This year Dr. Meghan Milbrath offered nucs of two different heredities.

The first kind, like last year’s nucs, would be raised using queens from her hives that overwintered in Michigan. Their offspring will carry genes vetted by several years of Michigan seasons, especially the harsh winters.

The second kind will be raised with open-mated daughters of two queens she sent to Florida with Huff’s Honey Farm of Pennsylvania. These queens are daughters from the "ankle-biter" queens developed by Dr. Greg Hunt of Purdue University in Indiana.

These bees have been selectively bred for grooming behavior that includes biting the legs off varroa. The crippled mites should then be less agile and less able to climb aboard bees for their pestilential, hemolyphagous acts or enter brood cells to reproduce.

Correction. The wounded mite does not heal and soon dies of dehydration. Even better.

While we much prefer to obtain hardy, local bees, the ankle-biting behavior sounds too interesting not to try just because of Florida paternity. We ordered two all-Michigan nucs and one ankle-biter.

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