Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 50
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Nevada County, CA
    Posts
    1,083

    Sad

    I ordered half a dozen NW Carnolian queens last year to try them out. They were scheduled for pickup April 24 but when the weather got sour I called Strachen and asked them to delay it until there was some decent weather for them to breed. They assured me that they would never sell queens unless they were certain that they had opportunety to breed. A few days before the 24th I got a call to pick them up on schedule. I put them in five frame nucs with a minimum of four frames of bees. Five days later five queens had been accepted and one was dead in the cage. The candy was as hard as adobe brick and the bees couldn't release her.

    Two weeks later I transfered the nucs with the remaining queens to strong colonies with a minimum of ten frames of bees during a strong honey flow. I fed all summer whenever the honey flow slacked off but they never built up more than three or four frames of brood at a time. Menwhile, my Italians were pumping out 8 to 12 frames even when the temp got over 100 degrees.

    By August or Sept. I became concerned and posted a topic wondering if this was charicteristic of NW Carnolians. Didn't seem like it was right so I called and talked to Vallarie Strachen. She advised me to treat for Varroa. I had been dusting with powdered sugar about twice a month from the start since I wanted to keep these girls away from chemicals. When I asked her about the early delivery she said yes they might not have been adequately bred but if so they would just supercede. I treated all of them with OA. One queen did supercede and I salvaged two of her daughters which are doing well. By the middle of Oct, of my remaining four queens three had completely shut down laying but still had about 12-15 frames of bees, one had appearantly absconded. OK, Carnolians are supposed to slack off when the flow stops so I fed and gave them pollen. Went to feed yesterday and took a peek under the covers. No bees. Lifted the top box and couldn't see any bees so I opened the first hive and found a patch of dead bees the size of the palm of my hand on one side of only one frame with the dead queen exposed. Same picture in the second hive, and a cluster the size of a small grapefruit of live bees in the third hive. Since winter has finally set in here the third colony is just going to have to make it or break it, it's too cold to shake bees from my Itallian hive and boost them up.

    I'm not real happy about Strachen. I trusted them to keep their word about not selling queens unless they had a chance to breed and due to their reputation relied on their expertese. When I discussed the problem with Vallerie, I feel she should have offered to replace them with adequately bred queens, which she did not do.

    I think I will try to get a couple of Russian Nucs from Fat Beeman this spring. I want to move away from the Itallians and find a way to minimize treatments but I have sour taste for the Carnolians now. It seems strange to be 100 miles away from some of the biggest queen breeding operations in the country and have to order from the east coast area to feel confidence in the queen breeders.
    doug

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Seattle, Washington State
    Posts
    4,398

    Post

    I saw a lot of queen in our area superceded... queens that came with packages and also bought seperatly. I personally do not think that certain breeders check the laying patern of queens before shipping. I am not saying all... I am saying some..!!!

    Seriously, take a look at the situation and preasure the breeders are under. Feb, March, and April come, weather is iffy, rainy a lot, orders are booked solid, people are calling everyday, ordering and asking when the queen will arrive, a worker goes out to check the mating nucs, concludes that the queen is good to send when maybe they are not but remember... gotta push the orders out.

    Also, take a look at the fact that if a customer gets a bad queen in a batch, they might not complain. Consumers, in general, according to a study done a year or so ago, mentiond that most consumers (overall) do not complain.

    I agree with Sierra. A lot of iffy things happened this spring with queens.
    Chef Isaac..Culinary Arts and Honey are a sweet mix! http://www.sweetascanbeehoneyfarm.com & http://www.adoptahive.info

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Erin, NY /Florence SC
    Posts
    3,361

    Post

    Sierra, don't throw the baby out with the Bath Water. Had a very similar experiance with Strachan this year. We ordered $4,000 worth of queens this year (from various suppliers), up from about $2200 last year due to poor spring queens. We got a letter from Strachan and California Queen breeders telling us in advance to expect problems. That doesn't make it any easier but sometimes a combination of conditions makes it very difficult for producers to hold quality. My previous partner had great success with Strachan Carnis. I would note I did not order from them this year as I ordered from another California breeder and had no problems. Those queens were ordered for a week later. Both California orders arrived on time.

    We've had exceptional success with Carni's as well as Buckfast. They are an important genetic in the 100 or so queens we raise every spring. In most years I think you'd find some success with queen breeders on your coast.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    North Alabama, SW Kentucky
    Posts
    1,914

    Post

    Sierra,
    I'm pleased with Fatman Don's queens that I got. I gave one to my girlfriend for a struggling hive. She reported yesterday that this hive as really turned around and is now packed to the gills with stores for the winter where her Italians she's had all season are not quite as packed. She discovered for herself the smaller cluster size, too. These were Carni/russian crosses from Don.

    Waya
    WayaCoyote

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Lima, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    720

    Post

    Of course it's hard to say what happened with such a small sample size. I do seem to be hearing more and more such stories from big and small alike (even distributors), poor acceptance, superceedure, poor laying paterns, etc. I do wonder if this is a growing trend, a bump in the road, the sqeaky wheel, or simply that I'm more attentive to the problems now that I'm in the same area myself.

    My own experience this past year with Strachen was mixed. They did arrive on time (may queens) and were accepted quickly. One superceeded in the first few weeks, and the other didn't build up well and superceeded in a couple months. Too small a pool to say there was a real problem, and I would try again if shipping were not so expensive for a few queens this coming year.

    Still, to me it seems to be a growing trend towards poor laying or superceeded queens. Weather can be a problem, especially early in the season (and even later some years). It's something completely out of the beekeepers control and the beekeeper can do little but delay orders. Of course the pressure is on and some take the delay in stride, but others I've found just don't understand that just because an order is placed in January doesn't mean I can guarentee a shipping date.

    But there are other factors completely in the beekeepers control that I see a big problem with. Chemicals in the hive: I've been told by some reliable sources that the amount of chemicals used in some operations is staggering (and many that aren't legal). Even the legal ones (apistan and checkmite) when used properly have a negative effect on queens.

    Genetic Diversity: It's been shown over and over again that genetic diversity in a bee population increases it's vigor (strength of the hive, etc.) Yet many large breeders only use 2-5 breeder queens.

    Size of mating nucs: How can one possibly evaluate the laying pattern of a queen in one of those mini mating nucs? They simply don't have enough space, in my opinion, for the queen to lay. Many times I've seen new queens lay up a full size frame (or more), in just 3 days. Plus, for adequate migration of sperm to the spermathica the queen should be at brood temperatures the first 24-48 hours after mating. This can be hard to maintain in mini nucs, especially when the weather turns bad.

    Drones: Good healthy (see chemicals above) and plentiful drones. Generally this should be easy to achieve, but in cooler climates like mine this often determines when I can begin rearing queens for the season.

    Not to paint too bleak a picture, the good operations learn, adapt, grown and solve problems as they occur. Still, I wonder how high prices can go before we start demanding more quality control. Honestly I don't know what most operations are doing now. Such information (number and source of breeders, treatment regimens, nuc size, selection criteria, etc) doesn't appear available on most outfits websites. I have no idea if they would tell you if you asked. (Maybe if you were ordering 1000's, but would they talk to a hobbiest ordering 1?)

    My comments are not intended to target any producer but are general comment based on the complaints and observations of myself and many others. (though if you feel affended, you problably have something to fix).

    -Tim

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Nevada County, CA
    Posts
    1,083

    Post

    I think I would have accepted the problem if I had not asked Strachen to delay my order and been talked out of it. I knew the weather was not conducive to good queen breeding so early this year but I relied on their word that they would not deliver queens unless they were sure. Then the offhand treatment when I inquired later in the year didn't make it any better. I have spent a lifetime dealing with the public in sensitive areas and the one thing I have learned is that honesty in communications if more important than providing the product.
    doug

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Seattle, Washington State
    Posts
    4,398

    Post

    Again, I agree with sierra. If producers would be honest and say "hey, we are having bad weather, we just cant send queens our right now" instead od B.Sing people.

    See Tim, I didnt care that you had to delay the queens. I would rather have them delayed than supercedded or sent out inferior due to poor mating. I think it is the small producers like Tim, Fatbee, Michael, and some others that can provide a better product versus the massed produced queen. Maybe that will create a niche markey for those small operations.

    Tim, I agree with you too. So many chemicals are being used. Again, maybe this will create a niche market for producers not using chemicals.

    these are great reasons to buy from smaller operations and also great motivational feed to try rearing some queens. Yes, it is tough and confusing but the learning that takes place and the information available is soooo interesting.
    Chef Isaac..Culinary Arts and Honey are a sweet mix! http://www.sweetascanbeehoneyfarm.com & http://www.adoptahive.info

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Wheatfield, IN
    Posts
    2,069

    Post

    I have had great success with Strachan Carni queens. I have ordered from them for the past 3 years and will probably continue to do so. I have not noticed any thing different from their queens that I have not noticed with Tim's queens or the ones I have raised. Not all queens are equal even when you do your best. Sometimes it is the beekeepers fault and not necessarily the producers.

    As Tim said... that is a fairly small sample size to paste an "inferior quality" sticker on Strachan Carnis. If you consistantly have problems over many queens or several years then you might have something.

    I, for one, have been impressed.

    I think that communication is the key to a quality experience. A bad communication experience is difficult to overcome. This is where the smaller producer has an advantage. Big shops like Strachans will work closely with the bigger players. That is where most of their queens go. Although I've always found them helpful to me....

    I would rather get an email or a phone call and let me know there are problems than to make plans and find out that they were never shipped.

    Just my 2 cents.
    Dan Williamson
    B&C Honey Farm http://www.flickr.com/photos/9848229@N05/

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Seattle, Washington State
    Posts
    4,398

    Post

    Good points Dan. But where the break down happens on communication is commuicating with the little people. Great, they might call the big plays, as you say, but what happenes to the people that order maybe 5 queens??? Are they implying that the smaller orders dont mean anything?
    Chef Isaac..Culinary Arts and Honey are a sweet mix! http://www.sweetascanbeehoneyfarm.com & http://www.adoptahive.info

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Nevada County, CA
    Posts
    1,083

    Post

    <Are they implying that the smaller orders dont mean anything?>

    That's pretty much the feeling I have Chef. I bet if I had ordered 1000 queens and asked to delay the order they would have been more than glad to postpone it to whenever I though the time was right.
    doug

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Frankfort, Kentucky
    Posts
    399

    Post

    I would love to get involved in this thread but it would not be ethically correct.

    Valeri Severson is the late Don Strachans eldest daughter and she manages the show.

    [size="1"][ November 28, 2006, 07:44 PM: Message edited by: Rob Mountain ][/size]
    If a job is worth doing - Then do it well

  12. #12

    Post

    I do not think a 1000 queen order would be accepable and delayed by them. They sell more queens to hobbiest then commercial producers. They know the score and I have only orderd 100 queens a year from them for the past 4 years and never had a problem.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Seattle, Washington State
    Posts
    4,398

    Post

    Seems like rain has all the answers...

    But Idont view it like that.

    In my experiance, doesnt matter if it is in beekeeping or culinary arts.... it seems like the smaller producers give better customer service and are on top of there game when dealing with people.

    Matter of fact, as queen prices go up, what are we getting for that increase? I love dealing with John at Ol Sol or Dan at Purvis brother because they will actually check how the queens are before sending them.
    Chef Isaac..Culinary Arts and Honey are a sweet mix! http://www.sweetascanbeehoneyfarm.com & http://www.adoptahive.info

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Nevada County, CA
    Posts
    1,083

    Post

    I've spent most of my life in a service profession and learned a long time ago that you can't please everyone and I'm sure this also applies to queen breeders. Being on the inside I also was able to observe the actions and attitudes of my colleagues, some of whom I admired and some of whom I didn't think much of. I figured out that in business what you see on the surface has no connection with what often happens behind the doors.

    I'm not happy with the treatment I got from Strachen, however I'm sure there were a few people over the years that were not happy with me and they just went on their own way. I agree with Chef, being a small opperator gives you the time to attend to the small details. We are all subject to the whims of mother nature, but when the flood water comes it is a personal decision to sell or not to sell the car that was under the water. The little guy would scrap it for parts and take his losses, the big guy would clean it up and put it back on the lot. I don't know how Strachen fits in this picture, but I have heard stories from other beeks about different large scale queen raisers that suggest a lot of details get lost when they start depending on too many different employees. Some of these stories actually come from family members of a multi-generation beekeeping family.

    It all comes back to a simple concept. Big is only bigger, not necessissarily better. I'm going to hang with the little guys.
    doug

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    College Station, Texas
    Posts
    6,973

    Post

    the chef sezs:
    I personally do not think that certain breeders check the laying patern of queens before shipping. I am not saying all... I am saying some..!!!

    tecumseh replies:
    using old school terms most of the queens you and I might purchase from a queen breeder use to be classified as untested. as someone else so correctly pointed out a mini nuc would be totally laid up in about 3 days, so most queen breeder simply watch to see if a young queen will lay at all and then she is shoved in a cage and sold. as long as queen breeder continue to use mini nucs and are pushed on all fronts to deliver queens as early as possible it is difficult to see any remedy to this problem.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    lewisberry, Pa, usa
    Posts
    6,080

    Post

    There are two sides that make this equation. Supply and demand. As long as people want them at the first earliest timeframe, they will be sold. Is it the suppliers doing thier best to provide a product that may carry some risk, or is it a demand(beekeepers) problem for demanding so much at times when the best queens are not propogated?

    Do you play ahead of the game, or do you play catch up? If you need a certain number of hives next spring, say something like 10, do you go into winter with 10 and expect all to make it? Or do you go into winter with 15, knowing with the many problems we face in the industry, some loss should be expected.

    Instead of going into winter with 10 and coming out with 5, and then splitting your hives and possible effecting your honey crop as many do, all the while playing into the mass chaos of getting early spring queens, why not do this? Go into winter with 15. Be happy with what you have coming out of winter, say 10, and focus on the honey flow. Then build your numbers back up and get better queens later in the season.

    This may not work for big pollinators, but for the hobbiest, this system is well worth it in the long run.

    With discussions I had with Kirk Webster, he stated along the lines of "We have been dealing with mites for years now, and we will be talking about them years from now. Take what we have to work with, and expect some loss. Build it into your beekeeping plan." I took that to heart. It makes sense.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Frankfort, Kentucky
    Posts
    399

    Post

    This may be somewhat true but without a name I canÂ’t reply. Every queen breeder in N. California had a tough spring.


    Valeri Severson
    Strachan Apiaries, Inc.
    2522 Tierra Buena Rd.
    Yuba City, CA 95993
    530-674-3881
    If a job is worth doing - Then do it well

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Berkey, OH, USA
    Posts
    1,486

    Post

    Bjorn you and I are on the same page.

    I have read the articles by Kirk Webster and also others in the journals. For us northern beeks we need to get away from the southern spring queens and packages and get our queens the year before.

    If the nucs make it through the winter they will hit the ground running next spring.

    Then you will know what queens you have and if they are winter hardy. And by getting your queens in July and August you can deal with northern breeders/ locals or do your own.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    581

    Post

    "And by getting your queens in July and August..."

    I have not had much luck getting my queens in August or September. (I only use pure Russian queens, not Russian hybrids.) Have you had any problems getting queens that late?

    I do not want to be dependent on queen producers in the spring. Therefore, I am overwintering nucs for the first time. Instead of requeening in April next year, I will be able to requeen in March.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Berkey, OH, USA
    Posts
    1,486

    Post

    This year we got some Q cells from Tim Tarheit, installed them on AUgust 17. Still had plenty of drones around. They have done really well so far (knock on wood) with good patterns. We will see how many get through winter.

    I figure I lost a few pounds of fall honey but not too much. But too soon to really know how it will work. I am hoping to have some of them make it through the winter in good shape. We will see. If they don't make it I will blame myself for doing it too late and not feeding.

Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Ads