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Our Bees

Our First Bees

We purchased a 3 lb. package (~10,500 bees) of Midnite bees from Draper's Super Bee Apiaries. We had the queen's wing clipped (right one, even year) so as to keep her from leaving the hive and had her marked [was supposed to be with the year 2000's color (year ends in zero so color code should be blue)] so as to be able to locate her easily.

Draper ships the first day of each week (weather permitting). If it is bad weather on Monday or Tuesday, they will ship the following week. It usually takes 3 - 4 days to arrive at the local Post Office. The Spring, Texas Post Office called us on Friday to come pick the bees up.

Midnite Bees

"Midnite is a hybrid derived from Caucasian sources. The bees of a Midnite queen are dark color and extremely gentle. In fact, this hybrid was developed expressly for the hobby beekeeper. However, the honey producing capabilities of this hybrid are so improved that many commercial producers are now discovering and using it. In honey production capacity, it is now rivaling the Starline, while still retaining its gentle nature. In belief, dark bees are more resistant to mites." - from Midnite Bee

The Oregon State Beekeepers Association says:

(Midnite)" A Carniolan/Caucasian cross. Moderate spring buildup, dark to dark gray, dark queens. Good in marginal weather and extremely gentle. Shuts down early in fall, winters well."

Then Midnite is a hybrid of "Caucasian and Carnolian bees" or in scientific terms,

Caucasian

honeybees

Carnolian

honeybees

Kingdom: Animalia Kingdom: Animailia
Phylum: Arthropoda Phylum Arthropoda
Class: Insecta Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Apidae Family: Apidae
Genus: Apis Genus: Apis
Species: mellifera Species mellifera
Race: caucasca Race: carnica

Rich Webb' s site gives the following traits for Midnite bees:

  • Low tendency to swarm
  • Gentle to handle
  • Lots of propolis production :-(
  • Honey production - we'll see ;-)
  • Slower to build up colony in the spring
  • Can do well in cool, damp climates
From the York Bee Company web site:

"Like the Starline, the Midnite bee is a hybrid derived form Caucasian sources.  The bees of a Midnite queen are dark in color and extremely gentle.  In fact this hybrid was developed especially for the hobby beekeeper.  However, the honey producing capabilities of this hybrid are so improved that many commercial producers are now discovering them and using this hybrid.  In addition, the recent introduction into this country of bee pests such as the Tracheal mite and Varroa mite has caused many to use the Caucasian type bees because they are more empowered to recognize and fight these mites than some of the other strains.  In addition, the honey production capabilities are now approaching the Starline while still retaining a gentle nature."

From a fellow beekeeper, Russell Sears:

"... for gentleness nothing beats the Midnite bees.  I started 5 years ago with two Midnite hives and had excellent honey production.  The only negative is their love of propolis but even that wasn't as bad as I was led to expect."

Our Second Bees

From Virginia Purchon's Beekeeping site:

"It was Maurice Maeterlink who wrote, in 1901, after many years of beekeeping: "To him who has known them and loved them, a summer without bees becomes as sad and as empty as one without flowers or birds."

Mr. Maeterlink's words are true as we found out. When we lost our Midnite queen due to an accident, we bought two Starline queens from York Bee Co. As we suspected, York Bee doesn't follow conventional color code convention as both of our Starline queens were marked yellow.

Starline Bees

From Midnite Bee:

"Origin:
Not a true race (several Italian stocks combined)
Strong points:

Gentle temperament
Early and fast build-up
High brood production (lots of bees and honey)
Weak points:

Cold and wet springs (Maine) will reduce the nectar flow (pollen also) and you must feed these bees.
"

The Oregon State Beekeepers Association says:

(Starline) "A hybrid of several stocks, all Italian. Fast spring buildup, lots of brood early means terrific honey production. Very uniform in appearance, they are slow to shut down in fall. Good commercial bee."

Then Starline is a hybrid of "Italian bees" or in scientific terms,

Italian

honeybees

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Apidae
Genus: Apis
Species: mellifera
Race: ligustica

Rich Webb' s site gives the following traits for Starline bees:

  • Medium tendency to swarm
  • Gentle to handle
  • Medium propolis production
  • Good honey production
  • Rapidly builds up colony in the spring
  • Does well in warm climates. Good choice for Southern U.S. and Northern migrators.

From the York Bee Company web site:

"The Starline is derived as a hybrid strain of Italians and is the only commercially available hybrid race of Italians.  It is very desirable, and the strain is a memorial to the late Dr. G. H. Cale.  It has proved very productive in the clover area and some people refer to the Starline as the clover bee.  Many commercial producers admire and use this bee even though some black bee types such as the Caucasian and Midnite appear to have some advantages because of  the importation of bee pests.  However, the hybrid nature of the Starline proves equally resistant to these pests in normal commercial operations.  They still retain a gentle nature and exhibit the honey production of a true hybrid.  These are very desirable and you should always keep using these even if you prefer other strains just to keep knowledgeable about the behavior of hybrids in the changing bee world of today." 

Our Third Bees

We purchased our third bees already intact as part of an existing Langstroth hive from Mr. Jim Stowe of the Montgomery County Beekeepers Association. Mr. Stowe informed us that these were Buckfast bees from B. Weaver Apiaries.

Buckfast Bees

From Midnite Bee:

"Origin:
Brother Adam at the Buckfast Abby in England
Cross of many races
Strong points:

Good honey producer
Low incidence of chalkbrood due to good housecleaning techniques
Reports of disease resistance
Produces little propolis/brace comb
Does well in cold/wet spring
Low amount of brood during fall (uses less honey stores during winter)
Brood rearing ceases during late fall
Build-up rapidly once started
Weak points:
Slow to build-up in spring
Less honey or pollen due to erratic spring weather conditions
Low amount of brood during fall

The Oregon State Beekeepers Association says:

(Buckfast) "A hybrid of several races, selected for gentleness, wintering, production and tracheal mite resistance. Available from Weaver Apiaries and some other outlets. Variable in appearance, queens tend toward leather. Moderate fast spring buildup, peak in early summer, good producers. Low swarming."

Rich Webb' s site gives the following traits for Buckfast bees:

  • Low tendency to swarm
  • Not too gentle to handle
  • Low propolis production
  • Slowly builds up colony in the spring
  • Disease resistance
  • Good wintering ability
  • Bred to survive cold winters and late, damp springs

In early April of 2001, we lost our queen and had to replace her with one purchased from Mr. Don Ivy of the Montgomery County Beekeepers Association. We don't know what type of bee this new queen is.

Our Fourth Bees

We don't know what type of bee our fourth set is. We captured them as a swarm in a subdivision about two miles away from us.

Our Fifth Bees

We ordered a 5 lb. package of Midnite bees from York Bee company, They shipped from York Bee on 4/11/01 and we installed them on 4/14/01.