Requeening
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Thread: Requeening

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    Adelaide, Australia
    Posts
    189

    Default Requeening

    I hear that a queen lives for four years, and that, in order to maximise honey production, it's best to requeen every two years, as an aged queen is not as prolific as a younger queen.

    Do you guys requeen every two years? What sort of difference in honey production is there in letting them keep an old queen?

    Do you guys replace an old queen? I'm under the impression that if she's laying not consistently, if her eggs are scattered and if there is not many, or if she otherwise simply looks unwell, it can be worth replacing. I'm also under the impression that the bees will replace an old, bad queen themselves; are they good at doing this? Or do they tend to keep bad queens for too long?

    When replacing, do you guys add a queen yourself? Or do you find the bad queen, squish her and then let the bees make themselves a new queen? My concern with the latter approach is, I believe the longer the larvae has access to royal jelly, the stronger, healthier more prolific the queen will become, and that sometimes emergency replacement queens can be less productive due to not receiving enough royal jelly.

    I also stumbled across this quote:

    "If you use hybrid bees or bees of a selected stock in your operation, be sure to requeen regularly. Allowing natural queen replacement usually leads to loss of hybrid vigor and sometimes causes colonies to be quite defensive and thus more difficult to manage."

    Found at the bottom of this link:

    http://agdev.anr.udel.edu/maarec/beg...t-type-of-bee/

    What do you guys think of this? Is this statement true? What does it mean exactly by "of a selected stock"; are they saying if someone orders Ligurians from some breeders, then allow them to naturally replace their queen, then they will become more defensive?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    53,922

    Default Re: Requeening

    As long as we are not allowing the natural selection for bees who can sense a failing queen and replace her, then we are possibly continuing genetic lines that don't have this essential characteristic. This kind of risk is why the "Jockey club" (Thoroughbred registry) does not allow AI and requires live cover. They don't want to risk that we might be promoting genetics that are not capable of reproducing on their own. If we keep requeening for the bees how do we know if they are capable of sensing a failing queen and replacing her? If the queen is failing and we replace here with stock we know does have the ability to sense a failing queen, then we can move on without that risk.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    Adelaide, Australia
    Posts
    189

    Default Re: Requeening

    Very interesting. Then I wonder, what sort of practical things can a beekeeper do to determine whether their bees are naturally replacing a failing queen by their own? I suppose if a beekeeper notices that a queen is doing quite badly, and sometime has gone by and she's still around, then one might deduce that the bees have an apparent poor ability to replace a bad queen, and it might be best to do the job for them?

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    53,922

    Default Re: Requeening

    >Then I wonder, what sort of practical things can a beekeeper do to determine whether their bees are naturally replacing a failing queen by their own?

    Well there is the obvious, simple observation.

    >I suppose if a beekeeper notices that a queen is doing quite badly, and sometime has gone by and she's still around, then one might deduce that the bees have an apparent poor ability to replace a bad queen, and it might be best to do the job for them?

    Of course. What's more, though, it would be best to replace the queen from stock that CAN do the job. Keeping and breeding from queens who have shown the ability to do a seamless supersedure makes sense.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Cincinnati, OH
    Posts
    325

    Default Re: Requeening

    In my operation, I usually let them go 2 seasons if they are doing well. If i find swarm cells with a 2 or 3 year old queen, I remove her to a nuc box and let the hive requeen itself. If she keeps doing well enough in the nuc, I harvest brood and stores from the nuc. Once she is clearly spent, I requen the nuc or remove her and recombine. I raise all my own queens.
    Mistakes are the best taechers

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Santa Cruz, CA
    Posts
    338

    Default Re: Requeening

    Quote Originally Posted by Beebeard View Post
    In my operation, I usually let them go 2 seasons if they are doing well. If i find swarm cells with a 2 or 3 year old queen, I remove her to a nuc box and let the hive requeen itself. If she keeps doing well enough in the nuc, I harvest brood and stores from the nuc. Once she is clearly spent, I requen the nuc or remove her and recombine. I raise all my own queens.
    Pretty much the same here.

    With a little experience you can start to tell when a queen isn't doing as well. I recently noticed a queen, coming into her 3rd year, who had a terrible lay pattern and much weaker hive compared to others (from previous years she had one of the strongest hives). Upon yesterday's inspection I noticed several superstructure cells. I know she's of prime genetics from her last two years in service so I'm happy to have them replace her with her one genes.

    The cells were far enough along I felt comfortable removing the queen and placing her in a nuc. I'm hoping she will produce through the spring to where I can use her to make a few more queens before "retiring" her.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Lumpkin County, GA
    Posts
    873

    Default Re: Requeening

    My only concern about locally mated queens is whether there are sufficient drones in the area to do a complete mating. When I started having my hives make their own queens, it seemed like my queens would peter out in their second season and usually in the fall so they will not have sufficient winter bees, and the colony would fail by spring.
    I have expanded my hive count so that there are now 5 outyards within 3 miles of my house, so the queens have plenty of potential mates.
    FWIW.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    53,922

    Default Re: Requeening

    If you raise queens preemptively (i.e. ahead of time) then you can raise them when they will be mated well. Usually that would be when prime swarm season is in your location. Then you have some banked or in nucs and you can get a local, well mated queen when you need one. There are a lot of drones out there during swarm season.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

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