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  1. #1
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    Default Queen Introduction and pheromones.

    Like most people, I introduce my own queens into nucs as mature queen cells - but from time to time I inject new blood into the apiary in the form of a purchased mated queen, the latest of which recently arrived from Hungary. As such queens are financially expensive, I introduce them by Direct Release, having observed their acceptance by workers through a perspex introduction board (http://www.dave-cushman.net/bee/knighttaberdews.html) for several days, rather than using 'fondant timed-release', which I've always considered something of a lottery.

    And so I made up a small nuc as usual with mongrel workers from what was, at one time, a Buckfast strain, only to be surprised at the amount of displayed aggression: a huge hedgehog immediately developed over the cage, to such an extent that I became concerned that the queen might become over-heated, and so 'un-velcroed' the nurse bees, and removed it. I tried introducing again next morning, and the response was better, but still not great.
    It was a full 4 days later when I judged that acceptance was adequate, but still left Direct Release until the next day, as an insurance. But - as soon as the queen was released, she was immediately subjected to balling by a dozen or so workers. A good puff of smoke broke-up that ball and the queen was recovered and returned to her cage.

    On the basis that 'enough of that was quite enough', a new nuc was created using bees from a Galtee (AMM) strain I'd planned on converting the apiary over to - but - although fine at nuc size, this strain had become far too defensive when full-sized. But unlike the 'at-one-time-Buckfast' strain, these bees did stay calmly on the comb when inspected - so were judged a better prospect.

    And so they were. No hedgehog - just a dozen or twenty bees covering the cage, very pleased to see a queen. And when I moved a barbeque skewer over the cage, they just lifted their legs calmly - with no hint of velcro attachment. As they say "it was like chalk and cheese".

    One explanation for this difference can be found on Randy Oliver's site:
    http://scientificbeekeeping.com/the-...-and-survival/ ... in which he writes:

    ... there is a genetic component involved in worker recognition of the individual components [of Queen Pheromone]. Some strains of bees do not recognize the queen if certain components are not present in the right amount!

    This finding makes me wonder if that is why it is difficult to introduce queens of some strains into unrelated colonies, and whether this might be related to the substantial amount of rapid supersedures sometimes observed after introducing purchased queens. If you are introducing queens of a different stock than the recipient colony, the workers simply may not recognize her pheromonal signals as being “right”!
    Never a truer word spoken ...

    LJ

  2. #2
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    Jun 2015
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    Default Re: Queen Introduction and pheromones.

    Good post. I just went through something similar with a couple of nucs that were made up in a hurry. I don't think I have many feral bees in my area, so I will be buying a couple of queens a year for a while. I will be making up a couple of introduction boards before that happens.
    Randy Oliver is a one I trust. His info is either sourced in a scientific paper, or he's run an experiment himself.
    We learn more from our mistakes than from our success.
    Buckfast bees rock!

  3. #3
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    Nassau County, New York, USA
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    Default Re: Queen Introduction and pheromones.

    Quote Originally Posted by Little-John View Post
    . As such queens are financially expensive, I introduce them by Direct Release, having observed their acceptance by workers through a perspex introduction board (http://www.dave-cushman.net/bee/knighttaberdews.html) for several days, rather than using 'fondant timed-release', which I've always considered something of a lottery.
    If properly done timed release is not a lottery. I always use this method, and have had success most of the time. Just keep the candy end closed for a couple of days if the hive is very big. Leaving queen on top of a frame is not a good idea. In cold weather, bees will abandon her to join the cluster below, and queen will be all alone in a cage. If you place the queen cage between brood frames, she will be well cared for by the bees and her pheromones spread faster throughout the hive.
    USDA Zone 7a - elevation 148 feet

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Queen Introduction and pheromones.

    Quote Originally Posted by WillH View Post
    If properly done timed release is not a lottery. .
    How can you say that - after what I've just written ? If I'd trusted to fondant release I'd have a dead queen on my hands right now.
    This is the ONLY method of queen introduction I know of which has a widely reported 100% success rate. That's why - many years ago - I initially chose to adopt this method, and why I continue to use it with purchased queens.

    When you can achieve a consistent 100% success rate with timed release, then I will agree with you - but not until then.

    LJ

  5. #5
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    Apr 2005
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    Salem, Oregon
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    Default Re: Queen Introduction and pheromones.

    Quote Originally Posted by Little-John View Post

    When you can achieve a consistent 100% success rate with timed release, then I will agree with you - but not until then.

    LJ
    Then you agree with me.
    I have a consistent 98% acceptance rate annually, and blame the 2% on my stupid mistakes, NOT the queen or procedures.
    Just say NO to excuse-izm!
    If my bees die, I am responsible.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Queen Introduction and pheromones.

    Quote Originally Posted by Little-John View Post
    When you can achieve a consistent 100% success rate with timed release, then I will agree with you - but not until then.

    LJ
    In beekeeping, nothing is 100%
    USDA Zone 7a - elevation 148 feet

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Queen Introduction and pheromones.

    Quote Originally Posted by HarryVanderpool View Post
    Then you agree with me.
    I have a consistent 98% acceptance rate annually, and blame the 2% on my stupid mistakes, NOT the queen or procedures.
    Wow - this forum appears to be blessed with several experts in queen introduction - maybe you should drop Randy a line and tell him that he doesn't know what he's talking about - reported difficulties in queen introduction have nothing whatsoever to do with pheromonal incompatibility, but only incompetent beekeepers.

    It's strange how changing the bees instantly sorted my problem out though - but no doubt you have an explanation for this ....

    LJ

  8. #8
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    May 2015
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    Champaign, Illinois
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    380

    Default Re: Queen Introduction and pheromones.

    Interesting. Don't just toss a Carnolian queen into a band of Russian thugs or Italian etc.
    Makes sense and thanks for sharing how you intro a valued queen and see if it is safe first. (thumbs up)
    Internet credibility is an oxymoron

  9. #9
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    Apr 2014
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    Dickson TN
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    666

    Default Re: Queen Introduction and pheromones.

    Quote Originally Posted by Little-John View Post
    Wow - this forum appears to be blessed with several experts in queen introduction - maybe you should drop Randy a line and tell him that he doesn't know what he's talking about - reported difficulties in queen introduction have nothing whatsoever to do with pheromonal incompatibility, but only incompetent beekeepers.

    It's strange how changing the bees instantly sorted my problem out though - but no doubt you have an explanation for this ....

    LJ
    Yes there are alot of experts on Beesource Harry Vanderpool being one. What's Randy have to do with anything the method of intro you are using is from Dave Cushman. Maybe that's the problem you've gotten Randy and Dave mixed up. You may need to reread Randy's material again I think you have misread something.

  10. #10
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    Aug 2012
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    Barrie, Ontario, Canada
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    978

    Default Re: Queen Introduction and pheromones.

    Quote Originally Posted by HarryVanderpool View Post
    Then you agree with me.
    I have a consistent 98% acceptance rate annually, and blame the 2% on my stupid mistakes, NOT the queen or procedures.

    This has been my experience as well. I can generally attribute my failures to an undetected queen cell or virgin queen.
    Adam - Zone 5A
    www.adamshoney.com

  11. #11
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    Aug 2012
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    Barrie, Ontario, Canada
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    978

    Default Re: Queen Introduction and pheromones.

    LJ as much as I haven't experienced the issue that you described, it sounds remarkable similar to Robbin's experience with an AI breeder queen which also seemed to be pheromone related:

    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...uction-problem

    The bulk of my stock is local Ontario stock, generally more Carniolan in behavior than Italian, but definitely mutts. Perhaps with more pure subspecies that have been geographically isolated for a longer period of time pheromone differences are a bigger deal.
    Adam - Zone 5A
    www.adamshoney.com

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Queen Introduction and pheromones.

    Quote Originally Posted by Little-John View Post
    Wow - this forum appears to be blessed with several experts in queen introduction -LJ

    HarryVanderpool knows what he is talking about. especially when it comes to Queen introductions.

  13. #13
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    Jun 2015
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    Default Re: Queen Introduction and pheromones.

    .
    Here is part of a screen grab from the British Bee Keepers Association fact sheet on queen introduction.



    Again, we see this same reference being made to difficulties which may be encountered when introducing bees from different races. This caution is raised time and time again throughout much of the beekeeping literature, and yet here we have two people who are saying that such introductions are not a lottery, but a breeze. One is even claiming a near enough 100% success rate.

    Again, I invite anyone to give an explanation for the extreme aggression seen with one strain, and yet immediate acceptance with a different strain of bee. The size of the nuc was the same; the box used was identical; the weather conditions were pretty-much the same; and the two introductions took place within a few days of each other. The only identifiable difference lay with the bees being used.

    So - apart from pheromonal differences - what could possibly be the reason ?

    I await a plausible explanation from anyone ...

    LJ

  14. #14
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    Deep Brook, NS, Canada
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    Default Re: Queen Introduction and pheromones.

    I find it hilarious that LJ reports an experience he has had with queen introduction and ventures a conclusion, and all of a sudden everyone is defending their own methods to the death. I, for one, am grateful that there are many ways to do the same thing, because, while something may work 98% of the time, it's nice to have a plan B for that 2% when we don't understand what went wrong.
    Randy Oliver also writes about "The Beekeeping Taliban" for a good reason.
    We learn more from our mistakes than from our success.
    Buckfast bees rock!

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Queen Introduction and pheromones.

    maybe some of you guys missed post#5 ?

    if you don't know it (post 5) already you soon will. and sometimes plan B fails as well.
    Beekeeping Taliban?? don't make me laugh!

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Queen Introduction and pheromones.

    Beekeeping Taliban?? don't make me laugh!
    http://scientificbeekeeping.com/the-...ul-beekeeping/
    Beekeeper Taliban, just for you, Clyde.
    You are right that sometimes plan B fails as well, so we need as many plans as possible in our cupboard. LJ's original post was about the difficulty of introducing queens from genetically diverse lines, and rather than discussing this, everybody went off on how their methods were best, and went all nit-picky. Randy Oliver was right about the BK Taliban.
    We learn more from our mistakes than from our success.
    Buckfast bees rock!

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Queen Introduction and pheromones.

    Quote Originally Posted by gnor View Post
    http://scientificbeekeeping.com/the-...ul-beekeeping/
    Beekeeper Taliban, just for you, Clyde.
    You are right that sometimes plan B fails as well, so we need as many plans as possible in our cupboard. LJ's original post was about the difficulty of introducing queens from genetically diverse lines, and rather than discussing this, everybody went off on how their methods were best, and went all nit-picky. Randy Oliver was right about the BK Taliban.
    I have read Oliver's work but thank you.
    Did you happen to catch this statement from him?
    "The best way to learn beekeeping is to work with an experienced mentor who has successfully kept bees in your area for many years."
    How many mentors meet the experience level of Oliver's statement. The way I see it, very few.

    Is LJ the Taliban that you mention and which made me crack-up? Appears so to me reading the following from him:

    "How can you say that - after what I've just written ? If I'd trusted to fondant release I'd have a dead queen on my hands right now.
    This is the ONLY method of queen introduction I know of which has a widely reported 100% success rate. That's why - many years ago - I initially chose to adopt this method, and why I continue to use it with purchased queens.

    When you can achieve a consistent 100% success rate with timed release, then I will agree with you - but not until then.

    LJ "

  18. #18
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    Jun 2012
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    Default Re: Queen Introduction and pheromones.

    here is the link to the BBKA Queen Introduction leaflet.
    cherry picking of information will support any view you care to advance!
    http://www.bbka.org.uk/files/library...1306864750.pdf

    personally I have found some full sized colonies diffucult to re queen and make up nucs with the desired queens and then combine later. if the bees in the colony to be requeened are queenless for a few hours and still aggressively mob the new queen in the cage on the top bars I make a nuc and use the most docile bees in the yard to make the nucs. simple as that. The "why" is for real scientists to explore. Many beekeepers I know do this if they sense a acceptance issue.
    And look at this from the BBKA "If re-queening has to be undertaken in the middle of the year it is much safer to
    establish the new queen in a small nucleus colony first."
    Queen introduction experts!
    Last edited by clyderoad; 07-26-2015 at 11:53 AM.

  19. #19
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    Jun 2015
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    Default Re: Queen Introduction and pheromones.

    Quote Originally Posted by Slow Drone View Post
    Yes there are alot of experts on Beesource Harry Vanderpool being one. What's Randy have to do with anything the method of intro you are using is from Dave Cushman. Maybe that's the problem you've gotten Randy and Dave mixed up. You may need to reread Randy's material again I think you have misread something.
    Well - I think someone's misread something ...

    Randy has written to me, saying:
    It was an excellent example of how bees judge others with dissimilar odor
    as being invaders, even if they are a queen. I'm not sure how much
    difference was due to a different mix of the 10 or so pheromones in Queen
    Pheromone, or due to the cuticular hydrocarbons of the different stocks.

    Thanks again,
    Randy
    So - that answers one question I had - "if it's not pheromonal differences - what other explanation could there be ?" - and it seems that differences in cuticular hydrocarbons could cause the same reaction. Ok. But the story remains the same - that genetic differences DO cause problems in queen introduction. At least that's the opinion held by many people, although not shared by some here.

    With regard to timed release - how can this not be a lottery ? A lottery is a system in which you make your play and from then on have no control whatsoever over the outcome of that play. This is precisely what happens when you decide to allow bees access to the fondant. You have made your play. Ok - so you've used your best judgement as to when to give them access, but the queen will be released at some unknown time in the future - maybe when you're watching TV or in bed - but not while you are observing the release.

    In contrast, with an introduction board and direct release, the beekeeper can, a) make continuous observations until it appears that acceptance has reached a satisfactory level and, b) directly release the queen so that if there should be any problems (such as happened in my case), the queen can be recovered and a second attempt made.

    Now - don't get me wrong - I wouldn't use this Introduction Board/ Direct Release system for all queen introductions. That would be far too time consuming, and indeed unnecessary - for the majority of introductions do proceed without a hitch.

    What I am sayng is that when your queen is extremely valuable, then a method such as this can be mighty useful. There hasn't been even a single report of failure and so the only conclusion I can draw from this is that this system has - certainly at the time of writing - a 100% success rate.

    I'm not bragging about this - I didn't invent the system: it has nothing whatsoever to do with me - I have merely chosen to use it. And I chose it because it had a reported 100% success rate. And I have also had 100% success with it.

    And so I though it might be worth posting about this, so that others might also benefit. My motive for posting was that of generosity, not of bragging about how clever I have been.

    However, my post has been met with warnings that it's use is unwise, and that it offers nothing that timed release cannot provide ... in the hands of a competent beekeeper, of course.

    But perhaps we're not all as competent as others - perhaps some of use actually need to use a system which gives us a second chance if and when we screw-up.

    LJ

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Queen Introduction and pheromones.

    . sorry - sticky keyboard

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