Gentle Queens, are They a Myth?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Belmont, Michigan
    Posts
    187

    Default Gentle Queens, are They a Myth?

    So the bee club has ordered a truck load of nucs and packages for general sale to members and the public. What can be expected in the way of queen quality? Are they just your run of the mill generic queen, able to keep a hive going, but without any special bells and whistles?
    I’ve read many posts by folks who feel there are queens, and then THERE ARE QUEENS! Outstanding production queens bred for northern climates, very gentle to work with and produce good production brood.
    They say that a “hot” hive of bees can be calmed down by requeening with a known gentle strain. So how does one find these “gentle strains”? Are gentle queens reproducible or is it just the luck of the draw?
    Can you suggest a queen breeder who produces queens suitable for wintering in cold states (Michigan) and are also of a very gentle nature? I'm sure a gentle hive is a true pleasure to work with and half the battle!

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Crown Point, NY, USA
    Posts
    566

    Default Re: Gentle Queens, are They a Myth?

    I like Micheal Palmers bees, quite a bit.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    5,534

    Default Re: Gentle Queens, are They a Myth?

    There are certainly hot-tempered queen lines from areas with a lot of AHB genetics. And from time to time a colony will seem more antsy in response to some specific stressor. Particularly at the end of the season when they have precious winter stores to protect they can be a little more assertive about their space.

    But more commonly there are unskilled beekeepers who are unknowingly exciting the colony, which makes the hive seem unpleasantly hot. I've also had beginning beekeepers who somehow have acquired the idea that they will never get stung, so any sting equals a dangerously hot tempered colony.

    I work my bees with bare hands. I still get stung on most days, but my bees are perfectly normal, European-tempered, mutt bees headed by locally-mated queens. I could easily change their temperament for the worse if I wasn't careful about how I handle them.

    If you are looking for northern vigor or heavy honey production then those attributes are worth seeking out. But, in general, I would look to your own handling of your bees for answers to hot hives, especially if you are new and/or if you think all of your colonies are hot. Of course, if you live in areas where AHB are very common, then all bets are off.

    Nancy

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Denver Metro Area CO, USA
    Posts
    1,852

    Default Re: Gentle Queens, are They a Myth?

    Can you suggest a queen breeder who produces queens suitable for wintering in cold states (Michigan) and are also of a very gentle nature?
    http://northernbeenetwork.org/

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Yuba County, California, USA
    Posts
    6,546

    Default Re: Gentle Queens, are They a Myth?

    Calmest bees I ever had were from:
    http://strachanbees.com/
    They were so calm they were freaking me out. Seemed to be very unnatural to me.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Dover Arkansas
    Posts
    53

    Default Re: Gentle Queens, are They a Myth?

    Ray did you get the Caroline or Italian Queens? Did you ship them or pick them up?

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Aylett, Virginia
    Posts
    3,705

    Default Re: Gentle Queens, are They a Myth?

    All my bees were calm when they were nucs, even the ones i made from so called "hot" hives. As they hives grew, they became a little more testy. My handling most likely had something to do with it, along with the summer dearth, etc. Saturday, I ran into the calmest hive I have seen so far. Nothing I did seemed to upset them. That includes using an impact drill to screw in a board to the openinig of their hive, using a stapler to staple a screen to the board, and then shoving a piece of PVC pipe into their entrance. Not a bump or even a buzz bomb run. Just bees being bees. Very pleasant.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Yuba County, California, USA
    Posts
    6,546

    Default Re: Gentle Queens, are They a Myth?

    Quote Originally Posted by DoverBob View Post
    Ray did you get the Caroline or Italian Queens? Did you ship them or pick them up?
    Italians. Picked up. I went with other beeks to pick up packages they had ordered, and kept one for myself. That was a few years ago, they don't do packages any more that I know of.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    10,036

    Default Re: Gentle Queens, are They a Myth?

    Quote Originally Posted by rick54 View Post
    able to keep a hive going, but without any special bells and whistles?
    Whatever queens you get, they are unlikely to be set, and forget. Pretty much all bees will need some special bells and whistles. That is, unless you are OK with losing a good portion of them over a season or two.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  11. #10
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Murfreesboro, TN, USA
    Posts
    658

    Default Re: Gentle Queens, are They a Myth?

    Gentle queens are not a myth...they do in fact exist! My wife really liked the queens we got from Honey Run Apiaries. She called them her “sweet bees.” http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com and...there are other places to get good quality queens too. Sometimes the best queens are the ones you raise yourself...and remember there are also good queens and poor queens even within a category. For example, you can have a good gentle Italian queen or a not so good one. You can have a good NWC queen or a not so good one, etc. Ahhh...the quest for the “perfect queen” has been the desire of beekeepers for years.
    “My child, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.” (Proverbs 24:13)

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