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  1. #1
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    Default Fall breeder queens

    I wanted to ask in question in the ongoing thread (http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...in-intro-cages) but didn't want to hijack the good responses.

    I've gotten a good number of $$$ II breeder queens and have always gotten them as early as possible in the springtime. The intent is to maximize the utility of these girls while they are still around. Its been my experience that the percentage of these girls still around the following spring is pretty low. I have had a few that overwintered well and went on to survive another season, but nothing over two seasons. So doing this in the Fall seems pretty risky and I'm wondering what are the advantages? I guess the upshot is that if she overwinters then your confidence should be a little higher that she's a keeper, but then I wonder how much overwintering success can be attributed to a Sept/Oct requeening, given that the accepting colony is already well-established and as such much of its fate is already set. Is it the late winter/early spring build-up that you're looking at?
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Fall breeder queens

    My breeder queens have to overwinter two winters and be treatment free before a graft from them. So I graft from them on their third year. My stock of bees are starting to preform VERRY well by doing this. I would never buy a breeder queen and graft from her the first year. It's been a few years since I bought a queen. My breeder queens or survivors that I personally select.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Fall breeder queens

    Quote Originally Posted by Deepsouth View Post
    I would never buy a breeder queen and graft from her the first year.
    Just so we're clear, I'm talking about instrumentally inseminated queens from breeder programs with lots of experience. I'm not talking about the process one goes through to produce a breeder queen. The point of buying a "breeder queen" is that most of the breeding work has been done by those with great expertise, e.g., Sue Cobey, Tom Glenn, Joe Latshaw, etc. Of course you evaluate her offspring's performance and incorporate as required to meet your long term goals. If I waited two years to breed from an II breeder queen I would have ZERO queens from that sizable investment.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Fall breeder queens

    Astro, I've always thought it was the amount of uls of semen that the queen was inseminated with that contributed to her longevity or lack there of. My II breeder queens from outside sources usually never made it to fall if I got them early in the spring. But if they start in the fall in a moderate climate she would still have the same amount of semen to use no matter what time of year. I don't recall any commercial suppliers mentioning the amount of uls they inseminate with. Those of us now doing it on our own have options to increase that amount of semen hoping to get a more normal lifespan if you will. Good question though!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Fall breeder queens

    Yes i agree you cant wait that long with an artificially aseminated queen.I just prefer to see what I am buying. But I am by no means an expert , just like to experiment with deferent methods which are endless. That's why I love beekeeping

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Fall breeder queens

    I must admit, that until this year, all of my II queens came from Glenn. I had very poor overwintering with a couple of exceptions. Perhaps my personal experience is clouding the reality. I know that Sue Cobey claims that II queens can last many years, just like an good open mated queen. I sure hope that my current II queens see that kind of longevity.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Fall breeder queens

    AstroBee for what you are trying to do, overwintering an II queen will have more to do with how the II was done and little to do with her genetics. If one can survive winter I doubt that would mean her progeny are likely to be any better than the ones that don't. After all, we are not even talking about the survival of the hive, just whether they attempted to supersede the queen.

    To maximise the chances of her getting through, restrict her egg laying right from when you get her, and winter in the smallest possible hive your climate can bear, small hives supersede less easily than big ones. But it will still be a crap shoot whether or not she gets through.

    Larger breeders generally will not use a breeder more than one season anyway, as using it the next year means there may well be inbreeding via mating with drones from her own progeny the year before. A commercial breeder will often be happy with just a few months use from an II breeder queen.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Fall breeder queens

    Astro, what kind of dose are you giving your II queens??

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Fall breeder queens

    I buy II breeders in fall to use the following spring. The reason is that I start grafting the first week of March. I would need to buy II breeders in Jan to get them established and laying in time to graft in March and thats not possible.

    Johnny
    "Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." - Mark Twain

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Fall breeder queens

    Brandy,

    I would like to get to 12 micro liters, but the semen extraction is REALLY tough, so I have probably been only dosing about 8. As you know this has been my 1st year doing II, so I thought it was more important to see some measure of success than to shoot for perfection. How did it go for you this season?
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Fall breeder queens

    Johnny,

    Now that's a compelling reason. What percentage of Fall II queens are still around in March?
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Fall breeder queens

    Astro, I was thinking that Adam may have commented here since I'm "thinking" he's overwintering a few of his II breeders but maybe not. I used 10 uls. per Adams recommendation and I'm glad I did. So far they are laying every cell that's open and going into winter as strong or stronger than any of the other open mated nucs. They are much stronger than the II Breeders I got from CA which makes me think they have a chance to make it into spring. But I did raise 2 batches of daughters "for insurance" not knowing how winter would affect them etc...!!! And indeed we do have winter here!!

    And Johnny, that's just not right.. We can still have 2-3 feet of snow by March!!

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Fall breeder queens

    Quote Originally Posted by Brandy View Post
    So far they are laying every cell that's open and going into winter as strong or stronger than any of the other open mated nucs.
    Awesome!! Sounds like you covered all your bases! Best of luck this winter.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Fall breeder queens

    So far they have all made it thru 1st winter. I am having lot better luck with VP Queens than the Glenn queens. Several of the VP queens made it thru a second winter.

    Johnny
    "Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." - Mark Twain

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Fall breeder queens

    There's inherent risk with fall queens as I got to find out last week. I got a pol line hygenic breeder that just got superceded at week 5, if I'm lucky I'll get a few daughters out of it but now I have to wait til next year to get a replacement. I chose to get her a little late in the year as I wasn't planning on doing anything with her until next year, but if I had to do it over again, I'd get her as early as possible, get some daughters off her as quickly as possible and hope she overwinters for full production in spring.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Fall breeder queens

    I've heard that II queens rarely last more than a year. Does anyone have further insight in this? Is it simply because they do not receive enough semen, as was suggested in a comment above? This would seem as a rather simple hypothesis to verify, and one easy to correct. I'm sure one could ask, for a certain fee, for his breeder supplier to simply II her with more semen than he usually does.

    Or is it something else? Maybe the CO2 doesn't properly simulate the development triggered by the nuptial flight? Maybe the clipped wing makes her daughters consider her "damaged"? Maybe the numbered tags that are glued to their backs don't smell right to her daughters?

    I'd love to hear your thoughts on the factors that influence II queen longevity, and which measures can be taken to extend it.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Fall breeder queens

    Sue Cobey did a paper a while ago summarizing all the studies on the productive lifespan of II queens vs naturally mated queens. The summary is, that in all studies (except the first one ) the II queens were just as productive as open mated queens and in several studies were superior, likely due to more consistent sperm counts and genetics. In the one study that showed II queen were inferior, the queens were banked for many weeks, shipped to Canada, introduced, etc. Conditions that would stress even a naturally mated queen. Unfortunately this early study seems to have given II queens an a bad rap.

    Still, just like naturally mated queens, the studies show that the conditions the queens are raised in, and how they are treated plays a big part into how well and how long they lay. Ideally, II queens should be treated likely your best open mated queens (except for the actual mating). In other words introduced in a hive while a cell or young virgin (though they may be caged at that point to prevent flight and make it easier to catch them for II), and allowed to run free after insemination. Care during the 48 hour period after insemination is critical. And it's best to establish them laying well before shipping them, just as it is for a naturally mated queen.

    Some cheap II queens are banked until old enough. Inseminated, banked for 48 hours then shipped. Yes they will lay, but their condition is much more variable I think.

    I have routinely overwintered breeder queens, and many not all raised under the most ideal conditions. In fact for any breeding program you really need to run them as a production hive and overwinter them in order to do any real selection.


    Sue Cobey's paper on II queens was quite interesting and may answer many of the questions you have about factors affecting queen longevity, both for II queens and naturally mated queens. I can't seem to find it online at the moment (it was a formally published paper). There were good sections on amount of sperm stored, effect of hive size, effects of sperm quantity and number of inseminations, etc.


    Personally I never found the marking tags or clipped wings to cause any problems. But then when I clip wings it's only ever so slightly and doesn't keep the queen from flying. It's just clipped enough so that the end of the wing is flat instead of rounded so that I know it's an II queen even if the tag falls off. (So I can tell if the unmarked queen is the II queen or a swarm/superceedure queen)

    The queen is only capable of storing a certain amount of semen. A properly inseminated queen should have received enough to be 'full', though various factors can reduce the amount actually stored. Using more semen than normal may have limited benifits, if any, and can cause problems (excessive amounts of dried semen in the oviduct).


    -Tim

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Fall breeder queens

    Hi there,
    Tim makes many good points.

    The longevity of an AI queen is directly related to her health pre and post insemination; How she's taken care of by her workers. If she is confined for some of this time, how the adjacent workers are feeding and grooming her.

    Think about this: a queen's spermatheca holds about 1 micro-liter of sperm. The common dose of semen given to a virgin for AI is between 8 and 10 micro-liters. Where does it all go? The sperm (in the semen) has to actually migrate from the queen's lateral oviducts to her spermatheca. This migration process is very important and plays an essential role in her laying longevity and use. If the queen is healthy and her environment is good, the sperm migration should go well.

    One grafting season is what can be expected from an AI queen. We try to produce them to last longer-- some indeed do.

    The value of an AI queen in breeding programs certainly offsets her short productivity.


    Adam Finkelstein
    www.vpqueenbees.com
    Last edited by adamf; 09-25-2013 at 05:11 AM.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Fall breeder queens

    Here's the study that I think tarheit was referring to: http://169.237.77.3/courses/beeclasses/IIvsNM.pdf

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