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Author Topic: Which bee  (Read 815 times)
adkotahajesban
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« on: August 21, 2013, 05:55:52 PM »

I am sure this is a frequently asked question, and if I am asking in the wrong forum my apologies, but I intend on purchasing my hives (1 or 2) this winter to early spring.  I am 100% new to this hobby, but I have been researching different breeds of honey bees as well as bee breeders and suppliers.  I have joined the local bee keepers club and am absorbing important information there, but I have a question in which I would like multiple opinions and suggestions.

We live in South West Virginia and typically experience fairly mild winters and summers.  The types of bees that I am considering are and the reasons why:

These selections are based on information gathered from multiple websites

1. Carniolan
pros over winters well, queen adjusts laying to nectar flow, low robbing/swarming tendencies, very gentle, explosive build up of brood, forages in cool/wet weather
cons low resistance to tracheal mites and varroa mites

2. Russian
pros over winters very well, queen adjusts laying to nectar flow, low robbing tendencies, very gentle, high resistance to tracheal mites and varroa mites, explosive build up of brood, forages in cool/wet weather
cons does not readily build comb on empty foundation, higher tendency to swarm

3. Buckfast
pros over winters well, resistant to tracheal mites and varroa mites, very gentle, queen adjusts laying to nectar flow, low swarm tendency
cons poor early spring foraging, not easily found for sale

4. Italian
pros widely available, good beginner bee, unparalleled comb builder, relatively calm/gentle
cons more likely to rob other hives, queen does not curtail egg laying during dearths, keeps a large cluster during winter, more likely to drift

Please share any and all experiences and advice.  Thanks!  Oh and I may be wrong on some or all of my points, but this is all drawn directly from online research.
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10framer
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« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2013, 10:23:38 PM »

i like mutts.  italians and carniolans probably make up the majority of the honeybees in the southeast, there is probably a reason for that. 
it depends on what your looking for.  ultimately local bees of any stock would probably be the best bet.
figure out what YOU want and then see which on your list comes the closest to meeting that. 
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sawdstmakr
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« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2013, 10:30:10 PM »

I agree, I like local bees that are making it on their own with no chemical treatments to keep them alive.
Jim
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Wolfer
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« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2013, 10:35:27 PM »

I agree with the local mutts. I started with a Russian hive that didn't have a queen in it. They raised one and mated with the locals.
I've only bought one queen and she didn't last long enough to throw off any offspring.
I've never treated with anything.
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Joe D
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« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2013, 01:24:13 AM »

My bees are mutt also I guess, they are crosses, some black, Italian, and Russian.  I like the Cordovan personally, a type of Italian, very gentle.  I think all mine do pretty well and with the Cordovanian queen I install in one hive last year, now there is a little influence of that in them all.  When I need another queen I will be going with the Cordovan.  Good luck.



Joe
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sc-bee
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« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2013, 03:47:59 AM »

Once you make your purchase and they open mate they will be mutts again. Don't get hung up on the breed thing. Find a reputable local that sells nucs that your club recommends. Get nucs over packages and you are way ahead of the game. Of course it is a good learning experience to see bees start a package from beginning to end.

You mention the fact you have bee  researching alot and you are ready to purchase 1 or 2 hives. How many times does your research state start with two hives. If you can afford the initial cost heed the advice and go with two. Multiple reasons.
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adkotahajesban
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« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2013, 07:06:37 AM »

Thanks for all the advice, I truly do appreciate every word.  I will talk to some of the members at or next meeting and ask where they are getting their bees.  And everywhere I read, it nearly always suggests getting two hives.  That is the reason why I mention getting up to two hives, but it will all depend on my ability to fund the extra hive.
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rober
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« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2013, 09:38:31 AM »

check & see if any local beekeepers sell nucs, especially overwintered nucs & reserve your order now. that way you're getting local stock. nucs are easier than pkgs. you're starting out with 5 drawn frames, an established queen & brood & you'll be weeks ahead of where you'd be with a pkg. then get your hives ready over the winter. if you can find a local who builds woodenware you can save a lot of freight charges. some suppliers have shipping specials. kelly has free shipping during thanksgiving week.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2013, 02:07:39 PM »

Since everyone stopped treating for tracheal mites that problem went away.  Before that the only one with significant differences for tracheal mites was the Buckfast.

The only difference I've seen with the Russians in regards to Varroa is they can take much higher loads before they die...
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Michael Bush
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2013, 12:56:18 AM »

Since everyone stopped treating for tracheal mites that problem went away.  Before that the only one with significant differences for tracheal mites was the Buckfast.

The only difference I've seen with the Russians in regards to Varroa is they can take much higher loads before they die...


Russians do a lot of brood dearths (queen hiatus) to control Varroa load.  Mid-way into a flow the queen will suddenly stop laying eggs and the workers will backfill the brood chamber in order to process the nectar coming into the hive.  Once the flow ends the bees move the processed honey out to the stores area and the queen resumes laying eggs. It happens in every one of my Russian hives several times a year.
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sc-bee
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« Reply #10 on: August 23, 2013, 10:21:03 AM »

Since everyone stopped treating for tracheal mites that problem went away.  Before that the only one with significant differences for tracheal mites was the Buckfast.

The only difference I've seen with the Russians in regards to Varroa is they can take much higher loads before they die...


Russians do a lot of brood dearths (queen hiatus) to control Varroa load.  Mid-way into a flow the queen will suddenly stop laying eggs and the workers will backfill the brood chamber in order to process the nectar coming into the hive.  Once the flow ends the bees move the processed honey out to the stores area and the queen resumes laying eggs. It happens in every one of my Russian hives several times a year.

So does the varroa resistance outweigh the nectar quietus?
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #11 on: August 23, 2013, 11:02:04 AM »

>So does the varroa resistance outweigh the nectar quietus?

I saw no gain from the Russians as far as Varroa except that they tolerated higher loads of mites before they died anyway.  On small or natural cell size, they do fine with Varroa as do the rest.
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Michael Bush
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TNBeeLady
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« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2013, 09:33:39 PM »

I'm a 2nd year beek & started with Italians, very good natured.  I have helped a local beekeeper who has Russians, they seemed pretty aggressive.  I don't know about the other breeds, but I love my Italians!  Especially while you are learning you need nice bees!! laugh  Just my opinion.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2013, 08:20:13 AM »

I think part of the aggression issue is hybrids.  F1 crosses tend to be aggressive no matter what the two races.  Russians, in my experience, were defensive in odd ways.  They weren't all trying to sting me, but they head butted and pulled hair and followed more.  But a Russian cross, can be pretty aggressive.
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Michael Bush
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Wolfer
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« Reply #14 on: August 29, 2013, 11:04:23 AM »

I think part of the aggression issue is hybrids.  F1 crosses tend to be aggressive no matter what the two races.  Russians, in my experience, were defensive in odd ways.  They weren't all trying to sting me, but they head butted and pulled hair and followed more.  But a Russian cross, can be pretty aggressive.

I'll buy this. My oldest queen was a queen less Russian nuc that mated with my local ferals. All my current queens are granddaughters or great granddaughters of her. There are no daughters left. Third generation down are fairly peaceful. When working with the old grandma she makes me long for some of those nice African bees. This will be her 4th winter I believe and she's an egg laying machine still.
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