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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Mobile County, AL, U.S.
    Posts
    33

    Default How often to requeen

    I have always let my bees decide when their queen needs to be replaced. However, I am trying to be a more effective beekeeper and have also started grafting my own queens. I ran into the state apiarist the other day and he was aghast when I told him I did not requeen on a regular basis. He told me I was losing out on a lot of honey and that I need to requeen every two years. I have read this before in other places but thought I would leave it up to ya'll to convince me. So let's hear it.

    I would also appreciate any links to previous threads on this topic.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Baker Oregon
    Posts
    2,461

    Default Re: How often to requeen

    Personally I agree with you and will generally let them replace the queen as they see fit. There are of course exceptions.
    Dan Hayden 4 Years. 12 hives. Tx Free. USDA Zone 5b.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    6,565

    Default Re: How often to requeen

    > I would also appreciate any links to previous threads on this topic.

    Here's an interesting one ...
    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...tinely+requeen
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    McClure, OH
    Posts
    1,017

    Default Re: How often to requeen

    An interesting facet of requeening is that if you requeen by providing a ripe queen cell, you also create a brood break which is a useful tool in the fight against varroa.

    This year, I raised my own queens using the cut-cell method. I also pulled the queens off my honey producers after the flow and let them raise their own queen. I did not pinch those queens - they ended up in nucs that they built up to 10 frames deep. However, most of those queens still got superceded in the fall (by the bees, not me).

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Spanish Fork, UT, USA
    Posts
    386

    Default Re: How often to requeen

    I usually let my hives replace their own queen. I have been tracking my queens a little more closely the past few years and found that overall queen failure has increased regardless of how old she is. My good queens do well their first two years.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    6,065

    Default Re: How often to requeen

    The idea of requeening every 2 years is a pre varroa idea, when queens would commonly live 3 years but in the 3rd would often not be as productive.

    Post varroa, the bulk of queens are superseded in less than 3 years, often much less, the requeen each 2 years idea is now outdated. Although it was a good and profitable solution back when I started in bees.

    Queens raised by natural supersedure as planned by the bees (as distinct from emergency raised queens), are raised under ideal conditions, well fed, and typically are large healthy egg laying machines. If you are happy with the genetics, supersedure queens are a good option.

    Requeening is also a resource and time consuming part of commercial beekeeping, if the bees supersede themselves, any saving is a saving.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    6,065

    Default Re: How often to requeen

    Just as an aside to that, after varroa first came to my country, in my hives anyway most queens only survived a season. Now, it's rare the queen will not be good for 2 seasons, so things must be improving. Only a fraction make it to the 3rd season though and they are not worth much.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hamilton, Alabama
    Posts
    1,224

    Default Re: How often to requeen

    There is an argument that it all depends on how heavily the queen has had to lay. In equatorial regions (latitude 20 degrees N to 20 degrees S) queens are rarely good for more than one year. This is because they are called on to lay eggs year round. Further north (roughly from the gulf coast of the U.S. to Iowa) a queen may be good for 2 years.

    My personal experience is that queens should be replaced yearly if you want an optimum crop of honey.
    DarJones - 45 years, 10 colonies (max 40), sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 11 frame broodnest, small cell

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    St. Petersburg, fl, USA
    Posts
    186

    Default Re: How often to requeen

    I believe the state of Florida's "best practices" print out wants you to requeen at least yearly and preferably twice a year. I think that has something to do with Africanized bees. According to the state most of our feral bees carry African genetics. We do a lot of cut outs and have never had a hot hive. One of the cut outs from this spring is one of our best hives and probably one of the the gentlest. That being said we still requeen about once a year. This year we have several queens from Honeyland in Groveland that were sold as VSH Ivarroa sensitive hygienic). They seem to be good producers and we are getting ready to do our fall sugar shake and mite count so we will see how we fair with that. Anyway requeening breaks the brood cycle (helps with mites) and first year queens are less likely to swarm. We plan to use our best hive (best honey production, least mites) and make some queens from them.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Jefferson Co, TX
    Posts
    739

    Default Re: How often to requeen

    Quote Originally Posted by jimsteelejr View Post
    I believe the state of Florida's "best practices" print out wants you to requeen at least yearly and preferably twice a year. I think that has something to do with Africanized bees. According to the state most of our feral bees carry African genetics. We do a lot of cut outs and have never had a hot hive. One of the cut outs from this spring is one of our best hives and probably one of the the gentlest. That being said we still requeen about once a year. This year we have several queens from Honeyland in Groveland that were sold as VSH Ivarroa sensitive hygienic). They seem to be good producers and we are getting ready to do our fall sugar shake and mite count so we will see how we fair with that. Anyway requeening breaks the brood cycle (helps with mites) and first year queens are less likely to swarm. We plan to use our best hive (best honey production, least mites) and make some queens from them.
    Jim - please post something about what you see with sugar shake results, just your opinion would be good to me. Can PM me if you don't want to post it.

    Another question, if you plan to do brood breaks in Florida, when do you plan to do those, summer when it is hot and limited nectar flow?

    Thanks

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    St. Petersburg, fl, USA
    Posts
    186

    Default Re: How often to requeen

    We help teach at the USF botanical gardens bee class. Yesterdays class was doing a mite count with a sugar shake. The trend yesterday seemed to be that the hives set up with the VSH queens did have fewer mites and most had counts low enough not to treat. I don't have all the data where I can actually print it out but I will try to remember to get it at next class in November.
    We had several hives that we did need to treat and they all seemed to be hives that went thru last winter so they were a mix of queens and some may have requeened themselves. Again I did not copy data so I am working from my poor memory.
    We will be checking our hives today and I will print our data tonite or Monday.
    As for brood breaks We want to try making some queens in the spring using one of the non grafting methods. So If we are successful we will requeen some of the hives then (never all at once so we have back up in case of failures) and then probably do more in August.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
    Posts
    1,014

    Default Re: How often to requeen

    I agree with Oldtimer.

    Raise half your own queens and buy half from a different GOOD source each year. Keep careful records, promote the good ones and re-queen the not-so-good colonies.

    Torment the mites several times a year with an IPM program and powder sugar them every visit.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Kingston, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    276

    Default Re: How often to requeen

    Quote Originally Posted by kilocharlie View Post
    I agree with Oldtimer.

    Raise half your own queens and buy half from a different GOOD source each year. Keep careful records, promote the good ones and re-queen the not-so-good colonies.

    Torment the mites several times a year with an IPM program and powder sugar them every visit.

    Agree but you need to aggressively grade the production of your hives each season and replace all queens that don't measure up (honey production, mean hive, swarms). It cost too much in loss production to put up with weak hives.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    2,968

    Default Re: How often to requeen

    I generally let the bees supercede but sometimes they may have to replace an old queen at a bad time, like one of my best hives did about two weeks ago. New queen should've emerged in the last few days.... I will check in 3 weeks and take a mated queen with me, hate to lose these genetics but I doubt any drones are around now even though the weather isn't too bad, days are short and it's cooling off quick. My point, track your queens, I started the year off with 4 around 3 years old, they all got superceded throughout the year, this was the last one. My advice is to replace older queens at an ideal time to avoid instances such as this.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Roy, Wa
    Posts
    1,799

    Default Re: How often to requeen

    I'll jump in here with my 2 cents.
    As a small time queen producer, I get calls from beekeepers all spring and summer. I hear all the stories and problems. A surprising number of folks are panicked because they have found upon purchase, the queen in the cage is dead and there was no prevision by the supplier for replacement. Or They want to get a new queen, usually because they 'think' they are queenless. That makes me shudder.
    Some want to replace their existing queen because the colony just isn't doing anything. I ask if they have checked for mites or fed the hive. The answer is almost always 'no'. Folks blame the queen for everything lacking in a hive, when many times it is not the genetics of the hive, but poor health or poor management.

    As they say with horses, 'Before you call the vet, try feeding' The same applied to colonies.

    My advise for determining a requeening schedule is this:
    When buying packaged bees or nucs, you should know this fact. The queens in those packages were raised in volume, really too early in the spring to be assured of being well fed as larva and well mated. If I ever bought bees again, I would allow them to grow with the established queen until my own locally mated queen were ready. Scrutinize the colonies performance at that point. Requeen any colony that did not impress me in a big way with my own select stock. No need to pinch the purchased queens, just put her on Craig's list for $20. and she'll be gone the first day. There is nothing wrong with her, she is just an unknown performer I wouldn't risk my entire season her.

    Base your choice on performance. If queens quality is unknown, hive has been managed well and performance is low, replace her. If hive traits are poor, replace her.

    When buying new bees, you must assure they are healthy. Treatment free folks will overlook this step in their determination to remain treatment free. But you can't get bees on frames infected with pathogens and toxins or riddled with mites and expect them to survive. You can't blame the queen, or expect a new queen for that matter, to overcome management mistakes. Becoming treatment free is a great goal, but it takes time and work to do so. It just doesn't happen on it's own.

    There are times when the genetics of the hive are poor. Even average is not acceptable. But be sure it is the queen that is the problem, not the health or state of the hive. Determining that comes with experience and observation. If after a few generations, certain hives with the same genetics are on the average side, it's time to remove and replace with high performers.

    Suspected Africanized genetics should be immediately replaced.

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mille...56954971040510

    Just a few pics to tempt you! Learn to raise you own queens and you get the pick of the litter. I did it just by reading Beesource.







    Newly hatched Virgin:



    Many times I go into the winter with a 1 or 2 year old queen still heading the hive. I just leave them alone. I have seen many fall hives go into the winter with two mated queens, both mother and daughter both laying and living together. Most people overlook this fall behavior. Once they find their queen, they don't continue to look through the whole hive for another one. I have even seen three queens in a large fall hive. I also leave them alone to sort out what's best for the hive. Come spring the old queen is usually gone and the younger daughter has taken over.

    All my queens are marked as soon as they hatch. Notes are written on each hive with queen hatching date, color, lineage and particulars. I know exactly the genetics and age of the queens at all times.

    The hives supercedure methods can also be genetic. My two best lines here will commonly hatch out a new replacement queen, but not kill or allow the new virgin to kill the old queen until she is mated and laying well. Although I rarely see two queen hives in early spring, I find many hives with a new unmarked laying queen with absolutely no interruption in brood production. Might be why these are my best two lines. They are superior producers in my short season area. And by producers, I mean all around producers. Not just honey, but consistent large hive populations , low mite counts. low swarming tendencies and great overwintering ability for a long inactive period Northern bees have to tolerate.
    Last edited by Lauri; 10-30-2013 at 04:37 PM.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Buderim, Queensland, Australia
    Posts
    179

    Default Re: How often to requeen

    Lauri, those queens are real beauties!

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Mobile County, AL, U.S.
    Posts
    33

    Default Re: How often to requeen

    Great tips everyone! Great pics Lori! Thanks for the encouragement. I started grafting last year but I still have some work to do to keep SHB from destroying my mating nucs. I did breed several of my own queens and can't wait to see how they do this year. I had your saying about feeding the horse in my head yesterday when I was checking my hives. We don't get that cold here and I have mostly Italian genetics so my girls lay pretty much year round. I had one hive yesterday that only had a little spotty capped brood. It had previously performed great and still has plenty of honey. I was thinking I would need to combine it but realized I didn't see one single cell of pollen in that whole hive. I gave some dry pollen across the tops of the frames. I'll check back in a week or two and decide if I should do a combine.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
    Posts
    1,014

    Default Re: How often to requeen

    Incidentally, keeping that many more queens on hand for re-queening twice a year requires either very astute queen banking, or running nucleus colonies. I do have queen banks, but I strongly prefer the nuc's. I re-queen by combining via the newspaper combine method, or with the Laidlaw Queen Introduction Cage.

    A piece of 3/4" plywood cut to fit over the 10-frame box (19 7/8" x 16 1/4") but with a rectangle cut out the inside dimension of the 5-frame nuc box (6" x 18 3/8" hole) makes newspaper combining a nuc to a 10-frame easy.

    The queen bank cages are 2" x 2" x 7/8" blocks of wood with a 1.5" hole drilled through the 2" x 2" square face. #8 hardware cloth is stapled over both openings. A 7/16" hole is drilled in sideways into the large hole and it is plugged with a small, tapered cork.

    The queen bank frame is about double-wide, with shelves to hold the cages. A narrow strip of wood to prevent their falling out (not unlike a stake bed on a truck), with enough room to remove the cages from the shelves with your fingers.

    Read Dr. Susan Cobey's article, The Cloake Board Method of Queen Rearing and Queen Banking.

    It is important that queens are not kept in the queen bank very long. If they go through an extended period of not laying eggs, it is difficult to get bees to accept them. The sooner they go into a nucleus colony, the better.
    Last edited by kilocharlie; 03-08-2014 at 12:50 PM.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Roy, Wa
    Posts
    1,799

    Default Re: How often to requeen

    Just to be clear in my post above, I do NOT suggest selling queens deemed poor quality or below average on craigs list. But if you have a perfectly good package queen and/or are simply wanting to introduce different genetics in your new hive to assure you know the age and strain of your queen, Craig's list is one way to communicate to others in your local area you have an extra queen you are not needing. Especially if you are not involved in clubs or the like and have no other way to spread the word. Obviously, a poor or drone laying queen would not be sold and you would disclose the reason you were selling your queen. Sorry if that was unclear to some. I assume everyone is ethical and uses good judgement on their own without me pointing it out. Looking back at that post I see it could have been better written to be more clear.

    Also, the fact queens reared for packages may be raised under less than perfect conditions is mostly due to the customer demand for early packages. Mother nature has no schedule. But the commercial beekeepers do. No one is at fault for bad weather on occasion. Some years are great, some years are not. I have said many times, Understanding the challenges and management methods of the commercial beekeepers will help you understand how to manage your newly purchased bees. Producing an agricultural product that is time and temperature sensitive is very difficult.

    There are situations when a replacement queen is immediately necessary to save a hive, avoid laying workers or to make a newly collected swarm/cutout queenright if the queen has been missed.
    There is always a demand for queens for situations like this from early spring & all summer long..

    Since the SARE Study came out, there has been discussion about this type of replacement in the OP. It is, like most topics here on beesource, very controversial. What you do depends on your goals and specific conditions. There are a lot of different opinions, because everyone bases their opinions on their personal experiences.

    http://mysare.sare.org/mySARE/Projec...694&y=2010&t=1
    Last edited by Lauri; 03-08-2014 at 08:28 PM.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Laurel Hill, Fl
    Posts
    471

    Default Re: How often to requeen

    I read that the old timers said the 2nd year queens were the best. I can tell you that my two strongest hives, have the original, marked, 2 year olds in them right now and are easily out building the others. So I'm going to stick with the 2 year replacement schedule.

    Sorry for the double post, I was trying to add to this one....
    Robbin NW Florida(8A) / 14 hives / 2 nd Year / 4 TF - 10T {OAV}

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