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  1. #21
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Hudson, WI USA
    Posts
    2,212

    Default Re: II Breeder queens

    I am glad this thread was started. I am going to experiment with a VSH II queen and have one arriving next week. I was reading that it is best to supplement the hive with regular non VSH brood in order that the colony doesn't get saturated with pure VSH.

    Does anyone who has done this have a strategy that works? Perhaps by exchanging every other frame of brood as it is sealed.

    Would you recommend keeping a queen like this in a single deep, or a 5 frame nuc?

    Any other tips would be appreciated.

  2. #22
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
    Posts
    2,663

    Default Re: II Breeder queens

    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian Quiney WI View Post
    I was reading that it is best to supplement the hive with regular non VSH brood in order that the colony doesn't get saturated with pure VSH.
    I've had lots of VSH II queens. Several years ago it was not uncommon to get breeders that simply could not support themselves. I found that these (in general) didn't produce daughters that were great queens either. Occasionally a daughter would thrive, but it took a lot of selection. The ones I've gotten in the past two years seem to be far more robust and as a result can thrive as normal bees. Now I rarely (if ever) provide supplemental brood to my breeders. VSH queens have improved quite a bit in the recent past, so hopefully we're on a stable path forward.

    Most of my breeders are in single deeps.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Jacksonville, Florida
    Posts
    1,690

    Default Re: II Breeder queens

    I have a year old VSH II breeder. I started her off in a 5 frame nuc and kept her in the 5 frame nuc through the winter. This year I just kept adding a nuc box on top as needed. The nuc boxes where easier to take on and off when it was time to graft. I confined the queen to double 5 frame nuc with a queen excluder, and the hive now has 3, 5frame supers full of honey also these are all 5 frame deeps. About 2 weeks ago they started swarm cells and the II breeder was moved into another 5 frame nuc and she is building it up. I have been very happy with the daughter queens from my breeder, I requeened most of my hives last summer and they have done great this year.

    I haven't moved brood into this hive at all. If anything I have taken out a few frames to make splits or boost other hives. I have pretty much treated her like any other queen except I do check on her more often because I'm in the hive more getting out a frame for grafting.

  4. #24
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Knox Co, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    857

    Default Re: II Breeder queens

    Would keeping an II breeder queen in a nuc but replacing frames of brood with open comb be similar to keeping the II queen in a full-sized colony? Her ability to lay would not be hindered but the colony size would be kept down.

    Tom

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Suffolk, VA
    Posts
    2,663

    Default Re: II Breeder queens

    Tom,

    I tend to agree with your assessment. I really like to see how a breeder performs and part of that (at least for me) is getting a good sense on how her offspring behaves as the colony reaches full strength. Keeping breeder queens in artificially smaller hives is simply too much work for me, and if you don't stay on top of it can lead to swarming. Last year I played that game just find my clipped breeder on the ground with a handful of bees. She survived and all was well, but it surely could have had a different outcome. I'm sure others will disagree, but you gotta find a system that works for you given all your resources (time being one of the most critical resources).
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  6. #26
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
    Posts
    972

    Default Re: II Breeder queens

    Pine Ridge Farms - (responding to your post #18) I should have used the term "increaser colonies" instead of "nucs". I'm building up my apiary, and managing them to grow into full size colonies. When I get large enough (~1,000 colonies per person), there will be over-wintered nucleus colonies for sale as well.

  7. #27
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
    Posts
    972

    Default Re: II Breeder queens

    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian Quiney WI View Post
    ...Would you recommend keeping a queen like this in a single deep, or a 5 frame nuc? ....
    (regarding your post #21) Controlling the bee volume-to-dead space ratio up there in cold country is near to the very heart of the skill of beekeeping. Too big of a box, they freeze, or grow sluggishly. Too small, they swarm or abscond.

    One big help is making up a bunch of "hive dummies", which are wooden frames made into empty boxes. They hang just like honeycomb frames, taking up air volume that the bees won't have to heat up, burning lots of energy and using up stored honey.

    Hive dummies get placed next to the side of the hive box, not in amongst the cluster space. A great way to manage an increaser colony is to put 5 hive dummies in a 10-frame hive box, plus the 5-frame split of bees. Replace a hive dummy with a frame of foundation as the colony needs during spring buildup, often about one or two a week in the early spring, but keep an eye on the weather forecasts.

    As the bees' population comes up, replace the dummies with frames of foundation or empty frames, with an eye on not leaving too much volume. Staying one or two frames ahead of the bees, depending on night time temperatures, keeps the volume efficiently heated by the bees shivering in night cluster. Managed properly, the bee population comes up very quickly, using as little honey stores as possible.

    As your operation becomes larger, this becomes too much labor, and timing the move into larger hive boxes is your main control, but for the small and sideline beekeeper (say, up to maybe 250 hives), hive dummies are great management tools. Make lots of them, and probably a few different sizes. I even make some out of 5/8" plywood for when it looks like that would make better bee space in a hive - usually when I run 7 frames and a 2-gallon feeder.

    This idea is not new - Dr. C.C. Miller wrote about hive dummies in Fifty Years Among the Bees, written in about 1915 and published in 1920. I wonder why they are used so little these days - Doc Miller's influence on American beekeeping was HUGE in his day.
    Last edited by kilocharlie; 05-29-2014 at 11:29 AM.

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