When to Re-Queen a Package
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  1. #1
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    Oct 2015
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    Ohio, USA
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    Default When to Re-Queen a Package

    If I plan to get a package of bees next spring but to replace the queen with a locally bred queen from one of the breeders in my area, when is the best time to do that requeening? During installation of the package to the hive (drawn comb will be available) or would be it better to let the package get established early, then replace the queen with the locally bred one a bit later?

    My thought is that replacing later might be better in terms of reducing the risk of absconding and losing the whole group, and giving me the option to treat before requeening if it turns out to be needed. But I am a rookie and definitely open to input.

    If later is better, how much later? A few weeks? Wait until right before the June flow? Wait until after the fall dearth? (all depending on queen availability too...)

    (Note: I have a TBH so installing a nuc isn't exactly straightforward, and some of the local breeders only sell queens not full nucs anyway).

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
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    Default Re: When to Re-Queen a Package

    Typically it's a new queen that is given with your package. That new queen if she's queen right; meaning that she's laying eggs in a pattern that is acceptable, healthy you don't need to replace her. Typically queens last 2 to 5 yrs. Re-queening can be every 6 months by commercial bee keepers from what I have heard and minimally every year. Non commercial bee keepers typically re queen after wintering. I have read that those in the South some re-queen with bees from the North due to the gentleness and no DNA of the African bees. This is after the colony gets to a proper size.

  4. #3
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    Oct 2015
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    Ohio, USA
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    Default Re: When to Re-Queen a Package

    Thanks, frustrateddrone. My concern is that all the packages we get here are out of the deep south, and I'm wondering if I would have a better chance of success with a locally bred queen.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
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    Hopkins, South Carolina
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    640

    Default Re: When to Re-Queen a Package

    Why don't you just buy local to start with????

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
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    Salem, Oregon
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    Default Re: When to Re-Queen a Package

    We enjoy a very high rate of queen acceptance.
    One aspect of our procedure is to always place the queen cage between frames of mixed brood with attending nurse bees.
    The only exceptions of course are packages.
    So to give my answer to your question, not addressing anything about the local queen bit, I would allow the package queen to lay out brood and when the bees are emerging, replace the queen if you choose.
    Remove and pinch the queen after about one month.
    Remove the cork covering the candy plug.
    DO NOT poke a hole in the candy plug.
    Place the cage between frames of mixed, emerging brood.
    Fill the feeder, close up the hive and STAY OUT for at least 10 days.
    The placement between mixed brood with emerging nurse bees greatly increases acceptance.
    Good luck!
    I have exactly ONE more hive than you.
    That makes my opinion beyond dispute!

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Dane County, WI
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    67

    Default Re: When to Re-Queen a Package

    "when is the best time to do that requeening?"

    I replaced the queens on two California packages six-weeks after I received them with one VSH sensitive queen and one super-mutt/Russian hybrid. Both colonies are going into the winter fine. You can sell the queens from your original packages through your local bee club. Good luck.

  8. #7
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    Sep 2008
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    Mtn. View, Arkansas, USA
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    Default Re: When to Re-Queen a Package

    There are things that will have more affect on a colony and cause it to fail to overwinter than a southern raised queen. If you practice good beekeeping it won't matter where your queen is from. Use this winter to study up on bees, get your package in the spring and don't worry about requeening unless there are indications that the queen is failing. Varroa is the number one cause of colony death, control varroa and you will have colonies that overwinter well.
    42 + years - 24 colonies - IPM disciple - Naturally Skeptic

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
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    Ohio, USA
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    Default Re: When to Re-Queen a Package

    Thanks everyone for your input

  10. #9
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    Jan 2013
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    Lumpkin County, GA
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    Default Re: When to Re-Queen a Package

    IMHO when you get an early spring package, the queens are poorly mated. I got 4 packages this year and picked them up in April. By the end of October, 3 of the 4 packages petered out. I re-queened the remaining package around the summer solstice (June 21) and it is going strong. I would suggest re-queening with local stock around June 21 since that is peak queen mating season. To those who think "mites" to the 3 failed packages, I monitor and treat. There were definitely queen issues on 2 of the packages since they had a couple frames with emergency queen cups. The last package suffered from a robbing spree that I wasn't quick enough to stop.

  11. #10
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    Apr 2014
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    Fort Gay, WV, USA
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    Default Re: When to Re-Queen a Package

    Quote Originally Posted by ericweller View Post
    IMHO when you get an early spring package, the queens are poorly mated. I got 4 packages this year and picked them up in April. By the end of October, 3 of the 4 packages petered out. I re-queened the remaining package around the summer solstice (June 21) and it is going strong. I would suggest re-queening with local stock around June 21 since that is peak queen mating season. To those who think "mites" to the 3 failed packages, I monitor and treat. There were definitely queen issues on 2 of the packages since they had a couple frames with emergency queen cups. The last package suffered from a robbing spree that I wasn't quick enough to stop.
    Honestly I must agree with Eric here. Packages made up in early spring suffer from poorly mated queens. I've had many first year hives from packages and the only ones that ever made it were the ones that have been requeened at some point through the season. I as well treat so mites were not an issue. The issue was too early mating caused by trying to get my bees too early.

    So here's my two cents for the OP. Get your packages, then hive them with the package queen. Wait at least 21 days so you have new nurse bees emerging and then requeenen those hives. The new nurse bees will take up to the new queen as soon as they emerge making the transition easier on her. If you want to ensure you have a queen no matter what, put old queen and a frame of bees young larva in a nuc box and wait till new queen is up and going before getting rid of her.
    Thomas Bartram

  12. #11
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    Default Re: When to Re-Queen a Package

    If you're convinced you're not going to get a well mated queen from an early pack I sure wouldn't introduce her to my hive tool on the assumption she will fail. Why not wait until the queen moves up into the second story, place her back down under a divider board for a couple days until you get cells up top, then replace the divider with a double screen, give them a top entrance and run it as a (probable) two queen unit. At the end of the summer pull the screens and que sera sera.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Ohio, USA
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    Default Re: When to Re-Queen a Package

    Thanks all, lots of good ideas. I really appreciate your shared experience and suggestions. Makes a lot of sense.

  14. #13
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    Southern Virginia
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    Default Re: When to Re-Queen a Package

    no NEED to requeen... if she's doing well then let her do her thing....But the sooner you can introduce some local genes into your hives the better...The problem is when all your neighbors have queens all from packages/Georgia and you don't end up with anything different.
    Zone 7a

  15. #14
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    Default Re: When to Re-Queen a Package

    Quote Originally Posted by phyber View Post
    no NEED to requeen... if she's doing well then let her do her thing....But the sooner you can introduce some local genes into your hives the better...The problem is when all your neighbors have queens all from packages/Georgia and you don't end up with anything different.
    I used this approach last year where I "let the queen do her thing" and found that the all of the queens petered out in the fall (October) when it is almost impossible for new queen to be mated and return back to the hive.
    This year I was testing re-queening around the summer solstice and it appears to be a better plan with packages.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: When to Re-Queen a Package

    I have had the best luck catching swarms. The queens are egg laying machines AND local. Once I get a queen I like... nucs and making queens are next.
    From experience, packaged bees are not for me.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: When to Re-Queen a Package

    Quote Originally Posted by Shai View Post
    Thanks, frustrateddrone. My concern is that all the packages we get here are out of the deep south, and I'm wondering if I would have a better chance of success with a locally bred queen.
    Make your decision after you give the imported queen a chance. If you feel that you need to requeen. Do it after the summer solstice. This is when the old queens are slowing down. A new queen will want to build brood for you to feed through the winter and have an exploding colony in spring 2017

  18. #17
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    Nov 2012
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    Honey Hive Farms, Winfield Missouri
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    Default Re: When to Re-Queen a Package

    I am not understanding why you would want to re queen a package? Packages from a good package producer has great genetics, lets their queens lay for 15 days plus.
    There should not be a problem with a queen in a package...

    As for swarms, not for us, we like great genetics and know what we have and how old our queens are, etc. (seen lots of swarms with problems, mites, etc) Good starts are good endings, bad starts are bad endings...

    Nucs are fine, but again we feel that who knows where the foundation has been and after three years probably several mites within the foundation.

    Just some thoughts, best of luck.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: When to Re-Queen a Package

    >I am not understanding why you would want to re queen a package?

    Try a search on:
    SARE grant requeening
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  20. #19
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    Default Re: When to Re-Queen a Package

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    >I am not understanding why you would want to re queen a package?

    Try a search on:
    SARE grant requeening
    It's an interesting study. I'm not seeing any specific data on factors were present in each group such as when the matings occurred and the stock used. Referring to northern queens and southern queens as though they were as different as night and day just seems too simplistic to me. A fairer comparison might be to compare matings done at the same time from a hive development standpoint in regards to hive drone development.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  21. #20
    Join Date
    May 2015
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    Default Re: When to Re-Queen a Package

    Learned something (again) that I had forgotten about and maybe it belongs here.

    The problem with packages is that about 2 weeks in they will try to succeed the queen. It has nothing to do with local vs. distant or deep south bees and queens. It's just how it works. Will try and explain.

    About two weeks into installing a package many of the bees that came in the package are dead or getting old. There is a shortage of nurse bees because none have emerged. The queen is laying fine but there is poor balance in the colony at that time. Experienced established beekeepers know this and will add a frame of larva with some nurses at the two week mark after installing a package to help get the hive into a proper balance.

    Hope this helps.
    Internet credibility is an oxymoron

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