This will be my third year beekeeping and I know have 3 hives and I am amazed at the differences in the colonies. I'm to the point were I'm starting to look at the individual traits of the queens. Since i would like to promote positive qualities in the next generation of queens through selection, certainly not a new concept, but I Don't know necessarily what is good and what is bad.
For instance, I have 3 hives, One Russian, 2 what I would consider mutts. One of the mutts is hotter than a 2 dollar pistol, that's a no brainer,re queen.
I would agree, requeening a hot hive is a good idea.
The Russian went through the winter with what I thought was very few bees, almost 1/3 the amount of the other mutt hive. Is this good or bad, I can see positives for both. Less bees, less honey needed to get through the winter, but more bees seems like a better chance of survival and can a bigger cluster seems would be able to withstand colder temps.
Russians will typically over winter in smaller clusters than Italian bees 1/3 to 1/2 as much. They go into winter with a smaller cluster and emerge with an even smaller cluster. With Russians a cluster as small as 1000 bees can suddenly go gangbusters given a small flow and pollen.
The temperament seems to be major factor, but I'm finding other things that differentiate queens. One hive propolize ( hope that is the word) like crazy making inspection more difficult, one is much cleaner. The propensity to swarm. Some colonies start flying at 32 degrees, some at 43. degrees.
I know I'm asking a big question with many oppinions and answers. I guess what I'm asking is a few traits besides aggressiveness to look for in a queen
When selecting for desired traits one needs to remember that some traits seem to be paired, that is hygenic behavior is tied to an increased swarming tendency. Cold hardiness is tied to smaller cluster size. Hygenic behavior is desired for mite resistant bees, so chosing that trait means adapting a swarm management stratagy as part of the equation.
Russiand and Carnies will fly at lower temps, I've seem them fly at temps as low as 35 F and cloudy skys. Italians on the otherhand usually won't fly until the low to mid 40's on clear sunny days, if then.
Race plays and important part in queen selection. You can't necessarily have the same fly at temp guide for Italian and Russian queens.
The secret to selecting breeding queens are to select for thos traits you desire in the order you prioritize them as applied to the race of bee.
I won't go into the more commonly desired traits as others have already listed them.