Queenless production colony
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  1. #1
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    Default Queenless production colony

    Hi everyone, long time lurker first time poster. I had a thought on what might create the ultimate honey producing hive, one in which open brood never had to be cared for. It would start by taking a colony with no queen and no open brood, then adding only frames of capped brood to it throughout the honey flow season, being careful not to add eggs or larvae. The field force would theoretically be enormous as there would be no need for brood rearing. The only complication I can think of is if laying workers would develop from the lack of open brood pheremone. Has anyone ever tried this experiment?

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Queenless production colony

    its near impossible to make sure there are no eggs on a frame. Not very often will you have a frame with both sides completely capped. So you will have to keep opening the hive and going through the frames to make sure there are no new queen cells. Could result in a worker laying as well. Plus the hive you are robbing from will never build up and thats not a good thing either.
    Terrence

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Queenless production colony

    Quote Originally Posted by NJBeeVet View Post
    Hi everyone, long time lurker first time poster. I had a thought on what might create the ultimate honey producing hive, one in which open brood never had to be cared for. [...]
    How much honey per hive ... would 566 lbs (a quarter of a ton) be enough ? That's what Doolittle achieved from a 4ft Long Hive he was experimenting with, within which the bees generated twice the normal amount of brood - so that's completely the opposite of what you're proposing.

    One important issue is that of 'hive morale': now it's often the case that a colony will keep on foraging when queenless, but sometimes they lose their dynamic drive, with some bees even absconding into queen-right colonies. And anyway, without a constant supply of new bees, the hive is living on borrowed time ... not to mention the LW problem.

    The Chinese have documented their experiments with multiple-queen hives, which can produce exceptional harvests, but at the expense of complexity.

    In my opinion, the best way of proceeding is to simply accept the way that honey-bees operate, and focus more on "how many pounds of honey per acre", rather than "how many per hive" - then - keep increasing the number of hives servicing that acreage until the harvest maxes out. IMHO, of course ...
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Queenless production colony

    >Has anyone ever tried this experiment?

    It's a cut down split. It works well if you time it right.
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beessplits.htm#cutdown

    The colony doesn't have to stay queenless the whole time to leverage queenlessness.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  6. #5
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    Default

    Ahh so it probably would work best as a cell builder then right before a major flow. Let them build a bunch of Queens and have an enormous population all at once with hopefully a decreased chance of swarming.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Queenless production colony

    I have always thought that, if one could time their nectar flow with some precision, you should go in and pinch the queen about a week prior to the flow. Allow them to raise a new queen via emergency cell. Should create a broodless period in the middle of the flow, with a newly mated queen on the back side. But who has that kind of predictability with the timing of their nectar flows?

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Queenless production colony

    Quote Originally Posted by kaizen View Post
    its near impossible to make sure there are no eggs on a frame.
    Bank it for a week over a QE

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Queenless production colony

    I would vote for the cut down split. Dont pinch the queen, pull her and a couple of frames of brood and start another nuc. If the hive you made queenless does not successfully mate a replacement, put her back in. If a process is too time consuming, it aint gonna fly for long.

    As Little John says
    "The Chinese have documented their experiments with multiple-queen hives, which can produce exceptional harvests, but at the expense of complexity.

    In my opinion, the best way of proceeding is to simply accept the way that honey-bees operate, and focus more on "how many pounds of honey per acre", rather than "how many per hive" - then - keep increasing the number of hives servicing that acreage until the harvest maxes out. IMHO, of course ...LJ "
    Frank

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Queenless production colony

    Quote Originally Posted by crofter View Post
    If a process is too time consuming, it aint gonna fly for long.
    That's exactly the issue ...

    Ok, so Doolittle pulled 566 lbs from one hive - a most impressive figure - but he only achieved that by extracting twice a week during the flow. That would have required a serious amount of work and, although he never went into fine detail about it, no doubt much of that honey would have been only half 'cured', and so would have required artificial dessication afterwards.

    His apiary average that year was around 160 lbs, and so the same yield could have been achieved from 3.5 hives left to their own devices and with a single extraction - which would have been far less work. No wonder then that he wasn't at all impressed with the set-up he was testing.

    Me ? I'd be over the moon to harvest 50 lbs, let alone 500 ! But then, Doolittle was in a league of his own ...
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Queenless production colony

    Quote Originally Posted by little_john View Post
    ...... the same yield could have been achieved from 3.5 hives left to their own devices .....
    LJ
    This year I will try doing cut down/combine approach.
    So every 2-3 resource units will be raided for brood & bees, resulting in dump-combined queen-less honey hives.
    Be fun to see how that turns out.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Queenless production colony

    The problem as I see it is getting a honey crop and keeping your bees out of the trees. The main flow in my area coincides with swarm season in April when apples start to bloom, so for that crop one needs a fast colony build up to have the large numbers of foragers to bring in all that nectar unfortunately the large number of bees and incoming nectar is just what is required to trigger their swarm impulse so it is in to these brood chambers every 5 days moving capped brood above the excluder and bringing empty comb down into the brood boxes. However some will still start queen cells so the queen and a frame of brood has to come out into a nuc. The colony has all the queen cells destroyed and around 24 grafts placed into it and the queen rearing thing begins. I must say with that method sometimes I often get 100% acceptance but I digress. There is a something that happens in the spring that drives me crazy, I have about 6 acres of blooming crimson clover and bees are just not foraging and I sometimes think the bee unions are all sitting around and deciding whether they want to swarm or what. Has any one else noticed this behavior, my flows are so short that I need all my foragers out there working overtime to get a good crop. I expect the fist blooms here in about 7 to 10 days and then all bets are off.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Queenless production colony

    Quote Originally Posted by little_john View Post

    One important issue is that of 'hive morale': now it's often the case that a colony will keep on foraging when queenless, but sometimes they lose their dynamic drive,
    I believe that "morale" is a huge factor in bees storing honey. This is why I moved away from making cut-down splits. For many years cut-down splits were my main mode of operation, but gradually, I decreased the number of cut-down splits I was making and found that my production actually increased. Bottomline, honey production is more than simple "bee-math" and the amount of open brood they care for. Honey production is strongly linked to the intent or "morale" of the colony. When a cut-down split is performed, the intent of the colony is dramatically changed, which impacts performance on our metric of interest (honey).

    My 2 cents...
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  14. #13

    Default Re: Queenless production colony

    In the late 60's my grandfather would wait till right before the first mesquite was to start blooming then go in and make a split stealing the queen. He would wait nine days and he would go back and pinch the queen cells. Then he would wait a week and give the split back to them. That brood break they really put the honey on and he didn't lose any population from the operation. It was extra work but he felt the extra production was worth it. He always left one hive alone in each yard to prove to his friends that it worked. They always made more than the colonies he didn't do this to. Sometimes by huge amounts.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Queenless production colony

    Quote Originally Posted by Hillbillybees View Post
    They always made more than the colonies he didn't do this to. Sometimes by huge amounts.
    Yes, one of the many things that make beekeeping interesting. Different people doing similar things and reach opposite conclusions. I guess the twist your grandfather did was recombine. I admit, I've never tried that technique. I've done a LOT of cut downs and honesty never made as much honey as a fully queenright colony.
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Queenless production colony

    The problem is once the colony starts to make swarm cells your options narrow for a good honey crop. A large primary swarm does not help in any way so the other possibilities are around the queen to either destroy or remove with a frame of brood, then at some time replace with a single queen cell. In my case the population is as high as they would be over the flows 6 weeks so I would still get a crop from such a colony but not much from one that has swarmed. Those colonies that did not start swarm preps have really grown into big colonies by June when my one and only flow will come to an end and when I harvest I have to go into robbing protection mode. Quite frankly at this time I would love to dispose of more than half of my bees as I have large colonies that I will have to start feeding at the end of July until spring next year when we start all over again.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Queenless production colony

    Johno would you say your bees are along Italian lines or habits? Mine are supposedly some combination of Carni, Caucasian and Russian and they seem to shut down quickly if the flow drops off. Last summer was the first time I could say I suspected a bit of robbing but I had some troubled colonies. My son has a lot of Italian content in his bees and they are robbers and hard on groceries over the winter. Hard to maintain a different line of bees than what you are surrounded by.

    Maybe the type of bee you have and local flow patterns dictates whether you would benefit or not from pulling the queen.
    Frank

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Queenless production colony

    Frank my original packages about 8 years ago were of the Italian type but I brought in Carniolan Queens even later in that first year and have been bringing in Carni's ever since, Last year I brought in some NW Carni's and some Saskatraz queens now most of the Saskatraz are more yellow than my other colonies. Maybe my feeding keeps them brooding up, this year I will not feed until they need winter stores. The Dearth gets so bad here in summer that I cannot do mite sampling without the danger of starting a robbing frenzy. What I should do is cut my home numbers from 24 odd to 12 and that might help, we will see how it goes this year.
    Johno

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Queenless production colony

    Quote Originally Posted by johno View Post
    The problem is once the colony starts to make swarm cells your options narrow for a good honey crop.
    Correct. Once the colony starts swarm prep they have transitioned from making honey into making swarms, and yes your crop will be reduced for sure. When I find colonies with swarm cells, I have had good luck doing the Demaree Method. It takes some juggling, but it keeps your bees in the same box and then can get back to making honey. Maybe give it a try on one of your froggy hives this season.

    Also, I feel your pain as to our short spring flow! Thankfully, here we get some honey off the agriculture crops, so that helps in July and August.

    Good luck!

    Quote Originally Posted by johno View Post
    Quite frankly at this time I would love to dispose of more than half of my bees as I have large colonies that I will have to start feeding at the end of July until spring next year when we start all over again.
    Sell them to me
    Horseshoe Point Honey -- http://localvahoney.com/

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Queenless production colony

    SWARMING
    ITS CONTROL AND PREVENTION, By L.E. Snelgrove

    I'll be trying this method this year. I already made 16 boards. Come on Spring.

    Alex
    Ten years of Beekeeping before varroa. Started again spring of 2014.

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