The dandelions started to bloom a couple of days ago. I thought it might take a little longer before the bees got to visit them, but they are starting to come back to the hives with a fair amount of orange pollen. Now we have to hope the weather starts to cooperate so those flowers don’t go to waste!
Yesterday we installed Minnesota Hygienics in some splits–we ordered 100 from Mark Sundberg. Marla Spivak suggested that his queens mate with hygienic drones instead of the usual genetic mess. Most of the big queen breeders have little control over their production queen matings. The breeder queens are usually purebreds maintained through artificial insemination, and their production daughter queens (which we buy) are purebreds as well. The problem is the midair free-for-all that hybridizes the offspring workers. Then beekeepers decide to experiment with MN Hygienic, Carniolan, Russian, etc. and wind up basing their opinions on a hive with worker bees that are 50% mongrel Italian. Not a sound manner of evaluating any line of bees. Anyway, these MN Hygienics will decide whether or not we want to shift toward Marla’s line in the long term.
I’m a little skeptical about moving away from Carniolans because the Italians take a lot more feed in spring and fall–Carniolans step down their brood rearing at appropriate times. Then again, I never want to see American Foulbrood again, and it seems unlikely that a Hygienic Carniolan line is on the near horizon. Also, our ability to feed hungry Italians has improved in the past few years…now we feed bulk corn syrup, have many division board feeders installed, and we purchased a syrup pump a few weeks ago. The next year or two will show how we get along with these bees.