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Thread: AWOL Queens

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
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    Jackson, MO
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    1,858

    Default AWOL Queens

    I've been doing quite well with the Nicot system producing queen cells. I've been inserting queen cells into a mating nuc but only about 25% of the queens get mated and find their way back to the mating nuc.

    I picked up a tip by stapling a playing card to the front of the mating nuc to give the queen a visual pattern that this is home. Still, I'm not getting queens to return to the mating nuc.

    Or at least that's what I'm guessing. Maybe the other bees are killing the queens? There are no other queen cells produced from the frames pulled for the mating nuc and later inspection shows capped brood and no other indications of a mated queen.

    Any thoughts or suggestions,

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

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
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    Tipton, TN, USA
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    Default Re: AWOL Queens

    Queen breeder near me, stated that he had ~30% success rate on virgin queens returning. He breeds alot of queens.

    Said it could be anything from queen getting lost, to bird eating, etc...

    He just plans for that loss and breeds additional, then culls the weaker survivors based on brood pattern.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    Pigeon Falls, WI
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    Default Re: AWOL Queens

    Quote Originally Posted by KevinR View Post
    Queen breeder near me, stated that he had ~30% success rate on virgin queens returning. He breeds alot of queens..
    That's a terrible success rate.

    Grant-What are you using for chemicals if any in the hives that are producing drones? How close are your nucs with each other? Do you have good visual landmarks in the vicinity of your nucs to make it easier for the queens to find the correct hive back again? Are you sure your queens/virgins that hatch are healthy and fully developed? Have you had any testing done for nosema levels in your breeder colonies?
    Leer Family Honey Farm-Shannon Leer

  4. #4
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    Tipton, TN, USA
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    Default Re: AWOL Queens

    I'll let you know when I start raising. Maybe he has really hungry birds. (lol)

    Or I missunderstood. *shrugs*

    What is the average success rate? I've seen ranges from 25-95%.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Camas, WA
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    Default Re: AWOL Queens

    I haven't been doing this (queen raising) long, but I get about 90% returning. I use "queen castles" (a deep box divided into three sections of 3 frames each). They have a hole drilled for each section so that the holes are are different sides of the box. Some cells I put in hives or standard nuc boxes.

    I get about 80% when I factor in cells not hatching.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
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    Default Re: AWOL Queens

    I've been wondering for a long time what % is acceptable or normal. I've talked to large breeders out west, and Spivak just yesterday. My usual acceptance is about 75%. According to all I've talked to that's about normak. Marla told me yesterday that the bees will cull any virgins that they don't want. Maybe that's a good thing.

    Your 25% is terrible, and all that work down the tubes. I know the feeling. I've been there. So, I have to ask, how is your mating yard set up? I started by setting up in a production yard. Had terrible results, too. After I moved my mating nucs into their own yard, my % of mated queens went up and stayed there.

    Now I have one huge mating yard in the middle of my little valley of production yards. The nucs are 4 way boxes arranger in circles or 8 boxes. There are 4 circles in a group. Groups are separated enough to have a distinct pattern from the air. It seems to have helped from when I had everything in rows.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Heavener Oklahoma
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    Default Re: AWOL Queens

    Most of my mating nuc are from www.beeworks.com An I average 75% to 85%

    I have placed in the cells and go back 1 or 2 days after hatch date and ck several to see how they are looking, on several that didn't turn out the virgin was spotted looked good, then when it come time to pull there is no queen.

    Some very few i know left with about 1/2 the bees The others just didn't make it back to nuc.

    And in that 15%- 25% that didn't turn out some of them the queen would have wings not formed good due to handling 1 or 2% there.

    Most of mating nuc are on Pallets (10 to 15 per Pallet) I face them in different direction some have another one stacked on top with different land marks for them to help get there barrings also painted different colors. I also have seen more that was crowded in the mating yard the % goes up

    When first started usally about 25 Mating nuc in yard and space futher apart got 90% - 95%
    Last edited by Velbert; 07-25-2010 at 07:41 AM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
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    Tipton, TN, USA
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    Default Re: AWOL Queens

    Glad to see that average is alot higher. I must have misunderstood what he said. (I hope)

    In these mating yards. Do you guys run drone hives to pump up the number of drones in the area?

    I've been curious if that was common practice. If yes, how do you go about it? Drone comb every 3 frames?

  9. #9
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    Mar 2006
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    Heavener Oklahoma
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    Default Re: AWOL Queens

    Your Drone hives need to be in the outer surrounding area from 1 mile up to 3 miles in different direction from mating yard like 1 drone yard 1 mile east of Mating yard and another DY 2 miles West so on.

    I would leave 1 full depth green Drone comb per Drone done colony you can get them lay more but you can pull them out and place into other hive to reduce over load. But if you have several mating nuc in the area when mating day comes this will whittle away at the drone numbers

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Jackson, MO
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    Default Re: AWOL Queens

    Thanks for all the ideas.

    In year's past, I had 90% success rate. This year is way off. My mating yards are separate from production yards. I have not treated or tested for Nosema. Perhaps just a coincidence, I've noticed lots of those large dragon flies all over the place. Weather has been really hot.

    I don't know. This year just seemed to be a series of frustrations that I had not encountered in years past.

    My nucs are all six-frame nucs and I thought stapling a playing card above the entrance would be a good visual cue.

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

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