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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Solano, California, USA
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    Default Time to get nervous #3

    Now that nervous # 2 is basically here and everyone involved is either ready or not I am going to "officially" post My #3.

    I have hinted at this for a good while already but a call I received yesterday threw me over the cliff.

    #3 has to do with queen and package production out of California for 2014.



    The drought in California is seriously bad in relationship to bee health. Bad enough currently and with little hope of recovery I am to the point where I doubt we can bypass our usual attempts to defeat feed deficiencies especially in relationship to the process of raising queens and secondarily in the production of packages.

    Not sure how we are going to get around the direness of what faces us. If we can even raise the queens a lot of bees will be looking for a home a long ways away from this dry H$ll hole once spring is in the rear view mirror for 2014.

    Yesterday afternoon I took a call from a "neighbor" who runs 10k plus ( not giving the real number as it would let everyone know who it was) In my thirty years of bees he has only called about 5 times. Of that at least 4 were when things were what I would say "looking bleak." Back in 06 or 07 on the big die off he called with near tears in his voice from the way the bees were looking. He runs a tight ship and one of a few who has made a ton of money at this gig. The big money also comes with a bigger heartache when the reality of a BAD situation is unavoidable. Not a whole lot of options out there. Here are some he was considering and doing so on a hope and a prayer without much expectation of doing well with queen production this spring.

    1. He has never had an out of state outfit although years back I know he did do some "share crop" He asked what I thought about him buying one of the huge out of state outfits that are currently for sale. It was priced high ( in the millions) and would add another 25% to his hive totals. I told him I thought that 20% of the purchase price would be saved in feed costs this year alone. Personally I think anyone with the money in hand is dumb if they don't bail.

    2, He told me he had already Pre-written a payment for syrup past the 200k dollar amount in anticipation of spring syrup needs. This is an insane amount of syrup folks. Anyone who pays that much up front know that the bees are going to be sitting with their welfare paperwork already pre filled out once the almonds are finished.

    He agreed with my assessment that packages that are "late" on the calendar treadmill are highly susceptible to being cancelled.
    Queen production is going to have a high probability of failure and the ones that do make it out might not be of "superior" quality.

    If there ever was and issue that I wish you all knew I was insanely wrong on I hope this is one of them.

    We opened up for orders today on packages and as everyone else seems to have done we have jumped the price a VERY high %. Biggest in my 30+ YEARS.....

    It is my guess that the real affect of the queen and package production out of California is the fact that the price is bound to rise as time progresses into the season. Look for $30 queens and $140 packages( retail) by the time April rolls around. Phil

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
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    Manitoba Canada
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    5,499

    Default Re: Time to get nervous #3

    I buy most of my queens from Cali. I was under the impression that these colonies were well fed and because of that the quality of queens produced were good. How is a hot dry year going to change any queen breeding dynamics other than providing more predictable mating weather?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hamilton, Alabama
    Posts
    1,189

    Default Re: Time to get nervous #3

    Near total lack of pollen, no natural nectar to build up on, queens undernourished and therefore subject to early failure.

    H4, do you have a website for your bees/queens?
    DarJones - 44 years, 10 colonies (max 40), sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 11 frame broodnest, small cell

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
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    Manitoba Canada
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    Default Re: Time to get nervous #3

    Aren't they primarily raised on supplement anyway?
    That's was my impression from up here

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    NE Calif.
    Posts
    2,267

    Default Re: Time to get nervous #3

    Nah, sub goes on in late summer during the normal dearth of pollen in Ca. After almonds , many hives are moved to foothill brush or meadow locations where (when it rains) there is a light flow and an abundance of various nutritious pollens. Of course there are variations of this.
    Bees coming out of almonds usually look pretty good, getting a good buildup on the almond pollen and nectar.

  6. #6
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    Jan 2003
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    Manitoba Canada
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    Default Re: Time to get nervous #3

    Because... if what you guys are then telling me... Maybe I should get my queens from Hawaii this year.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA
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    1,691

    Default Re: Time to get nervous #3

    Quote Originally Posted by Fusion_power View Post
    H4, do you have a website for your bees/queens?
    www.queenbeesforsale.com. You're welcome!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    Location
    NE Calif.
    Posts
    2,267

    Default Re: Time to get nervous #3

    Well there's still time for the spring rains to come and get things blooming. Its what comes after that's gonna be the downer.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Solano, California, USA
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    Default Re: Time to get nervous #3

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    Because... if what you guys are then telling me... Maybe I should get my queens from Hawaii this year.
    Pollen-Ian-Pollen. The affects of having none, little, or poor quality affects the production of queens. its more important than most would realize. All the way from royal jelly production in the cell builders to how the queens lay in the nucs once they are mated. The acceptance rate is way less when the queens are produced under a pollen dearth. Its been my experience that trying to raise queens in a year that is dry is a very difficult if not futile attempt. Doing so on a drought year can only magnify the issues we have when its dry. As Mike posted my best hope at this point is that we get good enough rains to get a spring flow and then find a way around the forsaken summer were are already 99% guaranteed to have. If we get an inch a week until April we might get enough pollen to squeak by with queens going into early May. Otherwise a dream of producing queens like we are normally able is only a fantasy in my estimation.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Solano, California, USA
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    1,107

    Default Re: Time to get nervous #3

    Quote Originally Posted by Fusion_power View Post
    Near total lack of pollen, no natural nectar to build up on, queens undernourished and therefore subject to early failure.

    H4, do you have a website for your bees/queens?
    Fusion: As I have mentioned before out in the open and on PM's I make it my policy to not put any information promoting sales of our bees or queens on beesource. No website or Phone number constantly posted or referred to. If you figure it out I have no issues with that. Not trying to hide. Here is why I do it that way.

    I see Beesource as way contribute to the beekeeping community and hope to gain and give alike in this ongoing discussion. Its my hope that my attempt to separate the two (sales and beesource input) will keep me from clouding my input here with thoughts of how it might affect sales either good or bad. We can always get rid of way more product at a decent price than I have time to do a quality job on already so pushing sales is not what I do here.

    Its better to offer a decent product and let word of mouth and customer experience write the history on our "stuff" rather than having to worry about me constantly trying to sell-sell-sell. There are people who do bees primarily for the money (which is all and good). On the other hand there are many folks who do it for the love of the bees. In my estimation most of the people who post here fervently fit in the latter category. I count myself as checking the second "box" although at times it might be nice to live with the results of being in the first. If you have any specific questions you are welcome to pm me. Phil

  11. #11
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    Jan 2003
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    Manitoba Canada
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    Default Re: Time to get nervous #3

    Quote Originally Posted by Honey-4-All View Post
    Pollen-Ian-Pollen.
    Im just going by the impression you guys give here. Of course pollen, but I was always under the impression that these queen companies needed to FEED FEED FEED
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Spokane, Washington, USA
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    683

    Default Re: Time to get nervous #3

    Quote Originally Posted by Honey-4-All View Post
    Pollen-Ian-Pollen.
    Phil, you might want to consider placing an early order on sub. Somebody on this forum is going to be making $$.
    Last edited by RAK; 01-30-2014 at 11:55 PM. Reason: oops

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Solano, California, USA
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    Default Re: Time to get nervous #3

    Quote Originally Posted by RAK View Post
    Phil, you might want to consider placing an early order on sub. Somebody on this forum is going to be making $$.
    I happen to have half a pallet left currently. Fabulous product to save your bees and kill your back. Using it in the queen raising arena for 2014 is not a bad idea and is something I have been considering doing. When all the other options are off the table this might be one of a few in the "last resort" folder of things that SHALL be done.

    The fundamental issue I see is that no matter how fabulous the blue box sub happens to be I believe there is no way that it can replace the nutritional needs which I think are necessary for raising decent queens. (when you look at all the steps where a I think pollen is involved in producing good queens). There is no disparagement against Keith or his great sub in this comment at all. There is NOTHING like real pollen... Nothing.

    I just sitting trying to imagine the process that putting adequate dabs of sub into 5000 little boxes is going to be. One heck of an additional mind boggling chore considering the space requirements are already are pushing the limits.

    The second part of the occasion is going to be the $ worth of sub to rebuild bees after the early shakes. No time in the schedule to do so already. Once Keith gets the bees in the almonds and he has time to answer I would love to know how much more he is going to charge for bulk bees as a result of another month or two of sub feeding. On the hive end one might be able to bypass my concern about the pollen dearth and get the bees to rebuild. At what expense? With the way the drought is now I would guess it would take another 15 dollars a hive plus labor to get them from almonds to the first of June.

  14. #14
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    Jan 2003
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    Manitoba Canada
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    Default Re: Time to get nervous #3

    What's easier to manage, hot and dry or cool and cloudy

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA
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    1,691

    Default Re: Time to get nervous #3

    Quote Originally Posted by Honey-4-All View Post
    I am just sitting here trying to imagine the process that putting adequate dabs of sub into 5000 little boxes is going to be. One heck of an additional mind boggling chore considering the space requirements are already are pushing the limits.
    Try a large tip cake decorators syringe/shooter!

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Livermore, CA
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    1,342

    Default Re: Time to get nervous #3

    Quote Originally Posted by westernbeekeeper View Post
    Try a large tip cake decorators syringe/shooter!
    Or a jerky shooter!!
    Coyote Creek Bees

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Solano, California, USA
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    1,107

    Default Re: Time to get nervous #3

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    What's easier to manage, hot and dry or cool and cloudy
    If the rain has arrived as usual in the winter months a hot and dry period during mating is preferred. If you mean hot/dry vs cool or rainy during mating after a prolonged drought then I think you are asking us to put ourselves in a box in which their is no way out. All bad options at that point.

  18. #18
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    Jan 2003
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    Default Re: Time to get nervous #3

    No, what I was trying to say was, we have had Cali queen orders delayed by weeks in the past due to unfavourable cool wet weather. I know all bout managing bees in cold wet weather... But we still got our queens and they performed as well as they always do .

    Now your here your saying hot hot and dry and implying lousy queens as a result.

    I'm gathering hot and dry is worst for raising queens in? Nothing can be done?

    Because if not I'm going to consider buying off shore...

    Because from this side of the computer it's sounding bad

  19. #19
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    Jan 2003
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    Manitoba Canada
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    Default Re: Time to get nervous #3

    Honey-4-All , does your queen op supply Canadian orders?

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Solano, California, USA
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    1,107

    Default Re: Time to get nervous #3

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    Honey-4-All , does your queen op supply Canadian orders?
    No we don't. Aught to for the Money but I am adverse to paperwork the way it is. Looking to increase that is not my idea of beekeeping. Maybe someday.

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