Different queen winter performances

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Jun 14, 2023
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Surrey, England
Hive Type
Number of Hives
I have 7 colonies across two local apiary sites (garden and 500 mts away abandoned orchard).

1 garden colony has a 2023 may-swarm-caught queen that had a faint yellow mark on her back, I've since remarked her red, as I had no other pens.

Looking through my records, I took a total of 4 frames of brood from her last summer, her colony still delivered 1.5 supers of honey.

After feeding and autumn foraging they went into winter with a "nailed-down" brood and a half config.
Throughout the winter this colony has been out and about every day that's not below 5C, mostly brining back pollen from a field of mustard.
When temperatures have risen above 8c this colony has masses of orientation flights that can occasionally last up to 3 hrs.
For this colony, winter has so far appeared to be a mildly entertaining inconvenience.
Similarly, a queen I bred from this colony in a nearby poly nuc, is out slightly less often, but has outgrown a new queen colony that began at the same time, but has also eaten through almost all its stores and so is on fondant.

Meanwhile, 3 Buckfastesque colonies I acquired from another keeper, have hunkered down this winter and barely been seen out, 2 of which have significantly lighter stores, though 1 still has very heavy stores.

Is generally what I'm seeing a well-mated queen, with the colony benefiting from large numbers? This winter the differences in behaviour between, what I've assumed are my feral bees, and my Buckfastesque colonies has been quite stark.

Have any of you seen differences in winter behaviour between Buckfasty colonies and local mutts?


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No differences between, Buckfast, Jolanta and the locals I breed for myself. Although 2 of my locally bred are on 14x12 with a deep on top consisting of bees covering 8 frames from the top of the deep to the bottom of the 14x12

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