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  1. #41
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    Portugal
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    1,102

    Default Re: Evaluating New Queens...

    Here there are some few breeders that select based on the weight of the virgin queens.

    I was at the time to verify the correlation between this variable and the number of ovarioles, and the studies that I acceded are not consensual.

    From a personal and practical and rough point of view I evaluate a good queen for what her colony produces.

  2. #42
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    7,306

    Default Re: Evaluating New Queens...

    Of course, colony production is an important part of the selection process. But, the first selection comes when catching the queen after mating. Small queens are culled.

  3. #43
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Tsawwassen, BC, Canada
    Posts
    462

    Default Re: Evaluating New Queens...

    When I first started making queens as per the instructions of my Journeyman teacher, I was impressed by how much larger the queens were. As Eduardo mentions, research indicates queen size is positively correlated with a high number of ovarioles, which by and large should mean more fecundity. Larger queens are at a minimum at least easier to find on the frames!

    BTW has anyone tried the magnetic queen marking disks, which work with a magnetic stylus to pick up queens by the disk. Thought that was kind of clever, if expensive!
    https://www.thorne.co.uk/index.php?r...roduct_id=5123

    Q0028-228x228.jpeg

  4. #44
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Kamloops, BC, Canada
    Posts
    989

    Default Re: Evaluating New Queens...

    I'm 2 blocks from where Mike will be speaking in Kamloops. I have some M. Palmer nucs wintering in my back yard. So if anyone wants to poke their nose into some TF bees in March, weather permitting, if they survive...

  5. #45
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Kamloops, BC, Canada
    Posts
    989

    Default Re: Evaluating New Queens...

    I agree that one can get caught up in minutia. More important black box characteristics for me are

    1. Winter survival
    2. Honey production
    3. 2nd year mite survival.

    Meanness, and disease are disqualifiers.

    However, I plan on doing things like mite counts, hygienic brood tests and other measures, not to use them for selection per se, but to document whether important traits are present, and how much these characteristics contribute to hive and apiary population success. With good information I can bring in some interesting genetics that I don't have to increase the local genetic tool kit.

    I have one hive started with a local swarm cell given to me, that has outperformed the more fancy genetics I imported. She has terrible hygienic behaviour but seems to do pretty well TF anyway. I might have made a mistake to disqualify her because of a preconceived idea about what constitutes success.

  6. #46
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Castle Rock, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    1,638

    Default Re: Evaluating New Queens...

    Quote Originally Posted by WesternWilson View Post
    ...BTW has anyone tried the magnetic queen marking disks, which work with a magnetic stylus to pick up queens by the disk. Thought that was kind of clever, if expensive!
    https://www.thorne.co.uk/index.php?r...roduct_id=5123Q0028-228x228.jpeg
    What a novel Idea! Color coded disks would also be interesting. Assuming, of course, that the primary queen stays put & remains solo. Regardless - a good idea in theory! 'Not hard to replicate with a little ingenuity.
    After 40 years of beekeeping, I've come to realize that the bees can fix most of my mistakes.

  7. #47
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    7,306

    Default Re: Evaluating New Queens...

    Quote Originally Posted by lharder View Post
    I'm 2 blocks from where Mike will be speaking in Kamloops. I have some M. Palmer nucs wintering in my back yard. So if anyone wants to poke their nose into some TF bees in March, weather permitting, if they survive...
    Kamloops. Cool. Been to the Okenagan and Vancouver and Port Alberni. Tofino and Ucluelet. And that excellent ice cream cone shop halfway across the island. Never been to Kamloops.

    And, how could I forget Dawson Creek in 1970.
    Last edited by Michael Palmer; 01-02-2017 at 04:04 PM.

  8. #48
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Tsawwassen, BC, Canada
    Posts
    462

    Default Re: Evaluating New Queens...

    Quote Originally Posted by lharder View Post
    I'm 2 blocks from where Mike will be speaking in Kamloops. I have some M. Palmer nucs wintering in my back yard. So if anyone wants to poke their nose into some TF bees in March, weather permitting, if they survive...
    Count me in! I am going up to Kamloops with beekeeping buddy Barbara and we would both be very interested in seeing how your bees are doing in the MP nucs (we have been calling them Polar Huts). Barbara has bees wintering for the first time at her cabin in the area.

  9. #49
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    Houston, TX, USA
    Posts
    405

    Default Re: Evaluating New Queens...

    Quote Originally Posted by Colobee View Post
    What a novel Idea! Color coded disks would also be interesting. Assuming, of course, that the primary queen stays put & remains solo. Regardless - a good idea in theory! 'Not hard to replicate with a little ingenuity.
    Put a big magnet at the entrance and you could stop swarming...

  10. #50
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Kamloops, BC, Canada
    Posts
    989

    Default Re: Evaluating New Queens...

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    Kamloops. Cool. Been to the Okenagan and Vancouver and Port Alberni. Tofino and Ucluelet. And that excellent ice cream cone shop halfway across the island. Never been to Kamloops.

    And, how could I forget Dawson Creek in 1970.
    Well now that the cat is out of the bag I better register. I have a feeling you are going to be a hot ticket with the keepers here. Another person you may be interested in talking to is Lenard Foster who is doing some real interesting national survey work out of the University of BC (that I was lucky enough to be apart of), and developing some genetic/molecular tools for identifying traits in populations (my best explanation). There may be some neat stuff that comes of it.

    Seems you are well acquainted with BC, and I hope you have a good visit here.

  11. #51
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Kamloops, BC, Canada
    Posts
    989

    Default Re: Evaluating New Queens...

    Quote Originally Posted by WesternWilson View Post
    Count me in! I am going up to Kamloops with beekeeping buddy Barbara and we would both be very interested in seeing how your bees are doing in the MP nucs (we have been calling them Polar Huts). Barbara has bees wintering for the first time at her cabin in the area.
    Maybe PM me. I would be happy to show some fellow keepers what I have tried to do. I have another site where I have 30 overwintered nucs as well.

  12. #52
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
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    7,306

    Default Re: Evaluating New Queens...

    I'd like to see that too, if there's time.

  13. #53
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Kamloops, BC, Canada
    Posts
    989

    Default Re: Evaluating New Queens...

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    I'd like to see that too, if there's time.
    I imagine you will be pulled in all directions. But a visit from you would be an honor. I can PM some contact info in case the stars align.

  14. #54
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Campbell River, BC, CA
    Posts
    1,187

    Default Re: Evaluating New Queens...

    Digging up an old thread on selecting queens. Names removed to protect the guilty. Quotes below, emphasis mine.


    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    In a way, these colonies are self selecting for stock that performs well in my area and under my management. I have a breeder queen that I used in 2015 and 2016. I pulled her from a colony that I set up in 2001. That colony has been a top producer in its yard since setup. Because I keep records on every colony, I can see that colony has never had a drop in annual production...which might be caused by swarming, or queen failure, or poor wintering, or disease, etc. Of course that colony's queen has been superceded a number of times.
    Quote Originally Posted by WesternWilson View Post
    So one of our challenges is that every year we are awash in the drones from this year's NZ shipments.
    At the event in Kamloops I had the pleasure of doing dinner one evening with two very long time beekeepers. One of them was discussing his first colony, a swarm capture at age 14, kept in a skep. The other one was emphasizing the quote above regarding selecting from the top producers year over year, and mentioned a trait he considered very important which he coined 'intelligent supercedure'. A colony that just kept on trucking year over year producing a good chunk of honey, never needed to be requeened, and production records suggesting they had not swarmed out. My unspoken thought at the time, do we know they didn't swarm, or if they did swarm out, does it matter ? They still produced honey amongst the top apiary producers ?

    One of the questions I was asking everybody at the Kamloops event, where do I got to find 'good queens'. North of the border we cant just pick up the phone and order 'name brand' queens from suppliers we read about here.

    We have a tiny operation compared to either of them, and with only 20 colonies to choose from, we dont have the advantage of statistics, ie, amongst 300 or 700 there will always be a few good ones to pick from. But, we have one that has really intrigued me. Started last year from one of those ill famed NZ packages, they started out slow. But, when the spring flow arrived, they built up well, and made a super of honey. Not a spectacular crop, but, they had a huge disadvantage, 1 kilo package started in March, so the flow was on already by the time first brood round emerged, they started from scratch with no brood about the same time the rest of the colonies had first orientation flights happening. My records from that one show, they never stung me once last summer, and I was digging into this one more often than most of them because I was intrigued by the 'nice gentle colony'. This spring, they are the strongest of the lot on our stands out back.

    When I described this one, the local guy who started with skeps (long time ago) looked at me and said 'you have a colony that survived thru a fall of endless rain, then a winter of endless snow, with an ice storm and just about everything bad winter has to offer in our area, they made some honey and they didn't sting you, what more do you want ?' The other fella with us, from out of town, looked over and agreed. My only answer to that would be 'but they are NZ queens, they must be bad...'

    My own personal mission when we went up to the Kamloops event was to talk to every queen breeder there, and figure out where to go to buy 'good stock'. It was enlightening to say the least, but by the time we left I had the answer to that question. Getting 'good stock' isn't a one time purchase, it's a process that will take a few years. The bees we have make honey, on par with or slightly above everybody else in our area. Our survival isn't as good as I would like to see, but, it's better than the average in our area. When you pay attention to the things the 'pros' are telling us, it's easy to gloss over the most important points, emphasized above. _Under My Management_ in our local area / climate. We aren't going to figure out that part looking at fresh young queens in a mating nuc, that'll only come after they have had a season or more in a hive that we have here for the spring flow, then moved up into the bush for the fall fireweed. If I head off and buy queens from outside, the big question, are they going to do better than what we already have, when handled the same way our existing stuff is handled ?

    3 different breeders told me essentially the same thing. If we are doing ok now, dont go outside, graft new queens from the colonies that are doing best for us the way we run them now, and keep records. The most important lesson I took away from the event in Kamloops turns out to be one we have seen written many times here on Beesource.

    Patience Grasshopper.....

  15. #55
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Tsawwassen, BC, Canada
    Posts
    462

    Default Re: Evaluating New Queens...

    It seems this idea of breeding up good local queens is in the air lately. I spent the winter polling my personal Bee Wizards and prepping for a multi-year queen breeding project, lengthy draft plan available upon request (attachment to this post failed).

    I too have had some wonderful colonies out of the NZ girls, Gerry, no question. But in breeding my own queens I noticed that in any given batch, a few were terrible, most were ok, and a few were stellar. When we buy queens chances are slim we are always getting the stellar end of the offerings. And the NZ bees have been found to be lacklustre in dealing with Varroa (Beaverlodge research).

    A few things pushed me to move on a queen improvement project...the fact that NZ queens are superceded at a rate of 60% in their first season. Not such a big deal for most of us, just a pain, but for new beekeepers this can be a real setback. They often do not recognize what has happened, but their hive loses steam and for the unlucky, the new queen never makes it home. Every year I do calls to help new beekeepers and always find a few with failed supercedure hives full of laying workers and drone brood.

    The others, a big failure of package queens in the USA membership of my club (Mt. Baker/Pt. Roberts), hard on the new beekeepers. And some rumblings about local TF beekeepers wanting to bring in "Africanized" queens in pursuit of Varroa tolerance...into a highly urban landscape. Aggression issues would result in possible injury, possible lawsuits, a mess in the DCA's, and finally bylaws permitting urban beekeeping would be vulnerable to being be rolled back.

    We need good, dependable, robust local queens and bees to be widely available.

    I am certainly starting with my own bees, which have been selected from my best queens over the last few years. I am bringing in queens of promise...they are out there. But in the end, I will be using as my breeder queens the ones that perform best for me, in my yards. I am looking for good spring buildup, colony vigour and good overwintering. Zero tolerance for snarkiness or disease. We'll monitor Varroa counts but will work on the points mentioned first.

  16. #56
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    5,153

    Default Re: Evaluating New Queens...

    Not sure I'd call it breeding, but selecting your best performers is a good start. Honestly, it's all about what fits your model of beekeeping and your personal or business goals. I also tend to look at queens longer than I should but I think this approach pays off better as the junk gets weeded out. It's hard on the pocket book though to bring in queens and not get daughters off of them but in the long run it's probably better that way. On the flipside, you never know what you'll get with some hybridity so it's probably more prudent to get a few daughters off everything to evaluate at some point, but time is short and I just can't get everything I want to get done with the bees every year.

    Also, you want queens produced under the most ideal circumstances, I'm really seeing the value in this when overwintering and longevity are looked at.

  17. #57
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
    Posts
    2,293

    Default Re: Evaluating New Queens...

    WW - I left this one alone because MP said it so eloquently in his post #13 earlier in the thread, but, just to mention, I use PAF = Personal Ancestry File from the Latter Day Saints (Mormon Church) Family history genealogy project. The software is a free download, or bring a flash drive to a genealogy club meeting and they'll give it to you.

    It can be used one sided for open-mated queens. I give them names just like people because it makes the software easy to use. I also give them numbers to relate to their trait evaluation sheets.

    In evaluations, I give a lot of weight to colony strength before peak nectar flow, and to a colony's ability to respond to our drought and wet year cycle

    I wish I was up there to help with making extra boxes, frames, nuc's, and lean-to's, etc., for the project! Good to see a club pulling together like that. My local club is mostly just 1- to 3-colony beekeepers who do it because it's "cool", not serious about stock improvement, therefore little cooperation. They'll show up for Earth Day, but little enthusiasm for a project like you have going, against national boundary issues, no less! Bravo! Your club rocks.

  18. #58
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Tsawwassen, BC, Canada
    Posts
    462

    Default Re: Evaluating New Queens...

    Kilocharlie, Micheal's post was worth re-reading, thanks for reminding me! I am lucky in my club. We have a really nice vibe, we get along well, are civil to each other even when we disagree, and are highly motivated to find what works best in our area so we can all succeed, and pass that along to our new-bees. No bee left behind! I am aware of and thankful for the value of my club members and the resource we create.

    We have a fun time and have begun beekeeper dinner nights. Our poor spouses. We try to talk about more than bees...

    And any time you are up here, we will put a scraper and paintbrush in your hand! The weather is soooo bad here I have a painting station set up in my tv room, drop cloths all over. My husband is being very saintly. I cannot wait to get all this equipment into the field!

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