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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Woodbury VT USA
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    13

    Default When to re-queen packages?

    I will be getting some Georgia packages the first week in May. I want to re-queen to local survivor bees here in Vermont. Is the best plan to wait until late June and break the hives up into nucs for overwintering? That way I might have enough frames of brood honey/pollen to get 3 or more nucs per package depending on weather. Any suggestions, advice??

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
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    2,963

    Default Re: When to re-queen packages?

    True survivor queens are not something you can order out of the yellow pages - so I think you are putting the cart before the horse in looking at the calendar to make plans. IE - do your re-queening when you can get the queens. In any case unless the package builds up really well, I wouldn't split it more than in two. Much will depend on how fast your package draws comb. While others will disagree I'm sure, I think that even by splitting a package in half, especially if done early in the season (and I consider June early) you are risking complete failure.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Woodbury VT USA
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    13

    Default Re: When to re-queen packages?

    Queens made from Vermont survivor stock are available. I have to order them in advance. Each overwintering nuc is started with 1 1/2 frames of brood and 1 1/2 frames of honey/pollen.
    That means that each package needs to produce 4 1/2 frames of brood by the time I break them up. Does that seem reasonable in 8 weeks? I know it depends on weather conditions. I have never used packages so I don't know what to expect for buildup. It's hard to order queens when I don't know how many I will need...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Worcester, MA, USA
    Posts
    61

    Default Re: When to re-queen packages?

    I'm not planning to split my two packages, but am planning to requeen to locally raised queens from stock that has history of overwintering here in New England. I've found at least 2 sources so far (I put a WTB in the livestock section on CL). Both are flexible with timing.

    I've been wondering the same thing about how long to wait before requeening.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    4,285

    Default Re: When to re-queen packages?

    Why not give the queen you bought a chance and buy your local queen for the split WHEN your package has become a strong populace unit? Southern queens are not evil and may have everything in genetics you desire. Mind your mite load and you will go further than trying to gimmic your way to success.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,963

    Default Re: When to re-queen packages?

    Quote Originally Posted by yeedah100 View Post
    It's hard to order queens when I don't know how many I will need...
    That does make it tough. Find out how far in advance you need to order them (some queen producers sell out in January) and make your best guess. If it were me I'd order 1 queen per package and plan on splitting next year.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Woodbury VT USA
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: When to re-queen packages?

    I need to split up the nucs by early July to allow them enough time to organize for winter.
    Package survival up here is poor for our winters, whereas overwintered nuc survival with local queens would be better bet. IE one package hive vs 2 or 3 nucs - the odds are better that at least one nuc survives. I lost all my hives this winter but only lost half my overwintered nucs. I am buying these packages purely to produce backup nucs. My new stock is coming from local nuc suppliers ( Kirk Webster, Singing Cedars). Given the demand for local queens, I suppose I could order best case scenario and then offer any surplus thru the local bee club.
    Oh well, I guess I will see how fast they build up come the end of June...
    I will be backing up all of my hives with nucs this winter.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    KC, MO, USA
    Posts
    1,238

    Default Re: When to re-queen packages?

    How did you lose your hives?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    brownwood, TX, USA
    Posts
    862

    Default Re: When to re-queen packages?

    Quote Originally Posted by FlowerPlanter View Post
    How did you lose your hives?
    dementia.....

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Woodbury VT USA
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: When to re-queen packages?

    Hive 1 - queen may have failed. It was a strong hive that dropped way down in population in the fall.
    Only a tiny cluster left on postmortem. Hardly any dead bees on bottom board.
    Hive 2 - a cold snap caught the hive under a dripping honey feeder. Two split clusters, dripping honey. Lots of dead bees. Evidence of two split clusters under feeder area.
    Hive 3 - disease/ virus. Strong hive going in. Found bees with short flattened abdomens. Lots of dead bees.
    All three were gone by December.
    Nuc 1 - made it to February. Unknown cause of death.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
    Posts
    2,781

    Default Re: When to re-queen packages?

    "strong hive that dropped way down in population in the fall" - Classic mite failure.
    "Found bees with short flattened abdomens." - Classic sign of mite infestation.

    You might want to seek out some help from some experienced local beekeepers. Overwintering nucs takes skills and sometimes luck, and of course M. Palmer from VT seems to have the recipe, so I suggest that you search here to find some of his posts on wintering nucs in VT.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Woodbury VT USA
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: When to re-queen packages?

    Yes, I have listened to Mike palmers video on keeping nucs, and have listened to Kirk Websters presentations at conferences. I am planning to sign up for Mike Palmers workshop on winter nucs this summer. At the 2010 treatment free conference, Kirk did live demonstrations of creating overwintering nucs with all the details. In 2011 another treatment free beekeeper did a slide show on wintering nucs in VT. He went from 1 hive to 100 in just a few years! It seems that often the nucs do better that the standard hives...

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,963

    Default Re: When to re-queen packages?

    The growth you are talking about is extremely aggressive. It will take all of your beekeeping talent to make it work. Be aware that just as many people fail trying to be treatment free as succeed. The notions of survivor stock being a silver bullet and that nucs being better at over wintering than full colonies are way out there. I hope they work for you.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Woodbury VT USA
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: When to re-queen packages?

    It's not really an increase strategy. I have 10 nucs on order. The package splits are to backup these hives over the winter. This strategy is used by both Mike Palmer and Kirk Webster. They breakup their weak hives and make queened nucs in late June and into July. That way they have nucs to replace losses in their stock.
    I will have first year hives that I don't want to plan to breakup, although I will breakup any hives that are weak and add them into nuc resources. If I could create one nuc for each hive way I could take a 50% hit over the winter and come out even. Or 75% and still have half of my main stock (5 hives) to rebuild from next year. I have to be able to take these losses to allow natural selection to cull hives that are not able to make it. Then next year I could make some of my own queens from survivors for nuc production. ��

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Danbury, CT
    Posts
    2,887

    Default Re: When to re-queen packages?

    I wouldn't buy CL queens except from a source like Webster or Palmer (and they don't advertise on CL). Your best bet should they not have any available would be to make your new hives queenless in mid July and allow them to raise a new queen. Providing weather is good you should get a good mating and it will also break the brood cycle and crash the mite population. I recommend this practice for all first year packages.

    If nucs are your goal I would order queens and split the hives into nucs in early august.
    Always question Conventional Wisdom.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Woodbury VT USA
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: When to re-queen packages?

    What is a CL queen?

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
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    2,963

    Default Re: When to re-queen packages?

    CL = Craig's List. Your initial post sounded as if you were getting into bees for the first time and as I've read through the thread I gather this is not the case. If you are building your packages up on drawn comb you should have the resources to split them late June / early July. Have you had packages before? Keep in mind that Mike at least (and I don't know Kirk) is over wintering double nucs - two four frame nuc boxes 1 over the other. My understanding is that in previous iterations of over wintering nucs Mike had been placing single nucs on top of production colonies. I believe he has discontinued that practice. I have purchased nucs and queens from Mike in the past and highly recommend him and his bees.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Woodbury VT USA
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: When to re-queen packages?

    I have 3 queens from Kirk coming that I ordered last year. I have emailed Mike Palmer twice and he has not responded. Anyway, I will be taking Mike's class where you go home with a double nuc and two queens! That gets me 5 queens.
    I also have two nucs on order from Kirk that I signed up for two years ago. He recommended splitting them the first year. I think that you are right on with doing splits that raise their own queen in order to wack the mite population.
    So, I have ordered the packages with the hope of using their resources for the queens. However, I have never had packages before...they will be shaken down on HSC painted with honey and only one frame of drawn PF-100 with honey.
    I will try Mike again.
    Thanks to all for your opinions!

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