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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Cookeville, TN, USA
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    Default The BEST queens are mated after the Solstice...

    - I've heard this said by people who I highly respect, and I have observed Post Solstice queens to lay like crazy during fall buildup. Enough so that I try to get them in most of my hives by Sept 1st. All of my queens (except a couple of "special" ones) were PS and survived the last cold winter.

    But that could just be me and my confirmation bias seeing patterns where none exist.

    Is there any evidence that this is true? Do really experienced beekeepers believe it?

    The Summer Solstice is about a week away - time to get busy if you're a believer.
    Since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
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    Casey, Il, USA
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    1,073

    Default Re: The BEST queens are mated after the Solstice...

    I guess ill find out got a colony drawing queen cells as we speak

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Solano, California, USA
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    1,358

    Default Re: The BEST queens are mated after the Solstice...

    Would that be mated after the Solstice or grafted and mated after the Solstice?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    Pittsburgh, PA, USA
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    32

    Default Re: The BEST queens are mated after the Solstice...

    Quote Originally Posted by Honey-4-All View Post
    Would that be mated after the Solstice or grafted and mated after the Solstice?
    According to the newly released book "SWARM ESSENTIALS" by Stephen Repasky (Wicwas Press)

    "Observations have shown that re-queening a colony with a queen that was raised and mated after the summer solstice of the previous year swarm less than queens that were raised prior to the summer solstice. These young queens are vigorous layers and are still young enough to produce plenty of queen substance to keep the swarming impulse to a minimum."

    That sounds to me like a win, win!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    West Bath, Maine, United States
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    1,138

    Default Re: The BEST queens are mated after the Solstice...

    I've been suspicious that it is the main flow that comes before the Solstice, thus the good queens.
    4 yrs, Peak 14, back to zip, T lite; godfather to brother's 3.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    1,731

    Default Re: The BEST queens are mated after the Solstice...

    I have observed that a 6 month queen is at her prime in laying. So if this observation is true in practice then
    these queens are at their best laying time when all conditions are meet. A young vigorous queen is very eager to lay compare to a slow old queen. Still, a swarm control is needed so they don't back fill the nest on the Spring flow. So I will try to make some August queens to compare to. So far our Spring queens are laying like crazy now.
    Gratefulness is the key to a happy lifeIf we are not grateful then we will not be happy since we always want something +

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    helenwood,tn.usa
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    109

    Default Re: The BEST queens are mated after the Solstice...

    these are questions i tried to find answers to last year. does it make a difference which side of the solstice the egg gets laid or is it important at all. Mel Disselkoen talks about the 43rd parallel. i believe i as are you David in the 36th parallel does this shift the time of the solstice and does it matter at all. i made up about 15 nucs last year with home grown queens in the begining of july and brought 12 thru to this spring some very weak but once the early flows started they took off. now i'm getting ready raise some queens to make up a bunch more. trying to get it done before sour wood ends. i'd like to start earlier but i want to get it done on the right side of the solstice just incase it does make a difference. i like to know what Michael Palmer thinks about this.
    I'm from Jersey. South Jersey that is.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Reno, NV
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    Default Re: The BEST queens are mated after the Solstice...

    We had several nucs we made queenless on the tenth of this month. they produced queen cells. those queens will not mate until after the solstice. Although they will have been reared prior to it for the most part.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Mtn. View, Arkansas, USA
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    1,271

    Default Re: The BEST queens are mated after the Solstice...

    Queens raised in June will continue to lay during the summer darth instead of shutting down the way an overwintered queen does. The solstice has nothing to do with it.
    37 years - 25 colonies - IPM disciple - naturally skeptic

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
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    Cookeville, TN, USA
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    Default Re: The BEST queens are mated after the Solstice...

    I don't know - which is why I brought it up. But I do know that many living things are profoundly affected by day length - and if days are getting longer or shorter.

    I know some of the most impressive brood production I have ever observed has been from queens which just started laying at the beginning of the fall build up. It's like they know they only have a short time to get the job done. Which they very well may.
    Since '09-25H-T-Z6b

  11. #11

    Default Re: The BEST queens are mated after the Solstice...

    Our best queens are raised in October and November - they expand the following spring like rockets.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Marysville, WA
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    477

    Default Re: The BEST queens are mated after the Solstice...

    I started re-queening all of my hives yearly in July and August a couple years ago with summer raised queens. The first thing I noticed was a better winter survivor rate along with a more vigorous spring buildup which was coupled with less swarming. It was an immediate and noticeable result. I then started making my splits in the summer rather than spring. That resulted in wintered nucs with young vigorous queens practically exploding in the spring and building up and producing nice honey yields in their first year.

    In a nutshell, I personally do believe that summer queens have many benefits over "older" queens. I think that saying "after the summer solstice" is a general statement that gives a somewhat standard timeline to follow. I think that a queen raised after the spring buildup and main flow would fall into that category.

    Mike
    Beekeeper? Shoot, my bees keep me!
    100 hives in Western Wa State

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,142

    Default Re: The BEST queens are mated after the Solstice...

    I don't know if there is anything "magical" about the solstice, but the bees are more inclined to raise queens, there are more drones for them to mate with, and there is often a flow so the queens are well fed about that time. Queens raised early are not well fed and are not well bred (not enough drones and bad flying weather).
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  14. #14

    Default Re: The BEST queens are mated after the Solstice...

    It all depends on where you live. Our drone populations are at their peak in April and queens don't often start laying until sixteen days after the cells are put into the nucs.

    Even though drone populations are at a much lower level in late Autumn, the queens are often laying ten days after the cells are placed in the nucs - obviously there is a sense of urgency in the air for the queens to mate and start laying as soon as possible before winter. These fall queens are usually good for two seasons in honey production colonies.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Herrick, SD USA
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    4,374

    Default Re: The BEST queens are mated after the Solstice...

    I would say the best matings happen a bit earlier during prime swarming season but perhaps your strongest wintering hives may well be headed by queens mated closer to the summer solstice if not a bit beyond because of the delayed mite buildup time.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Roanoke, VA
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    Default Re: The BEST queens are mated after the Solstice...

    I would think the best queens would be the ones that mated around May or June here (YMMV) since there seems to be a ton of drone that time of year. My bees seem to make a ton of drone at first and after that not as much. I think the reason that Georgia package bees stink (no offense to the Georgia beeks on the board meant) is that the queens are breed with too few drones. I would think that if there was a decent amount of drones they would produce exceptional queen bees.

  17. #17
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    Sep 2011
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    Reno, NV
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    Default Re: The BEST queens are mated after the Solstice...

    Quote Originally Posted by shannonswyatt View Post
    I would think the best queens would be the ones that mated around May or June here (YMMV) since there seems to be a ton of drone that time of year. My bees seem to make a ton of drone at first and after that not as much. I think the reason that Georgia package bees stink (no offense to the Georgia beeks on the board meant) is that the queens are breed with too few drones. I would think that if there was a decent amount of drones they would produce exceptional queen bees.
    I had to snicker at this comment due to my personal results with May queens this year. Most of them ended up dead. Not what I would consider better mated at the very least. I will be able to compare to June queens in a couple of weeks.

    My point if I have one is there are far more factors than numbers of drones to consider. Since queens only need 20 or so drones I am not sure that tons would make much of a difference. You only need 20 or so and that they all find your queen. It may be that drones themselves are better reared and healthier earlier in the year.
    Stand for what you believe, even if you stand alone.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Hamilton, Alabama
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    1,211

    Default Re: The BEST queens are mated after the Solstice...

    I've had very good results with queens mated in late June through early August. They lay well for winter then come into spring fully ready for a honey flow. Swarming tendency is significantly reduced.

    Daniel, the issue re commercially reared queens is that the queen producer needs thousands of drones to properly mate the number of queens they raise. They also need good weather for the queen to fly. Between low numbers of drones in early spring and poor flying conditions, many queens get shipped that are not properly mated. There have been a few studies on this, the last I remember was written up about 20 years ago.
    DarJones - 44 years, 10 colonies (max 40), sideliner, treatment free since 2005, 11 frame broodnest, small cell

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Fort Gay, WV, USA
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    821

    Default Re: The BEST queens are mated after the Solstice...

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    I don't know if there is anything "magical" about the solstice, but the bees are more inclined to raise queens, there are more drones for them to mate with, and there is often a flow so the queens are well fed about that time. Queens raised early are not well fed and are not well bred (not enough drones and bad flying weather).
    Now this makes perfect sense to me! If the queens are raised with a good flow or fed well at least, then given access to good healthy Mature Drones to mate with, it would stand to reason that the queens would be better queens all around... As Michael B points out, queens raised early are not well fed and don't have enough mature drones to breed with.. It takes 35 days for a drone to mature to readiness, that would mean the big producers are having to start drone rearing in FEB in most cases to get enough to take care of the amount of queens being produced.. Is that really an ideal way to get them mated??? Don't think so myself.. IMO
    Thomas Bartram - Since 2013, 43 - 8 F langs, 22 Italian & 21 Russian

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Cumberland Va.
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    Default Re: The BEST queens are mated after the Solstice...

    Well, I have this Virgin that just hatched in the last 2-3 days. Guess she will be my test subject. Assuming all goes well in her travels. Hated to see the other supersceded, She had just returned and was laying great for a week before they made their decision. Maybe it was for the best. The rest of my spring queens are laying great. G
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