pardee, this was more than interesting. Very good!

I translated it and I put it into Finnish beekeeping forum.
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Jay
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« Reply #15 on: January 25, 2005, 09:05:51 PM »

I thought this was an excellent read too!! Cheesy
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Here once the embattled farmers stood
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