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  1. #1
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    Question "myth" of hives making their own queen

    I am new, and I have 2 hives on my property that a friend is housing here. I am doing some of the beekeeping tasks, and its been a great way to learn and get addicted!

    Of course, now I want my very own hive of bees.

    As a newbie, there's something that puzzles me. The puzzler paraphrased well in this paragraph which I gleaned from http://www.beeworks.com/informationc...cs_splits.html :
    "Do not be tempted by older beekeepers that give 'advice' on making up queenless nucs, the advice that states "the bees will make their own queen", we refer to these as poor man's splits. This omits the addition of a queen and forces the bees into making their own emergency queen, not recommended. The end product, because of feeding restrictions, will result in an intercaste queen of little long-term value."

    I'd like to build a nuc, and have it make its own queen - I guess that's a "walk-away hive"? Anyway, per the paragraph above, this won't work or if it does it will produce an inferior queen. Now, why is that? Were there no bees before man began to intervene by specially breeding, introducing and replacing queens? Why would I always have to replace a homegrown queen with an externally acquired one? I just picked the above quote out of dozens of very similar things that I've read on queen breeders sites, in books, and on this forum.

    Anyway, it won't discourage me from trying - but I just don't get why the bees wouldn't figure most things out by themselves. Perhaps someone can explain it to me?

    Thanks!
    CHris

  2. #2
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    Default Re: "myth" of hives making their own queen

    Notch a short row of cells with eggs in them (that is, use your hive tool to cut down the bottom wall of the cell) and the bees will make you a very nice queen.

    There is a general "rule" that emergency queens are inferior to grafted ones, but I don't know if that's true or not. Just make sure you have queen cells within a week of making up the split.

    Or, you can take the queen and let the donor hive make a new queen, that works equally well, probably better since the nuc won't go a month with no new brood that way, and the donor hive has lots more resources.

    Peter

  3. #3
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    Default Re: "myth" of hives making their own queen

    You would need to replace a queen with an externally purchased one because this advice is coming from a company that makes money selling you that queen.
    Or
    You can search up read and follow the advice of dozens of beekeepers that say you can make a walk away split that have not one cent to gain from it.

    As for the quality factor. Here is what I understand about it.

    Naturally a hive seldom experiences the sudden disappearance of their queen. The entire queen replacement system is not optimized for a sudden replacement of the queen. In both supercedure and swarming the bees had adequate time in which to rear a queen under optimum conditions. Emergency replacement of a queen does not necessarily reach that optimum condition.

    Bees need a few days to gear up for making a queen. Or so that is what I have read about it. So rather than just splitting a hive and making the bees do the best they can. split them wait two days give them a fresh frame of eggs and they will do just as good a job rearing a queen as the supplier bought high tech super premium queen woudl be. SO is the supplier lying in how they are presenting the information? Not lying but not telling the whole story. I consider that deceptive at best. I would look for a new supplier and make my own queen as well.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: "myth" of hives making their own queen

    Thanks Peter - I've been reading about the notching technique, and would like to give it a try. I like your idea about taking the queen from a thriving hive... except the one such hive I know and love is my friend's hive and I don't think he'd appreciate that since they're doing so well at present.

    If its the "emergency queen" scenario (bees in a lather because they need a new queen desperately) that produces inferior queens ... don't all queens in theory come from an emergency situation where a hive is lacking a good queen and needs another one soon? Or is the problem the emergency that is well underway by the time the queen pops out that weakens them?

  5. #5
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    Default Re: "myth" of hives making their own queen

    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Y View Post
    You would need to replace a queen with an externally purchased one because this advice is coming from a company that makes money selling you that queen.
    Or
    You can search up read and follow the advice of dozens of beekeepers that say you can make a walk away split that have not one cent to gain from it.
    Daniel - thanks - and as a newbie to the beekeeping world, its confusing trying to understand what's real and what's not. So I'm glad you made the above quote.

    Before I read your post about "emerency" scenarios (and that is good info) I was wondering if a queen raised perhaps more patiently while another weaker one was still alive would be stronger than one that HAD to be ready to go. If a person notched a frame of brood, as psfred noted earlier, in a strong hive, would it cause the bees to build some queen cells? If so, could they be cut out at some point and grafted into a nuc and hope to be already stronger than those raised in an emergency? Does the notch get the bees going?

    I've read and read and thought and thought, and its not quite clicked for me yet, about these queens!

    Thanks for your patience
    Chris

  6. #6
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    Default Re: "myth" of hives making their own queen

    SHHHHHHH . . . Don't let my girls hear that. Especially the ones I started without a queen.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: "myth" of hives making their own queen

    Quote Originally Posted by BSAChris View Post

    Anyway, it won't discourage me from trying - but I just don't get why the bees wouldn't figure most things out by themselves. Perhaps someone can explain it to me?

    Thanks!
    CHris
    I think it is a matter of percentages. The last time I made up nucs to make their own queen, some 75 or 80% of them did so successfully. Seventyfive or 80 out of 100 isn't bad, in my opinion. But, if one nuc was 75% successful, it wouldn't be successful. So, you are taking your chances.

    This by no means means you should not go ahead and try. You might be successful. If not, you may learn something. So, don't listen to the "experts". Do what you want to. What do you have to loose?
    Mark Berninghausen To combat Ebola, please consider supporting http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org


  8. #8
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    Default Re: "myth" of hives making their own queen

    If that were to be true there would be no bees. bees are not dependent upon beekeepers as they know beekeeping better than us reguardless of what some beekeepers think. In the spring a walk away split works well. dont believe everything on the computer. lol good luck

  9. #9
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    Default Re: "myth" of hives making their own queen

    I've had good luck with walk.away splits. Remember that the biggest drawback is time.....6 weeks before you will have new bees.emerging....at least 4 before you can be sure if she made it or not. Like everything, if you have a number of hives.you can use as resources, it is all easier. On any scale, however, the timing factor makes raising queens in a cell builder more attractive.
    deknow

  10. #10
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    Default Re: "myth" of hives making their own queen

    Daniel has it right. Queens in nature are planned on by the bees. The eggs are laid in pre-made cell cups and are planned and prepared for in advance by the bees.

    A walk away split is totally UNnatural. No planning, eggs not laid in cell cups but are in regular worker cells, which prevents the developing queens from getting the full nourishment they would get if it was raised in a true queen cell from a pre-made cup.

    Walk away splits will produce queens, but they will be not as well nourished when raised, so are inferior. Some say it does fine and gets good queens, but how long do those queens last? I've found, myself, that walkaway splits are only 50% successful if you follow the performance of the queens over time.

    Make up a nuc to use as a cell builder, with a frame of eggs in it. Make it overly crowded with young nurse bees. 3 to 4 days later, remove all started queen cells and remove the frame of eggs, which are now larva, and insert another frame of eggs. This primes the bees to build cells as they are now in full production of royal jelly. Also, that last frame of eggs added, should be eggs laid in a virgin wax frame. This makes it much easier for the bees to remake the wax around the cells they choose to build into queen cells. Get this frame by inserting a frame of wax foundation into the center of the broodnest of your strong hive that you want daughters of the queen from. Check it daily, and as they start drawing out the wax, then make up your cell builder nuc. This will give you eggs in virgin wax to give the cell builder nuc.
    “When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” – John Muir

  11. #11
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    Default Re: "myth" of hives making their own queen

    Quote Originally Posted by RayMarler View Post
    Make up a nuc to use as a cell builder, with a frame of eggs in it. Make it overly crowded with young nurse bees. 3 to 4 days later, remove all started queen cells and remove the frame of eggs, which are now larva, and insert another frame of eggs. This primes the bees to build cells as they are now in full production of royal jelly. Also, that last frame of eggs added, should be eggs laid in a virgin wax frame. This makes it much easier for the bees to remake the wax around the cells they choose to build into queen cells. Get this frame by inserting a frame of wax foundation into the center of the broodnest of your strong hive that you want daughters of the queen from. Check it daily, and as they start drawing out the wax, then make up your cell builder nuc. This will give you eggs in virgin wax to give the cell builder nuc.

    Okay, its starting come into focus for me. I can see why an emergency queen may be inferior because of lack of feeding. Ray - your technique above sounds very viable.

    Okay, I'm now armed with broader and more logical knowledge!!! Thanks everyone!

  12. #12
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    Default Re: "myth" of hives making their own queen

    If you are going to go the cell builder route, cut a piece of foundation in a fresh frame with "v" shaped notches on the bottom. Put the frame with the fresh foundation in a busy hive for a couple days, and when it has eggs in it, transfer that to your cell builder nuc. The bees will use the eggs at the bottom edge of the Vs of comb sticking down to make queen cells.

    Of course, you aren't going to get ONE queen cell, typically it's a dozen or so. This will let you make several nucs if you want, a good way to get set up for overwintering nucs for next year.

    Peter

  13. #13
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    Default Re: "myth" of hives making their own queen

    Quote Originally Posted by BSAChris View Post
    Okay, its starting come into focus for me. I can see why an emergency queen may be inferior because of lack of feeding.

    Not just the feeding, quite often older larvae are chosen by the bees to make into queens. That's why queen rearers try to graft larvae as close to the third day after the eggs were laid. Anything older runs in less quality.
    Mark Berninghausen To combat Ebola, please consider supporting http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org


  14. #14
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    Default Re: "myth" of hives making their own queen

    Coming into supersedure season, I find that many hives are superseded every year anyway. Even if there is a poor queen produced, chances are in an untreated hive, she'll be replaced rather quickly with a purpose built high quality queen.

    Ultimately, the most efficient method of queen production for the small time guy is grafting with queenright starter and finisher, also known as the Harden method. However, for the very small time guy, there's nothing wrong with walk-away splits. They're less efficient, but they work a reasonable percentage of the time. It was all I did for years.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
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  15. #15
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    Default Re: "myth" of hives making their own queen

    I actually agree with the OP quote.
    I thought it to be true for a few years now, but this year the proof was in the pudding.
    Not intentionally, I did 100 walk away splits. The plan was to split like mad and then take the next few days to requeen. Rains for two weeks have a way of making the best laid plans hit the skids.
    So after the rains, and let me say these hives had alot of feed in them, I go back and start knocking back the cells and adding in mated queens. By the time I get to the last 50, queens have hatched out. The runtiest things I ever saw. Tiny, tiny tiny. Even after some of them make the mating flight, still tiny. Funny thing was, even with these girls in the hives just hatched, they were prepping new cells. Cups all over the place like I have never seen before. The hives which were mated, already started cells.
    IMO, ya they will make a queen, but she is inferior. The newly started queen cells proved it. The emergency queen cells are runty, and not the best shape. Some of them were barely queen cells and had they not either hatched or been killed by the queen, I might have missed them when knocking back cells. Once this runt starts to lay, they will supercede her with a well planned queen.
    Do I see my inpromtu experiment a success...no. Rather a pain in the but because those queens were stinking hard to find being so small. I have seen just emerged queens from nice bee planned cells. Comparing an emergency supercedure queen to a supercedure queen...IMO no comparisson. They will supercede her in short order when they get a few good eggs. Thus setting the hive back further.
    Maybe in warmer climates where the summers are longer, there is time for this to be accomplished. Here though, having them make one queen after another sets the hive back in both production and winter survival.
    JMO

  16. #16
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    Default Re: "myth" of hives making their own queen

    Emergency queens can certainly be quite good - for that matter professionally produced queens can be pretty poor. I wonder if anyone can really tell the difference just by inspecting the queen. There are other factors that are probably just as or more important than whether it was an emergency queen or not.

    In theory, a queen produced in a swarm cell during the main spring flow should be about the most excellent, but I haven't found that to be 100% true. These things just aren't black and white.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: "myth" of hives making their own queen

    Quote Originally Posted by David LaFerney View Post
    These things just aren't black and white.
    Very little is. Too many variables to say that anything will always work a certain way.
    Mark Berninghausen To combat Ebola, please consider supporting http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org


  18. #18
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    Default Re: "myth" of hives making their own queen

    My experience with bees making their own queens when I want them to as in a walkaway split or when a hive has swarmed and left the hive queenless has not been good. I have several hives that have been given frames of eggs/young brood over three weeks and what I have succeeded in doing is keeping the population of the hive viable and kept laying workers from starting - but no queens. I've much better success taking cells when they are started for swarms or whatever and using them in nucs. If a small scale beekeeper with only a hive or two finds themselves queenless, purchasing a mated queen seems like a much better solution.

    My sense is that like many things in beekeeping success in having hives make their own queens is locality based.
    Last edited by Andrew Dewey; 06-26-2012 at 01:35 PM.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  19. #19
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    Default Re: "myth" of hives making their own queen

    Study done in the late 70's in Europe showed that one third of the time bees making emergency queens selected larvae that were too old. The larvae would make a viable queen, just not a very good queen.

    If you make walk away splits the eggs/larvae given to them should have only the youngest of larvae, and from the best breeder you have.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: "myth" of hives making their own queen

    This has been a matter of discussion for more than a century or two...

    http://www.bushfarms.com/beesafewgoo....htm#emergency
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

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