Sunday, May 12, 2013

HONEYBEE BREED Traits, Honey Bees advantages for BEEKEEPING Queens Italian Carniolan Russian, Apis mellifera

Italian honey bees, of the subspecies Apis mellifera ligustica, were brought to the U.S. in 1859. They quickly became the favored bee stock in this country and remain so to this day. Known for their extended periods of brood rearing, Italian bees can build colony populations in the spring and maintain them for the entire summer. They are less defensive and less prone to disease than their German counterparts,
and they are excellent honey producers. They also are very lightly colored, ranging from a light leather hue to an almost lemon yellow, a trait that is highly coveted by many beekeepers
for its aesthetic appeal.
Despite their popularity, Italian bees have some drawbacks. First, because of their prolonged brood rearing,
they may consume surplus honey in the hive if supers (removable upper sections where honey is stored) are not removed immediately after the honey flow stops. Second, they are notorious kleptoparasites and frequently rob the honey stores of weaker or dead neighboring
colonies. This behavior may pose problems for Italian beekeepers who work their colonies during times of nectar dearth, and it may cause the rapid spread of transmittable diseases among hives.

The CARNIOLAN bee Carnica Queen Bee
The subspecies A. m. carnica, from middle Europe, also has been a favored
bee stock in the U.S. for several reasons. First, their explosive spring buildup enables this race to grow rapidly
in population and take advantage of blooms that occur much earlier in the spring, compared to other stocks. Second, they are extremely docile and can be worked with little smoke and protective clothing. Third, they are much less prone to robbing other colonies of honey, lowering disease transmission among colonies. Finally, they are very good builders of wax combs, which can be used for products
ranging from candles, to soaps, to cosmetics.
Because of their rapid buildup, however, carniolan bees tend to have a high propensity to swarm (their effort to relieve overcrowding) and, therefore,
may leave the beekeeper with a very poor honey crop. This stock requires continued vigilance to prevent the loss of swarms.

                                                                       The RUSSIAN bee
One of the newer bee stocks in the U.S. was imported from far-eastern Russia by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Honey Bee Breeding, Genetics, and Physiology Laboratory
in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The researchers’ logic was that these bees from the Primorski region on the Sea of Japan, have coexisted for the last 150 years with the devastating ectoparasite
Varroa destructor, a mite that is responsible for severe colony losses around the globe, and they might thrive in the U.S. The USDA tested whether this stock had evolved resistance
to varroa and found that it had. Numerous studies have shown that bees of this strain have fewer than half the number of mites that are found in standard commercial stocks. The quarantine
phase of this project has been complete since 2000, and bees of this strain are available commercially.
Russian bees tend to rear brood only during times of nectar and pollen flows, so brood rearing and colony populations tend to fluctuate with the environment. They also exhibit good housecleaning behavior, resulting in resistance not only to varroa but also to the tracheal mite.
Bees of this stock exhibit some unusual behaviors compared to other strains. For example, they tend to have queen cells present in their colonies almost all the time, whereas most other stocks rear queens only during times of swarming or queen replacement.
Russian bees also perform better when not in the presence of other bee strains; research has shown that cross-contamination from susceptible stocks can lessen the varroa resistance of these bees.