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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Faulkner Manitoba, Canada

    Default how to know if a queen is too old

    title says it all.
    I bought some queens, they came in the mail today. The queens are around an 1" long, maybe a bit more maybe a bit less.
    Any how,I saw some queens in the hive. They are huge. Long. Brood pattern is good, some drone cells, lots of brood. Hard to know with the larva if it will be drone or least for me to tell. the cells are small, but with drones sometimes they build them out further.

    any way back to the question. I have a few extra queens, just in case. How d I know if the older queen will survive the summer well or if i should requeen her now?
    There were very few queen cups and all but one were empty and on the bottom. I know there is no guarantee on the life of a queen, but if i had to make an educated guess with an extra queen or three...?
    Or would i be better to start a couple of nucs just incase a queen dies and then combine the two?

    Lastly, I went through the hives well for the first time this past week. Been so cold here. I had a few hives where they were the strength of a nuc. 3 frames of bees and brood. I strengthed them up with some bees from the stronger hives. Would i be best to requeen? The Brood pattern on the frames was very good.
    Just a note, our honey flow does not usually start untill July 5

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Tip of the Thumb, Michigan


    First thing, Honeyshack, capped drone cells look like a cell with a "wax bullet" sticking out of it. There is a definite "domed" shape that extends out of the cell and away from the rest of the drawn comb. This is way different than the very slightly raised but relatively flattish worker cells.

    Okay. Your question asks whether or not you should requeen, and how does one determine if your queen is about to fail?

    Unfortunately, there is no way to tell when she's "about" to begin failing. A failing queen produces less queen pheremone, and your bees may act "testier" than normal. Honey production may go down. Pollen collection may cease. An inspection of brood pattern will show either MOSTLY (or even ONLY) drone cells being produced, or sometimes a very spotty laying pattern, known as "shotgun" brood pattern. Sometimes, it's something that we beekeepers can't see, but the bees can sense, and they'll make supercedure cells for some reason we can't understand! Or, a combination of any of these.

    How can you predict when these are going to happen? Simply, you can't. You can only REACT when these symptoms rear their ugly head. But, you're right about being READY just in case something does happen! Your idea of keeping a nuc handy with a good, young, laying queen is a great idea, and is a sort of a "queen bank". To have this nuc ready in anticipation for a combine is outstanding!

    You've indicated that you're in a colder climate and that your honey flow doesn't begin until July. Realistically, your bees sound like they're doing just fine with this approximate nectar flow peak date in mind. They're just now beginning to ramp up in numbers. Drone cells are starting to be produced. And you've got three frames full of bees with a good capped brood pattern. That's excellent with a northern climate like you've got.

    I'd stay on course and do the queen bank thing. I'm a proponent of fall requeening (especially for northern climates) so I'd keep my queens that don't show any symptoms of failure until at least then.

    Good luck! You sound like you're on the right track!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    VENTURA, California, USA

    Smile how to know if a queen is too old

    1.0 The brood pattern becomes spotty. less frames of brood
    1.1 Supercedure on a honey flow which reduces your pounds per hive production
    2.0 A new queen is bright in color and as she ages she becomes dull.
    3.0 lacking in body hairs.
    4.0 slow movement.
    5.0 crippled legs.
    6.0 tatered wings

    Place the old queen in a nuc for back up.
    Introduce the new queen.
    Re-queen annualy with hich quality queens to keep the hive productivity up to par!
    Young queens prevent dead outs.
    your good management skills add to the hives productity!
    No, I am not trying to sell queens.
    Something to ponder. Queen breeders re-queen all hives after the package season or they to not get the productivy needed for production per hive.
    Ernie Lucas Apiaries
    My website

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    New York City


    Any queen older than 1 year is a good candidate for replacement.

    These days, queens just don't get mated with enough drones, so
    some of us requeen EVERY year. When you compare the cost of
    a queen to the sale price of even a single extra pound of honey,
    you suddenly realize that queens are the cheapest thing you can
    buy in a beekeeping operation.

    There just aren't enough springs in a typical lifetime to waste even
    one of them finding out the hard way that your queens were not
    up to snuff and ready to lay like gangbusters.


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