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Countryboy
12-04-2010, 09:42 PM
At what point does it become economical or cost efficient to buy a breeder queen?

My beekeeping neighbor and I were looking at going together and purchasing a quality breeder queen that runs in the $500 range. Our philosophy was that the first 25 queens would pay for the breeder queen, versus buying 25 mated queens ($20 each). We think that the 25 queens we produce from a breeder queen should have improved genetics over the crap shoot queens we could buy from a commercial queen breeder.

The breeder queen producer feels that it would take producing several hundred queens before the breeder queen paid for itself. My neighbor and I use simple queen rearing methods that aren't the most efficient, and would likely raise less than 100 queens in a year.

Is the quality of breeder queens not that much better than the good queens in our apiaries? If the quality isn't that much higher, it would be more cost efficient to raise queens from our good colonies. However, if daughter queens from a breeder queen are that much better, it would be easier to justify paying the money.

Please understand that the cost of the breeder queen is not an issue, and is not important to us. What is important is what we are getting for our money. We don't have a problem paying a higher price tag to get higher quality genetics, as higher quality genetics will put money back in our pockets.

So for the folks who have bought breeder queens - how does the quality of the daughters compare to the commercially mass produced queens? How much of a benefit did you see buy buying a breeder queen? What was the minimum number of daughter queens you raised from a breeder needed to justify the initial cost of a breeder?

123456
12-04-2010, 10:26 PM
Raise queens from your best overwintered colonies. Theres your breeders.

jim lyon
12-04-2010, 10:30 PM
I wouldnt consider a high priced breeder as some silver bullet. Spend your $500 on regular mated queens from a good breeder then select the best out of them to choose your breeder for the next year. You are broadening your gene pool and increasing the likelihood that you will find bees that will work better in your climate and conditions.

Countryboy
12-04-2010, 11:06 PM
Raise queens from your best overwintered colonies. Theres your breeders.

That works to a point. If your best hives are pretty good, you have to bring in some better genetics if you want really good bees. Otherwise, all you will ever have is just pretty good bees.

Don't get me wrong - raising queens from your best overwintered colonies will give you a good foundation to work with. However, it takes time to improve all your bees. I see buying a quality breeder queen from a local producer as a way to give my bees a big boost in quality quickly, rather than taking me several years to obtain similar quality. (if I can even get to that quality.)

Countryboy
12-04-2010, 11:16 PM
I wouldnt consider a high priced breeder as some silver bullet. Spend your $500 on regular mated queens from a good breeder then select the best out of them to choose your breeder for the next year.

I don't consider a breeder queen to be a silver bullet. I am looking for improvement, rather than a fix-all. (The big question is, how much improvement can I get from a breeder?) I would like to think that the daughters from a breeder queen would be a little better quality than the commercial queens I can buy. Are you saying that I will end up with higher quality bees by buying 20-25 commercially produced queens, compared to 20-25 daughter queens from the breeder queen? (I'm ignoring my input costs of producing daughter queens.)

The breeder queen producer that I have been looking about an hour drive from me, so the breeder queen would be about as acclimated to my area as I can get. These are high quality breeder queens that also happen to be local bees.

standman
12-04-2010, 11:57 PM
I am sure you have already considered this, but your single breeder queen will not overcome deficiencies in your local drones. I suppose you could purchase two breeder queens and establish them in separate apiaries, so their offspring could cross mate.
This is one apparent advantage of purchasing mated queens: they bring the drone genetics with them.
If you purchase only one breeder, you might want to add some drone comb to your best hives, thus improving your genetics on both counts.

Adrian Quiney WI
12-05-2010, 07:17 AM
A couple of thoughts... And by the way, I enjoy your youtube vids.

First, are you seeing significant quality problems with the queens you are buying?

Second, to overcome the lack of quality drones you could try the criss-cross method. I think it was Larry Connor who outlined this in one of the Journals. As I recall it went something like this.
Year one : Buy a breeder queen and graft and mate her within your own apiaries as you already described.
Year two : Buy a another breeder queen from a different line and mate her in your apiaries.
Year three, another breeder queen, and so on...

The daughters of year one queen mate with local drones, but the local drones mating year two's queens are mostly the sons of Year one queen - thus you have more control of both sides of the mating equation

I think the added value for you is likely to come from being more in control of your own process of acquiring queens. Somewhere on Michael Bush's website there is a quote about queens that are produced under optimal conditions perform better than those of better stock produced under poorer conditions.

Go for it, I think you'll have a blast. :)

beemandan
12-05-2010, 08:32 AM
Second, to overcome the lack of quality drones you could try the criss-cross method. I think it was Larry Connor who outlined this in one of the Journals. As I recall it went something like this.
Year one : Buy a breeder queen and graft and mate her within your own apiaries as you already described.
Year two : Buy a another breeder queen from a different line and mate her in your apiaries.
Year three, another breeder queen, and so on...
I suspect that there is a much more economical approach, that would likely get similar results. Buy a production queen from a reputable, small breeder who selects for the traits you want...choosing a different source each year. Use those production queens for a graft source each year. It would surely be less expensive, would mix up the gene pool and focus on the traits that you desire.

soupcan
12-05-2010, 09:05 AM
I have to agree with Jim!
Save your $500 & work with your over wintered stuff.
And here is a little heads up, don't always take the best of the best hives, take the ones with the best all around average!
And by that I mean the ones that meet and or exceed your expectations in all the categories that suit your beekeeping needs.
We use mated queens from as many as 5 different breeders in a season.
It's kinda neet to see the down lines & how well some of the bees aclimate themselves to the Nebraska climate & winters over the years.

camero7
12-05-2010, 09:28 AM
My concern is saturating the area with good drones. I don't feel it will work very well until that is done. My approach is to use queens and cells from VSH type. I am going to change breeds to try and make genetics better and, at the same time, build up an area of quality drones. In a few years bees from area hives should also carry some of these genetics and maybe someday, I can stop treatments completely. When I'm close to that model I will then buy the more expensive breeder queens.

BEES4U
12-05-2010, 11:39 AM
You can buy one of these queens and still get a high quality I.I. queen!

http://www.glenn-apiaries.com/

Glenn Apiaries is dedicated to breeding honeybees for high honey production and disease resistance.

We provide instrumentally inseminated breeder queens for stock improvement, research and biotechnology.
Instrumental insemination allows us to completely control the mating of the queens and drones. This technology provides the control necessary for the efficient breeding of honeybees for specific traits of productivity and disease resistance. Since 1977 we have produced hundreds of thousands of queens which have been used by bee breeders and honeybee researchers around the world.

Regards,
Ernie

jrbbees
12-05-2010, 01:56 PM
Consider buying a few queens of hygenic stock from several different suppliers around the country. Don't worry about breed. Then let them cross breed in the next few years. In effect you will be breeding mutts.

$500 is a lot of money for a long shot.

Mutts may not always not bee the prettiest animals but from mutts the strong survive and the weak mixes die off. The sure death in inbreeding!

Michael Palmer
12-05-2010, 02:14 PM
Surely you can raise quality queens from the stocks you have on hand, if what you have suits your needs. If not, then of course you need new stock.

If you decide to go with what you have, be mindful that you are creating a closed breeding population. This type of breeder management may take more resources than the small operation has available.

From Queen Rearing and Bee Breeding, Page and Laidlaw:

"In a Closed Population Breeding Program, 35-50 breeders are needed with random queen selection to maintain at least 85% brood viability for at least 20 generations. The number of breeders can be reduced to 25 if breeder queens are replaced with their own daughters...supercedure [or beekeeper reared]".

I suggest you raise queens from your best colonies AND bring in stocks from outside.

blueskybeesupply
12-05-2010, 02:41 PM
Buy some queens from Tim Arheit, who is a member of BeeSource. He is part of the Ohio Queen Project, which has received breeding genetics from Joe Latshaw (Latshaw Apiaries). That will introduce some fresh blood and save some $$$.

Ian
12-05-2010, 02:43 PM
>>Please understand that the cost of the breeder queen is not an issue, and is not important to us. What is important is what we are getting for our money. We don't have a problem paying a higher price tag to get higher quality genetics, as higher quality genetics will put money back in our pockets.


The biggest issue with raising queens is wanting to do it and making the time for it. If you are set to raise queens, and are good at it, I would spend the money on good genetics. Keep bringing them in, and breed what you want.

And, how do I get some cells from you ;)

little55
12-05-2010, 04:50 PM
Mutts may not always not bee the prettiest animals but from mutts the strong survive and the weak mixes die off. The sure death in inbreeding! quote

If this is an absolute then we would not have any pure lines to begin with they would all be mutts. I think there is something to be gained by knowing where the majority of your genes come from and select from there.

Countryboy
12-05-2010, 07:59 PM
What is the quality difference between a breeder queen and good production queens from a reputable queen producer?

If the only thing that was required to get great bees was to buy good queens from several producers, there would be no market for breeder queens. Queen producers would just get $20 queens from each other to improve their breeding stock.

There must be a real or perceived value in buying a breeder queen, or else there would be no market for breeder queens. A breeder queen must be better than your normal purchased queen. The question is how much?

My whole life I have lived near whitetail deer producers. When I was a kid, one neighbor had a buck that was used for a cover photo for Field & Stream or Outdoor Life. Back then, a buck that scored 200-250 was a real monster. There were no 300, 400, or 500 class bucks - that was unheard of. If a breeder continued to breed from his best bucks, we would still be seeing a lot of 150-250 class bucks.
I have a neighbor now who spends several thousand dollars for a stick of semen from bucks in the 400-500 class. You can see a big difference in his bucks versus bucks from someone who just breeds from his best stock.

I suspect it is the same thing with bees. People don't know just how good bees can be because they are still treating their bees like the guys with 150-200 class bucks who are just breeding from their best stock (or bringing in genetics from other 150-200 class bucks.)

It speaks volumes when people who are actively involved with breeding (Ian for example, who also has cattle and understands the payback of buying a good bull or AI material) encourage the purchase of high grade genetics.

In a Closed Population Breeding Program, 35-50 breeders are needed with random queen selection to maintain at least 85% brood viability for at least 20 generations.

What exactly do they mean by brood viability? Does this mean the improved genetic trait remains visible in 85% of the offspring for at least 20 generations?

slickbrightspear
12-05-2010, 11:31 PM
brood viability is how many of them survive or do not have a fatal genetic flaw that the bees remove.

Michael Palmer
12-06-2010, 06:53 AM
In a Closed Population Breeding Program, 35-50 breeders are needed with random queen selection to maintain at least 85% brood viability for at least 20 generations.

What exactly do they mean by brood viability? Does this mean the improved genetic trait remains visible in 85% of the offspring for at least 20 generations?

"Viable" Capable of living.

From Contemporary Queen RearingHarry H Laidlaw, Jr.: "Maintenance of stock is not without its hazards, and the beekeeper must be allert to these. One of the most common and most serious is loss of sex genes of the sex allelic series. To avoid this loss, several breeding queens that, were not used the year before, should be selected each year to be mothers of the queens that are reared to requeen the beekeeper's colonies. Requeening a large proportion of colonies with daughters of a favorite breeding queen, and the use of the same breeding queen the following year may, if routinely practiced, bring about a deterioration of brood solidness due to the two sex alleles in some of the fertilized eggs being alike. When sex alleles are alike, the larva that hatches from such an egg is male instead of female and is eaten by the worker bees, leaving an empty cell among the cells of the brood comb".

From The Hive and the Honey Bee: "There must be a genetic mechinism of sex determination in order for haploid individuals to consistently develop into males while diploids are consistently females. In the honey bee, and indeed many other Hymenoptera, the determination is apparently under the control of a single gene. This gene has many different forms called alleles. Individuals that are heterozygous at this sex determining gene locus, that is, have two different alleles, develop into females; homozygous individuals, having two identical alleles, develop into diploid males".

Broke-T
12-06-2010, 10:49 AM
Define breeder queen. Glenn Apiaries sells II queens for $100. They are young unproven queens from highly selected stock. Latshaw sells similar queens for a lot more.

Some breeders sell proven breeders for several hundred into the thousands. These queens are 1 to 2 years old with production data on them. The proof is in the pudding so to speak. Are they worth it? I don't know. If money is no object go for the proven queen, she is less of a crap shoot. Unless they ball and kill her upon release.:ws

I prefer to buy more of the cheaper queens and select the best. It may take longer but I prefer slow and steady.

Johnny

KQ6AR
12-06-2010, 06:15 PM
I was considering buying a $100 Glenn Apiaries VSH breeder, just to let her raise drones. Removing drone frames from her hive, & letting other hives raise them.

gregstahlman
12-06-2010, 07:37 PM
i personally don't believe that one single breeder queen is the answer. breeder queens are a great investment but you must have several of them and raise several generations to get the full benefit. we run 24 breeder queens in our grafting yard so we have a good mix of genetics. Mr. Latshaw has provided us with breeder queens for quite a few years and does an excellent job. it's too bad that you couldn't find a great source of queens so that you wouldnt have to hassle with raising queens. hmmmm maybe i could do some self promoting here lol

Countryboy
12-06-2010, 08:17 PM
Individuals that are heterozygous at this sex determining gene locus, that is, have two different alleles, develop into females; homozygous individuals, having two identical alleles, develop into diploid males".

This past year I had a hive with an Italian queen I purchased last year, and it produced some orange drones, and it also produced some jet black drones that were a little smaller raised in foundationless frames in cells that were a little bigger than normal worker cells but not as large as typical drone cells. (I saw them emerging - they were not drones that came from another hive.) I wasn't sure what to make of it. I chalked it up to there being a second laying queen that was black that I couldn't find, or perhaps the black drones were from a small number of laying workers. (although there was no evidence of laying workers, but supposedly there are a few laying workers in every hive.) Could inbreeding have been the reason I was seeing two different lines of drones? One drone was haploid and others were diploid?

I do not plan on requeening every hive with offspring from the breeder queen and create a closed breeding program. At most, I might double my hive count using daughter queens, and subsequent supercedures and open mating would slowly incorporate the breeder queen genetics. My idea was to raise queens form the breeder queen, allowing them to open mate with the genetics of ferals and other hives of mine.

breeder queens are a great investment but you must have several of them to get the full benefit. we run 24 breeder queens in our grafting yard so we have a good mix of genetics.

How many hives were you running before you started buying breeder queens, and how many breeders did you buy the first time?

How do you use your breeders? Do you graft from 12 of them, and use the other 12 for drone production?

Mr. Latshaw has provided us with breeder queens for quite a few years and does an excellent job. it's too bad that you couldn't find a great source of queens so that you wouldnt have to hassle with raising queens.

Joe doesn't sell production queens, or I'd buy some from him. He's right down the road from me. I do intend to get some of his genetics, one way or another.

I don't really consider it a hassle to raise queens. I want to focus more on nuc production/sales with local queens. I want to be able to sell good stock, which requires me to raise good stock. I'm looking to start incorporating really good genetics a little at a time now, so that in 5 years my stock will be noticeably better. It would be foolish of me to wait until I was set up to sell a few hundred nucs a year to start thinking of obtaining good queens to put in them.

gregstahlman
12-06-2010, 09:28 PM
well i think we were running about 7200 hives and had purchased 16 breeder queens. our breeder queens are set up in 4 groups, 6 hives per group. we graft a different group each day. for drone production we do use some breeder queens as well and some of our own hives. i think you are absolutely right about needing great queens for nuc production. poor stock can make for some unhappy costomers

Countryboy
12-06-2010, 09:49 PM
According to Joe Latshaw's website, he sells a package of 15 II breeder queens, which he recommends for producing 10,000-15,000 queens a year. His biggest package of 20 breeder queens is designed for producing 15,000-20,000 queens a season.

It appears to my uneducated mind that your number of breeders was overkill for the 7200 hives. (I don't know your present hive numbers.) Are you using these breeder queens to raise stock to requeen all your hives annually? Are you raising and selling quite a few extra queens or nucs? Or do you run a high rate of breeder queens to increase genetic diversity?

The Honey Householder
12-06-2010, 09:54 PM
Greg are you 4 or 5 generation queen breeder?? It just sounds like you know what you are doing. Just might have to try 200 of your queens this year.

gregstahlman
12-06-2010, 10:38 PM
whoops, guess i should have been more clear. we sell about 30,000 cells to numerous beeks in TX, graft about 5000 cells for our own use, and make up about 1300 4 frame nucs. we do sell about 3500 queens each spring (looking to maybe increase this year.) this is why we use so many breeder queens as it requires alot of grafting material for grafts every day. on average we graft between 900-1200 cells daily. so the chart you read can be misleading. also i was vague and didn't describe how we fully utilize the breeder queens

Broke-T
12-07-2010, 07:25 AM
Greg, Joe has the Aurea and Karnica lines, which are you using? What part of Texas are you wintering in? You said you have been using his queens for several years. Have you seen an increase in disease and mite resistance in your bees? What do you do with the breeder queens when you are finished grafting? Do you ship queens or is it pickup only? I would be interested in 20 or so depending on price.

Johnny

Michael Palmer
12-07-2010, 07:32 AM
This past year I had a hive with an Italian queen I purchased last year, and it produced some orange drones, and it also produced some jet black drones that were a little smaller raised in foundationless frames in cells that were a little bigger than normal worker cells but not as large as typical drone cells. (I saw them emerging - they were not drones that came from another hive.) I wasn't sure what to make of it. I chalked it up to there being a second laying queen that was black that I couldn't find, or perhaps the black drones were from a small number of laying workers. (although there was no evidence of laying workers, but supposedly there are a few laying workers in every hive.) Could inbreeding have been the reason I was seeing two different lines of drones? One drone was haploid and others were diploid?

The queen has two sets of chromosomes, hence the term diploid. Drones have a single set of chromosomes, hence haploid.

Meiosos: Part of the process of gamete production (a mature reproductive sexual cell, as a sperm or an egg).

So, during meiosis, and the production of eggs, the sex chromosomes split in half. There are two gametes formed...each different. Fertilized eggs become females...worker bees. Unfertilized eggs become males. Since male eggs are unfertilized, they have only the chromosomes of the queen..clones if you will. And because of meiosis, there are two copies, each different.

So, it is quite possible for a hybred queen to produce two very different looking drone lines. Is that understandable?

mnbeekeeper
12-07-2010, 08:14 AM
greg, i would also like to know where you are in east tx and if you would have cells for sale this march. looking for 2500 or so total. would you be interested??

Yuleluder
12-07-2010, 09:05 AM
whoops, guess i should have been more clear. we sell about 30,000 cells to numerous beeks in TX, graft about 5000 cells for our own use, and make up about 1300 4 frame nucs. we do sell about 3500 queens each spring (looking to maybe increase this year.) this is why we use so many breeder queens as it requires alot of grafting material for grafts every day. on average we graft between 900-1200 cells daily. so the chart you read can be misleading. also i was vague and didn't describe how we fully utilize the breeder queens

Greg,

Do you overwinter any of your breeder colonies in SD or is everything done in TX?

Yuleluder
12-07-2010, 09:10 AM
I was considering buying a $100 Glenn Apiaries VSH breeder, just to let her raise drones. Removing drone frames from her hive, & letting other hives raise them.

I would raise as many queens as possible from her, and then use the best ones next season for drone producing colonies. Eliminate the underperforming colonies with queens raised from your best colonies this will help to eliminate unwanted characteristics. Keep good records of drone colonies and breeder colonies.

The Honey Householder
12-07-2010, 10:59 AM
Dang Greg you sell more on the posting then your sale posting.LOL:D

gregstahlman
12-07-2010, 06:34 PM
:) yes it is getting a bit off topic

Countryboy
12-07-2010, 10:07 PM
And because of meiosis, there are two copies, each different.

So, it is quite possible for a hybred queen to produce two very different looking drone lines. Is that understandable?

Yes, that makes sense; a chimera queen of sorts. I was thinking more along the lines that since they were clones of the queen, they should all be identical twins. This would be more along the lines of twins that are not identical.

Yes Greg, that makes a lot more sense now. I knew you did quite a bit of honey production, but wasn't aware that you produced queens in excess of your own needs.

Latshaw recommends obtaining a breeder queen and evaluating her the first year, and grafting from her the second year. Do you do this? What is your procedure for evaluating the breeders the first year, or is that a business secret?

If you really want to push your queen sales, just point the folks to the thread in the picture gallery showing how your hives look at fall feeding.

gregstahlman
12-07-2010, 10:44 PM
yes we receive our breeders in mid july-early august. we winter them through in Texas along with our other hives to compare how well they do. we don't usually use the same breeders for grafting more than one season cuz we like to bring some fresh blood into the mix. we do raise a few mated queens but i am by far no expert at the subject. whatever we do seems to work and work quite well so we just keep on the same track every year.