Best ratio of hives to nucs for mating
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  1. #1
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    Default Best ratio of hives to nucs for mating

    Is there a standard number of full size hives to have around to fully mate queens from mating nucs? As in each full size hive supports mating 10 queens well? Or 100?
    Indiana, 3rd year, 10 hives, www.facebook.com/RussellHoneybees

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Best ratio of hives to nucs for mating

    The thing is that according to the conventional wisdom queens are unlikely to mate with drones flying from the same yard. As long as you aren't producing a lot of queens at one time you can probably not worry about drones for your queens.
    Since '09-75H-T-Z6b

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Best ratio of hives to nucs for mating

    The drones I want are "out there"...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Best ratio of hives to nucs for mating

    I have read that it helps mating if the drone hives are 1/4 to 1/2 mile from the mating nuc yard, and that 5 drone hives are required for each 100 mating nucs.
    42 + years - 24 colonies - IPM disciple - Naturally Skeptic

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Best ratio of hives to nucs for mating

    Thanks, that 5:100 ratio is what I was looking for. I have outyards 1-2 miles from the mating yard. I just wanted to make sure I'm not producing more virgins than my hives can handle.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Best ratio of hives to nucs for mating

    Hi, interesting topic!

    I think we should deal with number of drones, rather than number of hives... we can decide to push or not push dron production, and we can decide to use many hives for drone rearing and few hives where to group several drones frames ready to emerge.

    I normally think that if I need 15-20 drones to mate a single virgin queen... then I need to produce about 10 times drones. (1:200)

    A full-layd drone combs (Dadant hives) is about 2500 drones each side. So, my ratio is normally 1 drone producitg hive (with full drone frame) each 25 nucs.. which is not far from the 5:100 ratio abovementioned for Langstroth colonies...

    Any further comment is appreciated!

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Best ratio of hives to nucs for mating

    I think I'll be good for this year, but next year I'll make more queens and will need drone comb and more full size hives in the area.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Best ratio of hives to nucs for mating

    Speaking of, the ratio would probably change throughout the season right? The flying drone population would be small to begin with then build with time to some peak. Has there been any study on how well queens are mated in relation to changing drone populations?

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Best ratio of hives to nucs for mating

    If you boost the drone population by adding 3 drone combs each, 5 colonies will do for 100 virgin queens.

    I consider producing 100 drones per queen. Now that is a lot, but I figure that about half of the drones will not be present or not up to par. That still leaves plenty of competition among the drones for the virgins, ensuring thorough matings.

    The main thing I would encourage is to locate the drones right near the DCA, and place the mating nuc's in a circle about 3/4 mile away from the drones. The reason is that the queens will fly a good distance to mate, the drones do not stay out all that long. They need to go in to refuel every so often. A short flight to the DCA for the drones means good drone density for well-mated queens.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Best ratio of hives to nucs for mating

    Quote Originally Posted by lharder View Post
    Speaking of, the ratio would probably change throughout the season right? The flying drone population would be small to begin with then build with time to some peak. Has there been any study on how well queens are mated in relation to changing drone populations?
    You might find this of interest
    http://journals.cambridge.org/action...e&aid=10007349

    and it's also from canadian authors.
    Maybe it's not about drone numbers, but I guess drone quality is an important issue.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Best ratio of hives to nucs for mating

    Quote Originally Posted by kilocharlie View Post
    If you boost the drone population by adding 3 drone combs each, 5 colonies will do for 100 virgin queens.

    I consider producing 100 drones per queen. Now that is a lot, but I figure that about half of the drones will not be present or not up to par. That still leaves plenty of competition among the drones for the virgins, ensuring thorough matings.

    The main thing I would encourage is to locate the drones right near the DCA, and place the mating nuc's in a circle about 3/4 mile away from the drones. The reason is that the queens will fly a good distance to mate, the drones do not stay out all that long. They need to go in to refuel every so often. A short flight to the DCA for the drones means good drone density for well-mated queens.
    I agree about boosting drone population, but is there a max number of drone a colony can raise without affecting drone quality?
    Remember that amount of semen in drones (fertility and vitality) is pre-determined at larval stage. After hatching, they only need to develope wings and thorax muscle in order to compete at the DCA, but semen is due to nutrition at larval stage.

    So I guess we can boost them.. but not at libitum.

    You are right, more than 50% of raised drones will be useless.

    ..and I also agree with the idea of placing drones close to DCA and mating nucs in a circle closeby... but, I have also tryied to mark drones from my drone colonies, and then catch them at the DCAs.. and so far I failed to bring evidence to this... do you maybe have any evidence?

    Thanks in advance

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Best ratio of hives to nucs for mating

    Quote Originally Posted by radallo View Post
    You might find this of interest
    http://journals.cambridge.org/action...e&aid=10007349

    and it's also from canadian authors.
    Maybe it's not about drone numbers, but I guess drone quality is an important issue.
    The abstract didn't detail how rearing date affected sperm volume, and maybe its an issue. How does a queen make a decision about how many matings she wants? Perhaps mating number goes up with lower sperm volume. Sperm viability didn't appear to change, so perhaps drones compensate with poorer conditions by keeping quality high, but reducing output.

    I'm particularly interested in early mating and late mating scenarios. The first drones flying have to reestablish DCA's and get to some effective density to get well mated queens. The ratio of drones from each hive would also be more skewed early in the season as some hives would produce them sooner. This could result in lowered genetic diversity in early matings. Lots of interesting questions.

    Have mostly foundationless, so the bees themselves have lots of influence about drone number. Perhaps a good starting point when looking at drone quality.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Best ratio of hives to nucs for mating

    Quote Originally Posted by David LaFerney View Post
    The thing is that according to the conventional wisdom queens are unlikely to mate with drones flying from the same yard. As long as you aren't producing a lot of queens at one time you can probably not worry about drones for your queens.
    The problem with that conventional wisdom is that it isn't based in any facts...kind of like the conventional wisdom that bees don't poop in the hive....wishful thinking that supports a comforting falsehood.

    http://www.jstor.org/stable/25085360...n_tab_contents

    Queens are very likely to mate in the shared flyways that queens amd drones use.
    Sometimes the lights all shining on me
    Other times I can barely see. -The Grateful Dead

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Best ratio of hives to nucs for mating

    Quote Originally Posted by deknow View Post
    The problem with that conventional wisdom is that it isn't based in any facts...kind of like the conventional wisdom that bees don't poop in the hive....wishful thinking that supports a comforting falsehood.

    http://www.jstor.org/stable/25085360...n_tab_contents

    Queens are very likely to mate in the shared flyways that queens and drones use.
    I'm not arguing one way or the other about queens mating with drones from the same yard, I've heard it (and read it) from some pretty reputable people - but reputable people used to think the earth was the center of the universe too. I sure don't have any proof one way or the other. I kind of hope you are correct, because it means that I can exercise a little more control than I thought. For what that's worth.

    However, if my queens ARE mating with the home boys my hives produce lots and lots more drones than they could possibly need. Even when I tried queen rearing for the first time and I only had 5 smallish regular hives there would have been plenty of drones from my yard.

    However it works, in my opinion the queens I've reared have performed at least as good on average as any that I have ever bought (and the ones that don't are quickly apparent) and I suspect that is going to be true for most small time / hobby queen producers.
    Since '09-75H-T-Z6b

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Best ratio of hives to nucs for mating

    Quote Originally Posted by deknow View Post
    The problem with that conventional wisdom is that it isn't based in any facts...kind of like the conventional wisdom that bees don't poop in the hive....wishful thinking that supports a comforting falsehood.

    http://www.jstor.org/stable/25085360...n_tab_contents

    Queens are very likely to mate in the shared flyways that queens amd drones use.
    OK, I've read through this, and I didn't spot the part where it says that the queens mated with drones from the same apiary? It is certainly implied that it would be possible or even likely in this scenario where the commercial apiary is assumed to be the main (or only) source of both queens and drones - which BTW is probably not the usual case. Again, I'm not arguing - but if that paper says that queens routinely mate with drones from their home apiary I missed it. Could you quote the passage you are taking that from?
    Since '09-75H-T-Z6b

  17. #16

    Default Re: Best ratio of hives to nucs for mating

    You don't have to worry about drones as long as you are not producing a lot of queens.

  18. #17

    Default Re: Best ratio of hives to nucs for mating

    You need not worry about drones as long as you don't produce lot of queens.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Best ratio of hives to nucs for mating

    I am planning on starting to raise queens for my own use to expand my hive count next year as well as cutting back on the number I have to buy. I had planned on added package hives to boost my odds in the queen yard, but it seems it may be better to add those packages to one of my other apiaries that is about 1/2 a mile away to provide the drones for the queens. The site currently has 2 hives and I planned on adding another 5 to 10 hives and a queen castle to start my own queens in. Where would the best location be for those extra hives?

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Best ratio of hives to nucs for mating

    See the thread above most of the answers are there.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Best ratio of hives to nucs for mating


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