How long before new queen is full size?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2015
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    Greenville, SC USA
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    Default How long before new queen is full size?

    Weve made some new queens this year (mostly from swarm cells) and some queens are distinctly smaller than what Id consider a mature queen. Ive heard people refer too runty queens and I think some of ours would fall into that category.
    But when would a queen normally reach her full potential (size-wise)? Ive seen newly emerged queens that are small and attributed the size to their being new (and often not laying yet). But today we saw a queen that was definitely on the small side but laying what appears to be a good egg/brood pattern. Would a newly laying queen still have some growing ahead of her?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    Grand Rapids MI USA
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    Default Re: How long before new queen is full size?

    Just like everything in nature, nothing is uniform size. The smaller Q’s deserves a chance, the bees’ll supersede her of she’s inferior.
    Rod

  4. #3
    Join Date
    May 2015
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    Default Re: How long before new queen is full size?

    Quote Originally Posted by rwlaw View Post
    Just like everything in nature, nothing is uniform size. The smaller Q’s deserves a chance, the bees’ll supersede her of she’s inferior.
    For sure. I'm not judging the book by the cover - I'll let her other traits (laying pattern, etc.) be the true deciders.

    But I'm curious around the development cycle of the queen. For example, is the queen about as big as she's going to be once she starts laying? Or does her size fluctuate throughout her life? I've heard she "slims down" when preparing to swarm - is that the primary time a mature queen changes size?

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
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    Mtn. View, Arkansas, USA
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    Default Re: How long before new queen is full size?

    Within 7 days after the mated virgin begins to lay she will be as large as she will ever become. If she is of a race that reduces egg laying during a dearth, then her abdomen will usually shrink slightly until nectar is again being gathered and the nurse bees return to feeding her at the normal rate. When preparing to swarm the bees reduce the queens food supply and her abdomen shrinks to the point that she can fly well.
    42 + years - 24 colonies - IPM disciple - Naturally Skeptic

  6. #5
    Join Date
    May 2015
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    Default Re: How long before new queen is full size?

    Quote Originally Posted by AR Beekeeper View Post
    Within 7 days after the mated virgin begins to lay she will be as large as she will ever become. If she is of a race that reduces egg laying during a dearth, then her abdomen will usually shrink slightly until nectar is again being gathered and the nurse bees return to feeding her at the normal rate. When preparing to swarm the bees reduce the queens food supply and her abdomen shrinks to the point that she can fly well.
    Thanks AR Beekeeper. That's exactly what I was looking for - I'll store that away for reference.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Bunker Hill, IL
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    891

    Default Re: How long before new queen is full size?

    Quote Originally Posted by AR Beekeeper View Post
    Within 7 days after the mated virgin begins to lay she will be as large as she will ever become. If she is of a race that reduces egg laying during a dearth, then her abdomen will usually shrink slightly until nectar is again being gathered and the nurse bees return to feeding her at the normal rate. When preparing to swarm the bees reduce the queens food supply and her abdomen shrinks to the point that she can fly well.
    I agree with the above, good info

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ojai, California
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    2,643

    Default Re: How long before new queen is full size?

    Arky's post is right on, and you might want to add a pollen substitute patty as well. I use Megabee, available from Dadant & Sons. It is the original and still the best. It is not yet perfect, but it sure helps a lot. Colony strength stays strong enough through the Winter that they almost always survive. I've had some incredibly small swarms survive Winter with Megabee, and develop into powerful colonies. The pollen sub' signals the queen to keep on laying, and she usually appears largest when she's well-fed and laying.

    You can learn to watch the pollen band around the brood nest on a frame - it can tell you a lot about the conditions inside the hive. Some pollen missing right nest to the brood is normal - they are feeding the larvae (and even the older eggs). Very little pollen and few eggs indicate a pollen dearth - brood is cut back until more is coming in. First victims are the drones, who are a luxury at any time. Pollen close to the brood and missing along the outer part of the pollen band is a sign that pollen is now being stored after a dearth. Egg laying should resume some time soon. There are plenty of other signals going on in the pollen band. Learn to take photos when something other than normal is happening. You'll see lots of indicators in the pollen band.

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