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Discussion Starter #1
EXPERIMENT NUMBER ONE:

INTRODUCTION:
During the 80’s I experimented with horizontal 2-Queen colonies. My average honey production for a 1-Queen colony which had been re-queened the prior late summer/early fall was about 125# (my beeyard was located adjacent to large wooded areas loaded with nectar producing trees, and my pastures planted in crimson clover/hairy vetch and the nearby roadway easements also planted in clovers and wildflowers). My 2-Queen colonies (2-3) averaged over 300# side by side with the singles that produced about 125#. The problem was that these 2-Queen colonies were hard to work and quickly became precipitously high.

CREDIT:
Before I get started I must give proper credit to www.mdasplitter.com for my experiment idea. I have modified their ideas to fit my local environment, as I do not believe that I can have an adequate drone pool available early enough for queen rearing/mating in order to make his system work for me. During the late winter/early spring our weather patterns are generally wet and often cold which would also inhibit proper queen mating. In order for mdasplitter system to work, I must have laying queens by the first of March. In order to do this, my queen rearing would have to start February 1st or earlier and drone rearing to mate these queens probably would have to start the 1st of January. These parameter limitations would present a problem.

BACKGROUND:
Our major honey flow starts in early April with the crimson clover bloom and ends late May/early June. However, all my bees are located on livestock pastures which are grazed, which delays the crimson bloom period by about two weeks, if the livestock is pulled off the clover in early April. Therefore, for me, I want my colonies to reach maximum production populations beginning the middle of April [as opposed to the beginning of April].

MAJOR OBJECTIVES:
1. Produce 5-7 colonies with massive bee populations by mid April in order to fully utilize our nectar flows. These populations should produce enough extra honey to justify the extra labor and cost ($395.00) of 15 early queens. (Sample 1)

2. Produce 4 colonies of normal strength that have reached maximum normal bee populations by mid April for comparison to the massive bee population colonies. (Sample 2)

3. Produce 4 colonies (nucs) from splits for comparison to sample 1 and 2. (Sample 3)

4. Make maximum amount of splits from sample 1, 2, and 3 (hopefully increase to about 40 nucs) about mid June after our major flow is completed. My hope is that these nucs will build up to sufficient populations to make it through next winter without feeding. (Sample 4)

5. Produce 8 colonies for testing for survivability on small cells without treatments [from Australian Italian queens, which should not have exceptional survivability traits]. (Sample 5)

6. Test survivability of non survivor queens on small cell foundation without treatments.

MINOR OBJECTIVES:
5. Have my sample 1-raise queens from my best genetic queen pool; otherwise I will purchase survivor queens mid May for those which don’t raise queens.

6. Increase my genetic queen pool with my mid June splits.

MEASURE OF SUCCESS:
1. Have my sample 1 produce at least 1 extra medium super of honey to cover queen cost and extra labor.

2. Have my sample 1 produce queens from my best current queen genetics.

3. Have most all of my samples successfully survive without treatments.

4. Have non survivor queens survive on small cell foundations without any treatments.

EXPERIMENT DETAILS:
I currently have 8 colonies all on small cells plastic frames. I currently have 1 BeeWeaver queen, 1 queen from Purvis stock, 1 Zia queen, 1 feral (supercedure) queen, 2 of Michael Bush’s queens, and 2 MH queens (one of which has cordovan coloration). I have made arrangements for the purchase of 20 deep frames of brood [from Darrell Rufer] and 15 Italian queens [Taylor made, Australian Italian queens, from BeeWeaver] the first week in March. Note: beginning the first of December I tried to find available queens from U.S.A. (including Hawaii) for my experiment, but none were available that I found.

By the first week in March my current colonies should have reached maximum brood production, but these colonies will not be at maximum bee populations for another 2-4 weeks or so [based upon my prior experience for my area]. I will use these purchased frames of brood and queens [along with brood from my original colonies] to make splits to about 23 nucs, 8 original queens and 15 Italian queens. For those new queens which might not be accepted, I will try to find replacements from whatever available sources, otherwise I will combine any queenless nucs with queen right nucs.

I currently have eight deep boxes and intend to move all my colonies to mediums this year [except my sample 5 which I will eventually sell] by using double mediums for the purchased deep frames until they can be transferred to medium frames. If everything works as planned, by the middle of April all nucs should reach maximum brood and bee populations. I will make my test samples the middle of April as follows:
a). I will leave the best 4 of my original 8 queens intact (Sample 2) for comparison with sample 1.
b). The other 4 original queens I will reduce to 5 frames of brood with bees (Sample 3).
c). I will make (with the best purchased Australian Italian queens) 8/2-3 frame nucs in my deep boxes (Sample 5), which I will use to test for survivability on small cells, and the other Italian queens will be destroyed.
d.) The rest of the bees and brood I will combine into my massive bee populations (ideally about 24 medium frames of brood) in 5-7 colonies (Sample 1).

The third week of April, I will destroy all queen cells in sample 1, and add frames of eggs/larva from what I consider to be my best original queens. I will allow all of my original colonies to raise a frame of drones [each of my original colonies has a drone frame] in order to maintain genetic diversity. When I make my increase splits mid June [after the major nectar flow] I will order the best available survivor queens to further increase genetic diversity within my apiary.

I would appreciate any suggestions and/or critical analysis. Also, if anyone else would like to contribute with their experiments, for simplicity, label your experiment #2, 3, 4, …etc. and feel free to post here.
 

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Very interesting set of experiments, DRUR. I hope you will keep us posted as the results unfold...

I saw your comment on your experience with horizontal 2-queen colonies and them being 'hard to work' and I had a couple questions for you:

1/ Can you explain the configuration you used for your horizontal 2-queen colonies? Was it smilar to the 'Tower' configuration described in this BetterBee article or did you use something different?

http://www.betterbee.com/resources/images/dronereport.pdf

2/ Can you say a bit more about why these horizontal 2-queen hives were 'hard to work'? Was it only becasue of the increased honey production and both the need to keep up with the bees as far as supering as well as the 'supers-to-the-sky' phenomenon and the difficulty of managing such a tall hive, or was there something more specific to managing the two queen configuration (as opposed to a massive hive with only one queen)?

I am building a couple of double wide hives and am planning on running one of them as a one-queen hive and the other as a two-queen hive. To help in reducing the height of the supers, I am planning to use 3 6-frame deep supers per row (11" wide each for a total width of 33", same as the doublewide hive body).

Any benefit you can give me from you earlier experience with horizontal 2-queen hives would be greatly appeciated, as I have no interest in re-learning old lessons. Most of the literature concerning 2-queen systems is based on the vertical configuration and I am convnced that a horizontal 2-queen configuration should be much easier to manage if properly planned.


best regards,

-fafrd
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I hope you will keep us posted as the results unfold...
I inted to, that is why I started this thread.

1/ Can you explain the configuration you used for your horizontal 2-queen colonies?
Bottom with lower entrance, 2 deeps (1st queen brood box), 2 metal queen excluders (with wooden borders, I doubt 2 plastic would keep the queens apart), 2 deeps (2nd queen brood box), queen excluder, honey supers. I staggered the first honey super allowing the bees to enter between the upper queen excluder and first super. Three honey supers is a minimum. I harvested when the super was fully capped/sealed, and then replaced pronto.

Was it smilar to the 'Tower' configuration described in this BetterBee article or did you use something different?

http://www.betterbee.com/resources/images/dronereport.pdf
No, the one in the BetterBee article would be the only way I would consider a two queen system now, and I have certainly imagined one like this article.

2/ Can you say a bit more about why these horizontal 2-queen hives were 'hard to work'? Was it only becasue of the increased honey production and both the need to keep up with the bees as far as supering as well as the 'supers-to-the-sky' phenomenon and the difficulty of managing such a tall hive, or was there something more specific to managing the two queen configuration (as opposed to a massive hive with only one queen)?
Go to Michael Bush's cite here:
http://www.bushfarms.com/beestwoqueenhive.htm
His experiences and mine were about the same. Before any honey supers my colony stack was chest high or higher (also had cinder block foundations for my bottom boards). Then imagine having to manipulated 60 # honey supers that are higher than your head.

I am building a couple of double wide hives and am planning on running one of them as a one-queen hive and the other as a two-queen hive. To help in reducing the height of the supers, I am planning to use 3 6-frame deep supers per row (11" wide each for a total width of 33", same as the doublewide hive body).
I would just take 2 sets of 2 deeps or 3 mediums, side by side each set with a queen. Place one queen excluder on each brood set, and straddle these with the honey supers as shown in the Betterbee article. then you are only building 2 modified 1/2 migratory tops. The honey supers then would only be higher because of increased production and not because of the double stacked brood chambers.

I will expound in a later post the reason for my experiment for my massive colony. Rain has stopped and I am burning daylight typing on this computer.

Kindest Regards
Danny
 

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DRUR, why are you buying australian queens? I haven't found any evidence on this forum that they have anything genetically speaking to offer our industry. Many people have cited from experience australian queens/bees are far inferior to stock bred in this country. They lack resistance plus there is the possibility or importing some new disease/parasite. Why not go with queens from Hawaii?
 

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Drur,

I do want to thank you for taking the time to try these experiments as it can only help us.

I was curious what were the traits that you were looking for in your best genetic gene pool. Were you looking for honey production, gentleness, hygienic behavior? Thanks. Doug
 

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Discussion Starter #6
DRUR, why are you buying australian queens?Why not go with queens from Hawaii?
You might want to re-read my original thread starter post. I began looking for available queens the beginning of December and none were available at the dates in which I needed them except those I found available from Australia.

Many people have cited from experience australian queens/bees are far inferior to stock bred in this country. They lack resistance
As far as being inferior to our stock--Hmmm-I wonder what our friends the Aussies would say concerning that statement. Doesn't seem to me that they are importing our bees, does it?

Part of my experiment is to put these "lack resistance" stock on small cell and test their survivability. The success of beeks who are on small or natural cell [who survive without treatments] is often attributed to our bees over time, being adapted to the mites and now being able to survive the mite infestations. Aussie bees have not developed a natural resistance to mites, making them ideal for that part of my study.

DRUR, plus there is the possibility or importing some new disease/parasite.
The Aussie bees are already being imported in large numbers. Reckon my 15 queens just might be the ones that bring the new disease into the country? Possible, but not probable.

In closing, I would like to say, that I read through part of the thread bad mouthing Aussie bees. Whether the things stated are true or not, I know not. But this I know, I could not find any queens available to me in the quantities that I needed/wanted/could afford except from BeeWeaver, and their Taylor made queens. Do you really reckon that the Weavers who run 8,000 commercial colonies would import if the risk was as substantial as has been alluded to? Beekeeping and Wars have 'de nada' in common but I do recall the Aussies standing with us in the War in Iraq [although I would have preferred they wouldn't have], and far be it from me to castigate our friends on such flimsy evidence.

In closing, I would like to say that there is some legitimacy to your questions, but most were taken into consideration in making my decision, including contacting BeeWeaver with regard to many of your concerns.

Kindest Regards
Danny
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Drur, I was curious what were the traits that you were looking for in your best genetic gene pool. Were you looking for honey production, gentleness, hygienic behavior? Thanks. Doug
In selecting my queens from various apiaries, I was interested in this order:
1. Survivability of bees without any chemical treatments. I guess hygienic behavior would be included here also.
2. Honey production.
3. Gentleness.

In choosing which queen's genetics to use in my massive colonies from my original eight colonies [I will not be using any Aussie queens for this] I will select based upon general vigor, bee populations, brood patterns/with consideration given for hygienic behavior, and finally gentleness. After I have an idea concerning nectar production [which I don't at this time], that trait along with survivability will go hand in hand.

Doug, thanks for your inquiry and giving me the opportunity to explain. At a later date I will make another post to delve into some of my considerations.

Kindest Regards
Danny
 

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Drur, it's my understanding they can't import our bees because of import restrictions(which we don't have for aussie bees). Testing lack resistant stock on small cell(or natural cell) seems to have been already done or in progress by feral bees. Many on this forum are of the opinion the ferals are working out the mite issue on their own and making a come back, so in some sense it works.

I don't think your 15 aussie queens are going to be the cause of the next bee industry plague, but I do think encouraging and keeping a market going for importing bees will be the cause of the next great plague on our industry. The opinion of many is we breed better bees anyway and the only possible explanation for justifying the imports is almond pollination.

It is virtually impossible to inspect every package or queen coming into the U.S. and it will only take one infected package or queen to make the introduction. I don't think anyone(weaver included) intentionally wants to bring in diseased bees. But in my opinion, if you tease that dog long enough, sooner or later it will bite you.

I think your experiment is commendable, but wish you would explore other options for queens/methods to facilitate said experiment....jmo and good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Drur, it's my understanding they can't import our bees because of import restrictions(which we don't have for aussie bees).
Yes, we have all kinds of bad stuff they don't have.

Testing lack resistant stock on small cell(or natural cell) seems to have been already done or in progress by feral bees. Many on this forum are of the opinion the ferals are working out the mite issue on their own and making a come back, so in some sense it works.
This can't be true because our feral bees have been subjected to varroa mites and have therefore been 'winnowed' through survival of the fittests. However, this issue was an afterthought of my experiment on massive bee colonies. I just thought it would be an excellent way of testing small cell on a sample size that could not have developed mite resistance.

I don't think your 15 aussie queens are going to be the cause of the next bee industry plague, but I do think encouraging and keeping a market going for importing bees will be the cause of the next great plague on our industry. The opinion of many is we breed better bees anyway and the only possible explanation for justifying the imports is almond pollination.
We are each entitled to our own opinion, I just disagree. Maybe you can find me 15 high quality Italian queens from a reputable dealer by March 1st and I will consider canceling my order for the Aussie Queens, but do it pronto, it will not be right to leave BeeWeaver hanging.:waiting:

I don't think anyone(weaver included) intentionally wants to bring in diseased bees.
Don't you also, reckon BeeWeaver would just as well order large quantities of queens from U.S. sources if they were available. You also have to consider the AHB problem here also.

Drur, I think your experiment is commendable, but wish you would explore other options for queens/methods to facilitate said experiment....jmo and good luck.
This thread is not about Aussie queens, we have had a thread which bashes them. It is about trying to economically produce large bee populations in order to fully utilize the nectar flow. Also, one of my theories is that is should also reduce or eliminate the possibility of swarming with these massive bee populations. I will delve into this when I have more time. I hope that this is not turned into an off topic argument.

Kindest Regards
Danny Unger
 

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Danny, Reed Honey has Italian queen cells for sale entire month of March/April in Montgomery, TX. Look for post in "For Sale". Don't know anything about them.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Danny, Reed Honey has Italian queen cells for sale entire month of March/April in Montgomery, TX.
Already checked with him, he won't have queens until April.
 

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I assume you've checked with B. Weaver, and R. Weaver.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I assume you've checked with B. Weaver, and R. Weaver.
Yes. Fact is I have 15 of the Taylor made queens ordered from BeeWeaver.com. I called and Laura was going to order a battery bank of queens to break up. Others might check for quantities smaller than 50. But realize that the Taylor made queens come from Australia. I also spent time on the phone and in emals with Laura concernging discussing many of the issues which ACBEES has raised.

Kindest Regards
Danny
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thought I would add some additional information. Someone had commented about splitting colonies, apparently to control swarming. They brought up the point that one strong colony will produce more honey than 2 weak ones, which has also been my experience.

This is part of the reason I am doing this experiment. First by making early splits I will have about twice as many colonies, thereby, hopefully will double my brood production by honey flow time. Then, I inted to kill queens and put the brood of about 2 1/2 colonies into one without a queen. I will wait a week and then kill all the queen cells and subsitute a frame of eggs/larva from my selected colonies so that these queenless colonies raise queens from my best genetic lines. My hope is that this will produce a colony with massive bee population in order to maximize honey production. Also, I am hopeful that by handling this experiment in this manner it will greatly reduce the chance of swarming, since the new queens will not start laying until towards the end of our main flow. Then after the main flow is over I will make splits in June, hopefully giving the splits time to rebound to full strength in time to prepare for our reliable fall flow in preparation for winter.

Any comments would be appreciated.

Kindest Regards
Danny Unger
 

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My father was sent, by our Gov't, to Kiev Ukraine, to help Valdimir Ratuchny with his beekeeping. They used a rather novel system. They put a 3/8 inch divider down the center of 2 deep brood chambers. These where stacked on top of each other, with a metal bound excluder on top, and then the honey supers. The theory was that the two side by side hives shared heat and expanded quicker in the spring. Their climate is continental, with COLD winters that change quickly into HOT summers. This set up was designed to overcome the "late" bees.

Opps, they may have used double excluders down the middles, can't remember.

I tried the system, and IF you have both queens, it does indeed work as envisioned. Problems arose when one queen failed, expecialy if the partition is permiable. It was also tricky to work, because you had both hives open at once.

I would think that a variation using 4-6 frame supers would solve some of the problems, but now the heat is not shared as well.

I gave up, but it was a good mental excersize.

Roland
 

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Discussion Starter #16
EXPERIMENT NUMBER ONE:

INTRODUCTION:
During the 80’s I experimented with horizontal 2-Queen colonies.
Excuse me for the misrepresentation. I did verticle 2-Queen colonies [one on top of the other] as opposed to horizontal which would be side by side brood boxes as suggested by Michael Bush. At the time Mark Hamilton [deceased friend] and I did the experiments we never considered side by side brood boxes.

My mistake.
Kindest Regards
Danny Unger
 

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Danny:
Re verticle/horizontal: Wondered about that the first time around, but withheld comment. The last thing I want to do is discourage experimentation, but have a couple comments:

Some beeks call an equal division of assets a spilt. A split to me is the taking of a frame or more of brood with support from a donor colony to populate a nuc. Am assuming that your splits are divides in my jargon. No??
To communicate in this business, someone needs to prepare a beekeeper dictionary, and the rest of us USE it.

Re Q replacement in a strong colony: In a weak colony or in the early season, Q loss results in few emergency cells. But in strong colonies, later in the season when young brood is scattered, E cells are all over. Have seen 20 or more. To insure survival of your added foreign Q you must take out ALL the E cells - They prefer their own to the added foreigner. It's not easy to remove all the competition. Some are tucked away in hiding places.
Forwarned is forarmed.

Walt
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Danny:
Re verticle/horizontal: Wondered about that the first time around, but withheld comment. The last thing I want to do is discourage experimentation, but have a couple comments:
You should have said something earlier, upon re-reading my post I felt like an idiot. Like the guy that gets home late in the evening and his fly is open. Constructive criticism is welcome and also those which correct a statement or obvious error. Also, I notice that since my accident my brain doesn't always function as sharp as I would like.

Some beeks call an equal division of assets a spilt. A split to me is the taking of a frame or more of brood with support from a donor colony to populate a nuc. Am assuming that your splits are divides in my jargon. No??
I will try to 'divide' and apportion resources as equally as possible, thereby giving all an equal chance.

To communicate in this business, someone needs to prepare a beekeeper dictionary, and the rest of us USE it.
Good idea but then someone must use it, but thanks for the opportunity to clarify.

To insure survival of your added foreign Q you must take out ALL the E cells - They prefer their own to the added foreigner. It's not easy to remove all the competition. Some are tucked away in hiding places.
Forwarned is forarmed.
Last summer, after making a 'split' in advance of an ordered "Zia Queen", I destroyed 'all' the queen cells after the colony had been queenless for about a week, thereby destroying the hope of the colony of raising their own. I had pulled the queen and most of the brood and bees and moved them to a different location, leaving mostly sealed brood [although there were some eggs and larva] and the foragers to accept the new queen. However, there was a drone frame which I did not check at the time I went back to destroy all the queen cells. The colony did not accept the Zia queen and upon inspection I found the queen cells on the drone frame [2-3 as I can recall]. My first time to use drone frames, and I suppose that the workers can transfer eggs to the larger celled frames [as I am on all small cell frames] in order to raise queens. I wonder if anyone else has had this happen to them?

I haven't had a lot of experience in raising my own queens as when I previously kept bees I always 'requeened' late summer/early fall with young midnight queens. But, I am just guessing that one might have better luck getting a queen accepted with younger and emerging bees as opposed to the older forager bees. In pondering my loss of the Zia queen, I also wondered if I shouldn't have left the queen in the original location with the foragers, and let young and emerging bees to release the queen [moved to another site]. In hindsight I also would not have moved the drone frame with the 'split'. Your input would be appreciated.

Kindest Regards
Danny
 

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>Some beeks call an equal division of assets a spilt. A split to me is the taking of a frame or more of brood with support from a donor colony to populate a nuc. Am assuming that your splits are divides in my jargon. No??

The words "split" and "divide" are essentially synonymous according to multiple dictionaries.
 

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A D...Understand the problem, but let's not derail DRUR's experiment thread with a tangent. He made it plain what split means to him. Open a new thread on the subject. I would be interested in the discussion.
Walt
 
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