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  1. #1
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    Default Does shipping queens affect their performance?

    I found a post by Daniel Y in another thread that contained a statement that shipping queens can cause loss of performance by those queens. From my limited experience of purchasing queens that were from a distance away from me, therefore needing to be shipped, I tend to agree that the shipping of queens does reduce their performance and that making daughters from those queens is the way to preserve the genetics and get good performance. In essence, the daughters of those shipped queens far out perform the mother queen that was shipped. Has anyone else noticed this?

    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...633#post731633

    Daniel Y posted...
    "nurtured production of queens is more important than stock. Doing both is better".
    Seems obvious to be. Barring that you never know what stone when turned will reveal the unexpected. It does happen.

    Selection is about genetics. But genetics make no difference if those genetics are not able to be expressed. At the core of my thought is the claim by I believe Jay Smith that many queens when reared will be exceptional layers until they are shipped. It is then found they are poor layers. His opinion on this effect was that caging the queen and preventing her from laying for even a few days during transport damaged her. The Genetics are still in the package. but the environment has prevented them from being expressed. The answer is to rear a new queen from her as soon as possible. this queen is then not shipped and able to express the superior egg laying trait. Nurture is what makes that difference.

    To me selection and nurture are so intertwined as to be one and the same. Otherwise you may have the perfect genetics and never know it.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Does shipping queens affect their performance?

    Our first two queens were shipped from California to West Virginia during a sudden cold snap, and were installed in two nucs which we purchased. Both initially produced plenty of brood and built up fast, but one quit laying in under two months while the other made it to August.

    We were noobs, and we may have done something wrong, but we tended them pretty much by the book. Looking into the problem, it is possible the queens were poorly mated, but they came from a reputable supplier. But it is also possible that they were badly chilled during shipping. I ran across one study that suggested that extreme temperatures during shipping can effectively un-mate a queen, killing some or all of her store of sperm.

    We'll never know the truth, but I can console myself that it is possible that shipping conditions harmed them. We combined one colony with a nuc our mentor gave us and they're still going gangbusters. We tried to raise a second queen but were late in the year, and they failed to survive the winter.

    We bought a queen this summer, and installed her in a failing hive. She was scrawny even when we bought her ... she'd just been in a box with other queen cages, with only caged attendants to care for her, for who knows how long. The hive was so weak that they failed to finish chewing out her candy plug. I discovered this after she'd been in there about 10 days. I freed her and she did fatten up and start laying, but the hive never really flourished and as of a week ago looks like it has succumbed already. This failure could also be from the hive's earlier woes, but her time in the cage was certainly stressful.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Does shipping queens affect their performance?

    Besides the shipping, I also think that most commercial breeders ship queens before they have been laying a full three to four weeks. I've read that the queens ovaries keep developing and that shipping before she's been laying for a minimum of three weeks can reduce her over all performance.

    I'm not sure if this is true or not, just throwing this out there. Any and all comments or especially personal experiences are welcome.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Does shipping queens affect their performance?

    At the last national group held in California some one was talking about a study they did on transportation and temperature during shipment. And I believe that it was discussed that temperature did effect the overall performance of the queen laying ability. I believe the hotter the worse performance ??

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Does shipping queens affect their performance?

    Quote Originally Posted by RayMarler View Post
    I also think that most commercial breeders ship queens before they have been laying a full three to four weeks. I've read that the queens ovaries keep developing and that shipping before she's been laying for a minimum of three weeks can reduce her over all performance.
    Not sure when anyone would get Spring queens and packages if the breeders let their queens lay 3 weeks before either shipping or placing in packages.
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Does shipping queens affect their performance?

    Quote Originally Posted by RayMarler View Post
    At the core of my thought is the claim by I believe Jay Smith that many queens when reared will be exceptional layers until they are shipped. It is then found they are poor layers. His opinion on this effect was that caging the queen and preventing her from laying for even a few days during transport damaged her.
    I can't agree, and I'm skeptical of much of what Jay Smith claims to be fact. I cage too many queens for days at a time and find them to be excellent layers. I also send many queens through the post and I'm told they are excellent queens and lay up nice patterns, and many of these queens continue to lay well for years. Now, will every caged queen be excellent, and not quit laying after some period of time or be superseded after some time? Of course not, but I can't believe her faults can be attributed to caging or shipping.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Does shipping queens affect their performance?

    Quote Originally Posted by RayMarler View Post
    To me selection and nurture are so intertwined as to be one and the same. Otherwise you may have the perfect genetics and never know it.
    Well of course. It's about nature AND nurture. Farrar said you can get better queens using less than the best genetics but raised under ideal conditions, than you can get with the best genetics raised under less than ideal conditions.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Does shipping queens affect their performance?

    Quote Originally Posted by snl View Post
    Not sure when anyone would get Spring queens and packages if the breeders let their queens lay 3 weeks before either shipping or placing in packages.
    For many, I would expect the delay of five days, perhaps six or seven.

    16 days after placing a ripe cell the queen has mated and has been laying, in most cases, and if you used a 10 day cycle, then 20 days may be on some peoples time schedule. I can also imagine a 7 day cycle for the person that has a day job at the office, which might give a 21 days from cell placement cycle. I am not sure. I'm not a commercial breeder and only raise queens for my own usage, for the most part.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Does shipping queens affect their performance?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    I can't agree, and I'm skeptical of much of what Jay Smith claims to be fact. I cage too many queens for days at a time and find them to be excellent layers. I also send many queens through the post and I'm told they are excellent queens and lay up nice patterns, and many of these queens continue to lay well for years. Now, will every caged queen be excellent, and not quit laying after some period of time or be superseded after some time? Of course not, but I can't believe her faults can be attributed to caging or shipping.
    Thank you Michael for responding, I was hoping that some commercial breeders that get feed-back from their customers would respond here. I've not really purchased many queens that came from far enough away to need to be shipped in my time as a beekeeper, but from the few that I have, I have had better performance from the daughters than from the original shipped queens.

    As for every shipped queen being a dud or a star performer, of course not in each case, same as using them personally and not shipping to anyone. I've raised queens that were phenomenal, and then I've raised duds as well, shipping was not the issue in either case as I kept them for myself.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Does shipping queens affect their performance?

    I started this thread to see what others have experienced, as I myself have not purchased that many queens that needed to be shipped to me, and I wanted real world information since Jay Smith made the comment about shipped queens being of lesser laying performance after shipping. And of course, it could be the destination that the queen was shipped to did not have the flows and other environmental factors needed to be laying as well as she did where she was shipped from.

    So many variables in keeping beehives.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Does shipping queens affect their performance?

    Quote Originally Posted by RayMarler View Post
    So many variables in keeping beehives.
    And the reason one can't make blanket statements as if they were fact.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Does shipping queens affect their performance?

    I agree Michael, and try hard myself not to do that. I sometimes forget that my location is not the same as someone else's, even if they are only five miles away.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Does shipping queens affect their performance?

    Shipping has a significant impact on queen egg laying life. Package bees are shipped from Australia and New Zealand which are 20 hours flying time away. Mated queens are flown in from Kona Island and California which are some 4-7 flying hours away. My understanding is that too high a temp is the most damaging to the sperm.

    We have a short season to raise queens, maybe 10 weeks. Spring splits need to be made before locally mated queens are available.

    There is a significant number of imported queens that don't last the first season and are being superceded. The Canadian Bee Diagnostic Lab has been sampling and testing queens and are confirming the diminished viable sperm.

    Hopefully transportation and handling of queens can be improved to improve the quality of imported queens.

    It takes extra stores to winter NUCs made up in the summer, however this may be our best alternative for having well mated local queens to use in production hives.
    If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got!

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Does shipping queens affect their performance?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    And the reason one can't make blanket statements as if they were fact.
    I would not hesitate a minute in getting a Michael Palmer queen, whose genetics would be a welcome addition to the apiary. There's always a chance that the shipper will manage to stress her seriously, but I'd expect her to start the trip as a quality bug, and have a good chance to finish that way.

    But I can also get a very fine queen, also worthy of breeding, from one particular local breeder, and I expect to order one in January. When she is darned well good and ready, I'll pick her up personally and may even transport her in a 12V incubator I'm building. Although shirt pockets work nicely, too, if you don't point the screen toward your skin.

    Shipping queens is an old practice, and if it were not usually satisfactory, nobody would do it. The question is, can shipping conditions sometimes screw things up. And I'd say it would be a miracle if shippers, who are geared up to ship inanimate objects, did not at least occasionally stress queens to the point that they can't function properly.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Does shipping queens affect their performance?

    It could well be that the long held assumption by many that if there is poor performance from caged and shipped queens that caging them might not be the only variable. I remember reading some interesting info a few years back equating shipping temps as recorded by sensors within the queen boxes, to queen quality and longevity. I did some searches but came up empty, it may have been an ABJ article I'm remembering. Seems like the evidence showed that some airplane cargo holds that were supposed to be heated to minimum temps weren't meeting those requirements and that there was some strong evidence equating chilled queens to poor subsequent longevity and performance.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Does shipping queens affect their performance?

    maybe this?:

    Shipping conditions of honey bee queens. Amer. Bee J. 139: 713-16.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Does shipping queens affect their performance?


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Does shipping queens affect their performance?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mbeck View Post
    Yes, thats the one. I guess I was in error in suggesting that they followed through with an analysis of how the various queens fared after they were introduced. It does, however, give credence to the possibility that even the best queens might be damaged in shipment even though they arrived alive.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Does shipping queens affect their performance?

    Quote Originally Posted by jim lyon View Post
    It does, however, give credence to the possibility that even the best queens might be damaged in shipment even though they arrived alive.
    Well, if the queens are mishandled then I would have to agree. But it's not the act of shipping that damaged the queens. Anyone ever leave a caged queen on their dashboard in the sun?

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Does shipping queens affect their performance?

    Why? Is that hard on them? lol

    Sorry. I get queens from CA and they work well for me. I get queens from GA that work well too. I do try to get them next day air, if possible. I don't do well myself after a long trip. I imagine queens might have some reaction to a long trip too. But I have no data to submit.
    "Beekeeping. It's a journey, not a destination." Mark Berninghausen

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