Horrible mating numbers
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  1. #1
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    Mar 2015
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    Default Horrible mating numbers

    I've been trying to make some queens this year and while i was not expecting large numbers i am dismayed at the results. First round out of about 15 i got 3 mated. One of those i accidentally killed. grrrrr
    Second round should all be laying by now in my mating nucs. all the cells hatched out the bottom and i have a big fat zero laying or visable. very dissappointed.
    These were all fully capped and developed cells with plenty of royal jelly but for some reason they are not coming back mated. We have had only one day where i would call no fly day. All the other days i've had bees flying most of the day.
    Anyone else having these kinds of numbers?? Even in spring when i was trying to stop swarming I split off 15 5 frame nucs each with at least one frame that had queen cells and those mostly failed as well. I have 3 different yards several miles apart all doing this.
    Terrence

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Horrible mating numbers

    I don't know exactly your specific situation, but i do know this.

    Some sites get excellent mating, and some sites get very poor mating. IE, my best mating sites run at consistently over 90%. The worst, i'd be lucky to get 20%, so after giving those sites a fair trial I'll move out of those sites, at least for mating purposes.

    Then i have at least one site that gives poor mating until very late spring, then flips around and gives very high percentages. At least for that site i know the reason, nearby is a dumping ground for usually several hundred commercial migratory hives, once they are moved in mating is excellent, presumably thanks to the huge numbers of drones nearby.

    Poorly raised queen cells result also in low mating percentages. But if you feel you can rule that out there is a problem with your sites. I wish i could look at a site and somehow know by the layout of the land or whatever, if it would be a good mating site. But thus far, I have not been able to figure it out, only the bees know. I think a person just has to try different locations, and when you find a good one, use it, and ditch the constantly bad ones.

    If you know of a large ( at least fifty hive ) apiary somewhere, try getting a site near that. Or better still, several sites around it, just incase the drones are all congregating one particular direction from it, so you can figure where you got the best results.
    Last edited by Oldtimer; 07-03-2019 at 05:52 PM.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  4. #3
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    Apr 2017
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    Aylett, Virginia
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    3,915

    Default Re: Horrible mating numbers

    Summer predation seems to be my biggest problem. It is not that they do not get mated, it is that they get eaten while trying to do so. I am setting up several fly backs this weekend to try and get as many cells as possible to put in everthing I have available as a mating nuc. If I can get a 25% return rate I will be happy and will combine the failures to make up stronger nucs.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    Campbell River, BC, CA
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    Default Re: Horrible mating numbers

    How long did you wait after they emerged. I often find it takes a week longer than we expect / plan before the new queens are laying. I used to think we could harvest them two weeks after placing cells, and on a good round I can, but more often than not its 3 weeks after placing cells before we find laying queens.

  6. #5
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    Mar 2015
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    Default Re: Horrible mating numbers

    Quote Originally Posted by grozzie2 View Post
    How long did you wait after they emerged. I often find it takes a week longer than we expect / plan before the new queens are laying. I used to think we could harvest them two weeks after placing cells, and on a good round I can, but more often than not its 3 weeks after placing cells before we find laying queens.
    Its two weeks after they are sealed. I'm using a calendar that says they should have emerged last Friday and laying today. They are only 2 frame nucs and did not see a queen on any of them.
    Terrence

  7. #6
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    Mar 2015
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    Default Re: Horrible mating numbers

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    Summer predation seems to be my biggest problem. It is not that they do not get mated, it is that they get eaten while trying to do so. I am setting up several fly backs this weekend to try and get as many cells as possible to put in everthing I have available as a mating nuc. If I can get a 25% return rate I will be happy and will combine the failures to make up stronger nucs.
    I figured i'd have 50 percent loss to that and other reasons. I have a lot of birds around me with nests so feeding young and i'm sure need a lot of food. Just didnt figure it would be 100 percent loss. What is a fly back?
    Terrence

  8. #7
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    Mar 2015
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    Default Re: Horrible mating numbers

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    I don't know exactly your specific situation, but i do know this.

    Some sites get excellent mating, and some sites get very poor mating. IE, my best mating sites run at consistently over 90%. The worst, i'd be lucky to get 20%, so after giving those sites a fair trial I'll move out of those sites, at least for mating purposes.

    Then i have at least one site that gives poor mating until very late spring, then flips around and gives very high percentages. At least for that site i know the reason, nearby is a dumping ground for usually several hundred commercial migratory hives, once they are moved in mating is excellent, presumably thanks to the huge numbers of drones nearby.

    Poorly raised queen cells result also in low mating percentages. But if you feel you can rule that out there is a problem with your sites. I wish i could look at a site and somehow know by the layout of the land or whatever, if it would be a good mating site. But thus far, I have not been able to figure it out, only the bees know. I think a person just has to try different locations, and when you find a good one, use it, and ditch the constantly bad ones.

    If you know of a large ( at least fifty hive ) apiary somewhere, try getting a site near that. Or better still, several sites around it, just incase the drones are all congregating one particular direction from it, so you can figure where you got the best results.
    Thanks. Maybe next year i'll try taking the cells out to another yard and see the results. Problem i'm having seems to be at all yards. I have some inspections to do in the next few days so maybe an extra two weeks will get them laying. Last time i went around for that round i saw nothing. At this rate i'll be just recombining all of these nucs into hives instead of selling any of them.
    Terrence

  9. #8
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    Jul 2010
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    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Horrible mating numbers

    Quote Originally Posted by kaizen View Post
    Its two weeks after they are sealed. I'm using a calendar that says they should have emerged last Friday and laying today. They are only 2 frame nucs and did not see a queen on any of them.
    That.


    2 weeks is too soon. It varies by breed, some of the dark breeds are ready that quick but for typical italians you need to wait longer. And that you didn't see queens doesn't mean they are not there, they will be flying at the 2 week mark.

    How about report back in another couple of weeks, be interesting to see how this pans out.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Horrible mating numbers

    Which calendar are you using? I figure about 28 days from grafting day. 5 to cap, 8 to emerge, 5 to harden off, 3 to go on mating flights, and a week to start dropping eggs.

    Fly back split, you leave the queen in a small hive with just one frame of capped brood at the original location and move the parent colony in the same yard. Foragers fly back to the queen and leave a hive packed with nurse bees to make new queen cells from existing eggs and larvae. Good for one shot per hive at making 10 to 20 cells. The hive with the old queen tends to draw comb super fast so the balance of the frames are usually foundation or partially drawn combs.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  11. #10
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    May 2011
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    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
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    Default Re: Horrible mating numbers

    I have had very good mating return success even though there were no ferals and no kept bees within 3 miles. I think that is due to being within a few hundred yards of a natural drone congregation area. 4 way junction of roads right along a glacial moraine hillside with a large gravel pit within shouting distance: Treed to the north and a cleared field immediately to the south. I dont think the queens have a long dangerous voyage to make.

    The first round of mating is before the dragon flies come out in force. Now they are starting to get very plentiful and the do hang around the bee yard and I see them making off with bees quite regular.

    WWW from Ohio had large numbers of Tanagers which constantly preyed on his bees and he blamed them for giving him very poor mating success.

    I am sure local conditions can have a very large affect on mating.
    Frank

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
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    Williamsport, PA
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    478

    Default Re: Horrible mating numbers

    Since we've been popping up in each others' threads about queens...

    I retrieved 2 of my 4 nucs that I had in my mating yard. Both had laying queens recently. But, I believe they absconded when we had a few days of excessive head and humidity. They were dark colored nuc boxes and I'm guessing they overheated. Right now they have lots of bees that are too young to fly and capped brood. I'm pretty bummed.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Horrible mating numbers

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    Which calendar are you using? I figure about 28 days from grafting day. 5 to cap, 8 to emerge, 5 to harden off, 3 to go on mating flights, and a week to start dropping eggs.

    Fly back split, you leave the queen in a small hive with just one frame of capped brood at the original location and move the parent colony in the same yard. Foragers fly back to the queen and leave a hive packed with nurse bees to make new queen cells from existing eggs and larvae. Good for one shot per hive at making 10 to 20 cells. The hive with the old queen tends to draw comb super fast so the balance of the frames are usually foundation or partially drawn combs.
    Actually i read it wrong. today they have as mated and laying is july 7 which is 24 days. Maybe i'm just early by a week. Should still be fine as i just started my next round so i have time before needing the nucs. Now that i have 2 frame mating nucs i think it might be a lot easier to just put a frame of bees in them with eggs and call it a day. A few of the ones i have now have done that even though i have the queen pheremone thing in there. Funny as summer is just in its peak and i'm worried about winter already. life of a beekeeper i guess....
    Terrence

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Horrible mating numbers

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve in PA View Post
    Since we've been popping up in each others' threads about queens...

    I retrieved 2 of my 4 nucs that I had in my mating yard. Both had laying queens recently. But, I believe they absconded when we had a few days of excessive head and humidity. They were dark colored nuc boxes and I'm guessing they overheated. Right now they have lots of bees that are too young to fly and capped brood. I'm pretty bummed.
    And i thought beekeeping was hard. This queen thing takes so much more work and i have a lot more to learn to get any where near the pro's numbers. laughing at myself as i was counting chickens before they were hatched.
    Terrence

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Horrible mating numbers

    Fly back split, you leave the queen in a small hive with just one frame of capped brood at the original location
    Open brood is used!
    This is to anchor the "swarm" and help keep them from absconding, it also prolongs the time the queen can't lay in the comb, triggering them to draw new combs for the queen the lay in. Not to mention leaving the mites behind in the capped brood that is moved away, giving them almost a clean start !!!
    Not giving them (much to any outher) drawn comb is also a key
    You're trying to trigger post swarm behaviors, and when your get it right they draw comb and fill it madly.
    like many things beekeeping, there are a lot of ways a thing can be done. It would seem a simple thing to add a box to a hive. but nadiring, supering, and supering with ladder combs all work to an extent but often have different effects on behavior, the devil is in the details

  16. #15
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    Aug 2017
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    Wimer, Oregon
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    Default Re: Horrible mating numbers

    it's about 18-20 days from hatching till you see eggs, and another 5-7 days before you see larvae
    DavidZ

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Horrible mating numbers

    Don't forget that the timing during the day of your inspections can create problems, too. When looking for mated queens I try to do that before 9 am or after 6 pm. The last thing you want to do is have the hive open when a queen is returning from her mating flight. It probably doesn't matter as much if you are "late" in looking for signs of laying, say after 30 days. But if you are checking at the earliest possible day, it is a risk.

    Nancy

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Horrible mating numbers

    Thanks msl, I may have that wrong then. I have only done a few and used capped to get nurse bees quickly and open up the brood comb so she can start laying. Never thought of it as trying to trigger post swarm behavior.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Horrible mating numbers

    Quote Originally Posted by kaizen View Post
    And i thought beekeeping was hard. This queen thing takes so much more work and i have a lot more to learn to get any where near the pro's numbers. laughing at myself as i was counting chickens before they were hatched.
    That is one of the reasons I actually prefer letting the qc's emerge in the incubator. No need to make up nucs for cells that turn out to be duds to begin with. Had that happen last week. Double mating nuc. One side had a dud cell but the bees stayed put for awhile. The other side bees took off and queen died in the cell fully formed. 0/2 on that attempt. Other mating nuc queen emerged but have not seen her yet. Will see in another week.

    My success rate with grafting has been so dismal I am considering a blood offering to the bee gods.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Horrible mating numbers

    Quote Originally Posted by kaizen View Post
    Its two weeks after they are sealed. I'm using a calendar that says they should have emerged last Friday and laying today. They are only 2 frame nucs and did not see a queen on any of them.
    if they emerged on Friday, then expecting them to be laying by the following Wednesday is about a week to quick, it's more like the time they are ready to go on mating flights, and another week before you can expect to find eggs.

  21. #20
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    Dec 2017
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    Wharton, Texas, USA
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    Default

    Mine have been taking their time. 20 plus days from emerging to start laying.

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