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  1. #1
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    Default Is almond pollination adversely affecting queen genetics?

    What happens when a big fat queen bee lays like crazy, to the point of burning herself out? Can she be rebred? Are queens select bred to lay lots of eggs...and beef up the numbers for the almond pollination? Doesn't that shorten the life expectancy of the queen?...thus knocking the colony out cold when up in the northern climates we can't and/or have trouble requeening late in the year? Doesn't that mean we have to buy nucs and package bees year after year because of the bred-to-lay-lots genetics that queens are selected for? I can think of alot of vehicles, machines, tools, etc that are meant to be bought new every year. Whether or not make it cheap sell it for as much as you can applies to queen bees, and packages...I won't say for certain...But it's time that people start telling the truth and looking at the facts, rather than saying open the wallet every year and buy more queens, buy more bees. Some of you guys know exactly what the end result of breeding queens to lay alot does...Whether it's intentional or not, is speculative. Sooner or later, the weather will catch up to the california crowd...to the point of them not being able to requeen their own stock fast enough, even if the weather is warm enough to breed queens. Pushing bees to beyond what they're able to do, will just ruin bees. However wise the intentions are to make a bigger stronger better laying queen.... The bees need to be able to be given a rest to catch up. Pushing any livestock too far is bad....We're seeing it all across the country anymore. Farm fields being planted to the point of depriving the soil of nutrients. Burn out bees.

  2. #2
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    Default Is almond pollination adversely affecting queen genetics?

    Quote Originally Posted by JodieToadie View Post
    Ian,
    I know you have a way bigger operation than me, but the Kona's sure beat Cali and even NZ queens last year. Had a better acceptance rate too in my experience. I got some California Italian Oli last year and the queens were tiny and the bee's hated them, balled and killed them.

    Carni Kona's do really well up here in the peace. The NZ did well first year and failed in spring.
    Had a few Chilean as well but they were darn near africanized.

    With the seasonal problems sounds like the usual Cali guys won't be able to supply anyway.
    First year and failed in the spring. Thank you...I'm glad that I'm not the only one with queen bees burning out because they lay too much. Have you had any luck finding queens that last 3-4 yrs like what the old timers talk about all the time?
    Last edited by grumpybeeman; 02-01-2014 at 06:24 AM.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Time to get nervous #3

    Quote Originally Posted by grumpybeeman View Post
    First year and failed in the spring. Thank you...I'm glad that I'm not the only one with queen bees burning out because they lay too much.
    Grumpybeeman, your tone certainly reflects your tag name...
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Time to get nervous #3

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    Grumpybeeman, your tone certainly reflects your tag name...
    I want bees that make honey and last 3-4 yrs...Not almond queens that lay so much they fall over/run out of eggs and the hive dies off. Those select genetics in the hive are great if you're gearing up with big numbers to do an early almond pollination. If you're aiming for honey production, bees that are selected to go for pollen don't work well. Does that make sense?

    Thanks on the reflection!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Time to get nervous #3

    Quote Originally Posted by grumpybeeman View Post
    I want bees that make honey and last 3-4 yrs...Not almond queens that lay so much they fall over/run out of eggs and the hive dies off. Those select genetics in the hive are great if you're gearing up with big numbers to do an early almond pollination. If you're aiming for honey production, bees that are selected to go for pollen don't work well. Does that make sense?

    Thanks on the reflection!
    Then perhaps breed your own? It's not terribly difficult you know.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Time to get nervous #3

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    Grumpybeeman, your tone certainly reflects your tag name...
    Ok grumps you met your match. I'm all unhappy that the queens don't last like the "good ol days" either. Actually I'm wrong when I say that. You know........ we breed them for short life cause I use the same queens as we sell and I just love to make up dead outs and pour tons of syrup into the new ones. Makes me so happy going through all the agony of sore backs and extra hours just so I know what the customers are going through. I sleep much better because of it. If you are really happy being grumpy maybe you can order a queen from me that the pickers decided to smash the head on when closing the cage. That way you can get over it really fast and save yourself the heartache of knowing the louse in the cage is going to dud out in a few week anyways.

    Have a happy grumpy day tomorrow knowing the Packers ain't gonna lose!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Time to get nervous #3

    Quote Originally Posted by grumpybeeman View Post
    Does that make sense?
    I think your half way there grumpybeeman. The other half of the equation is what the in hive disease pressure is doing to the queens health compounded with in hive and out of hive chemical usage.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Time to get nervous #3

    Quote Originally Posted by jim lyon View Post
    Then perhaps breed your own? It's not terribly difficult you know.
    Breeding your own isn't difficult...BUT from what stock do you breed when 99% of the bees out there are burnouts? Some bees last a few yrs through agricultural areas or not. Grumpybeeman needs grumpy bees!

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Time to get nervous #3

    Requeening is just becoming a part of a good management strategy. If we cant manage the conditions affect our queen health, then we must manage the issue the only way we can.
    Dont point the finger directly at the queen breeders, they are giving us excellent stock that have to endure the worst conditons. Tell Honey-4 All to bring us a queen that last 3 years, and he will tell you how can anything live for three years in that kind of hive environment
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Time to get nervous #3

    now tell him to do that in a drought situation...what is he suppose to do? Breed queens that dont burn out?? How exactly??
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Time to get nervous #3

    Quote Originally Posted by Honey-4-All View Post
    Ok grumps you met your match. I'm all unhappy that the queens don't last like the "good ol days" either. Actually I'm wrong when I say that. You know........ we breed them for short life cause I use the same queens as we sell and I just love to make up dead outs and pour tons of syrup into the new ones. Makes me so happy going through all the agony of sore backs and extra hours just so I know what the customers are going through. I sleep much better because of it. If you are really happy being grumpy maybe you can order a queen from me that the pickers decided to smash the head on when closing the cage. That way you can get over it really fast and save yourself the heartache of knowing the louse in the cage is going to dud out in a few week anyways.

    Have a happy grumpy day tomorrow knowing the Packers ain't gonna lose!!!!!!!!!!!!
    My point is this... Once you're overloaded with crap genetics bees...How do you break out of that cycle??? People in warm weather climates can requeen all the time, and that's exactly how they get away with short life queens that lay too darn much. You're established already...Try establishing a business from the ground up without moving your bees all over the place, and not requeening all the time. I'm getting sick of having to be packages every year and drop queens in them all the time. It's getting old, and as long as the bees build up for a strong pollination...that's all that counts. I want bees for honey production, not pollination. If they're so mean that I can't barely work them...I'd rather have that than nothing.

    Theres got to be an in between point with queen bees that burn out vs not. If the almond pollination bottoms out like stock markets do.... Then what? A ton of people have a ton of bees that don't make crap for honey. What sense does that make?

    p.s. Atleast I'd be getting a queen bee in the cage instead of a virgin that's not bred like 90% of everybody else up in Wisconsin does.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Time to get nervous #3

    Quote Originally Posted by grumpybeeman View Post
    Breeding your own isn't difficult...BUT from what stock do you breed when 99% of the bees out there are burnouts? Some bees last a few yrs through agricultural areas or not. Grumpybeeman needs grumpy bees!
    rear queens from the 1%. How many queens do you want? and how many queens do you expect to need to make them? 1% would be a very low selection pressure.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Time to get nervous #3

    Quote Originally Posted by grumpybeeman View Post
    Breeding your own isn't difficult...BUT from what stock do you breed when 99% of the bees out there are burnouts? Some bees last a few yrs through agricultural areas or not. Grumpybeeman needs grumpy bees!
    Well if you really believe that 99% are bad then yes, by all means, breed from the 1%, surely you occasionally find that great hive. Use it! Its not hard to get all the graft you might need off of a single queen though one would be better served to use more than just one. Why continue to buy what you consider junk, year after year after year. Take some initiative, dont just be grumpy, find a better way.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Time to get nervous #3

    Quote Originally Posted by grumpybeeman View Post
    I'm getting sick of having to be packages every year and drop queens in them all the time. It's getting old, and as long as the bees build up for a strong pollination...that's all that counts. I want bees for honey production, not pollination. If they're so mean that I can't barely work them...I'd rather have that than nothing.

    Theres got to be an in between point with queen bees that burn out vs not.
    First, Bees don't have to be mean to collect honey. African bees, the meanest out there, are notoriously bad at honey storage.
    Second, sometimes one has to adjust to changing situations. Maybe queens don't last as long as they used to when being pushed into brooding year round. So, the cost of doing biz went up. But so did the price of honey, so did the price of pollination. They are worth the price as they are necessary to produce that income. And not all lines are used for pollination or being bred for pollination friendly traits.
    Sounds to me like a Carniolan would be right up your alley. They might not make as much honey as a huge Italian cluster in our early flows here in Wisconsin, but they will shut down earlier in fall and in stretches of rainy weather so won't burn themselves out either. They winter a bit more efficiently. Perhaps a compromise would better fit your management goals.
    A ton of people have a ton of bees that don't make crap for honey. What sense does that make?
    Our Italians (who admittedly sometimes can't bring themselves to quit laying even in a blizzard) still make fine crops of honey in a typical Wisconsin summer, always have. Our honey production is more determined by health of the hives, weather and available forage, not queen genetics.
    p.s. At least I'd be getting a queen bee in the cage instead of a virgin that's not bred like 90% of everybody else up in Wisconsin does.
    Speak for yourself, cowboy . We buy hundreds of queens every year with MAYBE 1-2 duds per hundred, (and replacements just in case are always sent along). We buy from breeders who have stood the test of time and take pride in providing a quality product. They may not be the cheapest around but they are reliable and conscientious. They all have choices of genetics one end of spectrum to the other. We sell lots of these queens over the course of a year and have few complaints of bad queens.

    As for grafting your own, do the research of various genetic traits you might want. Buy production queens to graft off if you can't afford a breeder. Every year keep records of which did what and breed off the daughters of your faves. Essentially, it is how we all do it.
    Sheri
    Last edited by JohnK and Sheri; 02-01-2014 at 09:54 AM.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Time to get nervous #3

    It's not a good time for a pessimist to start keeping bees. We need big colonies not just for almonds but for what little forage left. How many cycles of alfalfa do farmers cut now. If I were you I would try to buy a few open mated queens from Dr. Joe Latshaw. I never made any real money in this business until I started buying breeders from him.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Time to get nervous #3

    Quote Originally Posted by grumpybeeman View Post
    My point is this... Once you're overloaded with crap genetics bees...How do you break out of that cycle??? People in warm weather climates can requeen all the time, and that's exactly how they get away with short life queens that lay too darn much. You're established already...Try establishing a business from the ground up without moving your bees all over the place, and not requeening all the time. I'm getting sick of having to be packages every year and drop queens in them all the time. It's getting old, and as long as the bees build up for a strong pollination...that's all that counts. I want bees for honey production, not pollination. If they're so mean that I can't barely work them...I'd rather have that than nothing.

    Theres got to be an in between point with queen bees that burn out vs not. If the almond pollination bottoms out like stock markets do.... Then what? A ton of people have a ton of bees that don't make crap for honey. What sense does that make?

    p.s. Atleast I'd be getting a queen bee in the cage instead of a virgin that's not bred like 90% of everybody else up in Wisconsin does.
    Regardless of the species breeding for selected traits takes time.
    If you don't like what others have available breed your own.
    You say your Queens are crap. Others purchase from the same source and say their Queens are great. If you and your immediate neighbour purchased from the same source and your neighbours were consistently great and yours consistently crap I would look towards differences in husbandry....otherwise it may be that you need to breed up for your specific micro environment.
    Take the best of your crap and breed it up. Do that selection process over and over and over again and odds are you should end up with the genetics that suit you.
    All this from someone who is trying to get the courage to raise their own Queens. This is the year for me to try...better to "fail" than never try
    Janne....first hives April 2013, 19 hives, treat, plant zone 8b, at sea level, latitude 49.13, longitude 123.06

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Time to get nervous #3

    Breeding a queen that will last 3 full seasons is relatively easy. Breeding a queen that will last 3 seasons AND produce a crop of honey each season is way off the scale for difficulty. There is a negative correlation between queen longevity and number of eggs laid which correlates with number of foragers and therefore with size of honey crop produced. Selection for longevity can be done with careful queen records, but when varroa and their virus partners camp out in your colonies, all bees live shorter lives, including the queen. In this case, Grumpy, you are pointing the finger at queen breeders when you should be looking closely at the effect of mites and diseases.

    Bees bred for almond pollination are a different ball of wax. They have to be bred to produce huge colonies very early in the season. This puts queen breeders in a position of having to select genetics that produce lots of brood when they are fed. While such bees are not adapted to the single location beekeeper, they are useful to the migratory beekeeper who sets up in as many as 5 locations per year.

    So Grumpy, if you want better bees and better queens and more honey, go breed your own queens and see how easy it is. Then you can come back and grump about how hard it is on the land when the bees gather such big crops of honey.

    And just in case anyone thinks I'm disagreeing with grumpy, far from it. I've found that there are times a pessimistic outlook on life is invaluable. He IS making some points that need to be considered. So give grumpy some room and let him grump. He has something to contribute here, even if it is a lot of grumbling.
    DarJones - 44 years, 10 colonies (max 40), sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 11 frame broodnest, small cell

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

    "Bees bred for almond pollination are a different ball of wax. They have to be bred to produce huge colonies very early in the season. This puts queen breeders in a position of having to select genetics that produce lots of brood when they are fed. While such bees are not adapted to the single location beekeeper, they are useful to the migratory beekeeper who sets up in as many as 5 locations per year."

    Yes...My point exactly. Pollination bees are good bees if you're looking for pollination bees. Theres alot of people that don't admit to what a pollination bee is because it conveys a sense of pessimism when it's out of the realm of pessimism. As baby bee mentioned earlier about how many times farmers cut alfalfa. Rondup ready alfalfa?...Alfalfa that is sprayed in the fall? Or alfalfa where the old ways of letting it bloom for a long time for a good first crop of hay are still practiced. Or renting out owned property to someone that is planting organic alfalfa and letting that bloom for long durations as well. All people read/see is farmers cut alfalfa, so In a sense not knowing what someone is speaking of...The jolly facetious beekeeper that can laugh anything off with a good joke will-does-is construed as a pessimist.

    "When they had laden themselves with honey they would rise into the air, and dart off in a straight line, almost with the velocity of a bullet. The hunters watched attentively the course they took, and then set off in the same direction, stumbling along over twisted roots and fallen trees, with their eyes turned up to the sky. In this way they traced the honey-laden bees to their hive, in the hollow trunk of a blasted oak, where, after buzzing about for a moment, they entered a hole about sixty feet...‎" - a tree a hive...not the back of an almond truck.

    The big question is... How do you differentiate between bees bred for almond pollination... and bees that are not??? You have to pull teeth for answers or pull out the wallet for an exclusive...in what 50 yrs ago was more common place to find.

    Breeding bees off of bees that have to be requeened alot doesn't cut it. If I were trying to beef up some colonies to take down to a warmer climate, to requeen and send back up here after the flow down there is done...I wouldn't care how long queens last.

    Doubt my theory?...Find the 70-80 yr old beekeeper in your area and ask him how long the queens used to last. For even more insight find the old coot in europe that had bees before ww2 started, and that is still keeping bees... See what the new strains of bigger better gentler bees are doing to the eurozone. Germany-france-etc the california game they play is to take the bees to Italy. The guys that have the grumpier bees that were left alone and not select bred to be better pollinators are doing quite well being left in the northern climates.
    Last edited by grumpybeeman; 02-01-2014 at 12:11 PM.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Time to get nervous #3

    >>All people read/see is farmers cut alfalfa, so In a sense not knowing what someone is speaking of...The jolly facetious beekeeper that can laugh anything off with a good joke will-does-is construed as a pessimist. <<

    well you do frame your tag as "grumpy", and your doing a lot of grumbling, usually people construe those as pessimists

    Grump, I get my queens from Cali, and from a very reputable breeder. These are excellent honey producers. I dont go as far as to blame all the shortfalls of those queens on its breeding. There is a truck load of problems which are associated to longevity
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Time to get nervous #3

    well you do frame your tag as "grumpy", and your doing a lot of grumbling, usually people construe those as pessimists[/QUOTE]

    If you run into enough california almond bees, you'll have a change of heart too. Theyre actually getting a taste of their own medicine with junk queens this year. It's natures way of catching up with people that push the bees too far.

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