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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Telford, TN, USA
    Posts
    18

    Default Can a queen mate in a hive, without taking a mating flight???

    Being new to raising queens, the weather has not cooperated much with raising queens. It seems to rain for 7 - 10 days with very few breaks in the weather each time I have a group of ladies emerge from their cells and according to the calendar, become sexually mature enough to take their mating flights. The first two groups of queens did fine but this one is still waiting for a break in the weather.

    A long time beekeeper said they can get mated in the hive? Does anyone know this to be true?

    Also if the queens become "mature" and they can't get out of the hive to go on a mating flight will they still be able to mate lets say day 20 after emerging or even day 30? Any help with these questions would be greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    4,110

    Default Re: Can a queen mate in a hive, without taking a mating flight???

    Everything I've read says no. Years ago someone even tried it in an outdoor screened area, & it didn't work.
    You wouldn't want her to mate with her own drones anyway. You would end up with a bunch of brood being killed by the worker bees.

    When you say day 20 I assume you mean 20 days after they emerge. I think they normally fly a couple weeks after emergence. Maybe someone can answer that question better.
    Time will tell if she got mated or not.
    Dan

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Telford, TN, USA
    Posts
    18

    Default Re: Can a queen mate in a hive, without taking a mating flight???

    Thanks, I have never read anything that said they could either, but a beekeeper of 40 years said he had witnessed it. I hope not!

    I will read through the older threads and see about how long a bee can wait to make her mating flight once she is supposed to be sexually mature. Maybe with the rainy weather mother nature will just intervene and have them take longer to become mature. One thing for certain, they will let me know if they get mated or not.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,802

    Default Re: Can a queen mate in a hive, without taking a mating flight???

    >Can a queen mate in a hive, without taking a mating flight???

    No, they cannot. Much research has been done on the mating of queens literally for more than five centuries. I know of no record of such a thing.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Brandon, MS USA
    Posts
    1,585

    Default Re: Can a queen mate in a hive, without taking a mating flight???

    They can only mate in flight and will only do so under certain circumstances. On your question about how long she can go without mating and still be viable... about 20-25 days is the longest period that a queen can remain a virgin and still have a chance at properly mating and heading a hive property. But the general rule of thumb is far less than that. We cull anything that has not started laying after 14 days and we pay very close attention to how many days of poor mating conditions have occurred during that time. This is just a strict policy of ours, and may be too strict for a small operation to follow, and doesn't mean that the small operations queens won't be great.

    We have hatched virgins in hatchery frames and held them for different increments of time then planted them in nucs to study their performance levels after being kept from mating for longer periods and nearly all are mated, then superceded soon after if they are held back for more than 30 days... about 72% or so meet this fate when held back for 28 days... about 57% if held back for 25 days, about 24% if held back for 22 days, about 11% if held back for 19 days, and less than 5% at any increment below that... with this being extremely rare in queens that were held back for 12 days or less... this is why we choose that number as a base policy.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Telford, TN, USA
    Posts
    18

    Default Re: Can a queen mate in a hive, without taking a mating flight???

    Thanks to both of you! Because we are a small operation just starting into queen rearing, I don't want to sell queens that are questionable. I could just keep this group for our own operation and see what happens. They are under the 19 day period though and with the beautiful weather yesterday, today and tomorrow, maybe they will take their flights and be fine. I will have to wait and see their laying patterns, maybe keep them an extra week or so unless a customer is in an emergency situation and they can make that call. We are selling to people we know locally and having them track performance too, so we should be fine. So much to learn!!! My bee mentor has done this for 30 years though and he says the same thing. The gentleman that said he had seen a queen mate in the box has kept bees even longer, but with no scientific information to support such a claim, I will not worry about that.
    I really appreciate the time you have taken to answer my questions, I know how busy you are running your own operations, but the knowledge you share with all of us new keepers is truely a gift to all of us.

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