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  1. #1

    Default II Breeder queens

    How long do your II breeder queens last? I have complete mixed results with breeder queens. You either A.) order them in the fall to take the risk of them dying in the winter or being superseded as soon as you begin to graft in the spring B.) Get them in the late spring-early summer when weeks of grafting season have been lost C.) or on a rare occasion they just keep on laying year after year like any other naturally mated queen would. I have one II breeder in her 3rd year others don't last 6 months when kept in the best of circumstances.

    I have purchased breeder queens from 4 different reputable breeders. Last year I had 11 II breeders on the breeder queen stand. I lost a few to winter, no big deal I expected it. Now I am dealing with supersedures even though I keep them in a 5 frame nuc, queen laying on maximum of 3 combs and I check them every week for supersedure cells when I am grafting, but have still lost several checking them every 7 days. Really just looking for advice or feedback, I'm not out to harm the reputation of any II breeders, all of the daughters I have produced from the 4 different sources have been excellent quality stock and every breeder has been a pleasure to deal with. They really have put the time and effort into more productive/hygenic queens, it has been evident in my hives. I'm just having a hard time wrapping my head around spending thousands on breeder queens every year only to have them tank out. I'm really considering just going through 200+ colonies and picking the best 4 every spring for grafting. I do that anyway for genetic diversity in the production yards and those selected breeders are housed and treated exactly like the II breeders only without the problems. Wasn't there a study done once that said II breeders should last as long as regular mated queens? Advice or comments appreciated. I'm beside myself at the moment, if you couldn't tell.
    Last edited by pine_ridge_farms; 05-25-2014 at 09:25 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
    Posts
    182

    Default Re: II Breeder queens

    That's interesting and good to know before I consider ordering breeders. Wish I had some advice for you, thanks for sharing. Hopefully someone has answers for you.

    Luke

  3. #3

    Default Re: II Breeder queens

    Hello,
    II queen bees should perform and live as long as naturally mated queens - IF the II procedure is carried out properly. Good pre and post II care is essential for good results.
    Best regards
    Norton.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Mirabel, Québec, Canada
    Posts
    456

    Default Re: II Breeder queens

    Breeder queens are often old, which may have more to do with your problems than the fact that they are II. The ones I see advertised are usually three years old, while a poorly inseminated queen should not last that long. Even with great genetics, excellent queens do eventually stop being as productive as they once were.
    www.apisrustica.com (French-only website) Bee Breeding: Canadian nuclei & queens
    www.facebook.com/Apis.rustica

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Ft. Collins, Colorado
    Posts
    603

    Default Re: II Breeder queens

    I would say go back to whoever you got the II Breeder from that lasted for 3 years!! Are they superceding after the first winter vs. as soon as they're out of the cage?? I don't think superceding in the spring following one year is unusual. One good summer season would be what I would expect and be delighted if they overwinter and get partway through spring and summer.

    Dominic, I'm amazed that your finding three year old II queens available in Canada. That's not the norm here in the US.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
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    4,624

    Default Re: II Breeder queens

    My experience is that if you get an II breeder through a second season you are doing pretty good. I figure that's all you really need as you can take a lot of grafts off in a single year and analyze their offspring for breeding potential the following year. Aren't you really going "blind" on a breeder queen anyway? I never take too many grafts off of a single breeder. How do you really know for sure you will like the progeny?
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Marshall county, AL
    Posts
    799

    Default Re: II Breeder queens

    Sorry for the stupid question, but what the heck is a II queen? Instrumentally Inseminated?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
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    1,084

    Default Re: II Breeder queens

    Brad Bee - that is correct. I.I. = Instrumentally Inseminated.

  9. #9

    Default Re: II Breeder queens

    How do you all house your II breeder queens?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    Marshall county, AL
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    799

    Default Re: II Breeder queens

    Quote Originally Posted by kilocharlie View Post
    Brad Bee - that is correct. I.I. = Instrumentally Inseminated.
    I wonder why beekeeping didn't just use the term, AI, for Artificially Inseminated like the animal husbandry folks do?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
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    1,084

    Default Re: II Breeder queens

    Pine Ridge - I'd strongly encourage you to read Dr. Susan Cobey's article submitted to Apimondia in 2007 titled, "Comparison Studies of Instrumentally Inseminated and Naturally Mated Honeybee Queens and Factors Affecting Their Performance".

    It is posted on her website, www.honeybeeinsemination.com . The article is a 21-page download that is probably best printed out on paper, and is one of the best reads on the subject.

    From reading this article, I got all the factors straightened out, learned that if done properly, I.I. queens can and do out-perform naturally mated queens, and learned to do a dry run with an empty cage to the insemination lab to figure out timing of the postal carrier.

    A good shipping cage for queens and drones to be inseminated is shown in Dr. Harry H. Laidlaw's book, Contemporary Queen Rearing.

    Every article and book chapter posted on Dr. Cobey's website is excellent and worthy of reading and reading all the entries in the bibliographies, too.

    Another thing I thought of was to allow the insemination lab to draw the semen out of the drones, inseminate the queens, and to see if there is a nearby breeder who can keep them in nucs until the colony has grown strong enough for shipping as a nuc, thus eliminating time that would be spent en route with nowhere to lay eggs (perhaps one BIG factor in reducing performance of I.I. queens).
    Last edited by kilocharlie; 05-26-2014 at 08:34 PM.

  12. #12

    Default Re: II Breeder queens

    Thanks I will look into that article. The problem I'm having with breeders isn't initial acceptance or productivity, it's how long they last. But, after talking to a breeder today and getting some advice I feel better about the problems I personally have had in the last 12 months.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    1,084

    Default Re: II Breeder queens

    It could be that the lab you are using is administering straight semen with less-than-ideal mixing instead of 24-hour mixed drone semen spun in a centrifuge to concentrate it. A dose of .08 microliters of concentrated semen gives at least 5 million sperm, and she should be able to lay a solid pattern for 3+ years on that, unless subjected to large stresses like massive mite populations, etc.

    If allowed to go out and mate naturally soon after instrumental insemination, they may perform every bit as well as any queen I've ever bred. Getting multiple years off of one breeder queen is a big advantage if you are having success with her.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Ft. Collins, Colorado
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    603

    Default Re: II Breeder queens

    Dan, are you able to share that advice??

  15. #15

    Default Re: II Breeder queens

    It was recommended that I allow the II breeders to build up more into a larger to full size colony. The constant manipulation of a nuc throws off the colonies balance. Makes sense.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: II Breeder queens

    Quote Originally Posted by Brad Bee View Post
    I wonder why beekeeping didn't just use the term, AI, for Artificially Inseminated like the animal husbandry folks do?
    Both terms are acceptable in the bee breeding community, though I notice I.I. is more common in usage.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: II Breeder queens

    Regarding housing breeder queens, they stay in their own hive with their own colony until I isolate them for laying eggs.

    For this queen isolation I make a "Queen Jail", a 4.5" wide wooden box with queen excluder sides that has a wood and sheet metal lid and hangs inside a standard Langstroth hive box just like a frame. Inside it are 3 slightly shorter frames that are drawn out into comb just before queen rearing season (a top bar works, too). The queen jail keeps her laying eggs in one place so I don't have to look all over the hive for the right age larvae.

    As far as I.I. queens that arrive from a service, they go directly into nucs or re-queening hives under a Laidlaw queen introduction cage, ASAP.

  18. #18

    Default Re: II Breeder queens

    Quote Originally Posted by kilocharlie View Post

    As far as I.I. queens that arrive from a service, they go directly into nucs or re-queening hives
    nder a Laidlaw queen introduction cage, ASAP.
    Are you allowing these nucs to grow to full size colonies or are you manageing them to stay nucs?

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
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    2,776

    Default Re: II Breeder queens

    Quote Originally Posted by kilocharlie View Post
    It could be that the lab you are using is administering straight semen with less-than-ideal mixing instead of 24-hour mixed drone semen spun in a centrifuge to concentrate it. A dose of .08 microliters of concentrated semen gives at least 5 million sperm, and she should be able to lay a solid pattern for 3+ years on that, unless subjected to large stresses like massive mite populations, etc.
    What's the name of the lab following the procedures you outlined above?
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    Default Re: II Breeder queens

    Breeder queen is still a bee. She will be subjected to the normal bee doing normal bee's way
    every Spring. If the hive is too large then they will have swarms as well. In long term sustainability
    it is better to graft from these great daughters and raise your own drones for the desired genetic and
    characteristics that you like. Or continue to buy them every year. I like the sustainable apiary on you tube.
    I luv bee source!

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