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  1. #1
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    May 2009
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    Verona, Wisconsin, USA
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    Default intoducing virgin queens to the hive

    Hello,
    I'm thinking about ordering some virgin queens this spring for a few of my hives (which will be queenless). Is there anything different about how virgin queens are introduced versus mated queens?
    Thanks,
    mixofsam

  2. #2
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    Apr 2012
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    Gaston, SC
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    Default Re: intoducing virgin queens to the hive

    keep her caged for a few days,, for the scent to permeate the hive,, and make sure you have plenty of Drones available for her to mate with,,

  3. #3
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    Millbury, MA, USA
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    Default Re: intoducing virgin queens to the hive


  4. #4
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    Default Re: intoducing virgin queens to the hive

    lauri has posted photos and video of simply placing (already marked) virgins directly onto frame with uncapped nectar/honey.

    she describes how most virgins will begin feeding themselves immediately after putting them in contact with frame.

    i can't wait to try this.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  5. #5
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    May 2010
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    Spokane, Washington, USA
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    Default Re: intoducing virgin queens to the hive

    You will have higher acceptance with queen cells than virgins. I have introduced 500-600 virgins this last season and have found that you have to make sure all the brood is capped brood and feeding helps with acceptance. I dropped queens into a solution of honey and water and then dropped them into a nuc. Acceptance varied. Sometimes 90% other times 60% and even had times with as low as 30%. I have found the older the virgin the lower the acceptance.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: intoducing virgin queens to the hive

    good to know rak. how long between hatching and introducing do you see acceptance going down?
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  7. #7
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    portland, dorset, UK
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    Default Re: intoducing virgin queens to the hive

    Quote Originally Posted by RAK View Post
    I dropped queens into a solution of honey and water and then dropped them into a nuc. Acceptance varied.
    Hi, genuine question: What was the reasoning for using this method? I've no experience of introducing virgins although I have been mulling the possibilities over during this last winter. To me (with my zero experience) I would have thought that coating them with honey would cause the nuc bees to pay far more attention than they would usually pay to a virgin which in turn could also increase the chance of rejection.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Herrick, SD USA
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    Default Re: intoducing virgin queens to the hive

    Quote Originally Posted by RAK View Post
    I have found the older the virgin the lower the acceptance.
    Good observation and something that is as close to established fact as there is in the whole business of introducing virgins. Frankly I don't understand the whole logic behind doing it at all. For me the idea of introducing virgins has always been plan B that I employ only when there is a glut of ripe cells in relation to the number of cells "in the pipeline".
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
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    Suffolk, VA
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    2,575

    Default Re: intoducing virgin queens to the hive

    Yes, ideally when producing queens you try to avoid dealing with introducing virgins, but the OP wants to purchase virgins, which are available from a few queen producers, so they have to get them introduced.

    I introduce virgins exactly as I do with mated queens, that is, candy release with the cage hung between brood frames. Don't rush it by reaming out the candy! Make sure there is brood in the hive and lots of young bees. Feeding is also beneficial. I too have found that older virgins are much more challenging, so those that are shipped are likely at least 3 days old will pose much more of an issue than those that just emerged. I've heard from many veteran beekeepers "just run virgins in the entrance". That approach has never worked for me and makes me wonder under what conditions that could have ever been successful.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: intoducing virgin queens to the hive

    i wonder how much adding those few days until the release, to the already few days in shipping, affects the quality of the queen once mated?
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  11. #11
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    Millbury, MA, USA
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    Default Re: intoducing virgin queens to the hive

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    i wonder how much adding those few days until the release, to the already few days in shipping, affects the quality of the queen once mated?
    I had several virgins banked over a queen-right hive on an excluder. They were there and used as I needed them over the next week. Had about 70% success with them and they were all good queens once mated.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: intoducing virgin queens to the hive

    good to know cam, many thanks.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  13. #13
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    May 2010
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    Spokane, Washington, USA
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    Default Re: intoducing virgin queens to the hive

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    good to know rak. how long between hatching and introducing do you see acceptance going down?
    All my queen cells were introduced on day 13 or 14. I had 90%+ acceptance with cells. I found that looking through many nucs is difficult in the heat but grafting a batch of 200 early in the morning is much easier. I would graft every 6-7 days and place a cell into the nuc and then a week later I would place another cell. A third cell would be added a week and a half-ish after the second cell. This was my way of insurance and majority of queens mated successfully. Another interesting factor I noticed is that if the first cell emerged and mated poorly the third cell would not be destroyed but would supercede the queen. Very interesting that the bees seemed to keep the cell safe from the queen. Didn't always work but in most cases it did.

    These nucs were in singles. After the third queen cell I would just crack the lid and if the deep looked full another deep was added. These queens sure produce some nice patterns.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: intoducing virgin queens to the hive

    Quote Originally Posted by Rolande View Post
    Hi, genuine question: What was the reasoning for using this method? I've no experience of introducing virgins although I have been mulling the possibilities over during this last winter. To me (with my zero experience) I would have thought that coating them with honey would cause the nuc bees to pay far more attention than they would usually pay to a virgin which in turn could also increase the chance of rejection.
    Virgins typically get balled because when you drop them in a hive they run like crazy which results in a dead virgin. The theory here is that the the soaked virgin is very slow. The young bees start cleaning her up and in the process they slowly get used to her smell. I have also tried dipping a queen into honey mixed with HBH(honey be healthy)I would also mist the whole hive with hbh. It worked as well but needs to be tried more to say that it works.

    I would recommend placing the soaked virgin on a frame with capped brood and watch them lick her away. I don't buy virgins unless its for insemination, but when raising queens yourself, cells is the better way to go. Its very stressful when you find that half your nucs rejected your virgin.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: intoducing virgin queens to the hive

    cool stuff rak, thanks.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  16. #16
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    Default Re: intoducing virgin queens to the hive

    Please watch this video. VERY useful. Its in German...

    1:38 is where the queen gets soaked.


  17. #17
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    Aug 2010
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    portland, dorset, UK
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    Default Re: intoducing virgin queens to the hive

    RAK, thanks for the reply. New territory is always interesting!

    Do you have overall acceptance percentages for the year?

  18. #18
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    portland, dorset, UK
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    Default Re: intoducing virgin queens to the hive

    Quote Originally Posted by RAK View Post
    Please watch this video. VERY useful. Its in German...

    1:38 is where the queen gets soaked.
    Nice video (the continental Europeans produce some good ones for sure). Got to say I'm not too keen on the whole soaking process but it's always interesting to learn what other people are doing.

  19. #19
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    Spokane, Washington, USA
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    Default Re: intoducing virgin queens to the hive

    With the virgins I had somewhere around 60% acceptance( cant remember how many mated). After a few tries I placed a cell into the nuc if the virgin was not accepted. Overall 85% of the hives with cell got mated with a very good queen(very good weather and many drones). Some use cell protectors but I would tape cells when forcing supercedure. I noticed more of the queen cells mate successfully than virgins.

    Make sure that the bees have capped brood that way they can not start cells and feed bees syrup and pollen sub.

    I will have to document my splitting this year with exact percentage...

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