Good point JimM.
When it’s possible, we can import package bees from New Zealand and the genetics and mating are just excellent. To initially supply the Canadian package market, New Zealand imported honeybee semen from a number of bee research facilties in Germany and Austria…to produce a hardier strain that could survive our winters…they call them Carniolans…I love them. Here’s how they are shipped…Arataki tube packages.
Later in the year I bring in Olivarez queens that are produced in Hawaii and California. One of the several strains that this USA supplier (Olivarez) is named the Saskatraz line and breeder queens are produced in Canada…next province over from me…Saskatchewan…and shipped to the USA for propagation. When I can’t get this strain, I am satisfied to get Olivarez’s “run of the mill” Italians/Carniolans. Genetic selection for many USA commercial queen rearers has often been done by dedicated and respected scientists such as Sue Colby. Her breeder queens several years ago were selling for over $10,000.00 each.
The point I’m coming to is that after decades of importing diverse bee genetics into my area, there is a very interesting base to work from. Larger beekeepers in my area often do their own selections from this stock and produce their own queen cells that are “open bred” resulting in supposedly more suitable wintering candidates. On my scale of 20 hives, I simply bring in mated queens…and am generally happy how they perform over winter. I don’t have the expertise to run my own genetic selection of bee stock.
Also, just because queen suppliers are physically located in warm regions doesn’t mean they can’t produce queens suitable for cold climates.
One other comment applicable to my area: If losses of near 50% were the norm here, beekeepers would be soon out of business…so they pad their operations by selling extra hives wintered successfully to other beekeepers who have need of them each spring.