I was just wondering if any of our historians/readers out there know when the concept of calender requeening arose and why it was originally proposed. I am familiar with the how and why of doing so now, but would like more information on the history of this practice. Differing opinions and differing geographic responders would be especially helpful.
Originally Posted by Aspera
I don't have access to my older books, but the oldest one I have in front of me is a 1975 "ABC-XYZ" copy.
Under requeening, it makes two clear comments...
"Without a genuinely good queen, , in each colony, young and vigorous, the maximum crop of honey can not be secured"
"Some practice requeening annually, and others requeen every two years."
I do find it interesting that at a time with little problems such as with todays beekeeping, that the benefits of requeening was seen as positive.
I know Dewey C. as well as others have now suggested annual requeening, to help combat some of the problems, and to give the colonies the best chance of survival. Seems there are many advantages to young queens, and even years ago they knew this.
I'll check my other books as soon as I can. Are you looking for a specific used term such as "calendar requeening"? I have heard about requeening annually and I guess that could be used with a calendar, but never knew that a specific term was applicable or used in years past.
George Imrie was a big proponent and probably contributed to some of the more modern popularity of the idea.
1878 - "The fertility of queens usually decreases after the second year, and before they die of old age the contents of their spermathecas sometimes become exhausted, and they lay only drone-eggs. Unless, therefore, queens are unusually fertile, it will be safer to remove them after they have entered on their third year."
- - LANGSTROTH'S HIVE AND THE HONEYBEE, L. L. Langstroth, 1878 Reprint, p223.
1963 - "Some beekeepers contend that queens should be replaced each year but is seems foolish to replace queens on a calendar basis. Under some conditions, queens cannot possibly exhaust their powers of egg laying in a single season. Under other conditions, queens will actually wear out in preparation for and during a single honeyflow period. The best way to practice requeening is to replace poor queens whenever they are found."
- - Management for Honey Production by Gladstone H. Cale, THE HIVE AND THE HONEY BEE, 1963, p267.
1976 - "Poor queens should be replaced whenever they are found, and most colonies should be requeened at least every 2 years."
- - BEEKEEPING IN THE MIDWEST, Elbert R. Jaycox, 1976, p113.
1986 - Many bee experts recommend replacing queens at the end of every season, or at least after two years.
- - KEEPING BEES, John Vivian, 1986, p149.
2006 - Old USDA studies show over 35% of all package queens were replaced during first season, now they are much higher. - - INCREASE ESSENTIALS, Lawrence John Conner, 2006, p27.
2008 - In a 3-year study conducted by USDA and Alabama A & M University, "The average longevity of queens was 9.6 months". This rate of supersedure documented is typical of field studies where queens are monitored closely.
- - Status of Bees w/ the Trait of VHS, Danka, Harris, K. Ward, R. Ward, ABJ, 1/08, p52.
I wonder if its like a dog. A pure line may make it 8-10 years. A mutt will last maybe 15 years.
I wonder if the loss of alleles and the smaller gene pool over the past 20 years,(loss of ferals and the systematic mass breeding of a certain number of lines) is just being further impacted by the many problems we have, and continue to add to the beekeeping industry.
But then again, in trying to understand nature, I don't think nature intended to have queens several years old to begin with.
I certainly would love to see the lifespan of some random queens from across the country, and compare them to mass produced queens from large operations, and see if breeding and other management could show impacts or effects of the queens lifespan.
Interesting. It would appear that the idea came from Langstroth himself it not earlier. I wasn't questioning or advocating the virtues of the practice, just its origins. It had occurred to me that it might have arisen during times when revolution against monarchs was popular.