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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Mankato, Minnesota, USA
    Posts
    48

    Default Is the size of the queen an indication of quality?

    One of my hives swarmed a few weeks ago. They raised a new queen which just started laying about a week ago. She is very small compared to other queens I have seen (not many, I only have four hives). She is also a very poor layer with a very spotty brood pattern.

    Is size an indication of queen quality?

    Although the hive is queen right they are still making and filling queen cells on the bottom of the frames. I am not sure if this is because they want to swarm or they want another queen. The brood nest has been filled with capped honey in the second deep. In the lower deep there are four frames filled with mainly pollen and a little nectar. Leaving only about five frames available for raising brood. One of which is full of capped brood. There is one half full super on top the hive.

    My queen will arrive in two days. I plan on killing the small queen and introducing the mated queen. Where should I place here within the hive? How should I address the shrunken brood nest? Should I replace some frames with undrawn foundation?

    This is my first year beekeeping and would appreciate any insight or suggestions.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Randolph County, Indiana
    Posts
    694

    Default

    If she was just mated not long ago, you may consider giving her more time. Usually a queen will start out with a spotty brood pattern, but after a full brood cycle she should have a solid pattern. That will take three weeks.

    As for size, I have a queen that was very small to start with. Her tail was short and stubby, basicly she just wasn't very long at all and moved like lightning! She was laying, but with a spotty brood pattern. It was maybe a week after she started laying. I waited two more weeks, and her brood pattern became wall to wall solid, she got very fat, and longer than any queen I have. I had her out of the hive a couple weeks ago and observed her continue to lay eggs in cells even while I had the frame out moving it around. She didn't run, and her retinue (sp?) was very strong. So to simplify my answer, size doesn't matter so much right after they are mated, but a good quality queen will get fat and long within three weeks after she starts laying.

    Edit to add: Take a look at purchased queens. When you get them in the mail they're not much bigger than a worker, but after a couple weeks in a hive she gets fatter and longer. Queen development continues even after she starts laying.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Mankato, Minnesota, USA
    Posts
    48

    Default

    Thanks for the advice. I should mention that when I say they swarmed a few weeks ago I mean five. The funny thing is I saw a virgin queen over those five weeks being attacked and pushed from the hive by a ball of worker bees. This queen was what I would consider to be full sized with the characteristic elongated hind end.

    At the time of ordering the queen I was under the assumption that they had failed to raise a queen. Since all of my other hives are in good shape I would like to requeen this hive. Is the small brood nest a concern this time of year? Where in the hive should I introduce the new queen?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Perkasie, PA
    Posts
    1,998

    Default Weight

    I forget the exact reference, but there is no statistical relationship between *shipping* weight and queen fecundity. Having said that, the same paper did find a weak statistical relationship between virgin queen weight and ovarioles. So the short answer is that size does matter, but only for virgin queens. The mated queen has to many other variables involved. As a general rule, queens from swarms are supposed to be well fed, large and healthy (but of sometimes questionable genetics),

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Sacramento,California,USA
    Posts
    3,670

    Default

    Make sure your hive is queenless. Introduce your queen into the middle of the broodnest between 2 frames.
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

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

    Default

    aspera writes:
    I forget the exact reference

    tecumseh replies: as several here have suggested you should not be comparing a fully mature queen to a young developing queen. it is like comparing apples to oranges.

    steve taber stated that there was a direct relationship (he never suggest how strong the relationship was) between a queen weight and her laying capacity.

    but this does point to a caution.... you should not expect a fully developed queen to arrive in the queen introduction cage you receive. a just off the assemply line queen should still have some growing to do when you introduce her....

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    5,384

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Aspera View Post
    So the short answer is that size does matter, but only for virgin queens.
    Look at the size of the thorax, and legs. That doesn't change.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Kirkland, WA, USA
    Posts
    1,020

    Default

    I picked up a swarm where the queen resembled a wasp she was so large. I never did figure out how something that fat could fly. She had an awful brood pattern and I squished her after a couple weeks and combined swarms. The one the bees chose was tiny but lays a packed brood pattern on every frame. Size probably matters but it's not the end all.
    Last edited by xC0000005; 09-04-2008 at 10:23 AM. Reason: Accidently submitted before completing.
    http://www.voiceofthehive.com - Tales of Beekeeping and Honeybees

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,142

    Default

    I just squished a big fat queen who I gave a month to start laying but she never did. I have lots of small queens laying up a storm as well as fat queens laying up a storm.

    The bottom line is you probably never find a fat undernourished queen. But you also probably do find plenty of healthy small queens who are small by genetics and not by nourishment. Are large people healthier than small people? Some people are runty because of malnourishment as they were growing up and some are small because that's their genetics.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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