some various responces from the past I have found on the subject:
... sunbelt queens are having genetic issues and just are no longer a bee that is designed to overwinter in tough climates such as michigan, nor survive without using medications. ...unfit southern bees + poor fall forage + long winter = starvation. He basically said to stop buying packages and just get nucs -...this has seriously set him back.
Dann Purvis on Southern bee producers, queens and their genetics: "They are dead men walking."
Mike Palmer (paraphrased): "Packaged bees from the south are clearly failing, and the solution is to make your apiary sustainable through overwintered nucs."
Erin Forbes (paraphrased): "One of the reasons package bees do not do well is they are STRESSED...they are likely coming from migratory colonies which only 2 months ago were sitting among almond groves in California, soak up the cocktail of pathogens, insecticides, herbicides and other chemicals."
Dr. Debbie Delaney (paraphrased), UD: "Italian genetics [from Southern producers] are not showing signs of diversification, which are contributing to the high rate of failures."
Alabama Beekeepers Association motto: "Packaged bees, Queens, Honey" My response: Tsk, tsk. Those to fail to learn from the lessons of the past (and present) are condemned to repeat it. Definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and over (buying packages), ...and expecting different results (that the packages SUCCEED!) We need to stop living in the packaged bee past and embrace a new revolution in beekeeping...Overwinter nucs, to sustain your apiary, and any extras, sell 'em to sustain your pocketbook. Drop packages like a hot potato, I say. The trend is EXTREMELY evident."
"Dr. Connor. He talked about how he lost every single package colony that he started this year despite having sufficient (he had 15 packages ). He had problems with queen supercedure during the summer. Then in the late season there was not much pollen from goldenrod and his southern queens were not laying well. Overall he attributed the losses to starvation. Colonies were broodless and clusters died very near honey. Often with brown bee poo all over the inside. He had medicated with fuagellin. While these queens may be sufficient for big commercial beekeepers, they no longer work for those who want to overwinter here and not medicate. He attributed these losses to the fact that these sunbelt queens are having genetic issues and just are no longer a bee that is designed to overwinter in tough climates such as michigan, nor survive without using medications.
There were other factors summed up like this. He basically said: unfit southern bees + poor fall forage + long winter = starvation
He basically said to stop buying packages and just get nucs - mentioned data from the USDA in the 1930s had 30% supercedure rates. If you do get packages then He is a big proponent of requeening all your packages with queens from proven survivor/resistant stocks. He mentioned russians in particular. He is working on a program to get survivor queens in michigan, but this has seriously set him back.
I was curious about any other northern beekeepers who started southern/sunbelt packages/queens and how they did over this winter.
I myself started with two italian queened packages, split two nucs off these and lost all four of these hives. They were all less than an inch from honey. "