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  1. #1
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    Default How old is an emergency queen?

    I just had a split wait 3 days before starting QCs. Not till the 4th day did I see any. Got me thinking. Just how old are the larva that the bees choose? It is not unusual for them to have starts spread over different days. Do they actually use different ages? Studies or opinions?

    Backing into the age by the calendar would indicate day to day and a half old larva is acceptable to the bees. At least, if I wait to harvest cells by the calendar I find destroyed cells.
    4 yrs, Peak 14, back to zip, T lite; godfather to brother's 3.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: How old is an emergency queen?

    An emergency queen is started from larvae and not an egg. The best queens come from larvae 24 hours old or less. Studies have shown that one third of the time when bees are allowed to make emergency queens they use larvae that are too old (3 to 4 days) to make good queens. They will start queens from different age larvae as they become available. These queen cells will emerge at different times. A queen cell is capped for 7 1/2 days and then the queen emerges, you may want to time them from the day you find them capped.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: How old is an emergency queen?

    Just curious - what studies are you referring to?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: How old is an emergency queen?

    Saltybee - how strong was the split. Even a very weak hive will try to make a queen - sometimes the cells are very small, but usually a strong hive with plenty of nurse bees and lots of brood to work with will start cells almost immediately.

    I think that it is best to find the queen and split her out into a small nuc - then let the strong part of the hive make a new queen rather than the other way around.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: How old is an emergency queen?

    3 frames from 3 hives.I was planning on removing the cells to add a cell bar. None there. It was different to not see cells. Now I am just watching because I have not seen it before. It was the 4th day before any cells were visable. Now 7 started. They had to catch the last of the eggs.
    4 yrs, Peak 14, back to zip, T lite; godfather to brother's 3.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: How old is an emergency queen?

    David LaFerney;

    1971 study by Dr. J. Woyke of Warsaw, Poland.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: How old is an emergency queen?

    AR Googling with your reference led me to:http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/jas....012-0010-1.xml
    Full PDF has a little more. If you are not getting 1 day larva then emergency cells are the equal according to this study.
    4 yrs, Peak 14, back to zip, T lite; godfather to brother's 3.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: How old is an emergency queen?

    I think Woyke was saying 65% of the time emergency cells are the same as well grafted cells, but 35% of the time they are inferior. It is that 35% of the time that is a kick in the head. If 1/3 of yours queens are poor layers or they fail at the worst possible time, then your crop goes down the drain or your winter losses eat you alive. The queen is the backbone of the colony, it pays to use only the best.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: How old is an emergency queen?

    I did not find the 1971 study and the above does not detail the emergency cell method. I wonder when the old cells are chosen; first last or when no other cell is available. The bees obviously use differrent criteria than I. When I break down the wall for the Mel method the bees are most likely to pick their own cells anyway. Those bad emergency queens are often being superceded before they lay a full half frame. I am suspicious that it is really a 2nd queen laying when a n emergency queen is "slow to really start laying".
    4 yrs, Peak 14, back to zip, T lite; godfather to brother's 3.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: How old is an emergency queen?

    Let's just say for the sake of argument that the very very best cultured queens can only be produced by grafting. Thoroughbred queens. Just for the sake of argument. And that emergency queens that are produced by splitting are never going to be up to the very highest of standards.

    Accurate or not - This discussion comes up regularly, and someone usually chimes in with something like "I would never use emergency queens because they suck."

    The problem with that is that it discourages people from even getting started in making their own increase and therefore getting off of the package treadmill.

    I promise you this - I have produced some very good queens and some very bad queens using both methods.

    You can have a self sufficient apiary where you never have to buy bees or queens (unless you just want to) from which you can produce respectable amounts of honey, and nucleus hives to sell - without ever learning to graft or use a Jenter system or any of that. Just by splitting. The truth is you don't need to run a stable of thoroughbred queens to do all of that.

    Furthermore, the queen that is produced by properly splitting a strong healthy hive, which flies out to mate one at a time (instead of 50 queens all trying to find drones at the same time) with the local drones, and lays continuously without ever being caged or even touched by human hands - can often give one of those $50+ (with shipping) Secretariat queens a good run for the money.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: How old is an emergency queen?

    Quote Originally Posted by David LaFerney View Post

    The problem with that is that it discourages people from even getting started in making their own increase and therefore getting off of the package treadmill.

    I promise you this - I have produced some very good queens and some very bad queens using both methods.
    More truth than some admit.

    Like everything else there is some skill to it. As you say, moving the laying queen out of the hive, well fed healthy hive, soft comb and good timing/luck make some very nice queens. And some quickly replaced. Is a stressed bee as good as a blurry eyed shakey human? Most of the time as good, sometimes no, sometimes better. But that describes my grafting as well.

    1/3 too old? I believe they could do that poorly. I see where that is not a given. Splitting a frame out of the queenright hive is more likely to produce poor queens from what I 've seen. Somewhat the basis of my original question. The methodolgy of splitting does make a differrence.

    I wonder if it is not possible to stimulate the supercedure impulse as well by moving the queen in and out of the hive. Stimulate but not complete would be the trick.
    4 yrs, Peak 14, back to zip, T lite; godfather to brother's 3.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: How old is an emergency queen?

    You can usually stimulate "supercedure" cells by moving open brood above a queen excluder. If you move pretty much all of the open brood above an excluder with a box or two of honey between they will usually build some nice cells. They will still be built from worker brood in modified worker comb, but in a queenright hive.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: How old is an emergency queen?

    I did not say that I never used queens that the colony selected the larvae because I do. I don't like to and I try to replace tham with grafted queens as soon as I am able to do so. What I was trying to say was that a man that makes a living with bees should use only the best queens he has available.

    I see it argued that emergency queens are as good as a good grafted queen, and the study shows that they are, 65% of the time. For a hobbist those figures are not too bad.
    The very best of queens can be produced by non-grafting methods, as anyone that has read the history of queen breeding/producing knows. If a person plans on keeping bees as a hobby, it helps if they try to become proficient in all aspects of the craft, and that includes queen rearing. As you say, it surely is expensive to buy queens, and it is possible to get poorly mated queens from any producer.

    It is not my intention to discourage new beekeepers, just inform them, and I did not intend to step on anyone's toes. I still will stick with the figures stated, 35% of the time an emergency queen cell will produce a substandard queen.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: How old is an emergency queen?

    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  15. #15
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    Default Re: How old is an emergency queen?

    AR Beekeeper - sorry if it seemed like I was in any way hostile to your comments. I did not mean it like that. I do understand what you are saying, and I believe in replacing queens that are dodgy in any way whatsoever. After I get back from vacation, I'm planning to do one last batch of grafts just for that purpose.

    I'm active in my local association and I try to encourage people to make their own increase by whatever method they are comfortable with. I have done club presentations on splitting, and I just presented a hands on grafting/queen rearing workshop series where we actually produced queens. I think that making increase pushes bee keepers to a new level, and helps to keep them from becoming discouraged and losing interest.

    I hate for new bee keepers to get the impression that splitting is not worth doing because emergency queens are inferior. You didn't say that, and I didn't intend to imply that you did.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: How old is an emergency queen?

    Asked a question and received some answers. Always appreciated.

    If I could design an experiment: with a photographic record of the age pattern of a good multi age frame, which would the bees choose. Remove those cells and see where they next choose. Repeat multiple times. Is the variable the bees or is the variable in the selection of frames made by the keeper?

    David, split is not a four letter word. Glad you are willing to stand by that fact.

    The idea behind grafting is maximum quality queens from minimum resources. Below 6 or 8 hives a strong case can be made that grafting is not the best economy. Definately true at 1 or 2 hives. Start with a dense cell maker= commit much of your resources. Graft a cell bar. Fun, interesting, everybody should do it . More fun than honey.
    4 yrs, Peak 14, back to zip, T lite; godfather to brother's 3.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: How old is an emergency queen?

    Quote Originally Posted by David LaFerney View Post
    Let's just say for the sake of argument that the very very best cultured queens can only be produced by grafting. Thoroughbred queens. Just for the sake of argument. And that emergency queens that are produced by splitting are never going to be up to the very highest of standards.

    Accurate or not - This discussion comes up regularly, and someone usually chimes in with something like "I would never use emergency queens because they suck."

    The problem with that is that it discourages people from even getting started in making their own increase and therefore getting off of the package treadmill.

    I promise you this - I have produced some very good queens and some very bad queens using both methods.

    You can have a self sufficient apiary where you never have to buy bees or queens (unless you just want to) from which you can produce respectable amounts of honey, and nucleus hives to sell - without ever learning to graft or use a Jenter system or any of that. Just by splitting. The truth is you don't need to run a stable of thoroughbred queens to do all of that.

    Furthermore, the queen that is produced by properly splitting a strong healthy hive, which flies out to mate one at a time (instead of 50 queens all trying to find drones at the same time) with the local drones, and lays continuously without ever being caged or even touched by human hands - can often give one of those $50+ (with shipping) Secretariat queens a good run for the money.
    Hey now let's not get crazy, there's no way any queen either emergency or super grafted is going to beat a Secretariat queen, maybe a Man O War or Seattle Slew Queen, but NOT Secretariat no way never. LOL

    My 2 cents on the matter at hand is that the problem with emergency cells isn't that the bees are stupid and choose too old of larva, it's that sometimes what they have to work with is really old comb that they can't easily tear down and they have to float the larva out of the cell and into the proper position and a lot of that royal jelly gets wasted and the queen is poorly nourished.

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