A Remembrance of the Past; Building for the Future." ~ Eve Eckert Koehler

Remembering Our Danube Swabian Ancestors

by Mr. Ralph Benton, University of California
Pacific Rural Press - 31 October 1908
Published at by Jody McKim Pharr, 2014

Mr. E. L. Taylor of Chatham, Mass., under date of October 6th, writes as follows:

"I have been trying to clear up, for a long time, some doubts in regard to color of Banater bees, and I believe you are perhaps the only one in the United States that can give me correct information upon this subject. This is the question, whether or not the Banater worker ever has yellow or rust-color or reddish bands, or any or all of the first three segments, of the abdomen, or any of these colorings which approaches a band on the first segment? I have a very superior strain of Banater that do not show any bands. I also have introduced blood into my yard that have all of the characteristics of the Banater as I know it, but that show one, two or three bands of the above colors. I have noted also that some young queens breed workers at first having the bands of yellow or red, but later and all through their careers their workers are minus these colored bands. Any information that you may choose to give on this subject will be very gratefully received."

For the general information of our readers let us say that the Banaters are a brownish gray variety of bees found typically in the province of Banat, Hungary, hence their name. They are noticeably smaller than either the Carniolans west of them or the Germans to the north, both varieties of which are somewhat isolated from them by mountain ranges. Like Germans and Italians they are not so prolific but that they may be crowded in smaller sized hives without exhibiting a tendency to dissipate in swarming. They cap their honey white and do not exclusively propolisze, although they do gather more propolis than Carniolans.

In direct reply to Mr. Taylor's question, we would say that the typical Banater is of a brownish gray showing no yellow. On the other hand, we were told when in Budapest, by reliable authority, that in the Siebenberg region to the east of Budapest the bees showed considerable yellow.

We have also noted that breeding queens imported from about Nagy-Betscherek (a point in southern Hungary also visited by us on our way overland through Servia and Bulgaria to Constantinople) occasionally have progeny showing a slightly rusty band on the first segment of the abdomen. The observation made by Mr. Taylor that this rusty band disappears in later progeny is an interesting one upon which we have no data. It points to a need of very careful breeding experiments conducted through a series of years with a view to determining the laws of heredity in bees, to the end that we have a basis for selection in breeding, so that we may by such judicious and intelligent selection not only better the existing bees but develop new strains for special purposes or branches of specialized bee-keeping for certain localities. The possibilities of such an investigation covering a long enough time to arrive at definite conclusions are at once full of deep scientific interest and of great practical value to the apiarist at large. It is a line of work that should be taken up under the auspices of the State Experiment Station, both on account of its bearing upon certain lines of biological research and because of its highly practical value and bearing upon the selection of stock in apiary practice.

In conclusion let us observe that the Banater bees are among the gentler, varieties of which the Carinolan and Caucasians, previously spoken of in these columns are also representative. We have seen the rare spectacle of a Banater queen quietly moving about and depositing eggs on a comb under manipulation, so gentle and undisturbed are the bees when handled. Since Banaters can be crowded without danger of excessive swarming, we would think them an excellent bee for the comb-honey producer. We have also found them of value above some of the other varieties of bees in making up nuclei for queen rearing, in that they more easily acquire new location, a trait easily to be seen of value for such purposes as the one in question.

Eucalyptus in California. A recent publication of the University of California of interest to beekeepers is Bulletin No. 196, entitled "Eucalyptus in California," and prepared by Mr. Norman D. Ingham, foreman of the University Forestry Station at Santa Monica. It gives notes on the value of eucalyptus trees for timber, methods of growing and planting, and a resume of the distribution of these trees over the State. This is followed by a list of trees for planting, with descriptive notes, accompanied with most excel lent cuts of the blooms, and in some in stances trunks of the trees themselves. On page 110, entitled "The Eucalypts as Bee Pasture," is given data about the blooming time of the several varieties grown. In this connection it is to be noted that there is enough variation in blooming time to afford pasturage the year round, were all the trees to be grown in one locality. The most widely distributed one is the Blue Gum (Eucalyptus globulus), blooming during the winter months, when there is no other appreciable source of honey, but unfortunately the weather at this time is such that the bees do not get the full benefit of this important source of honey.


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