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  1. #1
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    Default Drone Comb for Saturation

    I was curious about drone combs in breeder hives for saturating an area with good DNA.

    What time of year do you put the comb in the hive, or do you leave drone comb in year round?

    If I put the comb in the hive. Is it right to plan for 40 days roughly before you want to mate your queens?

    Any help on managing the male half the gene pool would be great.

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Drone Comb for Saturation

    Drone comb is really only useful for this purpose seasonally when the hive starts to produce drones. You can leave it in year round, but it will likely become a honey storage frame. You can move just off center in the broodnest a couple frames for them to use the honey, and again utilize for drone production.
    Last edited by Whitetail; 12-04-2012 at 08:17 AM. Reason: Clarification

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Drone Comb for Saturation

    Thoughts on forcing bees to lay drones? I'm planning to mate quite a few queens this year and I want to make sure that I have enough drones floating around.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Drone Comb for Saturation

    I don't know about "force." I would think of it more as "entice." Adding drone comb to your colonies would be the best way to increase the number of desirable drones in your mating apiary. Keep in mind the drones contribute a lot to the genetics displayed in the queens' broodnest. I wouldn't put drone comb in any hives I wouldn't feel comfortable grafting out of.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Drone Comb for Saturation

    i decided to try some foundationless frames and drone traps (per randy oliver's design) in my broodnests this past spring.

    they were put in from mid february to early march, just as the first rounds of brood were coming on.

    even though there was no new white wax being drawn yet, the bees drew out these foundationless frames and drone traps.

    interestingly, they drew out complete frames of drone comb, and the queens laid in them.

    my plan for next spring is to introduce foundationless frames again when the brood rearing starts.

    i am going to do mite counts, and cull the capped drone brood out of the hives with high counts, while leaving the drones in the hives with low counts.

    my hope is to flood the dca with 'good' drones when it comes time for mating.

    the hives with high counts will end up getting requeened.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Drone Comb for Saturation

    I had a bunch of shallow frames donated to my operation and will place them into a deep box with desirable genetics. The bees will build drone comb below the shallow frame's bottom bar. I put two or three of these intermixed between full deep frames in my best colonies and it really helps with drone numbers. If desired, in the Fall you can run your hive tool across the bottom and discard drone brood when its no longer needed. I've tried the green plastic drone comb, but I've had mixed results getting it drawn out as pure drone comb. I now prefer the shallow frame in a deep box much better.

  7. #7
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    Sullivan, MO
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    Default Re: Drone Comb for Saturation

    This is one of the very reasons I do foundationless. I think beekeepers do themselves and fellow beekeepers a disservice when they artificially try to keep the drone numbers down using foundation. Most of the information I have seen on the topic of drones is that there is a certain level (I don't remember the %) of drones the bees want to have around and unless you have a drone laying queen, laying workers... The hive isn't going to raise a bunch over that level. So the point is go foundationless, move the drone comb to the outside positions, bees will use it for drones when they want drones and honey when they don't. Whose drones do you want out there affecting the genetics of the surrounding area? Yours? Joe sixpack? Africanized colony in a tree? Just allow them to raise what they want in your hives and you don't have to worry about "flooding" the area. Life is a trade off Better genetics for a little less honey (if that's really proven). I wonder what affect having the proper balance in the hive has on the bees motivation?

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Drone Comb for Saturation

    What I do for drone production, my hive brood nests are all double deeps, using comb foundation. But each hive gets two wired but foundationless deep frames, which they fill with pure drone. I keep these frames on the outside edges of the box, so that if at some point the bees think they have enough drones and stop using them, there is not a broodless frame wasting resources in the middle of the broodnest. On the outside, they'll raise drones, but if they think they have enough they'll use it for nectar and pollen storage. Sometimes they'll raise drones flat out early in the season, then decide they have enough and use the drone comb for honey. Later in the season, the drone population drops and they unpack the honey and raise drones again. Using this method you can get a very high number of drones in a hive. These hives will actually use 3 full drone frames if I let them but two is enough for my purposes.

    Far as getting good mating, it works. A recent example would be from last year at a site I wanted pure as possible carniolan mating. There were 51 mating nucs, and 12 hives used to produce honey and drones. The area was saturated with italian drones I could not previously mate carniolans. But once I set up the 12 carniolan drone production hives, the area became saturated with carniolan drones, I got very high carniolan mating the italian drones hardly got a look in.

    So it's obvious that when doing this you need to be careful to avoid inbreeding, the drone production hives should be from unrelated stock to the queens.

    Another interesting thing is the amount of noise these hives make. They get very full of drones, and early afternoon when the drones go out, the air is just full of drones and the noise is amazing! Many many decibels more than a normal hive.

    The other question in the origional post, to sexually mature at the correct time, the drones need to be a minimum of 2 weeks older than the queens you intend them to mate with. Older is better.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Drone Comb for Saturation

    excellent post oldtimer. i had not thought about using different colonies for drones vs. queen cells.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Drone Comb for Saturation

    This article has lots of good info.
    Virgin colonies used to maintain high volume of desired drones.

    http://www.broodnest.com/uploads/ii_drone_rearing.pdf
    Last edited by Mbeck; 12-07-2012 at 02:20 PM.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Drone Comb for Saturation

    Quote Originally Posted by Mbeck View Post
    This article has lots of good info.
    Virgin colonies used to maintain high volume of desired drones.
    MBeck,

    The article didn't show up.

    Oldtimer,

    How can you "know" that the canies were the drones that were successfully mating? Short of DNA testing, I've always wondered around that.

    I have russians, nwc, italians, ferals, VSH mutts, etc... Russian Queens are golden like italians, and I've had italians come out jet black...

    But that's good news about the foundationless frames. I've used that in the past for mite reduction, I was just hoping to "entice" the queens to raise early queens for early breeding.

    This is the first year that I'm going to really try my hand at queen raising at a significant level. I want to make sure that I produce the best queens that I can.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Drone Comb for Saturation

    Sorry I didn't post it.


    http://www.broodnest.com/uploads/ii_drone_rearing.pdf

    Here is another good one

    http://www.wicwas.com/document%20fil...ryJune2006.pdf



    These two articles give lots of insight.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Drone Comb for Saturation

    Quote Originally Posted by KevinR View Post
    Oldtimer,

    How can you "know" that the canies were the drones that were successfully mating? Short of DNA testing, I've always wondered around that.
    Good point, well in truth, I don't know.

    Just, before I moved the carni drone breeders in my queens were clearly mating with italians because the offspring were not pure. After flooding the area with carni drones, the offspring from the queens were pure black.

    So to me, I felt my strategy was working, but end of the day, there was no DNA test to prove it, I was just assuming.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Drone Comb for Saturation

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    Good point, well in truth, I don't know.

    Just, before I moved the carni drone breeders in my queens were clearly mating with italians because the offspring were not pure. After flooding the area with carni drones, the offspring from the queens were pure black.

    So to me, I felt my strategy was working, but end of the day, there was no DNA test to prove it, I was just assuming.
    Ah.... I had hope that you were fixing to get me some super secrete piece of intel.

    *grins*

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