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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Novato, CA
    Posts
    554

    Default queens and broodless periods - tell me about this please!

    I'm about 30 miles north of S.F., no rain yet but cold nights in the low 40s, barely reaching 65 in the day, 70 if we are lucky...about to get clobbered with rain and cold....

    I understand some queens break the brood cycle to prepare for winter...they stop laying. This also helps disrupt the mite breeding cycle.

    Do you all observe this? How do you tell the difference between a queenless hive versus one that is just not laying if you can't find the queen?

    When does it start for you in the year? (need to know your location).

    How long does it last?

    Do the queens shrink down in size? Do they pretend to be workers?

    Thanks all!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Montgomery county PA
    Posts
    19

    Default Re: queens and broodless periods - tell me about this please!

    If you find eggs then that should be good enough. If you do not find any eggs, you can steal a frame with eggs from another hive and put it in the suspect hive. If they make queen cells then you probably do not have a laying queen.
    Note that in your area if there are no drones available then any new queens probably will not get mated. In that scenario you may want to perform a newspaper merge with a queen right hive.
    That is what I would do this late in the year.
    Good luck.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Novato, CA
    Posts
    554

    Default Re: queens and broodless periods - tell me about this please!

    Thanks but I don't really have eggs to spare. My queen right is pretty reduced, my two strong hives are set for the winter and I do not want to open the brood nests on them. But yes, I can see how that would work...just not good timing for me.

    I'm thinking I would keep her in the cage and put her in and see the reaction, go from there. Any advice on that?

    and thank you, always!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,955

    Default Re: queens and broodless periods - tell me about this please!

    Some beekeepers report that a brood break can help reduce the growth rate of Varroa population. Brood breaks are most generally done not at this time of year but in late spring or early summer by the beekeeper either by removing or confining the queen.

    Natural brood breaks occur when a queen is lost and the hive makes an emergency queen. Note that brood breaks of inconsequential length take place with swarming.

    From your description your hive sounds queenless. I do not know that there are adequate drones in your area at this time of year to mate with an emergency queen (presuming the bees have or you provide the resources to make a queen.) You'll best find out about drones talking with experienced local beekeepers.

    Brood breaks are one technique some treatment free beekeepers use to fight Varroa. The jury is still out on how long the brood break needs to be in order to be effective and what the loss of new bees means for the colony in terms of gathering overwintering food stores and making surplus honey.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Novato, CA
    Posts
    554

    Default Re: queens and broodless periods - tell me about this please!

    Well the deed is done. I checked the hive one last time and made sure there was an empty frame in the middle surrounded by resources; put her on top in the cage for a bit. They did not seem aggressive and since it is cooling off fast I opened it up. Some bees went inside and after a while she crawled out. I saw that as a good sign...no one stung her inside the cage. Down she went and the others followed.

    She is marked and from good, local survivor stock. I hope to see her again in the spring. Thank you all for your advice, I appreciate it! Kimberly

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
    Posts
    2,738

    Default Re: queens and broodless periods - tell me about this please!

    Sorry for the late reply. Our queens can stop laying the end of August, and for sure are mostly done by the end of September. If we have a frost, that is the end, no matter the month. What do you have for pollen incoming and flowers blooming?

    Crazy Roland

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,955

    Default Re: queens and broodless periods - tell me about this please!

    @Roland - Your queens are done rearing brood by the end of September? I know all beekeeping is local but that seems extremely early. So your winter bees are born in August and September - the last finishing up in early October? When does the queen resume laying? And when does spring buildup begin in earnest?
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
    Posts
    2,738

    Default Re: queens and broodless periods - tell me about this please!

    That sounds about right for when the queens stop laying. If my memory is correct, our average frost is around the 3rd week in September. Add three weeks to hatch, and the tail end is middle of October, but there is a major taper of laying. The last week in August thru the first 2 weeks in September is when most of the winter bees are laid. The books say the queens start up again in mid January, but we see nothing major untill mid March. Our first inspection is as soon as the snow melts and we can get in the beeyards, ussaully the last week of March or the first week of April, At that time we rarely see a "Bull's eye" of brood. Normally the first round is just about to hatch.

    Unfortunately, we have not had normal in many years. There where 6 weeks difference between this year and last year's plant blooms. Hard to know when what will happen, and even harder to guess what will happen.

    Crazy Roland

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    6,029

    Default Re: queens and broodless periods - tell me about this please!

    Both bees, and mites, can extend their life quite a bit during a winter broodless period. Where I live, there is brood all year, but where I used to work in a colder part of my country there was a winter broodless period of at least couple months. As to how that effects mites, a mites life span seems more determined by how many reproductive cycles it has had, possibly connected to the amount of sperm it gets in it's only mating at the beginning of it's life.

    So in a broodless period, the mites just keep living until there is brood again. In my own experiments with this using bees with little / no varroa resistance, mite numbers after a 6 week broodless period were almost identical to numbers at the start of the broodless period. However anecdotal evidence on Beesource is that if the bees have a degree of mite resistance in the form of grooming or attacking adult mites, a broodless period will reduce mite numbers because the mites are not hidden in the brood they are out among the bees and vulnerable to attack.

    So it would seem likely that the success of a broodless period as it will affect mite numbers depends on your bees.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

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