This will be the "matriarch" queens 3rd year coming up in the spring. She is not even slacking off brood rearing too much right now. I was fortunate to get this queen from a beekeeper here in Tennessee who is against medicating and his bees actually thrive. He is an excellent manager of his hives. His style is reflected in the natural health of all his colonies.
I was just wondering if the two of you could go into more depth on how you choose colonies for requeening. I've always been under the impression that once or twice annual requeening was universally recommended in all climates.
Aspera, if you requeen every colony once a year, how will you ever develop a strain that will be healthy and productive in your area? Almost any beekeeper who doesn't practice requeening by the calendar, can tell you of a colony that went on and on and on, year after year. Always among the best producers, and the best winterers. Those are the colonies we should be breeding from. Annual requeening would kill all these breeders before they could be discovered.
Originally Posted by Aspera
So, what colonies do get requeened. Colonies with chalkbrood do. Hopefully with a hygienic strain. Colonies with poor patterns do, and colonies that winter poorly too.
If you keep a yard sheet on your bees, you begin to notice patterns. You see that colonies perform similarly from year to year. So, you have a colony that comes through the winter so, so. I like to see at least 9 frames of brood at dandelion. This one has 4. But the pattern is good...we'll give her a chance. You come back to re-super the yard a few weeks later. Most colonies have a hundred pounds on, but the questionable one has only a super and a half. So yoe decide to re-queen it. You break the hive open to start the procedure, and find hatched queen cells. OK, the bees did the job for you. Cool! So....
Next season, the colony has 4 frames of brood at dandelion. But, it's a new queen last summer. Give her a chance, right? I bet she has 4 frames of brood next year, too.
Some colonies are easy to read, when they need re-queening. Some are more difficult. It's the ones like my little example that you should focus on.
What I'm trying to say is, keep good records. That's how you'll know which colonies to requeen.
By the way...any colony in my operation that isn't performing well by dandelion, gets nuked with an overwintered nuc. That gets the first round of requeening done early. Later in the summer, any colonies not performing get broken up into 4 frame nucs. What's left on each stand...old queen and field bees in a medium or two...get requeened with the last round of queens. These are overwintered as nucs.
Your so right about requeening every year. I only requeen those hives that are doing poorly, the rest I leave alone so I can evaluate them.:)
If you're not into breeding your own queens and selecting from your own stock it's ok to requeen every year and I'm sure you know the reasons it is recommended to requeen annually. People who do breed their own queens and choose for certain qualities need longer than a year to evaluate their stock. You can buy your queens from those who do all the work in selecting from their best to breed from.
Originally Posted by Aspera
My point was that annual requeening will eliminate colonies that have queens, or their daughters, that will thrive under minimum management. Colonies like this, for instance:
Originally Posted by WVbeekeeper
This colony started out as an overwintered 4 frame nuc. The nuc was started in the summer of 2000. It has never been requeened by me. It surely has requeened itself, probably in 2004. You can see how production drops a bit that year, and then shoots up the next year...along with an increase in brood that year. It has been treated for Varroa a few times. The numbers are: # frames brood at Dandelion bloom, weight of honey taken, weight of colony first week October (150 is OK).
Year Brood Honey Weight
2001 Nuc 120 ?
2002 9 160 150
2003 10 155 180
2004 10 135 150
2005 13 200 170
2006 13 160 160
2007 Took Queen for Breeder