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Thread: Micro-breeders

  1. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by tecumseh View Post
    well when migratory beekeeping first started it was based on several reason that now may have evolved into something as much habitual as anything else (there are still some good economic reasons for the movement)
    The first package bee shipments from the south were made around 1912, long before migratory beekeeping became a significant business. Package bees in the southeast were and typically are produced as an entirely separate business from pollination.
    Quote Originally Posted by tecumseh View Post
    as to your question in regards to niche... certainly our definitions are different. mine has been derived from three degrees out of business schools.... and yours?

    a niche is any subset of an existing market. it does not have to necessarily be extreme (micro) small to be defined as a niche. a person that can take advantage of a niche (for god abhors a vacume) usually does so first because they recognize that some (typically larger) competitor has abdonded the niche and they are in a place or time to service this little corner of the market (and make a profit in the bargain).
    A definition I’ve seen includes the following:
    ‘Niche market ventures may become profitable even though they are by nature small in comparison to the mainstream marketplace, due to the benefits of specialization and focus on small identifiable market segments; even without the benefit of economy of scale. Niche markets may be ignored or discounted by large businesses due to what they consider to be small potential; this in turn is part of the process that makes the niche market available to smaller businesses. The key to capitalizing on a niche market is to find or develop a market niche that has customers who are accessible, that is growing fast enough, and that is not owned by one established vendor already.’

    But, since you’re the guy with the PhD (three degrees = PhD, right?) in business, I’ll defer to your definition.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  2. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by tecumseh View Post
    .... but evidence does suggest that mr mraz queens were (how to say this politely) less that average (I think it was Eisenhower who said that half the world was less than average). actually (referencing mental notes only) in a blind test of a half dozen us queen breeders mr mraz queens were dead last (or to put it more in the mode of the test 100% of his queen were superseceded within 60 days of being installed).
    I remember the article in Gleanings, wasn't it? I even told a story about it at his memorial service. Ill get to that in a minute.

    You say 100% of his queens were superceded within 60 days. I don't remember that part, but may be as you say. I believe the queens were raised in North Carolina by a queen producer there. I can't remember the man's name, but it was Harrells, North Carolina. Queens raised by this gentleman, brom breeders supplied by Mraz. At the time, several of us questioned the test. How can you judge the quality of a stock, or the value of a man's life work, using 12 queens? 12 queens raised by someone else. Doesn't the fact that all 12 were superceded raise a flag? Perhaps the problem was in the hands of the rearer, and not the breeder.

    I knew Charlie, and am still friends with his family. In fact, I'm having supper on Monday with his son and grandson. I knew his bees, and still do. They in fact, are quite good. They winter well here in Northern Vermont. He raised his bees for so long in the same place, from survivors, that they really became in tune with his location. His main operation was, and is in Addison County Vermont. Great farm land for dairy. Massive fields for this region, on lake layed clay. The Mraz's are religious about not feeding sugar. The bees make it or perish.

    The flow in that county is a bit different than other areas in the Champlain Valley. There is almost no fall flow. Sometimes a bit of alfalfa from third cut that was allowed to bloom. Basically, there's a good early flow, which shuts down in late July. Rarely is there any goldenrod or aster.

    His bees are geared to make their crop from the early flow, and then shut down. They are conservative in that respect. They winter in a deep, with a medium below and on top. These hives are heavy as lead going into winter.


    One thing the study did get right...his bees were quite defensive. I used to put my veil on before I got out of the truck. A flaw easily fixed, but Charlie didn't think it was a flaw. He thought bee venom was good medicine. I've seen him taking off honey...never wore a veil. Stingers hanging out of his nose, and him like they weren't there. But that was his medicine, and he claims venom saved him from scarlet fever damage to his body.

    So, the story.

    After the study was published, that claimed Charlie's bees were mean, he published his own article. I remember the picture of him standing there in his underwear. He said "He worked a hundred colonies a day in his BVD's, and his bees weren't mean to him. In fact, getting stung a lot would make a man of you."

    Well, a woman wrote a letter to the editor of Gleanings. She told how "she respected Charlie, and enjoyed reading his columns. But one thing she couldn't agree with. No matter how many times she was stung by her bees, it was never going to make a man out of her."

    Touchet!

  3. #43
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    thanks for the story mr palmer... I did enjoy that little yarn.

    and yes I seem to remember that mr mraz also pushed sting therapy back when sting therapy was often time considered the thinking of lunatics and snake oil salesman. well I guess science has now pretty much proven that mr mraz wasn't such a lunatic after all (your story about him standing beside his hive in his underwear might perhap alter my conclusion somewhat).

    actually in regards to the blind test of the queens (I can only recall it was in the journal where mr mraz did not write his monthly column) the results were so complete, so absolute that I really wondered if some of the results was pointing to something else besides the quality of the queens. the failure rate (and I should say that mr mraz was not alone in terms of queen producers who demonstated approximately the same level of failure rate) made me suspect that something else was at work besides the skill or talents (or lack there of) of the queen breeder. my mind (partially moulded via way too much education) tend to EXPECT things to be distributed in a 'somewhat' normal manner around some central tendency and the outcome in this particular test was absolutely NOT normal which usually means (in my experience) that something else is going on than what you think.

  4. #44
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    [QUOTE=tecumseh;287470]thanks for the story mr palmer... I did enjoy that little yarn. QUOTE]

    Thanks for the understanding reply. One favor I have to ask.

    Please don't make me feel older than I already do...and drop the Mr. Ok?
    My name is Mike. :-)

  5. #45
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    hmmm, well, a couple of thoughts:

    1. i can't speak for others, but "look how long my _degree_ is" type of arguments make the poster look silly...it's about 1 step away from "my name is in who's who".

    2. i'm not familiar with the study on the mraz queens...but from what has been described, it sounds like his stock was successful in it's original location...the supercedure could be due to any number of factors that might or might not have anything to do with the quality of the stock....but isn't this the same thing that people complain about in the north reouthern queens? could this study be evidence that locally bred bees are well adapted to their locality...and perhaps not to another locality?

    deknow

  6. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by deknow View Post
    hmmm, well, a couple of thoughts: could this study be evidence that locally bred bees are well adapted to their locality...and perhaps not to another locality?

    deknow
    Or it could mean the nobody can raise 100% good queens. You can do everything right, and pay attention to all the details, and have drone layers and queens that get superceded right away.

  7. #47
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    Default Charles Mraz

    Some other things about Charles that you may not know.

    Anybody use a fume board to remove the crop? Marz invented it. Used...they still use...a different chemical, but he started fume board use.

    Do you have an overflow alarm on your bulk tank> He invented it. It used to be sold through Maxant.

    Do you use an automatic uncapper? He invented one of the first. Used two rotating drums of picks and a conveyor to take the combs through the pick setup. That was Maxant's first uncapper, before he went to the chain uncapper. They now use a Gunness.

    Do you collect bee venom? He invented the electrical divise that everyone uses to collect venom.

    Quite a list. Travel about anywhere in the beekeeping world, and mention Charlie Mraz. Yucatan, Eastern Europe, wherever. You'll have a topic of conversation with the local beekeepers...who Charlie helped out with setting up queen rearing programs, or apitherapy groups.

  8. #48
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    michael palmer ask:
    Please don't make me feel older than I already do...and drop the Mr. Ok?
    My name is Mike.

    tecumseh replies:
    well I think that you and I are about the same age and I do KNOW what you mean.

    then mike writes:
    Or it could mean the nobody can raise 100% good queens. You can do everything right, and pay attention to all the details, and have drone layers and queens that get superceded right away.

    tecumseh replies:
    well someone did (raise 100% good queens) in the same study and that is why I suggested that the results appeared not normal (no central tendency). experience in using statistic (I see we have some education envy raising it's ugly empty head... what's that about?) does suggest to me that something else was going on than what the folks that put together this little experiement though.... or at least that is my first thoughts when I see a two tail distribution that should be somewhat normally distributed.

  9. #49
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    With respect to raising any percentage of "good" queens (and what constitutes "good" maybe somewhat subjective), I keep returning something that Steve Tabor said in an old ABJ, quoting Farrar at the U of Wisconsin. Farrar noted that environment is incredibly important when producing high quality queens.

    Farrar believed environmental factors like proper nutrition, strong colonies of young bees, raising queens during a good nectar/pollen flow, weather during mating were significant. If the environmental factors were lacking, it didn't make a hill of beans what genetics you brought to the grafting tool.

    And further, it was reported at Sacramento that newly mated queens need more time to lay before they are caged and banked.

    The way queens are raised will have a large impact on their quality irrespective of their pedigree.

    Grant
    Jackson, MO
    Beekeeping With Twenty-five Hives: https://www.createspace.com/4152725

  10. #50
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    grant writes:
    Farrar believed environmental factors like proper nutrition, strong colonies of young bees, raising queens during a good nectar/pollen flow, weather during mating were significant.

    tecumseh replies:
    a number of studies published in the journals suggest this directly and it was the very essence of the problem that drove jay smith to try raising queens using a number of techniques. somewhere here I have a graph (also in one of odfranks old bee magazines) that shows the effect of 'grafting' from a larvae of the proper age vs one just a bit too old.

    then grant writes:
    And further, it was reported at Sacramento that newly mated queens need more time to lay before they are caged and banked.

    tecumseh replies:
    I would suspect (don't really know) that this should decrease supersecedure rates which typically occur after a new queen has only laid a short while. especially in mini nucs I personally like the queens to lay a bit longer since this tend to keep the population boosted without intervention and these tiny units then are a bit more self sustaining (and ready for the next queen cell.

  11. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by tecumseh View Post
    then grant writes:
    And further, it was reported at Sacramento that newly mated queens need more time to lay before they are caged and banked.
    I think more breeders are going this way. Pat Heitkam is going to 21 days from 14 or 16. I was at 16, but too many queens are just barely laying, or not quite at that point. Since my cell building rotation is 8 days...a new batch of cells ready every 8 days, and mated queens to catch every 8 days, I'm going to 24 days to stay on an 8 day rotation. Rather than 2 groups of mating nucs (140 @) I plan on 3 groups of 180 each.

    I always killed any queens that weren't laying on the 16th day. I wish there was a way to tell if they were mated correctly...without extracting the spermatheca. Had a beekeeper helping me catch queens. He took the queens that weren't laying, and introduced them. Most were accepted and became good layers. When you sell queens, most isn't good enough.

    Now, if only the mating nucs don't get too strong by waiting until day 24.

  12. #52
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    I like the concept of buying bees bred by Micro-Breeders as often a small operation focused on a certain discipline can produce a superior product. The problem will be finding the micro-breeders that are doing it right. I'm a bit of a beer oficionato and like to buy from micro-breweries. The difference I've experianced in quality is incredible. I've had beer from micro-breweries that knocks the socks off most commerically available brews and I've had some that just knocks you off period due to skunky taste, weak body or just plain flat taste. Someone doesn't just buy some good stock and raise salable numbers of quality queens. I think like anything that will result in consistent quality any individual will spend a few years and/or attend some focused education which will move them more quickly in the right direction.

    I can't afford to risk high numbers of superceded queens (although in some years I've seen that from reputable breeders) or importing inferior stock into our operation. I need a bench mark to judge a micro-breeder by other than the sales flyer telling me how great the stock is.

    How do we know who's doing it right other than by reputation?

  13. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joel View Post
    How do we know who's doing it right other than by reputation?
    Is there a better way...other than buying their stock and trying it out? Maybe raising your own?

  14. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    Is there a better way...other than buying their stock and trying it out? Maybe raising your own?
    Testing with good record-keeping followed by raising queens in your area from the stock that performs the best in the tests, is a great beginning. Just as Mike suggests.

    Adam Finkelstein
    (not sure which email to use)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    Is there a better way...other than buying their stock and trying it out? Maybe raising your own?

    Talk to other beekeepers!

  16. #56
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    The problem I see with this goes something along these lines:

    Let's say (hypothetically) that I'm a "micro-breeder." I raise and sell about 100 queens each year. And those queens are good. Good enough, in fact, that I gain a reputation for selling good queens.

    I start getting calls from beekeepers who wish to buy more queens from me. My production of queens goes from 100 per year to 1000 per year. But I'm still turning away beekeepers anxious to buy my queens. I could sell 10,000 per year, if I just had the capacity.

    So, after doing some calculating, I determine that I can cut some of the steps, still produce good queens (maybe not good queens, but good queens), and meet the demand.

    So I do. Natural human response, I believe. See a way to make more money, take it.

    At what point do I go from being a "micro-breeder" to a "breeder" or "queen producer?" Does it matter that I'm producing 10,000 queens, rather than 1,000 queens? Rather than 100 queens?

  17. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joel View Post
    How do we know who's doing it right other than by reputation?
    Joel,

    Things that I do, that anyone building a business can do....

    I open my business to have other beekeepers help do queen evaluations and select breeders. Every year, several people help me, and sometimes I have never met them before. Want to see drone colonies? Lets go look at them. Want to see a cluster of apiaries for breeding efforts, lets go look at them.

    Anyone picking up nucs or a queen, is invited into the nuc yard and sometimes a full blown tour develops. People see the nucs before its sealed up, and they see the queen caged from the nuc it came from.

    I hold a picnic every year where beekeepers at their convenience can open, inspect, and talk among themselves about my bees and program.

    I find those not willing to open their doors, not willing to have people in their yards, and not willing to discuss their breeding criteria, a little questionable.

    I think anyone wanting to build a reputable business should be open, up front, and not be secretive. I often wonder what the results would be for a beekeeper to ask to see the drone colonies and out-yards for drones that so many suggest are being used. For many.... there are none!

    I also never put all my eggs in the same basket. I order from multiple people. Some are good, some are bad. That's business. I just hope to order from multiple good people...

  18. #58
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    Joel cut to the chase with...

    How do we know who's doing it right other than by reputation?

    teucmseh replies:
    with some small number of queens produced yearly that about the only option available... most folks I know in the bee business when asked how they acquire business tell you... word of mouth.

  19. #59
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    Default Ohio Queen Project

    I am one of the Ohio State Beekeepers Assn "Queen Project" coordinators.
    I live up in the NE corner of the state. I'm about 20 miles from Sharon PA.
    I am the coordinator for 9 counties known as the Western Reserve.

    Here is a little more info about the project.

    There are 3 tiers to the projcet, OSBA Members, 9 Regional Coordinators and 1 State Coordinator (Joe Latshaw).

    The 9 coordinators have 2 main duties: 1) teach grafting methods, and 2) gather survivor stock from the region to be used in the program.

    Each of the 9 coordinators chose survivors from last winter and raised virgins from them. Joe Latshaw inseminated them with (super sperm) of Carniolan origin. (Super sperm is a mixture of sperm from a number of drones much larger than any queen would ever mate with) The purpose of super sperm is to help with the genetic diversity issue.

    The coordinators use this stock to teach the classes, and to raise daughters for evaluation. Class participants go home with ripe queen cells which they raised from the II queens. The virgins get mated at the class participants home apiary. It will be these queens which we hope to evaluate for reintroduction into the breeding program.

    Having 9 regions within the state to pool from should give us the diversity we are looking for. It also gives us the ability to evaluate many more queens than 1 (micro breeder) could alone. Having Joe Latshaw as the State Coordinator and handeling the II will be a huge benefit to the project.

    The class I give is a 3 day class which follows the "queens calander".

    The 1st day is a two parter: 1) class session, 2) creating a cell builder.
    Two days later: checking cell builder for queen cells, and Grafting.
    Eight to Ten days later: Transfering queen cells to mating nucs.

    This class teaches from begining to end, just as you would do in the field.
    The participants have actuall reared their own queens, not just learned about it.

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