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Thread: Failing Queens

  1. #1
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    Arras, British Columbia, Canada
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    Default Failing Queens

    I was going through my yards and came across two yards that have a very high percentage of queens being superceded. One yard had 30% queen supercedure on 30 hives the other was over 50% on 38 hives. It was extremely hot last week and the honey flow dried up. The hives had room to grow so crowding wasn't really an issue. Some are swarm cells, some are emergency cells and some hives have both. There is no chance of any pesticide in either area. I also have 3 other yards of similar size with very identical forage and situations that have no problems. What am I missing? The heat? The dearth? There was no swarms from the hives unless they were small swarms, it appears that the queen was killed or died. The queen pedigree? I have a high number of Kona's in the mix this year. The hives got the full cocktail of meds in the spring. The equipment is basically all new.

    Ideas?

  2. #2
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    syracuse n.y.
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    Default Re: Failing Queens

    Quote Originally Posted by JodieToadie View Post
    One yard had 30% queen supercedure on 30 hives the other was over 50% on 38 hives. There is no chance of any pesticide in either area. I also have 3 other yards of similar size with very identical forage and situations that have no problems. What am I missing?

    Ideas?
    did the queens in the good yard, come from the same batch of queens in the bad yards? sounds like they just didn't get mated to well.
    mike syracuse ny
    I went to bed mean, and woke up meaner. Marshal Dillon

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Failing Queens

    Black Queen Cell Virus
    americasbeekeeper.com
    beekeeper@americasbeekeeper.com

  4. #4
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    Schoolcraft Mi.
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    Default Re: Failing Queens

    Black queen cell virus causes the queen larvae to turn black and die in their cells.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Failing Queens

    Quote Originally Posted by AmericasBeekeeper View Post
    Black Queen Cell Virus
    I've never heard this as a reason for shortened queen life, thought it was strictly a malady affecting immature queen cells. Tell us more.
    "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: Failing Queens

    Jodie, i hear your frustration. I had a bad batch of 100 queens earlier in the season, 70% were viable , the others either were not accepted or sat doing nothing...
    This business is all about queen health and vigour. Pick your supplier accordingly.
    I'm Not going to slag any breeder here but rather promote my top performing stock. Ray Olivarez hygienic Carniolian queens by far out perform anything else I have

  7. #7
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    Nov 2009
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    Manning, SC
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    Default Re: Failing Queens

    What is a huge problem and you see it a lot, are those beeks who do not recognize (or just want not to kill) an under-performing queen and try and nurse the colony along, hoping for hope or not wanting to oust a queen.

    Get rid of her! Learn to recognize a quality queen wherever you purchase her. If she's not quality or the colony is a "dink" don't nurse it along... move on!
    http://OxaVap.com
    Your source for the Varrox Vaporizer, "One of the highest ranked" by R. Oliver

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
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    Lee County, Illinois
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    Default Re: Failing Queens

    Quote Originally Posted by snl View Post
    What is a huge problem and you see it a lot, are those beeks who do not recognize (or just want not to kill) an under-performing queen and try and nurse the colony along, hoping for hope or not wanting to oust a queen.

    Get rid of her! Learn to recognize a quality queen wherever you purchase her. If she's not quality or the colony is a "dink" don't nurse it along... move on!
    Very well said. I see this after the bees go south for the winter and when they come back north. Down south I'm instructed to knock them down to singles and feed feed feed and keep tossing brood in with the hopes of a turn around. The idea of robbing peet" strong hive" to pay Paul "weak" is beyond me. Especially when we can raise queens all year... Yes it's hard junking a queen that has had so much money put into that hive but if she isn't up to standard it's time to go to the hive in the sky.

    As far as a high queen failure. There are a lot of problems with breeders. Personally I believe is lack of quality drones in the mating yards. Be it chemicals or poor nutrition causing it idk. I personally used about 20 queens out of our end of the year graft and out of that 20 I would say 13 were superseded within a month...

  9. #9
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    Dec 2008
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    Solano, California, USA
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    Default Re: Failing Queens

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    Jodie, i hear your frustration. I had a bad batch of 100 queens earlier in the season, 70% were viable , the others either were not accepted or sat doing nothing...
    This business is all about queen health and vigour. Pick your supplier accordingly.
    I'm Not going to slag any breeder here but rather promote my top performing stock. Ray Olivarez hygienic Carniolian queens by far out perform anything else I have

    Are these CA or HI queens ? Any difference? Do they let you know?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Ojai, California
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    Default Re: Failing Queens

    Quote Originally Posted by JodieToadie View Post
    I was going through my yards and came across two yards that have a very high percentage of queens being superceded. One yard had 30% queen supercedure on 30 hives the other was over 50% on 38 hives.
    I notice that later in the original post, you say some were swarm cells, some were emergency. If you found evidence that there was no brood, they could be emergency or supercedure, but not so likely swarm queens. Can you be sure of which was the case for each/any of the hives? Was there a spotty, or otherwise weak brood pattern on any of them?

    Quote Originally Posted by JodieToadie View Post
    It was extremely hot last week and the honey flow dried up.
    What was the temperature last week, and what has it done the last few days? Any evidence of robbing (torn honey combs, dead bees, reduced populations)?

    Quote Originally Posted by JodieToadie View Post
    The hives had room to grow so crowding wasn't really an issue. Some are swarm cells, some are emergency cells and some hives have both.
    If there are swarm cells, crowding WAS an issue. Were they back-filling the brood area with honey and/or pollen?

    Quote Originally Posted by JodieToadie View Post
    There is no chance of any pesticide in either area. I also have 3 other yards of similar size with very identical forage and situations that have no problems.
    There is a chance of pesticide in any area if there are humans within 10 miles. That's 314 square miles, a 20 mile diameter circle. How far are the yards apart?

    Another possible problem in the area is mite buildup at this time of year. Place screened bottom boards below the hives, and shake finely powdered sugar onto the bees, then insert the sticky boards. 24 hours later, check the mite count. Be ready to knock them out with MAQS, or other strong treatment, or a mild treatment, as appropriate according to an integrated pest management (IPM) program. See www.scientificbeekeeping.com

    Quote Originally Posted by JodieTodie View Post
    What am I missing? The heat? The dearth? There was no swarms from the hives unless they were small swarms, it appears that the queen was killed or died. The queen pedigree? I have a high number of Kona's in the mix this year. The hives got the full cocktail of meds in the spring. The equipment is basically all new.

    Ideas?
    My guess is that, if you saw swarm cells, you missed the swarms. Supercedure cells would likely have a poor brood pattern, and no back-filling of the brood nest, and some cells half-way up the combs about ready to hatch. Emergency cells should be numerous, with only a few remaining this week, the half-torn-down QC's in the swarm position (along the bottom and outer edges of the combs) still being somewhat evident.

  11. #11
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    Dec 2010
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    Ojai, California
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    Default Re: Failing Queens

    Quote Originally Posted by Heintz88 View Post
    ... The idea of robbing peet" strong hive" to pay Paul "weak" is beyond me...
    Ironic that you hit on the answer in your own sentence... ROBBING. We equalize colony strength during nectar dearths to minimize the tendency to rob, but we take notes on who "donated" and who "received" (habitual borrowers get RQ'd). Other measures include moving the honey as far as possible from the entrance, moving the brood nest close to the entrance, and adding a robber screen. Bees robbing bees in your yard gets costly, bees coming from outside your yard and robbing your bees gets VERY costly...

    Saving Paul "weak" colony with a bump of capped brood can prove quite profitable come next spring...but breed from the best, and kill drones from the worst while re-queening them.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Failing Queens

    Oops! Sorry, double post

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Failing Queens

    Are all of the superceded queens of the same age, and if so, what age? We often see problems with package queens between after one to two cycles of brood. If they make it past two , they usually are OK for the year. We have also seen failures in new queens of our own the last week, but blame it on poor (wet) weather 3 weeks ago.

    Crazy Roland

  14. #14
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    Dec 2013
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    Arras, British Columbia, Canada
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    Default Re: Failing Queens

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian View Post
    Jodie, i hear your frustration. I had a bad batch of 100 queens earlier in the season, 70% were viable , the others either were not accepted or sat doing nothing...
    This business is all about queen health and vigour. Pick your supplier accordingly.
    I'm Not going to slag any breeder here but rather promote my top performing stock. Ray Olivarez hygienic Carniolian queens by far out perform anything else I have
    I am certainly not slagging Kona. I like them a lot. My first shipment from BeeMaid this year looked pretty stale. The candy had been 1/2 to 2/3 eaten from inside the cages. I forgot to add that I have the supercedure+swarm cells usually had at least 6 frames of capped brood no eggs and larvae. Absolutely spectacular brood patterns. These were not underperforming queens. (Underperforming queens always fail the hive tool test.) I understand what underperforming queens look like. These ones are just gone. These are healthy 3-5 super hives with room to grow. I can only attribute it to heat or heat + dearth.

  15. #15
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    Dec 2013
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    Arras, British Columbia, Canada
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    Default Re: Failing Queens

    Some of the queens were a year old and some were 3 months old. It had no real rhyme nor reason to it. I do run a lot of Kona's from the island and I have had good success. These weren't poor layers, or dinks as it were. (Neither can bench press a hive tool if you can believe it.)

  16. #16
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    Default Re: Failing Queens

    I have the same issue with queens that suddenly disappeared from the hive. Everything is
    growing well before. After that there are many swarm/supercedure cells made.
    Remember that each batch of queens are different because of the drones' genetic too.
    We are in the dearth also but I feed them patty and honey syrup to help them along fine.
    I'm planning to make some queens from the non disappearing hive to replenish the other split hives.
    Gratefulness is the key to a happy lifeIf we are not grateful then we will not be happy since we always want something +

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Failing Queens

    Jodie, I believe that the issue of queens simply disappearing is a sign of the times. I has been going on for a few years now. Queens disappear no efforts made by the bees to supercede. Big bummer. You think you have a hive but in fact you don't. We requeen hives or add open brood to those hives in the hopes that they make their own queen. It takes a lot of time and you spend it on non performing hives but we feel it is worth it in an effort to keep the numbers up. After all the best crop I ever got was next year

    Jean-Marc

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Failing Queens

    Did teh queen REALLY disappear, or is she still alive in the hive and not laying. We have also seen that, and they refuse to raise a new queen because the old one "refuses to give up the throne". The first time they get a frame or more of eggs, If no cells are found, they get blown out and more eggs given.

    Yes, I agree, a sigh of the times., grrrrr...

    Crazy Roland

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