the german bees (if they still exist) were smaller. there were a number of races of bees from europe that were darker and some of the hybrid bees developed in the 1970's were also very dark. from what I can recall of the german bees measurements of such things as the length of their probiscus was substantially shorter than the italians.
the Australians 'Fat Bee Skinny Bee' suggest to me that there are substantial seasonal variation in the size of the bee likely associated with nutrition and quite possible (likely I would think) a part of the honeybees evolutionary history.
I ask this more as an information-seeking question, not with the intention of guaranteeing that this is the answer: Are you still using and re-using the same combs in your brood boxes? Could the dimensions of the cells be getting so much smaller as to restrict the cell volume and the area in which the larvae develop? If so, while this wouldn't affect the bee's color, it might influence their size.
Off topic, sorry Omie.
(I thought my bees were getting smaller but what I discovered is that in actuality they were the same size, it was just the relationship to the size of my expanding gut that was fooling me) :lol:
Last june I collected a swarm refered by a landscaper.After watching them next to my other bees they were noticably smaller.They drew out new frames and made their own small cells.Any way, they made it through the winter and are doing fine.
All of my bees are on 4.9 frames.I use pierco black plastic and foundationless wood frames.I alternate them every other one,the pierco's give them a guide line so I get less crazy comb.The larger bees are on the 4.9 and they are'nt that big, it's just that the little ones are that much smaller.The next time I inspect them I'll measure some of their comb . That's a good idea about making some queens from them.