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  1. #41
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    Default Re: Mated Queen who can tell

    From my experience a lot of them don't bother to tell... and a lot of them are virgins.
    Really, this is misinformation.

    If a professional breeder was really selling queens without even checking if they were virgins or not, he would not be a professional breeder very long.

    Let's have a hands up. Who has bought a caged queen, to find out it is a virgin? While anything is possible so it may have happened the odd time, it would have to be extremely rare.

    What's a lot more likely, is not well mated queens can be sold, that lay OK for a short time but are quickly superseded. That, for the breeder, is much harder / impossible to tell.

    When I was a full time queen breeder we worked to a system, only mated and laying queens were sold, after ensuring they had a good brood pattern. If there was doubt about a queen for any reason, it was faster to just pinch it & put another cell in.

    But to lump all professional breeders together and say a lot of them don't bother to tell, and a lot of the queens they sell are virgins, is well, ignorance at best, and at worst, amongst the worst professional slander I have seen on Beesource. It isn't true.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

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  3. #42
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    Default Re: Mated Queen who can tell

    Quote Originally Posted by jim lyon View Post
    The "milky" appearance I am describing is wholly different than the appearance of normal worker larvae in a pool of jelly. They result from eggs deposited either by a poorly mated queen or simply a laying worker. Until I can come up with a picture you are just going to have to go with my inadequate description.
    That's a pic I'd really like to see.
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  4. #43
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    Default Re: Mated Queen who can tell

    Should add to my last post. A cross that commercial queen breeders have to bear, is client mistakes.

    The common ones are the client finds his hive queenless, so buys a new queen and puts it in. But he did not know the hive had raised a virgin. The caged queen gets killed upon release, and when the guy takes a look he sees the virgin and accuses the breeder. The other one breeders get, is the virgin goes on to mate and start laying, and the guy thinks it is the queen he bought from the breeder. But it makes vicious bees or has some other fault, he then tells 10 friends the queens from this breeder are terrible.

    As someone who has been in the business, I can say we get more than our share of this kind of thing. Which is not to say queen breeders are perfect, they are as perfect as anyone else. But the ones I know anyway, take considerable pride in their work. You have to, to be in the business.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  5. #44
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    Default Re: Mated Queen who can tell

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    Really, this is misinformation.

    If a professional breeder was really selling queens without even checking if they were virgins or not, he would not be a professional breeder very long.

    Let's have a hands up. Who has bought a caged queen, to find out it is a virgin? While anything is possible so it may have happened the odd time, it would have to be extremely rare.

    What's a lot more likely, is not well mated queens can be sold, that lay OK for a short time but are quickly superseded. That, for the breeder, is much harder / impossible to tell.

    When I was a full time queen breeder we worked to a system, only mated and laying queens were sold, after ensuring they had a good brood pattern. If there was doubt about a queen for any reason, it was faster to just pinch it & put another cell in.

    But to lump all professional breeders together and say a lot of them don't bother to tell, and a lot of the queens they sell are virgins, is well, ignorance at best, and at worst, amongst the worst professional slander I have seen on Beesource. It isn't true.
    <<What's a lot more likely, is not well mated queens can be sold, that lay OK for a short time but are quickly superseded. That, for the breeder, is much harder / impossible to tell.>>

    not well mated queens are what I have run into the last few years=quick supersedure.
    it has become a bigger issue over time. And I'm certain the breeders of these queens do not intend to sell poorly mated queens,
    but it's happening. Particularly the early season queens and they have come from both down South and California.

    <From my experience a lot of them don't bother to tell... and a lot of them are virgins. >
    I just shake my head at these one liners.

  6. #45
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    Default Re: Mated Queen who can tell

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    What's a lot more likely, is not well mated queens can be sold, that lay OK for a short time but are quickly superseded. That, for the breeder, is much harder / impossible to tell.
    OT what is the difference if the queen is poorly mated or is a virgin that is too old? This is happening to a number of beekeepers. My suspicion is it happens more to a hobbyist than a commercial beekeeper. Because like you said if it happens to a large buyer it will hurt the producer and the large buyer is not a newbie that can be blown off as not knowing anything.

    Secondly, I thought it was easy to tell if a queen is properly mated simply by the brood pattern. So it seems to me the problem is short cuts, not doing a thorough check like Michael Bush said.
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  7. #46
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    Default Re: Mated Queen who can tell

    There are many reasons why queens can be poorly mated, but the effect is she mates, starts laying, all looks normal, then after a few weeks or months her sperm supply runs low, or out, and the bees replace her. Or don't, and she becomes a drone layer.

    In most cases there is absolutely no way for a breeder to tell if she is going to fail in a few months, or not. The pattern can be completely normal and all looks well.

    Ace, it may seem to you that the problem is short cuts. Or MB may think that breeders don't even check if they are mated. Like I said, hearing this stuff is just a cross that the industry professionals have to bear. There is no way to defend against it, you sell someone a perfectly good queen, they screw up, and blame the breeder. Happens constantly.

    I enjoy selling to commercial beekeepers. As obvious from what Clyderoad said, they understand bees so do things right, they also understand and accept the odds, that some things such as early supersedure can be reduced by the breeder, but not eliminated entirely. Commercial beekeepers who buy in bulk get lower priced queens and accept there will be a % failure for whatever reason.
    Breeders do not, as you suggested Ace, separate out duds and send them to hobbyists. Ridiculous notion.
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  8. #47
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    Default Re: Mated Queen who can tell

    >Really, this is misinformation.
    >If a professional breeder was really selling queens without even checking if they were virgins or not, he would not be a professional breeder very long.

    It's obvious by how they look and how the bees abandon them to move next door that they are virgins. I'm not the only person having these issues. It has become a common problem across all the suppliers. When was the last time you bought a package from California or Georgia, Oldtimer?
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  9. #48
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    Default Re: Mated Queen who can tell

    I think you know the answer to that, I have been a seller not a buyer.

    I do however read what people say, and there are plenty of opinions posted about queens people have bought. If virgins were commonly being sold as mated queens I would have expected to hear a lot more about it.

    trouble with selling a queen, is you are selling a living thing, and have to rely on the skill of the buyer to go the next step and get it safely into his hive and accepted by his bees. Any number of things can go wrong during that process, or even before the process has started (there could be a virgin in the hive for example) especially if he is a raw nubee.

    If you think bees abandoning certain hives and joining others after a package install means the queen was a virgin, that kind of reasoning would explain what you have said. Just so you know though, queens I have sold with, or for, packages, are guaranteed mated and laying I do not sell anything else. But people still get drift.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  10. #49
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    Default Re: Mated Queen who can tell

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    It's obvious by how they look and how the bees abandon them to move next door that they are virgins. I'm not the only person having these issues. It has become a common problem across all the suppliers.
    Really? Early supercedure problems, yes. Poorly mated queens, yes. COMMON that virgin queens are shipped in lieu of mated queens? I don't think so. Where are you getting the information that this "a common problem across ALL suppliers?"
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  11. #50
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    Default Re: Mated Queen who can tell

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    It's obvious by how they look and how the bees abandon them to move next door that they are virgins. I'm not the only person having these issues. It has become a common problem across all the suppliers. When was the last time you bought a package from California or Georgia, Oldtimer?
    Not trying to prop up Mr. Bush...he certainly does not need any propping.

    Oldtimer, I really enjoy your high class postings. It is good to know that high caliber, honest folks like yourself are still out there. And like someone else alluded, most of the beekeepers out there would fall in that category.

    But talking about packages...If one was to put together a package, and that package is presented with a virgin queen, what other choice does this "new bee colony" has, when it comes to accepting or not this Virgin?
    I mean if one thinks about it, a hopelessly queen less colony, with no comb, no brood, no eggs, no chance to make a queen...How close to that situation, is a bee package without a Queen ? What other situation would be out there that a bee colony would be, or could be made, hopelessly queen less?

    Now, take that 3 lb package, give it a caged Virgin Queen and send it out in the world. What other chance would that package have if it was not to accept that Virgin Queen?
    I mean, besides absconding, or moving to a neighboring hive that does have a laying queen?

  12. #51
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    Default Re: Mated Queen who can tell

    Yes you have good point Apis Maximus, if package bees are hived with a virgin (and yes I have done this often), there is a high chance the bees will join the neighbour, if the neighbour has a laying queen.

    But this does not prove the converse, ie, that any package that decides to join the neighbour must have had a virgin. Instead, MB should look at his practise of releasing the caged queen at the same time as hiving the package. I recommend against this because it causes the exact problems he is having. The queen should be left in the cage for the bees to release even though they may have already accepted her.

    It's actually only a very clever beekeeper who can hive a good number of packages into hives in close proximity, without having drifting problems that can leave some hives in jeopardy.
    Last edited by Oldtimer; 01-06-2015 at 08:35 PM.
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  13. #52
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    Default Re: Mated Queen who can tell

    Should add to all that, that MB is correct, I have not purchased a package from Georgia, so I cannot comment from personal experience, as he can.

    However I would find it incredible that a commercial breeder would sell a virgin as a mated queen, it is hard to make such a mistake. But, as I have no personal experience with these breeders I can only offer an opinion.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  14. #53
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    Default Re: Mated Queen who can tell

    I bought three packages last year with queens from the same supplier. The first clustered away from the queen cage on the first night when it was 30 degrees or so. The replacement sent from the local distributor got right to business, but went drone layer pretty quickly. The other two packages were pretty good. Both were superceded in the summer though. All four of these queens were supposed to be and were sold as Carniolan. Only one was the rest were bright Italians. 25% correct on the race leads me to believe that the large commercial queen breeders may not be overly attentive. Was the first queen a virgin? No clue... she was much smaller than the replacement and subsequent "good" queens in the other packages, however. For what other reason would they cluster away from her given that she was in the cluster at dusk?

  15. #54
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    Default Re: Mated Queen who can tell

    There is constant advice and encouragement for hobby beekeepers to maintain nucs, and make their own increase - both individually and as local groups. If more of us would follow this good advice this conversation would be irrelevant. Instead a bunch of us discover in mid winter that we have had losses (that might have been prevented in many cases) and then get in a hurry to buy bees weeks before they should normally be available. And blame every mishap on the very people who bail us out.

    Packages and producers are constantly being represented as low quality and somehow nefarious - by the same people who complain about how expensive packages are and also want them as early as possible. As the saying goes... Good - Cheap - Fast - pick two... The part that goes unsaid is ...and then take responsibility for your choice.

    To answer the original question - "Mated Queens - who can tell?" Professional queen producers can tell, because it is their business. The rest of us can easily tell when we produce our own queens - when we find a nice pattern of healthy brood. It's really pretty simple.
    Last edited by David LaFerney; 01-07-2015 at 04:30 AM.
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  16. #55
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    Default Re: Mated Queen who can tell

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    ... if package bees are hived with a virgin (and yes I have done this often), there is a high chance the bees will join the neighbour, if the neighbour has a laying queen.

    But this does not prove the converse, ie, that any package that decides to join the neighbour must have had a virgin.
    Oldtimer, thanks for engaging in the conversation.
    You are absolutely right in the sense that yes, a package that decides to join the neighbor hive, does not necessarily do so because it has a virgin.

    But, that was not my line of thinking.

    So, I'll try again. IF one WOULD set up a package with a caged Virgin, is there a chance that the package would have no other choice but accept that Virgin?

    I do it all the time with mini mating nucs...hopelessly queen less bunch of bees, put together with a Virgin, closed up a few days, and off they go and become a bee colony with a laying queen. The principle at work is quite similar. Is it not?

    Now, take that concept a step further. IF it can be done, and it does work...why is not possible that one COULD, ON PURPOSE, do it with packages? As in deliberately doing it?

    Because it is not right? Because it is not moral? Because you and I and many others would not do it? I am not arguing for or against the morality or the correctness of the issue. I am just pointing out, that it can be done. And if human history would bring anything to the table, would clearly show, that if things can be done, many times they get done.

    Personally, I think it is a wrong thing to do. Not because it could not work. But because if one would deliberately do it, at least it should say so and let the buyer know...and maybe help by suggesting ways to mitigate VIRGIN queen management in packaged bees. Sort of like truth in labeling.
    Though, I am not holding my breath on that one.

  17. #56
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    Default Re: Mated Queen who can tell

    > I would have expected to hear a lot more about it.

    I think you have but you must have missed it. You hear about it everywhere there are beekeepers pretty much all the time.

    >But this does not prove the converse, ie, that any package that decides to join the neighbour must have had a virgin. Instead, MB should look at his practise of releasing the caged queen at the same time as hiving the package.

    The abandoned queen is almost always still in the hive either because I have not released her (which I do just to continue to experiment) or she's loose with either one or two bees with her and the rest are gone. It makes no difference if she is released or not to the percentage. Last time I did packages I left five of them in the cages and had worse results (not statistically significant, but certainly indicative that it did not matter much). But I think they have more respect for a queen who is free than one in a cage.

    >If you think bees abandoning certain hives and joining others after a package install means the queen was a virgin, that kind of reasoning would explain what you have said.

    I raise queens. I know how virgins are treated by the bees. How they behave around them. I know what virgin queens look like. I tried to find other explanations, but I can only conclude that a lot of them are just not mated at all.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  18. #57
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    Default Re: Mated Queen who can tell

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    >Really, this is misinformation.
    >If a professional breeder was really selling queens without even checking if they were virgins or not, he would not be a professional breeder very long.

    It's obvious by how they look and how the bees abandon them to move next door that they are virgins. I'm not the only person having these issues. It has become a common problem across all the suppliers. When was the last time you bought a package from California or Georgia, Oldtimer?
    Why do you need outside package bees? and how to they fit into your treatment free apiary ?

  19. #58
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    Default Re: Mated Queen who can tell

    Quote Originally Posted by David LaFerney View Post
    Packages and producers are constantly being represented as low quality and somehow nefarious
    Corporate America...
    This company has been selling these widgets for many years and has a reputation of good quality products. All of a sudden these widgets become a craze and orders start increasing 50-75 percent. The company needs to expand instantly so they hire new people who haven't had the time to be completely trained. The owners of this company are the same. They haven't changed so they still believe in selling a good product. A sudden increase in widget sales is bound to result in lower quality. There is almost no way to avoid it.
    The best way for the company to deal with the situation is to make good on the bad widgets that went out the door.
    I hate to mention that I worked for a long time in a medical widget factory and I have seen instant success result in a lot of failures.

    We are in a craze folks. More and more people are getting bees.
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  20. #59
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    Default Re: Mated Queen who can tell

    When I had time to raise queens, the packages gave me a lot of mating nucs earlier than I could set them up otherwise. I'd install the packages in mid April and break them up for mating nucs in early to mid-May and sell off the package queens cheap to local people who wanted queens about then for splits. But it didn't work out that well as the quality of packages kept going down. I don't bother with them anymore. If I had more time to spend to focus on overwintering more nucs it never would have been of much use to start with...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  21. #60
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    Default Re: Mated Queen who can tell

    Sorry Apis Maximus, you are right I did miss your original point, now I get you.

    And you are right of course, deliberately selling virgins as mated queens COULD be done.

    However that does not automatically mean that ALL queen breeders (which would include Michael Bush) are doing it, or that they don't even bother to check if the queen is a virgin or not.

    However as stated I don't personally know how each US breeder conducts themselves so it's pointless me continuing in this particular discussion.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

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