Re-Queening with queen cells....update
Earlier this year some of us discussed requeening hives durring the summer nectar flow with queencells. The idea was that you could drop a ripe queencell in the top honey super without having to find the queen and kill her. The thory is that the new virgin will emerge, kill the old queen, then mate. This is to make requeening easier, and brake the brood cycle to control mite populations. This was also suspected to increase honey production due to the hives not having to feed brood.
In July I marked 15 of my old queens, then a few days later I gave them a queen cell as discribed above. I also gave queen cells to 11 other hives that did not have a marked queen. Here were the results.
On July 23rd I gave the queen cells to the hives.
On August 20th, 21st, and 22nd I went around and checked all the hives.
All 15 of the hives that had marked queens no longer have marked queens. The queens that were found are now unmarked. Also each hive no longer has 6-8 frames of brood in the bottom deep of the brood chamber. Some of these hives now only have two frames of brood in verious stages of development, and lots of eggs. A couple of the hives have two frames of wall to wall capped brood and two other frames of open brood and eggs in verious stages of development. Also one important side effect that I have not been able to figure out yet, my hives are facing the east, and each new queen seems to have started laying in the top deep on the north side of the box, and is working her way to the middle; the bees also seem to have moved or used the frames of honey from that area. A couple of the queens have also moved down and layed a few eggs in the lower deep when she ran out of room on the top deep.
Of the 11 un-marked hives that also got queen cells, the same conditions were observed, with one hive's queen having failed to mate and went queenless. A mated queen was given to that hive on the 21st. One other hive was eliminated from this test due to the bottom deep being pollen bound with full honey stores in the upper deep and very little space for the queen to lay, that problem has now been resolved.
Four full sized hives and 8 one deep hives were observed as a comparison. These hives were not given queen cells, and the old queen was left as is. However, when I say old queen, it was because these queens were added in the spring. Every one of these queens were mated this year. Of the four full sized two deep hives, brood was found in the center of the lower deep and in the center of the upper deep with honey and pollen above the brood in the usual horse shoe shape.
1. Easy to requeen.
2. You end up with a young queen going into winter.
3. Mite counts are now very very low.
1. Must be done durring a summer nectar flow if the old queen is left in the hive, as summer is the time they will usually superceede. If done at the wrong time of year, they will simply kill the queen cell.
2. No increase in honey production was noted. On the other hand, it may have even decreased honey production in some hives. Some of these hives had lots of capped honey in the top deep before I gave them the queen cells, and that honey is gone now. No robbing was observed over the past four weeks.
3. A serious reduction in population was noted in about half of the hives that were given queen cells.
4. I will now have to aggressively feed some of these hives because the population will not be strong enough to take advantage of the fall flow.
5. In my mating nucs I usually get 75% success in mating, so I assume that I just got lucky in the amount of queens that got mated successfully in the full sized hives. That means that 25% of my hives would normally go queenless, introducing more problems like possible laying workers.
6. You have to dig into the hives to find that you have a mated queen, and this is now done after the main flow when the bees are more defensive of their honey stores.
The negative side effects seem to out weight the benefits. In my opinion, it is better to have the queens mate in a mating nuc, then introduce them to the production hives. This way you still get a young queen going into winter without risking your production hives.
Very good post Indiana, thank you so much. I'm thinking the benefits might outweigh the drawbacks, but that is in my own opinion as per my own wants and needs from the beehives. I'm thinking if I did this here a couple months earlier that what you did, I might see better honey production. You seem to have done a very good test here for us as I and others requested. Nice job and thanks again.
If you do this earlier than I did next year, can you post your results for us?
Sure Gary, I'd be happy to post the results if I get to try it next year.
I'm thinking it might increase honey production slighty from going broodless or close to broodless a bit earlier in the year. This late in the year might be an issue with that, not sure what to think.
You did a very good controlled experiment with this and verified what you were saying about introducing virgins or queen cells to the top of a working hive. I've since read some of Dolittle and Miller and see that yes, that is how it's supposed to work.
I'm thinking of trying this in a bit different fashion next year... by hatching out cells into roller cages and introducing the virgins, 4 days old, into the top of working hives with unsatisfatory working queens. I'm getting excited from your results and can hardly wait for spring now!
What you did was something that comm beeks used to do on a regular basis and in circles I have talked are many are thinking of going back to that as introducing queens in the fall is a pain and acceptance is/can be a problem.
Talking to one guy that did do it and is going back to that he stated that the honey acts a a barrier to the old queen and that once the hive discovers the queen cell they will tend to her. When she is strong enough she will travel down and the queens will fight it out. The strongest survives and so you go into winter with the strongest queen. Additionally, you should have gotten more honey as the drop in brood leaves more bees to forage and the old beek I talked to said that this was an advantage. He stated he did cell re queening just as the summer flow was ending. Here in Colorado we are lucky to have good pollen flow into the fall, so building up from a new queens eggs is fine.
I am glad you did the experiment, it confirms what I had heard and think its the way I plan to go in the future.
Queen cell re-queening
Good test and obervations indiana,and thanks.I!ts hard work but fun.I have been raising queens in nuc!s for several years,starting them from eggs in july.I then re-queen failing or old queens around the last week of aug.These are 5 frame nuc!s,after the queen is mated and laying goodI will transfer them to a deep or med. 10 frame super[I make both size nuc!s].I will then fill the other5 frames drawn comb, wet or dry.buy the time she is laying in them it!s usally late aug.Ithen use the newspapper method to combine.I will go in and kill the old queen, and wait 2 days before I combine.This way you have brood from the old and new queen coming on and a young queen going into the winter and coming spring.I rarely have a swarming probiem with this method the first year,and home grown queens are rarely superseded.
Indianahoney thank you for the detailed experiment! Well done. I think introducing queens cells with cell protectors in late March early April in CA after the almonds would be and idea worth considering.
Great job Gary; thanks for sharing. I think we can all draw some conclusions from your study!
Matt, you may have some problems with the roller cages. If you use the roller cages, you may want to leave her in that roller cage for a couple days after she emerges to allow them to get use to her.
Originally Posted by Matt Beekman
Question, at that time of year do you have enough drones that have emerged and matured for 15 days?
Indiana you certainly had good results. It has never worked for me. The ABC XYZ book describes some experiments in which it failed most of the time, although I know there are some commercial guys that do it all the time.
Must be the flow that helped it.
You've noticed something in your testing that I noticed here last year myself and see it this year also. I have some hive facing North, and they start building/laying on the east side of the box and work towards the west side. I've also noticed their tendency to store excess pollen on one side also, but forget which side it was! (I know, bad me for not paying attention).
I'll start paying closer attention in the future on the hives that I've not moved frames around. I've got 4 hives I took out to some farmland a bit over a week ago and will be checking them in a week or 2 from now and will see how they've started/stored things. They all 4 have fairly new queens, ranging from just laying a week to laying 4 or 5 weeks before moving them out. I set each hive with the following setup:
Bottom box = outside frames pollen, then 2 frames in each side are honey (4 frames honey total), then one frame drawn dronecomb and one frame broodcomb with open brood.
Middle box = 5 to 6 frames brood (mostly sealed) and 2 to 3 frames empty drawn with some nectar.
Top box = empty drawn
all boxes are 8 frame deeps. Heavy flows out there where I moved them to although the farmers were cutting the alfalfa the day I took them out.
Cell Protectors / Roller Cages
Indianahoney, cell protectors are different than roller cages. Cell protectors allow one to place a cell in queenright hive and not be able to tear it down. The virgin will not hatch out in to a cage. Here are some examples: http://website.lineone.net/~dave.cus...rotectors.html
Usually by mid-march I have lots and lots of drones in my hives.
also worth checking out: http://website.lineone.net/~dave.cus...percedure.html
Matt, I've never even heard of that until now. My thoughts are that it may not be needed. If you do this in the summer with a nectar flow, they seem to accept the cells just fine. I can't say for sure about doing this in March in your area though. I assume that if you have drones at that time, you would be at or near swarm season for your area? If so, you may not need those protectors. I'm not against them, by all means use them if you want, I just question every step to find out if its needed or not.
One other thought, if you have drones in mid March, you are probably at or near your swarm season. If that is indeed the case, could you be possibly inducing swarming by having the old queen, and a queencell both present? I don't know if that would happen or not, but I would be interested in finding out.