Why would I be told that an inhouse queen is a bad idea?
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  1. #1
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    Default Why would I be told that an inhouse queen is a bad idea?

    I undertook a series of bee classes in the fall, being administered by a local Mann Lake distributor. The classes were free and although the obvious idea was that us budding beekeepers would then buy their equipment there was no sales pressure brought to bear.

    One topic that caught my ear was that of the queen and when a hive becomes queen-less. Their recommendation was absolutely NOT to allow a queen to be created within the hive but to purchase one, from them or someone else. I never really did hear an underlying reason for this and am wondering whether there is sound science behind getting a queen elsewhere v in-house. I think it was to do with knowing you had strong genetics if purchased. Is this sound?

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Why would I be told that an inhouse queen is a bad idea?

    The only thing I can think of is that a hive that is queenless (maybe for awhile) is not strong enough to raise a quality queen. The more resource the better things could be turned around. Usually beginners lack resources, knowledge, experience, and skill to pull it off. Sometime knowing when to call it quits is a skill. Just my 2 cents on there recommendation.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Why would I be told that an inhouse queen is a bad idea?

    In West Virginia, queens mated locally would be unlikely to mate with an AHB (Africanized Honey Bee) drones, but in some areas further south, open mated queens may mate with AHB drones. So in AHB areas, commercially purchased queens may be a better choice.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

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    Default Re: Why would I be told that an inhouse queen is a bad idea?

    Buying a mated queen could save you a month of production compared to raising one. In that extra length of time the colony could otherwise become laying worker. In more northern areas mature drones may not be ready to mate the virgin queen. At 46 deg north my first raised queens of the season have just now started laying their first eggs.

    For raw beginners it might be overall good advice.
    Frank

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Why would I be told that an inhouse queen is a bad idea?

    A queenless hive will go without eggs for at least 3 weeks, typically more like 4 weeks. During that time the existing brood will be emerging so it wont look like the hive is getting weak for 3 weeks after you lose the queen. When the queen does finally start laying, all of the existing brood is emerged so no young bees adding to the population, but old bees still dieing off day by day. The hive doesn't start to 'look weak' until 5 weeks after they lose the queen, then it takes a good 6 weeks after the new queen is laying for the population to rebound. By letting the colony just raise a queen you weaken the colony such they likely wont produce much if any surplus. This is particularly true of a fresh new colony started from a package or a nuc. For this type of colony, to be without a queen in the first couple months of growth is essentially a death sentence for that colony.

    I think the person giving the course was working on the assumption attendees would be new beekeepers starting new colonies in new equipment. In that case, it is sound advice, dont let the colony raise a queen, a new colony on new equipment cant afford that kind of a setback and still be expected to get up to winter strength in time for winter.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Why would I be told that an inhouse queen is a bad idea?

    There are two reasons why this might be taught in a course:

    #1 - Allowing the hive to requeen itself is a major setback. Consider that you need at least 5-9 days for that hive to requeen itself and then 2-3 weeks before that queen comes back mated. You could have between 0-75% odds of her making it back even after that long wait. Your hive's workers will begin laying shortly after.

    #2 - Your hive might be making emergency queens which will be more worker-like and therefore will be inferior quality. Emergency queens are far from ideal compared to purpose made queens.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Why would I be told that an inhouse queen is a bad idea?

    Quote Originally Posted by grozzie2 View Post
    A queenless hive will go without eggs for at least 3 weeks, typically more like 4 weeks. During that time the existing brood will be emerging so it wont look like the hive is getting weak for 3 weeks after you lose the queen. When the queen does finally start laying, all of the existing brood is emerged so no young bees adding to the population, but old bees still dieing off day by day. The hive doesn't start to 'look weak' until 5 weeks after they lose the queen, then it takes a good 6 weeks after the new queen is laying for the population to rebound. By letting the colony just raise a queen you weaken the colony such they likely wont produce much if any surplus. This is particularly true of a fresh new colony started from a package or a nuc. For this type of colony, to be without a queen in the first couple months of growth is essentially a death sentence for that colony.

    I think the person giving the course was working on the assumption attendees would be new beekeepers starting new colonies in new equipment. In that case, it is sound advice, dont let the colony raise a queen, a new colony on new equipment cant afford that kind of a setback and still be expected to get up to winter strength in time for winter.
    WOW! Great instruction, grozzie!
    I have exactly ONE more hive than you.
    That makes my opinion beyond dispute!

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Why would I be told that an inhouse queen is a bad idea?

    OTOH, All my queens are open-mated, mutt-girls raised from a variety of cells: supercedure, swarm, and emergency cells.

    Some of my home-made queens are currently maintaining hives that have four or five, 10-frame, deep boxes on them, jam-packed with bees and honey. Others are laying well in "only" three-deep, plus a medium, colonies. Those are my third-season old girls, and some may be superceded this year, and all likely will be by this time next year.

    My bees all arrived here in swarms, and when the original queens needed replacement I mostly let the bees choose the timing. They're far better stewards of the process than I am. I never "re-queen."

    Some of my neighbors go in for fancy, store-bought, queen lines. No doubt some of the vigor in the colonies headed up by my Plain Jane queens comes from brand-name drones.

    Nancy

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Why would I be told that an inhouse queen is a bad idea?

    Quote Originally Posted by grozzie2 View Post
    A queenless hive will go without eggs for at least 3 weeks, typically more like 4 weeks. During that time the existing brood will be emerging so it wont look like the hive is getting weak for 3 weeks after you lose the queen. When the queen does finally start laying, all of the existing brood is emerged so no young bees adding to the population, but old bees still dieing off day by day. The hive doesn't start to 'look weak' until 5 weeks after they lose the queen, then it takes a good 6 weeks after the new queen is laying for the population to rebound. By letting the colony just raise a queen you weaken the colony such they likely wont produce much if any surplus. This is particularly true of a fresh new colony started from a package or a nuc. For this type of colony, to be without a queen in the first couple months of growth is essentially a death sentence for that colony.

    I think the person giving the course was working on the assumption attendees would be new beekeepers starting new colonies in new equipment. In that case, it is sound advice, dont let the colony raise a queen, a new colony on new equipment cant afford that kind of a setback and still be expected to get up to winter strength in time for winter.
    Many thanks for taking the time to pen this. What I am seeing then is that whilst there is little reason in terms of queen 'quality' there IS an issue in terms of timing. Once I see I am queenless the delay in rearing a queen is the determining factor. However, if I am planning a split there is no reason not to use an inhouse queen.


    Quote Originally Posted by enjambres View Post
    OTOH, All my queens are open-mated, mutt-girls raised from a variety of cells: supercedure, swarm, and emergency cells.

    Some of my home-made queens are currently maintaining hives that have four or five, 10-frame, deep boxes on them, jam-packed with bees and honey. Others are laying well in "only" three-deep, plus a medium, colonies. Those are my third-season old girls, and some may be superceded this year, and all likely will be by this time next year.

    My bees all arrived here in swarms, and when the original queens needed replacement I mostly let the bees choose the timing. They're far better stewards of the process than I am. I never "re-queen."

    Some of my neighbors go in for fancy, store-bought, queen lines. No doubt some of the vigor in the colonies headed up by my Plain Jane queens comes from brand-name drones.

    Nancy
    Again thanks, this reinforces my comment above. Nothing wrong with an in-house queen as long as the timing is right. I have seen many comments elsewhere about emergency queens needing to be reared from appropriately ages larvae but even then it appears bees are wise enough to rarely not use a correctly aged larva.


    I have several interests and as a result am a member of several forums. They differ WIDELY in terms of their usefulness but I can see that this forum is full of people that know their stuff and are willing to take time to instruct newbie like me. Thanks to all that commented. It is very helpful.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Why would I be told that an inhouse queen is a bad idea?

    Quote Originally Posted by aristaeus View Post
    Many thanks for taking the time to pen this. What I am seeing then is that whilst there is little reason in terms of queen 'quality' there IS an issue in terms of timing. Once I see I am queenless the delay in rearing a queen is the determining factor. However, if I am planning a split there is no reason not to use an inhouse queen.
    That depends on your objectives. Again it all boils down to the timing. When you let a hive raise a queen, it's a significant setback. 4 weeks with no eggs being laid starting today means you have a period of 4 weeks with no brood emerging that starts in 3 weeks. Just to put some numbers in perspective. If a queen is laying 1500 eggs a day, then there will be approximately 30,000 brood cells in all stages of development, it takes 20 days from the egg being laid till the bee emerges. Average lifespan of a honey bee is 42 days, so there is an expectation of 60,000 bees in a colony with one queen laying 1500 eggs a day when they have reached full size.

    For a walk-away style of split, one half will raise a queen, so for sake of some numbers, we place the queen and a couple frames of brood into the new box, leaving the larger population to raise a new queen. The population in that box looks fine for the next 3 weeks, it's relatively stable as there is still brood emerging, but no eggs being laid. After 3 weeks, the population starts to drop off slowly, and at 4 weeks the new queen starts laying eggs. The population continues to decline for another 3 weeks, and at the 7 week point the colony now has a brood nest full of brood in all stages, but, the bee population is down to around 20,000 bees supporting 30,000 brood, everybody is tending the young, nobody left to forage for food. Over the next 3 weeks, a full round of brood emerges (30,000) while older bees continue to die off so you end up with about 40,000 bees, and it's another 3 weeks till population is back up to 60,000. Now put some dates to the numbers.

    Split on June 1 the queenless half reaches it's minimum population around July 20, and that population doesn't really start recovering till Aug 15 and is not fully recovered till about Sept 1. And this is where it gets climate dependent. In our area, recommended winter configuration is a double deep with the top deep stuffed full of honey for winter stores. The June 1 walk-away will _just_ have enough time to build comb in new equipment during August. By September the bees don't build much comb anymore. A walk-way split done after June 1 will likely NOT finish building comb in new equipment, but will do just fine if you give them another box of drawn comb in early August. I am writing this on June 27, so it is FAR to late this year to do a walk-away split in our climate, give them new equipment for the second box, and expect that colony to reach a reasonable winter configuration. They absolutely will not produce any surplus honey for harvest. OTOH, If I do a similar split today, but make sure both halves have laying queens, we dont see that 7 week delay in population rebound, so there is still lots of time for both halves to flesh out the comb in a box of new frames and stuff it full of honey. In fact, there is enough time for them to increase in size, flesh out a second deep of comb and still produce a box of surplus honey to harvest.

    It all boils down to what are your objectives. If your goal is to simply have bee colonies, then the walk-away split in June will likely accomplish that goal. If your goal is to have honey at the extractor, then the walk away style of split where the colony raises it's own queen will defeat your objectives. The colony will be to weak over the summer flows to produce any surplus for harvest. Your climate may be different, but in our climate, a walk-away style of split given fresh new equipment in July is essentially a death sentence for the colony as the population wont recover in time to build a box of comb and stuff it with stores for the winter. Even with abundant feed, they wont have a surplus of young bees to make wax till September, and by then the bees wont draw much new comb so you end up with a weak colony short on stores for the winter.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Why would I be told that an inhouse queen is a bad idea?

    The results showed that the age of the larvae significantly affected the morphological characteristics of reared queens, and thus, their quality. Queens reared from 1 day old larvae were of the highest quality. These queens were significantly heavier (158.83 mg) and had significantly larger spermatheca (0.99 mm(3)) than queens reared from larvae 2 and 3 days old. Queens from emergency queen cells were of lower quality than queens reared from 1 day old larvae. However, queens from emergency queen cells were of higher quality than queens reared from 3 day old larvae.The supplemental feeding significantly increased most morphological characteristics of the reared queens
    (PDF) Effects of the Age of Grafted Larvae and the Effects of Supplemental Feeding on Some Morphological Characteristics of Iranian Queen Honey Bees (Apis mellifera meda Skorikov, 1929). Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publica..._Skorikov_1929 [accessed Jun 27 2018].

    How the queen is reared matters. Good grafting and a strong cell builder will make a better queen.
    The question is does that mater to the hobbyist with a few hives(edit grozzie2 just beat me to that point)
    It dosen't take many jars of honey to hit the $40 mark for a queen... and 28 days or so of more egg laying will probably get you past the point of ROI
    The internet is instant, and the internet is often wrong-Kim Flottum

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Why would I be told that an inhouse queen is a bad idea?

    Wow. grozzie2 your explanation has helped me immensely. I'm in my third year and have done splits in the past and have some more planned for the near future. Your post has really crystallized my thinking on this topic. I have in the past, and for my planned splits, let the splits raise their own queens, with heavy feeding involved. I still plan to follow that course, but now I finally have a better understanding of what I'm doing and what is happening in the hive as well.

    Thanks!
    I make plans, the bees do what they're gonna do. Somehow it seems to usually work out OK.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Why would I be told that an inhouse queen is a bad idea?

    MANY thanks guys, I am soaking this information up and I am sure it is much use to future readers.

    I do see that timing is absolutely paramount, caveat being that for a small hobbyist it is possibly a little less critical. Regardless of size though, honey production is significantly impacted by the timing of a queen due to the number of eggless days...

    I also see now why an emergency queen reared from an older-than-ideal larva is a problem.

    As I said above, this forum is exceptional in terms of the knowledge AND the willingness for members to help newcomers. Thanks again.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Why would I be told that an inhouse queen is a bad idea?

    After many setbacks from falling into the designer queens frenzy, I promised myself not to buy a single queen ever, unless I want a specific race. I am also trying to promise myself not to buy anymore packages or nucs, unless I have a total loss. I beekeep as a hobby and not to make money. Getting a bounty of honey from your hives, should be seen as a masterpiece from the art of beekeeping. Of course, selling the products help offset the cost of the hobby. I find it rewarding when a queen is raised, and I see here first eggs in the cell. That tells me not to look for her anymore, when I inspect.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Why would I be told that an inhouse queen is a bad idea?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rader Sidetrack View Post
    In West Virginia, queens mated locally would be unlikely to mate with an AHB (Africanized Honey Bee) drones, but in some areas further south, open mated queens may mate with AHB drones. So in AHB areas, commercially purchased queens may be a better choice.
    My best hive ever was led by a 4th generation mutt. None of my splits/daughters from that hive are any more hot or defensive than other commercial queen. And I am in a AHB zone.

    Re-queening can be either a set back or a benefit. Depends on your goals. Brood break will help with mites and, with no brood to nurse, bees will collect more honey. On the other hand, if you are after more bees or splits then yeah - your hive population will take a hit.

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    Default Re: Why would I be told that an inhouse queen is a bad idea?

    Quote Originally Posted by hypsin View Post
    Brood break will help with mites.
    I would counter this point somewhat. The 4 week break in brood that comes from letting a colony requeen does hinder mite reproduction, but, it hinders bee reproduction just as badly. When you remove the queen, there will still be open brood in the process of capping for another 9 days, and mites will continue to emerge for 20 days, 24 if we count drone brood. If it takes 10 days from queen emergence to start of laying then the colony is without eggs for 24 days and 9 days later they will be starting to cap, allowing mites to go into cells again, The mites get a total of 24 days with no place to go for reproduction, same as the bees. The brood break doesn't really help with mites, it just delays mite reproduction by the same length of time as bee reproduction is delayed. But one place where some folks may get a false sense of mite knockdown, is the timing of the checks. If you do a wash 4 or 5 days after they start capping brood from the new queen, very likely to come up with a zero count. Every mite in the colony was fertile and ready to jump into capped brood at the first opportunity, so a few days after they start capping there will be virtually no phoretic mites left in the colony.

    So now do the math. 60K bees at the start with a 1% infestation is 600 mites. After the new queen starts laying, in 9 days the bees start capping cells. After two days of capping there's been more than ample opportunity for all 600 mites to end up in cells. So now there is a period of 11 days where you can do a wash and find virtually no mites. BUT, once that first round of brood starts to emerge, there will be two mites coming out of every cell, the foundress and it's daughter, so the 600 mites is now 1200 mites, but the bee population is down from 60K to the vicinity of 25K, which is an almost 5% infestation. Assuming half of the foundress mites now die of natural causes, you are still left with a 3% infestation, ie 900 mites ready to jump back in cells and propogate again 5 days down the road.

    I have over time come to the firm belief that folks who profess that a brood break is a big help for mites are falling into the timing trap for doing mite checks. The brood break forces the mite reproduction schedule into lock step with the bee capping schedule, and creates periods where _all_ the mites will be under cappings. If you remove the queen from a colony and leave it to raise a queen, then there is a period of time later where wash or sugar roll counts will show counts of zero, but it's artificially created due to timing. That period starts approximately 35 to 40 days after the colony is made queenless and lasts for 10 or 11 days.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Why would I be told that an inhouse queen is a bad idea?

    Quote Originally Posted by grozzie2 View Post
    I would counter this point somewhat....
    Well, Mel D. clearly states that a brood break properly timed will control the mite population as in :
    ....a queen cell in July will break the mites’ breeding cycle and this queen will go on and outbreed the mites favoring a successful overwintering...
    Reportedly works for him.

    If I try to do the same, what is wrong and where is the catch?
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Why would I be told that an inhouse queen is a bad idea?

    Grozzie
    However from a hive survivability stand point, brood breaks, splits and swarming are given a lot of credit even if the count come out a wash.
    There seems to be something to it and the impact over all it has.
    Cheers
    gww
    zone 5b

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Why would I be told that an inhouse queen is a bad idea?

    One other point...

    Regardless of queen-status of any given hive, one should be thinking of the apiary as a whole.
    And so, one should be thinking of a "queen pool" of your apiary, not keep chasing around after single hives.

    With this approach, my next split should generate MORE queens than I really need so to have temporarily 2-3 helper queens pumping out enough brood for the entire apiary to be used if/where needed.
    Several temporary helper queens should quickly recover the negative growth created by the brood breaks.

    Another name for the same - temporary resource hives (nucs) only created and maintained over the summer.
    Essentially, this is exactly what Mel D. does with his two hive management stream managed in parallel:
    1)stream #1 - managed for expansion/replacement bees by OTS splits, including mite management
    2)stream #2 - managed for production; this is where the extra bees from stream #1 resource nucs are being dumped (no mite management; in fact, mites are dumped here too along with bees - but this is OK)
    Last edited by GregV; 06-27-2018 at 05:48 PM.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

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    Default Re: Why would I be told that an inhouse queen is a bad idea?

    Grozzie I disagree
    mites expand and contract exponentially and you are not takeing in to account the natural death rate
    say 1%...600 mites
    pinch the queen in one hive, don't in the outher
    mites keep emerging for 21 or so days...

    At day 22 the hive you left alone is growing by 26 mites per day, the one you pinched is shrinking by 9

    At day 54 the hive left alone is growing by 56 mites a day and is up to 2221 mites and the one that was pinched is growing at 20 mites a day and up to 820 mites

    3.7% vs 1.36 so the pinch had a 36.75 knock down... based on the ruff numbers of mites reproduceing at .03409 per day and dieing at 0.00909 per day
    most studys show a 40% knock down with a brood break, so the ruff numbers are faily close
    pinch.jpg

    the magic of OTS is not only do you get the brood break, the important par is the mite load is then divided 4 ways... starting at 1000 mites in a hive you end up with 150 (or so) mites per split
    key being those 150 mites can only infect 150 cells with the 1st cycle and the queen is laying 10s of thousands of eggs so you get a lot of clean brood and bees... it will be 110 days before the split is up to the 1k mites of the starting hive... and with the OTS plan they will be split again before that happens ...
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