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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Reno, NV USA
    Posts
    2,310

    Default Koehnen Packages

    I would like to know what experiences others have had with Koehnen bees. This is my second year with Koehnen queens and packages and while others are getting honey crops with their bees, my Koehnen bees fail to build up and then there is no honey. Last years queens began to fail into laying workers beginning in the early summer and now I have lost most of the colonies that didn't get a queen cell emerged (this spring) and mated. I wish I could rule out disease but I can't. There are no obvious symptoms of anything and mite counts have been below 2% all season. No visible brood diseases, low mite counts, and the bees seem normal other than they don't build up.
    My understanding is that Koehnen doesn't produce any honey and is strictly a producer of bees and not a crop. Is it possible that their bee are not very good at making honey. I switched from Buckfast to Koehnen bees because my Buckfasts were likely africanized and were extremely aggressive and Koehnen was the largest producer in California of packages and queens so I gave them a try. Their queens are very gentle, which was refreshing, but since using them, I have not seen any honey. Not only is there no honey crop (six different bee yards), but I won't have enough bees going into almonds this year to break even.
    Has anyone else had similar experiences with Koehnen bees? Any thoughts on the lack of build up?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Chadron, Nebraska
    Posts
    34

    Default Re: Koehnen Packages

    I purchased packages from them last year and they were the most productive bees in the yard. This year I did some splits and purchased a couple queens from them. During the early flow they increased well, but it got hot and dry and they have sorta shut down.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Belfield, North Dakota, USA
    Posts
    610

    Default Re: Koehnen Packages

    You know - most everyone who posts reports great results with Koehnen. My experience has been a lot like yours. I have tried their queens maybe a half dozen times and I have never had a good one. All of mine were either so poor that they failed to build up for winter or they superseded and then failed. Like you, I have never had a Koehnen queen that ever produced a drop of surplus honey (and that during seasons when my other hives were making surpluses in the same yards).

    I can't explain it except to say that, while I am sure that Koehnen produces great queens (as reported on this forum numerous times), I am also sure that I have never received one of them. As a result, I simply don't purchase Koehnen queens anymore.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Reno, NV USA
    Posts
    2,310

    Default Re: Koehnen Packages

    I am going to purchase queens from multiple sources next season so I can get a better picture of what's going on. I remember last year installing packages in the cold bitter rain and California was one big mud puddle. I suspect last years early queens were not mated well. This years queens are failing in mini-nucs (used to get the comb drawn), 5 frame nucs and full size boxes. My grafts are the only bees with population explosion.
    I have a couple of Buckfasts that appear to be very strong. I hope others will speak up if they have similar experiences to ours.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    syracuse n.y.
    Posts
    1,976

    Default Re: Koehnen Packages

    post # 26 from alpha6 may explain

    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...nen#post692055
    mike syracuse ny
    I went to bed mean, and woke up meaner. Marshal Dillon

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Reno, NV USA
    Posts
    2,310

    Default Re: Koehnen Packages

    Thanks - That was extremely useful information.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Issaquah,WA,USA
    Posts
    2,394

    Default Re: Koehnen Packages

    I bought 65 packages from them this year. Lost a couple queens but that is to be expected. I do have a couple hot hives but, I think those are from last year. Not sure. They are the most productive ones I have and will requeen them this fall. Or spring.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Reno, NV USA
    Posts
    2,310

    Default Re: Koehnen Packages

    My packages from Koehnen were quite variable. I had major drift with some colonies getting their better share of bees. The colonies with all the bees did OK, but the ones with only a few frames never built up. We had a really weird year with the dearths coming at unusual times. I think the weaker colonies just couldn't get up to speed. On the other hand, last years Koehnen bees were terrible and I have found almond news letters, commercial beekeepers, and posts that all point to Pristine being the suspected culprit that hit Norther breeders really hard. I lost every colony from last year that didn't get requeened except for my non-Koehnen colonies. My Strachan bees are great and my hotter than ?ell Buckfasts are strong enough to completely cover me from head to toe with stingers when the lid is opened. So at this point I lean in the direction that last years Koehnen bees were really poor.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    NE Calif.
    Posts
    2,304

    Default Re: Koehnen Packages

    I used 50 Koehnen queens last year for some May splits and they did good, most made the grade for almonds.

    I think there is a lot of variation from batch to batch these days and too much luck involved. I agree on the fungicides being used in almonds are causing problems but what can we do but stay home. They aren't going to quit using them.

    My observation is ,time wise,the farther away you get from the fungicide contaminated pollen, the less problems there are with queens and hives.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Reno, NV USA
    Posts
    2,310

    Default Re: Koehnen Packages

    I have found quite a bit of incriminating evidence against Pristine in particular. Apparently it is no secret that Pristine caused serious problems for Norther California breeders. It might be that the earlier queens had the most problems due to their exposure to Pristine during Almond spraying.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Issaquah,WA,USA
    Posts
    2,394

    Default Re: Koehnen Packages

    When I was picking up my packages from them they just had their queens artificially inseminated by Sue Colby. Everyone I met there were so nice. I was so impressed with what great people they were. I will give them a try again next year.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Salem, Oregon
    Posts
    457

    Default Re: Koehnen Packages

    East,

    Did you mean Sue Cobey?

    http://ucanr.org/news/?uid=1011&ds=191

    I've been misspelling her name as Coby for years. Dr. Carson finally got it into my head how it is spelled.

    Pugs

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Tulare, Ca. USA
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Koehnen Packages

    Quote Originally Posted by HVH View Post
    I would like to know what experiences others have had with Koehnen bees. This is my second year with Koehnen queens and packages and while others are getting honey crops with their bees, my Koehnen bees fail to build up and then there is no honey. Last years queens began to fail into laying workers beginning in the early summer and now I have lost most of the colonies that didn't get a queen cell emerged (this spring) and mated. I wish I could rule out disease but I can't. There are no obvious symptoms of anything and mite counts have been below 2% all season. No visible brood diseases, low mite counts, and the bees seem normal other than they don't build up.
    My understanding is that Koehnen doesn't produce any honey and is strictly a producer of bees and not a crop. Is it possible that their bee are not very good at making honey. I switched from Buckfast to Koehnen bees because my Buckfasts were likely africanized and were extremely aggressive and Koehnen was the largest producer in California of packages and queens so I gave them a try. Their queens are very gentle, which was refreshing, but since using them, I have not seen any honey. Not only is there no honey crop (six different bee yards), but I won't have enough bees going into almonds this year to break even.
    Has anyone else had similar experiences with Koehnen bees? Any thoughts on the lack of build up?
    I ordered a package from them in early April. I put a forth deep on
    two weeks ago. If they winter well I will be raising queens from them
    next year for my own use. Vic, central valley Tulare, Ca.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Reno, NV USA
    Posts
    2,310

    Default Re: Koehnen Packages

    It appears that there is some variability in responses. I do know a guy with 1200 colonies and he said he orders about 50 queens at a time due to batch variability. I think I will order from several vendors and have representation in each apiary to see if the queen sources make a big difference. I hate to wait, yet again, another year to get a crop.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Salem, Oregon
    Posts
    457

    Default Re: Koehnen Packages

    Quote Originally Posted by Pugs View Post
    ... Dr. Carson finally got it into my head how it is spelled...
    Then I go misspell Dr. Dewey M. Caron's name. I'd better quit while I'm behind.

    Pugs

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    SNOHOMISH, WA, USA
    Posts
    267

    Default Re: Koehnen Packages

    I got four packages from them through my club this year, first time I have used them. The queens were some of the nicest I have seen but I still had two hives superceded within the first month, in the 3rd hive the queen just disappeared and they did not try to rectify the problem. The fourth hive is the most productive out of my 17. I also did not have much luck with purchased queens this year (from parks) and I think the issue is that they are banked too long between the time they mate and go through a reseller. Queens I just left the hives to produce did great so next year I am going to get more serious about raising my own.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Otero County, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    1,388

    Default Re: Koehnen Packages

    Me and a friend ordered 4 Carniolan packages from Koehnen's in May. I had one package arrive completely dead, which they replaced for free. The packages seemed like they were nice. I would probably order from them again. However, we did not have much luck with the packages, and only one is still surviving (just barely). My friends two packages seemed to be doing OK and then just disappeared; who knows why - can't fault Koehnen's for it. One of my packages went queenless several weeks after installation, and I ended up re-queening with survivor stock. The last and most successful of the packages, which was building up outstandingly, was destroyed by a bear.

    Can't fault Koehnen's for any of this, but they sure were bad luck for us!

    I did notice quite a bit of variation between the packages. The queens were definitely big fat black Carnies, but the rest of the bees seemed to be sort of a mix of whatever they had. You could really tell when the carnie queen came online and started laying.

    My feral bees... well, they are a whole other story. Those guys are rocking and rolling.

    I would still order from Koehnen's in a pinch. They seem to have good basic stock.

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