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Wondering if someone with experience can help me regarding the colour of queens.

Are all Italian queens light coloured and all Carnolian's dark (blackish) or is there variation?

I have one queen that came with a colony I got off a hobbyist with a lot more experience than me and it is quite dark, but he reckoned it was an Italian...

I'm just not too sure that it actually is Italian although most of the bees in the hive look Italian and they will all be her offspring now as she has been in place for 2 months.

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Thanks frazzledfozzle - that is really helpful. There are only black drones in the hive so she mustn't be pure.

Probably a Carnolian/Italian mix do you think?

 

Yes very likely :)

 

To be fair I think you would be hard pushed to get anything pure up in the NI we are fortunate here in that most commercials are sticking with Italians

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And without starting a huge debate between Italian lovers and Carnolian lovers;), what are the key differences between the two and which one is the most advantageous to have?

Do Italian's just have a better temperament? But their lower aggression may mean they do not yield as much? Am I right in thinking that?

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And without starting a huge debate between Italian lovers and Carnolian lovers;), what are the key differences between the two and which one is the most advantageous to have?

Do Italian's just have a better temperament? But their lower aggression may mean they do not yield as much? Am I right in thinking that?

My opinion, and I have only had bees for three years so not long enough to have an opinion really.

I think I have to manage them quite differently.

Carniolans are your sharing bees. People say they swarm a lot but I think that's because if you miss a queen cell or two in the hive the first queen to hatch won't necessarily go round and ruthlessly despatch it's rivals , like Italians are more likely to do .

Most likely each queen will hatch and take off with a hand full of bees .

I had a carniolan hive where I damaged a cell they made half a dozen more and I was there when 6 small swarms took off.

I do not find one strain more aggressive to handle than the other

when the flow stops the carniolan stops laying where as an Italian Will l keep on laying and look for any flow source , i.e. an other hive.

A carniolan does seem to do better in cooler weather and during the winter if there is any sort of flow it collect but an Italian Will really catch up when it warms up.

If lthere is a patchy flow you could look at a carniolan brood pattern and think it is not great because she stops laying but it you feed her or a good flow starts its all good .

An Italian brood pattern seems much more consistent.

Carniolans have huge drones and seem to produce a lot of them .

I would not say one would be better than the other , or produce more , it would depend on the season.

I enjoy having both types.

these are just my observation and I am sure there will be people more knowledgeable than me who may disagree

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This is what I've generally found in my experience in my area(s). First though while I've had reasonably "pure" Italians the Carnolians I'm referring to are more likely to be a third or fourth generation Italian / Carnolian cross with strong Carnolian colouring than a "pure" bred Carnolian. Here we go:

- Carnolian's are more responsive to their environment ie if there is a flow on they can go from 0 to 100 very quickly. The same occurs in reverse if nectar stops they switch off eg Queen stops laying,

- Carnolian's are significantly more likely to swarm than Italian's, they swarm earlier than the Italians,

- Carnolian's are significantly grumpier, to the point of being difficult to work,

- The Carnolian hives grow faster and outperform the Italian hives re honey production. They appear to be very industrious.

- Italian's look so much better. Nothing better than the orange tinged bee colour and a golden Queen on the eye.

The important thing for management of any significant number of hives is having one or the other either across all hives or in one apiary. My perspective anyway.

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@CraBee I think for a commercial beek having consistency is pretty essential.

I am just a hobbyist so I can muck around.

I think it will be hard for me to keep pure strains.

This year I have mated my own queens and they are bound to be hybrids.

Do you notice that the carniolan drones are twice the size and twice as numerous ?

And the queens are much harder to find. A striped virgin carniolan is real hard to see in a strong hive .

As for swarming , I have lost little swarms , lots of them , with carniolans But not half the hive like I have with Italians

 

I have heard from one beek that a Carnie prime swarm is likely to have a virgin, they tend to leave the old Q behind.

Today I noticed my old carniolan queen was gone when I went to squish her.

There were a couple of capped queen cells and some uncapped.

She had taken off with the foragers, luckily there were not many , she had left all the nurse bees behind

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@CraBee I think for a commercial beek having consistency is pretty essential.

I am just a hobbyist so I can muck around.

I think it will be hard for me to keep pure strains.

This year I have mated my own queens and they are bound to be hybrids.

Do you notice that the carniolan drones are twice the size and twice as numerous ?

And the queens are much harder to find. A striped virgin carniolan is real hard to see in a strong hive .

As for swarming , I have lost little swarms , lots of them , with carniolans But not half the hive like I have with Italians

 

Today I noticed my old carniolan queen was gone when I went to squish her.

There were a couple of capped queen cells and some uncapped.

She had taken off with the foragers, luckily there were not many , she had left all the nurse bees behind

 

Hi @kaihoka, the carny drones are a bit bigger although I've never really noticed there being more of them.

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