View Full Version : Queen Evaluations
I thought I would bring this topic up for discussion to see how everybodies queen breeding programs have progressed.
After reading Brother Adam's "Breeding the Honeybee" this past spring, I decided to continue with my crossbreeding program. Being somewhat isolated from other beekeepers, I am able to somewhat control the outcome of the crosses. Of course there are probably some feral colonies within 2 miles, but other than those, its up to my kids to decide!
When I started raising queens, my main goal was to produce a good northern bee. I am getting very close. I have accomplished the year round worker, meaning the bees do not stop, they work in colder temps, and since I added Italian to the mix, they are putting up more honey, and still have low mite counts. I have been told, that the SMR gene is not present after generation three, but my mite counts are very low with the SMR mothers. I am on 4.9 foundation too, and maybe that is proving sucessful. The Carniolian mothers have floundered this year for some reason. It may have been that the stock I got last year was marginal. This year, I added Italian to the mix, and just added some very good northern Italian stock to the mixture. I plan on requeening all of my Italians with daughters from her.
I have noticed, that some of the crosses are quite a bit more agressive than others. I know for a fact, that first crosses of carnilions can get nasty, and I suspect the stock I had last year was part of the reason.
Now, this question is for Rob, or anybody else that can give me an intelligent answer. If I continue making crosses with the lesser agressive bees, will I eventually breed the agressiveness out of them, or because I am at the mercy of unknown drones, will it be hard to say?
As stated, my "line" is turning out almost perfect with that exception. Would I be wise to keep bringing in less agressive good stock, or because they are crosses, will I have to just deal with them?
[This message has been edited by Hook (edited August 29, 2004).]
09-01-2004, 07:55 AM
You have kind of answered the question yourself in two ways. Yes, If you continue making crosses with the lesser aggressive bees, you will eventually breed the aggressiveness out of them, and yes, because you are at the mercy of unknown drones, will it be hard to say?
But at least doing something about it is the answer. Be very selective in what queen stock you use, another thing that you can do is use a separate line also gentle to raise drones from, and flood the area with these drones.
Of course I.I. of gentle virgin queens with semen from gentle drones would be your next best bet.
If a job is worth doing - Then do it well
09-01-2004, 08:48 AM
What I have done with my queen breeding operation is I have been using medium supers and in each supper (4 per hive unit) I have one frame just for drone brood. That is 4 frames in each hive. I have 18 hives (breeders) that I inseminate with my desired traits. This gives me a tremendous amount of drones from the breeders queens and flood the area with drones that I want, that have the traits I want. I have one queen that I like and make queens from her and use her drones to inseminate. I then evaluate them. I do this year after year. I have the color I want, etc. Seems to be working well. I have nucs on top of my 18 breeder queens and they go into winter. I use these nucs as a bases to which queens I will breed from. I take into account mite resistance, hoarding both pollen and honey, and yes how they survive the winter.
In the spring I then start up mating nucs that will mate out in the open to sell.
Ok, I figured it would come down to I.I.
What is involved in it, and how would I go about obtaining seman from the drones. Remember, this is still only a side business, and I'm not sure I want to invest a great deal of money in doing this. Is there a cheap way of achieving the results of II?
09-01-2004, 03:26 PM
Dave Cushman has a lot of plans for II equipment on his site. Like the insemination needle etc.
09-01-2004, 04:09 PM
I bit the bullet and went to Susan Cobey and ordered the instrument. I'm not that handy in making the instrument. She sells the stuff from Ohio State. Gave me some great advice and so did the people at Glenn Apiaries. Another site is Ohio Insemination services.
Sorry but it really is the only way if you want to keep a 'pure breed'.
09-01-2004, 04:43 PM
get someone to do the ii work for you. it makes life much easier.
do i gather right that you used daughters of an inseminated smr to raise a new generation of queens? what did you think? when i did it the results were much much better than the first generation. my first generation daughters were not much. daughters of other queen lines mated to the first generation smr drones were good.
09-28-2004, 08:47 PM
Were you at the course this year, I was also there. She does a great job. It is amazing how tame her bees are. I have her bees they are great, but my one concern is NWC don't draw comb like some others. Comb building in important to me, but it is amazing how quickly there spring buildup is.
09-29-2004, 08:47 AM
No I was not at the course. I'm self taught. Bought her video and then tried out the process. Getting the semen from the drones take a knack to do. Once you get it then it becomes 'easy' (???).
Seems to me too that the second generation is better. The bees seem to work harder and the queens produce more viable workers.
09-29-2004, 09:46 AM
How do your bees draw comb? I have NWC also, when I was at her course she was having a locust flow and hers were building it well. I got 50 NWC queens from Cali
vendor, got drone layers couple of bums many supercedures, it seems like the NWC crossed with feral were the best. But as I have posted before, the feral crosses aren't consistant and many funky looking bees. The experts aways talk about genetics in beekeeping, for a professional beekeeper I can see why. I got one feral cross, they propolized the whole front entrance except for a small section in a couple of weeks, with only ~50lbs of honey stored. Another Hive next to it 5 full deeps supers high, With all fresh drawn comb. Next year I will have to keep better records. I love it, it's alot of fun.
09-29-2004, 10:03 AM
I use perco and they are not bad at all in drawing it out. You have to have a good flow for them to draw out the comb.
09-29-2004, 11:12 AM
I was at Dr. Cobey's course this year and would HIGHLY RECOMMEND it to anyone with an interest in Queen Breeding. She is a very enthusiatic teacher. All of us learned a LOT!
09-29-2004, 01:43 PM
Yes, she is great and her video is worth the money. One thing that I am concerned about with some of the Queen breeders out there is inbreeding. In the course, she stressed maintaining a large pool of Genetic stock inorder to maintain Hybrid Vigor. I am not sure and need to keep better records, but I think the queens that I have recieved, can't touch their open mated Daughters for productivity, overall. This may have been a bad year, but I get that feeling. I remember speaking to one of the PHD.s at EAS and they were saying the best Queens for production are Open mated and not insememated. I think in general Insemenation works best for controlling the genetic lines, but the larger gene pool is important to maintain the Quality.
09-29-2004, 05:38 PM
I'm sure that bee club I mentioned out toward Oneida would be interested in hearing about your bee breeding experience/adventures. Let me know how to get in touch with you. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm over in Manlius and keep my hives on a farm in Fabius.
09-30-2004, 05:05 AM
In Manlius and keep bees in Fabius? Wow, When I ran my 100 hives operation I kept bees on Hennebury Road, Town line between Pompey and Manlius, and hives on Indian Hill Road, and number 4 road. Small world hu? The farmers there had alfalfa fields, abandoned apple orchards (green honey, not all that great trying to sell but great taste), and there was a large field of golden rod. I had so much honey I started to sell it to a guy down in Ithaca that supplied Wegmans. Those were the good old days. Now I just play with the girls.
If your worried about inbreeding then I would suggest to once in a while buy several queens in the lines you are keeping and using those drones with your queen daughters. This mixes up your gen pool and prevents inbreeding. Do that for a few years 2-3. Then go back to what you were doing in regards to your breeding. I agree AI queens do not last but they give you great control on their daughters lineage. You really can't beat open mated queens. I think the reason is the CO2 being used during IA and the handling involved. I normally get a year, sometimes if I'm real lucky 2 years out of them. I have read where there are queens that are 3 or better in age but I have yet to have one. Might need to improve my technique.
For mixing my gen pool I get queens from NWC open mated queens and use their drones for my queens. I also once in a while get breeder queens from Glenn or Sue and mix that in. Problem with that is they are expensive and I have to be careful with them.
My conversations with Dr Morse (way back in time, yea I'm that old), and others they will agree with the inbreeding and open mating. I think using my method keeps this at a min from happening. I also do not buy from only one breeder. Big mistake if you do that. I by open mated queens from about 5 breeders and mix in their drones with my queens for AI. I also mixing in SMR queens both their queens and drones. SMR are so inbred that sometimes they just can't maintain a large hive but their open mated daughters (or even AI) do so well.
I hope this helps you in some insight on my work.
09-30-2004, 10:16 AM
My hives are definately in your old stomping grounds. Mine are just off Rte 91 and # 5 road, also in an old apple orchard. I'm very interested in learning more about your queen rearing as I've been interested in doing that myself. Please email me at email@example.com as I'd also be very interested in getting some queens from you.
09-30-2004, 04:32 PM
I sent you an e-mail and some pics.