Old Sol’s Survivor Stock is a project that we have been working on for over 15 years. This stock has a very diverse background including, Russians, Caucasians, VSH breeders, Minnesota Hygienics, and of course, a pinch of Carniolan and Italians. After years of heavy performance based selection we have passed the “mutt” stage and have a reliable hearty bee. These bees are suitable for both honey production and commercial pollination. Our best breeders tend to be heavy pollen hoarders and build up very rapidly when stimulated. Aside from selecting for high productivity, we also spend a lot of time counting mites. We are getting a lot of data between what the Bee Informed Partnership (BIP) provides for us and what we gather on our own. Our best breeders come from top performing hives that consistently maintain low mite loads and that wintered well with a rapid buildup for pollination season. We also select for hygienic behavior and our best breeder queens will pass the test with a 100% score. With proper management these queens easily produce large hives for almond pollination and can often produce a split and a large honey crop in one season.
In order to develop our Survivor Stock we have had to allow strong selection pressure in our test groups. This has meant withholding acaricide and assessing how well each breeder candidate copes with Varroa. Sometimes this is not pretty and a queen we had high hopes for will fall apart, but there are always some that rise to the occasion and that have the other requisite desirable traits (temperament, yield, buildup, & wintering). The queens that excel at the “sink or swim” test are the queens destined to become our next generation of breeders. We are constantly working towards a productive mite tolerant honey bee and strive for quality over quantity. If you are looking for proven queens that will work hard in your apiaries, then our Survivor Stock is definitely the bee for you.