I’m a hobby backyard beekeeper living near Cluj, and I was wondering if there were others from Romania on this forum, especially if they have Flow hives, to share challenges and experiences.
There is sure to be others from Romania. Please jump into any topic we would love to get your input.
Until some fellow countrymen show up, I decided to start posting some region specific information in this thread.
Beekeeping in Romania
Beekeeping in Romania has a long tradition, the first book in Romanian language from a Romanian author was written in 1785, but there are reports of hive hunting in the Transilvania region going back to the 11th century.
Commercial beekeeping received a big boost since the country joined the European Union, which offers plenty of funding opportunities to commercial beekeepers. However, as opposed to the U.S., the main goal of commercial beekeepers is producing honey, and pollination has a negligible (if any) financial interest for them.
Migratory beekeeping is still practiced though, but with the objective to maximize honey production. The most important target for migratory beekeepers is the black locust (false acacia) tree, which is not native to Europe, but originates from the eastern U.S. Still, black locust trees are usually not planted, they spread easily in our country (I have quite a few in my backyard). The blooming period is just 10 days, but if the weather is good, honey production is greater during those days than the rest of the whole year. Also, the light colored acacia honey is in very high regard.
Show a pic of your setup
The dominant bee species in the country is what the local scientific community calls Apis mellifera carpatica. I say local scientific community, because to the best of my knowledge it’s not an “officially” recognized (sub?)species. I think there is no centralized authority like a committee on species recognition, it works more like a consensus in the wider scientific community, that’s why I put officially in quotes. The bee was described in detail and proposed as a species in its own right in the 1965 Apimondia Beekeeping Congress.
Apis mellifera carpatica is an Apis mellifera carnica (or the Carniola bee) adapted to the climate and conditions of the regions close to the Carpathian Mountains, hence carpatica in the name. I don’t know if the differences described in the scientific paper are enough to warrant a new species, that’s for entomologists to debate. I haven’t looked into what those differences are (yet), and I don’t think I have the eye for it now (maybe with some more years of experience and study).
While the A. m. carpatica (let’s call it the Carpathian bee) is the most widespread in the country, some beekeepers imported and started breeding Buckfast as well. As a result, there are areas where the Carpathian bee is mixed with the Buckfast bee, and buying a “local” bee colony is not guaranteed to be 100% genetically “pure”. A Ph.D. thesis from 2008 studied the genetics of 28 samples of 10 bees each from different areas in Transylvania, and found only 11 such samples to be pure Carpathian bees, 2 were known to be pure Buckfast (a priori), while the remaining 15 were a cross between Carpathian and Buckfast.
There may be others species present, but not in significant numbers, and mostly for research and experimentation.
 Foti N., Lungu M., Pelimon P., Barac I., Copaitici M., Mirza M. 1965, Researches on morphological characteristics and biological features of the population in Romania, XXth Jubiliar International Congress of Beekeeping - Apimondia, p 171-176.
Hive Types and Frame Sizes
Romanian beekeepers use mostly two types of hives: what are here called horizontal hives (long hives), and then vertical hives. Books also mention multi-level hives, which is what Langstroth hives are, but they are not very popular here. The main difference between multi-level and vertical is that the latter doesn’t have a separate, removable bottom board, there’s a complete box at the bottom. As a result, you have your brood in that box, and you can’t switch brood boxes up and down.
Hives use variations of Dadant frames. What here is called a “1/1 frame” is 415 mm (16 ¼") long and 280 mm (11") deep. Honey supers for vertical hives either use “3/4 frames”, which have their depth reduced 3/4 to 210 mm (8 ¼"), or “1/2 frames”, with a depth of 140 mm (5 ½"). So Romanian mediums are comparable Langstroth deeps and shallows are like Langstroth mediums, but they are 1 cm shorter, which makes it hard to adapt from a frame type to another.
Long hives usually hold between 14 and 24 frames, 20 being the most popular configuration. It is also quite common to find long hives with two 10 frame compartments with separate entrances, used to start with two nucs in a single box. Vertical hives have either 10 or 12 frames, and queen excluders are made for these sizes.
Hello from Transylvania
Transfer from a Dadant hive to a Langstroth
While local beekeeping books and online resources do describe bee packages as one of the methods of getting bees, I haven’t heard of anyone selling bees like that, and I couldn’t find anything online either. The most popular method of getting bees is either buying nucs or whole colonies. Sellers usually give you two choices: you either bring your own nuc box or hive to their apiary, and they move over the frames with brood and pollen and some honey, or you buy everything. When you buy a nuc, that usually means 5-6 frames (see above post for frame sizes), and when you ask for a colony, they will give you 10-12 frames. Pricing is between $10 to $12 per frame, and many will give you some flexibility on the number of frames you buy. So the typical nuc will set you back $50, and the average price for a colony is $100 (frames only). A brand new 12 frame vertical hive with one super costs about $60, 20 frame long hives cost roughly the same.
Catching swarms is the other option of course, and some beekeepers still do catch swarms, but many others (especially commercial beekeepers) frown upon that, saying that the swarm bees will not be as docile as those from splitted nucs and will be more prone to swarming.
UPDATE: I just found a provider selling bee packages, asking about $75 for 1,5 kg of bees: http://apiexpert.ro/magazin/roiuri-pachet/
Based on http://climatedata.eu/
We do have cold winters and warm summers, and huge swings in temperature and precipitation in short time spans. This year was particularly extreme, in February we had a couple of mild weeks with temperatures approaching 20C (~68F), and then on April 19th we received 30cm snowfall, which lasted a few days, and broke many many trees.
Out of curiosity I compared the Cluj climate to that of Nebraska of @Michael_Bush, to see how much of his advice I can apply directly, without correcting for climate differences.
They are quite similar, except we seem to get less sunny days here.
I think his lows in winter will be quite a bit colder than yours too. Minus 20C would not be unheard of, or even unusual for a couple of days
We do get -20C too. And I did not mention that Cluj-Napoca is at ~300m above sea level, while I’m closer to ~700m on hill’s northern slope. Trees bloom two weeks later on average in my backyard than they do in Cluj