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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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    Default How do you manage to avoid buying queens?

    We just received a notice from our provincial bee inspector that small hive beetle has been found in shipments of queens from Hawaii at their destinations in Manitoba and Alberta. And I inquired locally about why we import them.

    I was told that we have to import them, as people cannot raise their own queens here early enough to split in May.

    But isn't that just a management issue? Do we need to split in May?

    If you COULD NOT import queens from other regions, could you manage your operation in a way which would allow you continued success using only locally raised queens?

    Assuming a region has enough local beekeepers and bees to begin with, how could a region manage their operations in order to eliminate - or absolutely minimize the importation of queens from other geographic locations?


    Adam

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    Garland, Bladen County, NC, USA
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    Default Re: How do you manage to avoid buying queens?

    Canadian/USA beekeeping politics is too complicated for me to contemplate.

    So what kind of problem does SHB cause in a canadian summer? Just curious.

  3. #3
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    Aug 2006
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    Danbury, CT
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    Default Re: How do you manage to avoid buying queens?

    Must is a relative term. Can you keep bees and not import queens? Absolutely; you can split and allow them to raise their own queens. But from a commercial, standpoint if a fella wanted to split and sell May packages, then he would need imported queens in order to get the packages out in May. I agree that the SHB in a climate as far north as Nova Scotia is not much of a threat, they would be dead once winter rolled around. Far too cold for them to winter over in the cluster.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
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    Denver, Colorado
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    Default Re: How do you manage to avoid buying queens?

    Why do hives need to be requeened arbitrarily in the spring? Why replace proven survivors with unproven fresh out of the mating nuc queens? Kirk Webster's website kirkwebster.com postulates that northern queens could one day replace early southern un-acclimated queens.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Default Re: How do you manage to avoid buying queens?

    Solomon - would you mind defining or otherwise explaining what an acclimatized bee is? Does it take multiple generations to become acclimatized. Or are we really talking about a race/breed thing... carniolan vs italian.

  6. #6
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    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: How do you manage to avoid buying queens?

    www.beeworks.com (David Eyre) is in Ontario and sell some very nice Italians. I've bought them back when there was no problem shipping them to the US. The only "problem" with Northern queens is changing your practice to requeen in the fall instead of the spring. You'll get better queens and they will be mated better as well as acclimatized to your latitude.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  7. #7
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    Nov 2009
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    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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    Default Re: How do you manage to avoid buying queens?

    I'm not asking this questions because I need a source of queens, I ask this more in relation to the common practice of moving queens around over great distances - a practice which has likely contributed to a lack of genetic diversity, and the spread of disease and pests. Today, there are large numbers of honeybees all over the world.

    On the other hand, I know that many people depend on successful beekeeping as a source of income.

    So I'm wondering if beekeepers can manage differently in order to make the most of localized breeding and the gradual development of locally suited stock, while also minimizing the spread of disease and pests by not doing so much moving bees over such distance. I mean - we import strictly now from New Zealand, Australia, and Hawaii. Based on the diseases they don't have and we don't have. Could we be making more of out local stocks instead?

    Could we manage our stocks in such a way as to be able to do just as much expansion as we like without importing queens at all? Would Michael's suggestion of requeening in the Fall cause significant problems for local commercial beeks?



    Adam

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    West Richland, Washignton USA
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    160

    Default Re: How do you manage to avoid buying queens?

    I manage my bees in order to decrease my swarm potential. If the bees feel the need to requeen I let them do what they need to do. Bees have been requeening for millions of years. However; I have a very testy hive. So I will be replacing that queen.

    Otherwise I say let bees be bees.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
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    Default Re: How do you manage to avoid buying queens?

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Foster Collins View Post
    I was told that we have to import them, as people cannot raise their own queens here early enough to split in May.

    But isn't that just a management issue? Do we need to split in May?
    They aren't listening. You don't need to split your hives in the spring and you don't need to buy queens from who knows where. You raise the queens in the summer on the main flow, and winter them over in nucleus colonies.

  10. #10
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    Dec 2002
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    Denver, Colorado
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    Default Re: How do you manage to avoid buying queens?

    Quote Originally Posted by hpm08161947 View Post
    would you mind defining or otherwise explaining what an acclimatized bee is? Does it take multiple generations to become acclimatized. Or are we really talking about a race/breed thing... carniolan vs italian.
    The reason I bring it up is because it has always struck me that buying queens from Hawaii doesn't make sense. They are in a totally different environment, with different pressures and practices and temperatures. If one wishes to keep bees in Canada, why not use bees accustomed to Canada's conditions, with months of bitter cold and no brooding.

    I imagine it could take several generations to become fully acclimitized, but I have found that after one supercedure producing a locally mated queen that the chances of successful overwintering increase by a very great measure. I'm not certain about the breed question because my bees are of very mixed lineage.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
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    Default Re: How do you manage to avoid buying queens?

    You raise the queens in the summer on the main flow, and winter them over in nucleus colonies.
    How far north can you be and still successfully over winter a nucleus? Or are you placing them on top of a strong hive?
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    Manitoba, Canada
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    441

    Default Re: How do you manage to avoid buying queens?

    Most parts of Canada have a very trucated beekeeping season with an excellent conditions for build up in spring and the a strong honey flow starting in July and ending at the end of August or beginning of September, depending upon the year. From a commercial stand point, requeening late in the season becomes a time issue and a management issue as winter preparation and feeding needs to get done.

    Producing nuc in the early summer for the next year is a great way to keep numbers up, but in a year of high winter losses commercial beekeepers need access to earlier queens to make up numbers. Ironically, queens from Hawaii seem to be among the best queens for wintering. I think this is because they have incorporated genetics their buyers need.

  13. #13
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    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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    Default Re: How do you manage to avoid buying queens?

    The Nova Scotia climate is mainly zones 6 and 5; similar to much of the mid-U.S. Vancouver area is similar to northern California. It seems like the coasts could be breeding queens enough to supply the whole country.

    I think we need to get Mike Palmer and Michael Bush up here to visit our associations.

    I wonder how much we spend annually on foreign queens, and each season we hear of imported bugs. It seems like we should try to move toward rearing our own queens, using the management techniques mentioned here earlier. Vermont has much harsher winters than we do in Nova Scotia.

    Adam

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    Manitoba, Canada
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    Default Re: How do you manage to avoid buying queens?

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Foster Collins View Post
    The Nova Scotia climate is mainly zones 6 and 5; similar to much of the mid-U.S. Vancouver area is similar to northern California. It seems like the coasts could be breeding queens enough to supply the whole country.
    Your winters are much mild than continental Canada, but your springs don't reach queen rearing temps any earlier. In fact, normal maximums for Manitoba are higher than the Maritimes already. As a commercial honey producer, if I had winter loses to the extend that I need to purchase earlier queens, I want a reasonable guarantee that the queens will not be delayed due to weather.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: How do you manage to avoid buying queens?

    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Martens View Post
    ...your springs don't reach queen rearing temps any earlier...
    Okay, but what if the queens were wintered from the previous season, as Michael Palmer and Michael Bush suggest? Your lows in Manitoba are still below freezing, and your March temperatures are much colder. You have higher highs - but lower lows. The climate here is just not as severe overall. We spend very little of our time in double digits below freezing. When do you normally get new queens in place from out of country?

  16. #16
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: How do you manage to avoid buying queens?

    >The Nova Scotia climate is mainly zones 6 and 5; similar to much of the mid-U.S. Vancouver area is similar to northern California. It seems like the coasts could be breeding queens enough to supply the whole country.

    I'm sure they could, but not early. I have no queens for sale before the end of June.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  17. #17
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    Default Re: How do you manage to avoid buying queens?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    I have no queens for sale before the end of June.
    And what happens in the months before that, before the june shipping time?

  18. #18
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    Jul 2008
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    Richmond, Virginia, USA
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    Default Re: How do you manage to avoid buying queens?

    I believe, with regard to your initial question, that it is mostly a management issue. With the practices that are performed today, most places want queens before their local region has them in supply.

    I get my queens off of my buster hives in the Spring. If a queen fails before I start getting swarm cells, I hope it is in March, when the bees have a chance to actually create a replacement themselves. If not, then I have to combine them.

    Once my strongest hives go into swarm mode, I can get a ton of queen cells off of them to create my queen banks. I do not do any of the reversing or checkering, so the hives usually does swarm at one point (sometimes more then once). I usually catch at least one swarm, but I get several queens that become part of my increase, my reserve Nucs (for those special occasions when I need a frame of brood and/or nurse bees) and my emergency queens.

    So, for 'my practice', there is no use or need for a queen outside of my region. I use queens off of my own proven queens. The results of packages and queens in my area has been very poor. Local Nuc and Queen demand is through the roof, much higher then supply (an Nuc prices are going up, accordingly.)

    I think that the big time operators continue to demand these early queens because the cost of having hives that do not survive the Winter or otherwise do poorly (thus requiring more queens next year) is lower then the revenue generated from having hives/packages available early on. At some point, that may change. Then, the demand of foreign queens will evaporate.

  19. #19
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: How do you manage to avoid buying queens?

    >And what happens in the months before that, before the june shipping time?

    The bees in my climate are not in a mood to rear queens until at least mid May, and sometimes not so much until the end of May. A cell started in mid May is not a queen who has been laying for two weeks (my prefered time as it makes a better queen with larger ovarioles) until six weeks later, which is the end of June.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    Manitoba, Canada
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    Default Re: How do you manage to avoid buying queens?

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Foster Collins View Post
    The climate here is just not as severe overall. We spend very little of our time in double digits below freezing. When do you normally get new queens in place from out of country?
    The harshness of the winter is not what limits queen production in Canada. What bees need to produce queens is the conditions that promote drone production and the warmth during the day to allow mating flights. For commercial queen productions these conditions need to be consistent. For most of Canada, proper conditions to start queen rearing only occur after June 1 at best. The only exception would be the southern interior of BC where proper conditions are probably about a month earlier.

    My first batch of queens come at the end of April.

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