May I ask which honey bee you prefer and why? I've had europeans and nwc.
not sure which way to go with the next.
May I suggest you consider a "breeder" instead of a "type". Or at least consider that the breeder, regardless of which type, may be playing a bigger role than the type stock.
Here is three "type" bees, which you can call what you want. But all have much to do with their origins.
A) A typical queen, lets for this call it an "Italian", which was raised at one of the large quantity producing bee operations, and may of even came in a package. You can read all day long about beekeepers not being happy about recent quality when it comes to queens as of late. Too much supercedure, to much outright queen failure, etc. Is it from contaminated comb? Articles in the bee mags have pointed out time and time again, that operations that use strips, have serious problems with queen viability, longevity, etc. CCD comb testing has allowed us to see that many large operations (some big breeders, but their names are withheld for obvious business reasons) have serious problems with chemical buildup, which effect queen performance and hive health.
B) Queens coming from swarms or feral situations. It is hard to know for sure, but I would suppose that many of these queens (and bees) have been raised on uncontaminated comb (at least having only the chems the bees themselves have brought in) and many are a generation or two from the chemical tainted queens that they originally started as. I have seen feral stock that was good, and ferals that were very bad. I actually see many more SHB in feral colonies, to which I am not sure why. So on one hand, I think you are getting a wide range of good and bad stock, it may be a far better situation from the mass produced chemical tainted stock as in the example "a" from above. Queens that many beekeepers raise themselves fall into this category. Many of these beekeepers do not have the tainted comb as compared to large mega producers, and their queens may be better if for nothing more than this fact alone. And as long as things like inbreeding is kept at bay, then you can have some really good stock. Although most beekeeper are just happy to have better than what they were previously getting, but further selection is limited.
C) These are queens from breeders that are actually focused on selecting for traits that may be lacking in some of the larger operations. These may be smaller operations also that have far less chemical use, or no chemical use at all. These queens may be from operations focused on acclimatized selection, and enhanced survivability of actually having bees go through winter, or selected for traits unique to a individual area.
I encourage all beekeepers to raise their own queens with sound and proven management in mind. I'm not a huge fan of just letting your bees do it themselves, without a good system or plan. For many, raising their own is a step above some of the stuff being raised out there. Of course, just like every breeder, every beekeeper thinks they raised good queens, as they evaluate themselves. Which may about as far from proven or fact as one can get in being biased in your own evaluation.
I think there are good breeders, and good queens from all three examples above. But no queen on genetics alone will magically overcomb the problems that a breeder will throw at the bees.
Myself, I favor carni and russians, from smaller known operations, using good sound practices, limited or no chemicals, and selecting for the traits I am looking for.
I have ordered most recently from a couple larger operations, OHB and Keohnen (sp), both from California, and liked what I got. Beyond a few select larger operations, I try out local and regional raised bees from smaller operations, and have been very happy doing so. And many of these bees don't come with labels....just the knowledge of how they were raised. ;)