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  1. #1
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    Default Emergency Queens - does it matter?

    As long as the larva are of the right age, well fed, and well mated is there any real quantifiable difference between "emergency" queens and any other kind?

    Any scientific evidence?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Emergency Queens - does it matter?

    The inferior queens caused by using the emergency method is because the bees cannot tear down the tough cells in the old combs lined with cocoons. The result is that the bees fill the worker cells with bee milk floating the larvae out the opening of the cells, then they build a little queen cell pointing downward. The larvae cannot eat the bee milk back in the bottom of the cells with the result that they are not well fed.
    This the source : Better Queens Jay Smith 1949
    http://bushfarms.com/beesbetterqueens.htm

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Emergency Queens - does it matter?

    "emergency queens"...i can't really come up with a better definition than, "queens produced when a queen is not present"

    deknow

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Emergency Queens - does it matter?

    In Nature, queens raised by the emergency method almost never happen. It is really the beekeeper - us, who make a hive accidentally or otherwise queenless and then the bees are forced to use this method, of raising a queen straight out of a brood cell from an existing egg.
    Left to themselves, bees plan the replacement of their queen, and do this in pre-prepared cells, which are placed on the comb top so the cell can hang straight down with no bend in it.

    Years ago (many years), I read a paper on this, where the author had raised some cells by grafting, cut cell, and emergency out of a natural comb. The hives used were similar, plus he used more then one method in some hives to attempt to rule out the affect of one hive being better than another.

    Some of the resultant queens were dissected and the emergency ones on avarge had a lower mass of oviaries. the rest of the queens were allowed to go on and mate, and a lower mating % was recorded for the emergency queens, along with a lower average body weight.

    Now here's the kicker, I read this study as a young man, well before anyone had a computer or internet existed. I now cannot reference it, because I just cannot remember where I saw it now.

    However the article did help shape my thinking on the subject, along with my own experience.

    In my own experience, you get to deal with a lot of queenless hives as a queen breeder, is that emergency cells are rarely up to the same standard as the cells we raised by grafting or cut cell. Nonetheless I'd be lying if I said I'd never seen a good one, they do happen. To my mind, using a pure emergency method will stack the odds of a lower average quality queen well and truely in your favor. Even within a cell raising hive raising a buch of grafted or cut cells, any cells raised straight out of a comb, alongside our grafted ones, will be inferior.

    Now I know others will dissagree with that, and in deference to them I'll admit that good queens raised by the emergency method CAN happen. But as a commercial breeder I had to shoot for both quality and consistancy.

    For those wanting to use the emergency method, I saw proposed on this forum, slight variant on it which I think would give good results. During swarming season, the hive you want to breed from is reduced to one box and all the bees packed in. Bees from other hives are added if need be so the hive is ridiculously packed with bees. The hive has a queen, but a week or two later will have a dozen or so queen cells that can be cut out. Haven't tried it, but it sounds like it would give good results.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Emergency Queens - does it matter?

    Quote Originally Posted by deknow View Post
    "emergency queens"...i can't really come up with a better definition than, "queens produced when a queen is not present"

    deknow
    That's what I thought too - so if you use a queenless starter/finisher that would be "emergency" queens. But if you use one of the systems where a queen is present like the Ben Hardin method they aren't.

    Right?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Emergency Queens - does it matter?

    Maybe it's an oversimplification to say that emergency queens are inferior. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that queens raised directly on brood comb are inferior.

    Although the "On the Spot" method would seem to compensate for that even though it is done on brood comb.

    Maybe "unmodified" brood comb is the issue.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Emergency Queens - does it matter?

    it's difficult to comment on a study that we can't read.

    certainly, when i make up a cell builder it has a very different makeup of bees than a walk away split i make up.

    it's entirely possible that the comb and cocoons have something to do with how the larvae feeds...but where is the rule that "walk away splits" are all old comb? the methods like hopkins and evans turn the orientation of the cells to make this less of an issue, but fairly new broodcomb? produced without foundation?

    does this mean that all "swarm cells" are eggs layed in cups?

    if i make a walkaway split with lots of open brood, there is a lot more to feed than if i make a walkaway split with a small number of brood to raise...i'd expect to get better nourished queens with less brood to feed.

    deknow

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Emergency Queens - does it matter?

    Quote Originally Posted by deknow View Post
    it's difficult to comment on a study that we can't read.
    Yes, given.

    I'm also feeling a bit awkward about the whole discussion because without a properly done paper that can be referenced, it really comes down to a persons own experience and opinion.

    I know what mine is, but I'll just have to let others keep theirs I guess!
    Last edited by Oldtimer; 01-08-2011 at 02:29 PM.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Emergency Queens - does it matter?

    Good discussion. Swarm cells are built down low, along the edge as other beekeepers have shared. But when a queen goes south in her quality, a supersedure cell is usually found on the face of the comb, not always along the bottom edge. Would this mean she's inferior?

    Any thoughts?

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

  10. #10
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    Re: Emergency Queens - does it matter?

    Age of comb has SOO much to do with it. In a study using 50 indoor OB hives with 10 fresh comb, 10 1yr old comb, 10 2yr old comb, 10 3yr old comb, and 10 4yr old comb... we made each one queenless with all having ages of brood from 1day eggs to capped. We recorded the number, placement, age of brood, cell sizes, feed, and emergence of each queen produced.

    Once hatched we began recording their activities and gave each 48 hrs to chew up the other cells before we removed the excluders from the exits and allowed them to begin mating flights...

    We then studyied the lenth of time each flight took and how long each queen took before she began laying...

    Each queen was allowed to lay for 30 days before they were killed and examined, and their patterns and laying rate was examined...

    The end result was that 8 out the 10 queens from the fresh comb hives were equally matched to our average grafted queens in body weight and spermatheca testing, while the other 2 were lower weight and scored lower in spermatheca testing. However, they were all closely matched in the patterning and laying rate...

    Each of the following age groups showed less and less quality, but each one did indeed produce at least 2 quality queens.

    Each year we run the same type of test by pulling queenless nucs and allowing them to produce their own queen or fail. This is done mainly to test the survivability of different strains and each ones common courses of action to different types of stresses...

    These tests are all done using fresh - 1yr old comb... Only one frame of eggs and larvae, one frame of capped brood, two frames of honey and pollen are given to each nuc, but 5 full frames of bees are shaken into each one... the results of this process yield between 63% and 88% of the queens being of fine quality... these nucs are pulled in the fall and are forced to over winter without being fed, or treated and are studied all throughout winter and early spring... they are allowed to swarm naturally so that the timing can be recorded and they are left to requeen themselves with their own swarm cells so that the next queens performance can be recorded... by mid summer, they are placed into 8 frame boxes with foundation... by the end of our fall flow an average of 91% of the winter surviving nucs have drawn, filled and layed the foundation, and will continue on into the next winter in the single for further studying.

    I know this may not answer much of the original question... But I figured that maybe the results and methods of these studies would be helpful.

    In all, Grafted queens are far more consistantly going to produce quality queens... in emergency queens, the more fresh the brood comb and the more plentiful the bees and food resources, the better the chances of producing quality queens will be... but as I always say, study, study, study your hives... if you are using the emergency queen process to produce a few queens, simply take the time to study each one, be strict in your selection of "keepers" and schedule your actions based on the time of year, forage availability, and drone availability.

    Hope this helps!
    Last edited by rrussell6870; 01-08-2011 at 02:19 PM. Reason: typos

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Emergency Queens - does it matter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grant View Post
    Good discussion. Swarm cells are built down low, along the edge as other beekeepers have shared. But when a queen goes south in her quality, a supersedure cell is usually found on the face of the comb, not always along the bottom edge. Would this mean she's inferior?

    Any thoughts?

    Grant
    Jackson, MO
    No because supersedure cells are done in a pre-prepared cell cup built on the comb. Sometimes supercedure and swarm cells can appear as if they were developed from the comb middle, that's just because the bees will sometimes do it that way, but the cell would have been enlarged and shaped before the egg was laid in it, you will sometimes find such empty cell cups in a hive.

    And as an aside, the reason people say that swarm cells are built along the bottom of the frame, is really just that swarming bees build a lot more cells than superseding bees. So it's very probable in a two box brood nest that queen cells will be along the bottom of the frames of the top box, as well as scattered around the rest of the brood nest. Superseding bees often just build 2 or 3 cells, and sometimes only 1.
    What's a better guide as to the bees intentions, is the number of cells, rather than the position. Having said that though, not long ago I was looking at a hive with a shaky old queen. The hive had one queen cell. Good, I thought, they will supersede her. But surprise surprise, it swarmed. So I guess all rules are made to get broken sometimes!


    And RRusell, thanks for that post. It makes perfect sense that a new comb will be easier for the bees to re-work than an old one. This may explain why some peoples experience has been different than others. I guess much of mine especially in a queen rearing situation is with mature brood comb, where a new guy starting out is working with a lot of new comb.
    Last edited by Oldtimer; 01-08-2011 at 03:12 PM.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Emergency Queens - does it matter?

    So if you're growing your apiary by splitting and constantly producing new comb you might be producing decent queens - because your comb is new.

    So probably worthwhile to try to cause the queen cells to be built on new comb when making splits. Like by putting a frame with a starter strip of foundation in the brood nest and splitting when it has 3 day old eggs (or day old larva?) on it - and of course making sure that the queen goes to the other split - and putting pollen and nectar next to it.

    Not quite as simple as just walking away. Still, not as technical as queen rearing either.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Emergency Queens - does it matter?

    Yes it's probably a trade off.

    However, while a walkaway split may seem easier, according to Roberts research some of the queens will be good, some less so.
    But the other thing is, that letting a hive requeen itself has that hive tied up for a month with no queen. If cells were raised first, then splits could be made the day before hatching, cells put in, and the splits need only be without a laying queen for 2 weeks or so.

    Queens being sold though is another story. A person is paying for the queen and the performance of their hive for the next season is tied up with the quality of the queen. I would be upset in the extreme if I paid for a queen and discovered it had been reared just by making a hive queenless and letting them do it. Unless it was one of the good ones, but that would be down to luck.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Emergency Queens - does it matter?

    That being said, we've all purchased dud queens that were produced (supposedly) the "right way." Who's to say a queen is an emergency or a graft?

  15. #15
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    Re: Emergency Queens - does it matter?

    Thats exactly right... one can produce enough queens this way to expand a small hobby operation, simply because they will have the time to select the ones that perform well... however, if you set up 20 nucs, you may have to run this system a few times in order to produce 20 good queens... Thus it would be counter productive for raising queens for resale, and if one was to use this system even to resale the few good queens that it will produce throughout the season, they would spend far more time and resources than it would take to use grafting or cut-comb methods and they would have to be very, very cautious in their selection of which queens were good enough to sell... queen buyers are counting on our queens to be of high quality and they invest much more than just the cost of the queens in good faith that the queens will be of high quality... if our queens fail, the buyers operation can be greatly hurt... I would only use this method as a way to Study or make Increases in a very small operation that has plenty of time to observe the nucs in order to truly pick the good queens.

  16. #16
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    Re: Emergency Queens - does it matter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Specialkayme View Post
    That being said, we've all purchased dud queens that were produced (supposedly) the "right way." Who's to say a queen is an emergency or a graft?
    Thats complicated... on one hand the large operations that are needing to produce thousands of queens on a tight schedule can not operate using the emergency methods because grafting is MUCH faster and requires SO much less resources... leaving only smaller operations that may be able to get away with it...

    But on the other hand, the larger operations have to be SO precisely run in order to maintain proper selection and drone production that will match their rapid queen production methods... if this operation is not managed perfectly, it will quickly produce thousands of "duds" that will spread across the nation... while the smaller operations are much easier to manage and have a much smaller effect on the "big picture"...

    My opinion is that queen quality has been dwindling greatly for the past few decades... earlier operations (both large and small) were FULLY dependant on their queen quality... if the queens that they produced failed, they would quickly be out of business because they supplied the locals and a few commercial operations that they had long relationships with... thus if their queens were bad, their entire clientel would know find out soon, and there would be no one else to buy from them...

    Today communication methods are so extreme that people can keep providing poor quality queens year after year by marketing to different groups each time...

    I do not think it is any one group (small or large), but more or less a combination of mites (chemical treatments that ruin sperm in drones, as well as none treated colonies that are unable to produce enough drones to properly mate their queens), lack of information (people that hear they can make a ton of money while working at home, and just jump into it and start selling the first few years before they really learn what makes a good queen), and mis-information (mainly from companies that market gimmicks, books, and queen rearing products making it all sound TOO EASY, and thus people supplement experience with reading and "neat tricks" and in turn produce poor quality queens). I cant begin to tell you how many Dr.s know it all, but cant ever seem to make it work... At one time reputation took a long time to build and a moment to destroy, meaning that those who were able to provide a product were those that had been perfecting it for a long time (thus it was a better product)... today it seems to be the opposite, marketing takes the place of reputation and books have taken the place of trial and error (thus there is no time for actually Perfecting the product).

    Hope this helps!
    Last edited by rrussell6870; 01-08-2011 at 04:54 PM. Reason: typos

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Emergency Queens - does it matter?

    I'd have to agree with you Russell.

    It used to be that you buy a queen and if it was a dud, you informed the breeder. They were usually very responsive, and sent a replacement, along with an apology (of which was usually some form of "I don't know how it ended up slipping past me. We appreciate your business."). Now you buy a queen, and if she is a drone layer you tell the breeder, and they respond with a "sucks to be you" attitude. Not all of them, of course, but it seems like more and more.

    A real shame, especially considering how tightly knit the beekeeping community usually is. Beekeepers are known for taking care of their own, at least for the most part.

  18. #18
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    Re: Emergency Queens - does it matter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Specialkayme View Post
    "sucks to be you"
    So true... you crack me up!


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Emergency Queens - does it matter?

    Split with The Eggs, in That hive ? excepting mediocre ... or Take foundation from your best hive ? Risking rejection ? I had frames cleaned.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Emergency Queens - does it matter?

    Quote Originally Posted by rrussell6870 View Post
    Thats complicated... on one hand the large operations that are needing to produce thousands of queens on a tight schedule can not operate using the emergency methods because grafting is MUCH faster and requires SO much less resources... leaving only smaller operations that may be able to get away with it...
    Well, sometimes the emergency cell isn't intentional. What about when a mating nuc rejects the cell you give them and start their own? You go to catch the mated queen on day 14-16 and find emergency cells or recently emerged virgin. What do you do?

    If you leave the cells or the virgin, and catch the mated queen on the next round, aren't you catching emergency queens?

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