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We all know very well the importance of a high quality queens. We all have experienced "those'' queens that we wish were in everyone of our hives.

While there will always be a need to push for higher quality queens we also have learned the importance of their studs, Drones.

Multiple Drones complex the hive with their different genetics. Say a queen gets mated with 17 drones. Up to 17 types of workers will be represented in the hive. Each of the 17 types of workers are genetically a little different even if they look similar.

Some might be more hygienic, fighters of disease, other might stink at that and be better at pollen gathering or something else. Much has yet to be learned in this field.

In "my" hives the appearance of the workers varies due to incorporating new queens for drone production colonies. From VSH Italians, USDA Russians, Feral colonies I have captures and liked, buckfast, Minnosota Hygenic and more.

This post is to compile thoughts, observations, and especially research that has been provided thru various bee labs and honeybee circles on drones.

(Like) Methods to produce drones, what keeps them from being as viable?, is feeding drone hives sugar water and pollen sub producing a less viable drone due to poorer nutrition?

Keep it civil and on topic.

If you want to be the symbol for the democratic party then do it elsewhere.
 

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Keep it civil and on topic. If you want to be the symbol for the democratic party then do it elsewhere.
That is too the point.

But would love to see what this conversation bring up. I have wondered about it myself in my short time as a bee keeper.
 

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Drones have been studied in depth... and several points first queens seems to be a issue, because as you pointed out up to 17 drones, so its easier to control 1/2 the genetics, than 1/34 (1/2 male /17)
I saw a study in last months ABJ (maybe nov) about drone fertility, and how it is drastically reduced by miticides.

That said most queen breeders are also drone breeders I work to keep certain breeds in different areas to TRY to get less crossing. IE russians are all out on the east yards Itialians on the west.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Chemically sprayed miticides I am sure are a factor. I wonder though if the chemicals sprayed on the pollen sub as the crops were growing also could be playing a role in sterile drone issues.
 

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Kamon says...
"(Like) Methods to produce drones, what keeps them from being as viable?, is feeding drone hives sugar water and pollen sub producing a less viable drone due to poorer nutrition?"

In my opinion and from some of my own experience, a resounding NO. Miticides and other agriculture chemicals, perhaps yes.

This thread is titled Breeding Better Drones. Drones need good supply of nectar and pollen in a hive with a good well balanced of ages of bees. incoming nectar and pollen is needed. Miticides and other chemicals in the area helps to contaminate the hive and brood, of both drones and workers. You need good non-contaminated feed, and sugar water and pollen sub fit that bill as well as can be done when raising bees, in my opinion of course. Is natural pollen better than pollen substitute? In most cases I'd say yes. Is nectar better than sugar water? I'd have to say yes. But, using these as supplement to natural forage does not hurt or degrade the drones or queens, or worker brood, once again in my opinion. I do know this, if you try to raise queens or drones in a dearth or low quality nectar flow, you will not have any success without giving pollen or pollen sub and syrup.

Now, a bit off topic, but Kamon asked me to post some of what we chatted about in the chat room earlier this evening. This does not follow precisely along the lines of breeding healthy drones, but gives some information as I understand it, about the importance of good drones in the mating yard area.

Let me side track just a bit here... I get the impression that Kamon is of the opinion that many different breeds of bees in the drone population is better for genetic diversity in the hive. I'm not sure if I agree with that or not. Genetic diversity in the same bee type, such as Italian or Carniolan or Russian or Caucasian, yes, but as far as having each of these strains of drones in the mating area? I'm not sure. There is good arguments for keeping strains pure. There may also be good arguments for diversity across strains, my jury is out on that myself.

Ok, here is what I was saying in chat earlier tonight, concerning the importance of drones in the mating area...
The queen has 32 chromosomes, a random (I think) 16 of which goes to the egg. So, you get some diversity within the hive from the queen, as she donates a random set of 16 out of 32 chromosomes (I'm pretty sure it's random) to each egg. I'm not good enough at the math to say just what kind of percentage of randomness this gives, especially since she mates with numerous drones.

Ok, now the drone contains only 16 chromosomes, which he gets all from his mother queen, as his egg was not fertilized with sperm from any of his mothers drone mates. So, he has no father. But, his mother came from a queen that had mated with many drones, so a drone has many grandfathers, but only one mother and only one grandmother. Kinda hard to think in it this way huh? It is kinda for me still. Ok, so he gets 16 of his mothers chromosomes, once again, random (I think) from the 32 that his mother queen has total. So once again, we get more randomness from the queen into each of her drone sons. So, each drone son of a queen is not identical to each other, but has randomness from the queen mother. So it is said in many places that the drone is the queen, that the queen sends her genes out into the world by making drones. I see that it is true but not entirely so, he is her genes yes, but he is a randomness of 16 out of 32 of her chromosomes.

Someone please correct me if I have all or parts of this wrong.

So now from all this, I come to the conclusion that bees are built to create diversity of genes or chromosomes in the hive and in the areas around a hive.

So, the worker bee gets a random 16 out of 32 chromosomes from the queen mother, and the worker gets the full 16 chromosomes from each drone that mated the mother, and the drone giving those chromosomes got them as a random 16 out of 32 from his queen mother, which would be a grandmother of the worker being created.

Ok, now, so just how important are the drones mating a queen to the hive as a whole? I say the drones are very important, at least on equal with the importance of the queen, and maybe more so in the fact that the queen mates with 15 to 20 drones, on average, during her mating flights.

So now, we have a hive, one queen the mother of all the bees in the hive, and many drone fathers (the drone fathers are not present in the hive though). The queen gives her randomness to the workers. The drone fathers each gave their randomness to the workers too, and each drone got his random 16 chromosomes from their grandmothers. OK, now this, we have subsets of workers in the hive. They all have the same mother, but each does not have the same father, we now have groups of workers with each group having the same father. So for each drone the queen mother mated with, we get a subgroup of workers. Each subgroup may have differing attitudes or skills to give to the hive that one or many of the other groups do not do so well, this is what Kamon was referring to when he started this thread.

I'm all talked out, and this is still all hard for me to keep straight in my mind, and I feel I've rambled along with this posting at least somewhat. If anyone has more to add or has any corrections to what I've said, please do, add and/or correct what I've said.

Ok, here is another little snippit that somewhat goes along with all of this.
I do not believe that the queen automatically flies out so far that she does not mate with her own drones, it just does not make sense to me, especially since drones fly great distances and are accepted into many hives along those distances. I've read from research that drones have been found up to over 30 miles away from their own parent hive. So saying a queen flies greater distance than the two mile or more foraging range around the hive just does not hold water. I think she flies only as far as needed to be mated to her satisfaction, and I think I have proved this to myself. One year I had 2 major strains of bees in my yard... Italians and Carniolans. The first round of queens I mated that year were Italian mothers when the drones from my Carniolan hives were mature and ripe for mating. The next round of queens I raised were the opposite, Carni Queens with ITA drones. The third round that year was a mix of it all. What I ended up with was something I had not seen before. I had Two Tone Drones! and I had queens that were blotchy Black and orange, not in nice defined rings or stripes, but all blotchy. I called them my Halloween Queens because of the odd patterns of black and orange, and my two tone drones. OK, so this proved to me that queens mating flight is only as long and as far as she needs to be well mated. This also raises another thought this brought into my mind. We all know as people, our own sons and daughters and brothers and sisters, so why would I think it is so impossible for a queen to not recognise her own sons? Perhaps the queens do recognise her own sons and will not mate with them. But then again, perhaps not and she will. Perhaps she only will, if they are the only drones populous in numbers within her own mating flight directions? I don't know, I leave this as food for thought.
 

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Wonder why Brother Adam raised queens only one time per year...at the best time for drones when they are raised and cared for by the bees naturally. Raised with spring pollen and nectar.
 

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So, I have a thought as a new bee person.
Many drones breed a queen,
I have to assume there could be Carn and ITA at the Drone Congregation Area. And maybe some Russians or Bucks as well.
If if some Carn and Ita each mate with a queen, would those genetics show up differently in the workers as time passes?


Kamon says...
"(Like) Methods to produce drones, what keeps them from being as viable?, is feeding drone hives sugar water and pollen sub producing a less viable drone due to poorer nutrition?"

In my opinion and from some of my own experience, a resounding NO. Miticides and other agriculture chemicals, perhaps yes.

This thread is titled Breeding Better Drones. Drones need good supply of nectar and pollen in a hive with a good well balanced of ages of bees. incoming nectar and pollen is needed. Miticides and other chemicals in the area helps to contaminate the hive and brood, of both drones and workers. You need good non-contaminated feed, and sugar water and pollen sub fit that bill as well as can be done when raising bees, in my opinion of course. Is natural pollen better than pollen substitute? In most cases I'd say yes. Is nectar better than sugar water? I'd have to say yes. But, using these as supplement to natural forage does not hurt or degrade the drones or queens, or worker brood, once again in my opinion. I do know this, if you try to raise queens or drones in a dearth or low quality nectar flow, you will not have any success without giving pollen or pollen sub and syrup.

Now, a bit off topic, but Kamon asked me to post some of what we chatted about in the chat room earlier this evening. This does not follow precisely along the lines of breeding healthy drones, but gives some information as I understand it, about the importance of good drones in the mating yard area.

Let me side track just a bit here... I get the impression that Kamon is of the opinion that many different breeds of bees in the drone population is better for genetic diversity in the hive. I'm not sure if I agree with that or not. Genetic diversity in the same bee type, such as Italian or Carniolan or Russian or Caucasian, yes, but as far as having each of these strains of drones in the mating area? I'm not sure. There is good arguments for keeping strains pure. There may also be good arguments for diversity across strains, my jury is out on that myself.

Ok, here is what I was saying in chat earlier tonight, concerning the importance of drones in the mating area...
The queen has 32 chromosomes, a random (I think) 16 of which goes to the egg. So, you get some diversity within the hive from the queen, as she donates a random set of 16 out of 32 chromosomes (I'm pretty sure it's random) to each egg. I'm not good enough at the math to say just what kind of percentage of randomness this gives, especially since she mates with numerous drones.

Ok, now the drone contains only 16 chromosomes, which he gets all from his mother queen, as his egg was not fertilized with sperm from any of his mothers drone mates. So, he has no father. But, his mother came from a queen that had mated with many drones, so a drone has many grandfathers, but only one mother and only one grandmother. Kinda hard to think in it this way huh? It is kinda for me still. Ok, so he gets 16 of his mothers chromosomes, once again, random (I think) from the 32 that his mother queen has total. So once again, we get more randomness from the queen into each of her drone sons. So, each drone son of a queen is not identical to each other, but has randomness from the queen mother. So it is said in many places that the drone is the queen, that the queen sends her genes out into the world by making drones. I see that it is true but not entirely so, he is her genes yes, but he is a randomness of 16 out of 32 of her chromosomes.

Someone please correct me if I have all or parts of this wrong.

So now from all this, I come to the conclusion that bees are built to create diversity of genes or chromosomes in the hive and in the areas around a hive.

So, the worker bee gets a random 16 out of 32 chromosomes from the queen mother, and the worker gets the full 16 chromosomes from each drone that mated the mother, and the drone giving those chromosomes got them as a random 16 out of 32 from his queen mother, which would be a grandmother of the worker being created.

Ok, now, so just how important are the drones mating a queen to the hive as a whole? I say the drones are very important, at least on equal with the importance of the queen, and maybe more so in the fact that the queen mates with 15 to 20 drones, on average, during her mating flights.

So now, we have a hive, one queen the mother of all the bees in the hive, and many drone fathers (the drone fathers are not present in the hive though). The queen gives her randomness to the workers. The drone fathers each gave their randomness to the workers too, and each drone got his random 16 chromosomes from their grandmothers. OK, now this, we have subsets of workers in the hive. They all have the same mother, but each does not have the same father, we now have groups of workers with each group having the same father. So for each drone the queen mother mated with, we get a subgroup of workers. Each subgroup may have differing attitudes or skills to give to the hive that one or many of the other groups do not do so well, this is what Kamon was referring to when he started this thread.

I'm all talked out, and this is still all hard for me to keep straight in my mind, and I feel I've rambled along with this posting at least somewhat. If anyone has more to add or has any corrections to what I've said, please do, add and/or correct what I've said.

Ok, here is another little snippit that somewhat goes along with all of this.
I do not believe that the queen automatically flies out so far that she does not mate with her own drones, it just does not make sense to me, especially since drones fly great distances and are accepted into many hives along those distances. I've read from research that drones have been found up to over 30 miles away from their own parent hive. So saying a queen flies greater distance than the two mile or more foraging range around the hive just does not hold water. I think she flies only as far as needed to be mated to her satisfaction, and I think I have proved this to myself. One year I had 2 major strains of bees in my yard... Italians and Carniolans. The first round of queens I mated that year were Italian mothers when the drones from my Carniolan hives were mature and ripe for mating. The next round of queens I raised were the opposite, Carni Queens with ITA drones. The third round that year was a mix of it all. What I ended up with was something I had not seen before. I had Two Tone Drones! and I had queens that were blotchy Black and orange, not in nice defined rings or stripes, but all blotchy. I called them my Halloween Queens because of the odd patterns of black and orange, and my two tone drones. OK, so this proved to me that queens mating flight is only as long and as far as she needs to be well mated. This also raises another thought this brought into my mind. We all know as people, our own sons and daughters and brothers and sisters, so why would I think it is so impossible for a queen to not recognise her own sons? Perhaps the queens do recognise her own sons and will not mate with them. But then again, perhaps not and she will. Perhaps she only will, if they are the only drones populous in numbers within her own mating flight directions? I don't know, I leave this as food for thought.
 

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So, I have a thought as a new bee person.
Many drones breed a queen,
I have to assume there could be Carn and ITA at the Drone Congregation Area. And maybe some Russians or Bucks as well.
If if some Carn and Ita each mate with a queen, would those genetics show up differently in the workers as time passes?
A seven-year old thread ... is this a record ?

"Many drones breed a queen ... " No - only one sperm normally enters the ovum at the time of fertilization - the others are then locked-out. So whichever genetic line that drone represents, gets to form the combined DNA within that particular egg. The question then becomes: will that particular egg be chosen to become a queen, or one of the others (some of which will undoubtedly contain the DNA of other drones) ?

"If if some Carn and Ita each mate with a queen, would those genetics show up differently in the workers as time passes ?" Certainly - but those are workers which play no part in genetic reproduction.
However, the influence of mixed (open) matings will begin to show within the genetic line over time (over several generations) but only one drone from a multiple mating can ever contribute 'to the overall genetic mix' during the formation of a queen.

I find the basic premise of this thread a little odd, for it is the unadulterated (as far as we know) queen's DNA which is carried by the drone - therefore, in breeding for "better" (undefined) queens, one is also simultaneously breeding for "better" (again, undefined) drones.

It has often been postulated that certain characteristics are passed-on to the next generation via drones - but as that DNA must have originated from another queen, it is the characteristics expressed in the colony of that queen which are important.
The problem, of course, is that - unless a beekeeper is flooding the area with his or her own drones - there will be no control over the genetics which are put up into the air originating from a feral or someone-else's queen.
LJ
 

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There is artificial insemination. Good for experimental work if a bit beyond the local beekeeper.
 

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Well, OK, a 7-year-old thread that did little to address drone rearing and breeding...whiskey tango foxtrot...

While AI is most often done with a combined drone- and queen-rearing effort, most of us are concerned with drone rearing in hopes of flooding out less-desirable bee stocks in our mating yard DCA's with massive numbers of healthy drones sporting highly-desirable traits.

****************

Drones are a luxury for a bee colony, being made only in times of plenty. Their cells are often one of the earliest tip-offs that a colony is getting ready to swarm.

Bees will cut back drone production somewhat rapidly when pollen stops coming in.

The first priority for the beekeeper is to grow a large apiary. Lots of bee colonies from which to select breeding stock, from which to borrow frames of pollen, capped brood, etc. is the cornerstone of a breeding program. You can not and should not consider drone rearing until you have perhaps 40 or 50 colonies (more is even better) for selection and support of both queen and drone rearing efforts.

Other prerequisites include a few years queen rearing experience and then getting both your drone and queen rearing calendars synchronized.

Drone rearing is best done in the Spring when a strong colony's population has noticeably increased during the main pollen / nectar flow for the area. Colony selection for drone rearing usually involves a hive that has not been disqualified from a breeding program for an undesirable trait/s and is very likely one of the strongest colonies in the apiary, perhaps except for the queen rearing mother colony.

The selection of a colony because of a massive population helps to assure that plenty of pollen will becoming in due to the division of labor heavily favoring strong colonies in pollen gathering ability. At some levels, twice the population can cause 8 times the pollen gathering, if the colonies are increasing. It goes up very markedly as the population goes up. The flower bloom does have to be providing fresh pollen, though.

Frames of pollen can be imported from other colonies as well, so that there is ample food for drone production throughout the queen- and drone-rearing season.

Selection at more advanced levels involves male-passed sex-linked traits.

Extra frames of drone comb (7.1mm hexagons, or 10 cells measuring approximately 71 mm) placed in the drone mother colony's broodnests help encourage sufficient drones to flood an area with well-chosen drone stock. If placing empty frames in between open brood in a strong colony, most often drone comb will be produced in a hive that has lots of worker brood foundation, but it must be done several additional days prior to the beginning of drone rearing.

Drone rearing begins 40 days prior to queen rearing. Drones are 21 days (on average) from egg-lay to emerge, and the males have to reach sexual maturity just before the virgin queens go out for mating flights. Virgin queens are 15 to 16 days from egg-lay to emergence and another 5 to 8 days before they go out on mating flights, although weather can delay mating activities.

The presence of more than 50 mature drones per virgin queen to be mated usually ensures thoroughly-mated queens. More drones per queen is even better if your apiary is large enough.

More to write but growing weary tonight. I'll be back with more later. Cheers!
 

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I just took time to carefully re-read "beebreeder"'s post #8 of this thread, dated 12-25-2013, that contains a link to an earlier 2011 thread. I was delighted that Pete's post (Pete's Beesource call handle is "beekuk", and his post is #8 of that thread regarding the German version of night mating) still comes up.

https://www.beesource.com/forums/sh...heinbegattung-method&highlight=joe+horner#top

He gives a synopsis of Austrailian beekeeper, Joe Horner's method of late-afternoon mating with both drones and queens brought out of refrigerated sheds and released after drones have returned from their last daily flights. This results in as much as 85% mating of desired queens and desired drones without the expense of instrumental insemination.

Joe watches a (non-refrigerated) normal, open hive, observing the mating flights and returning of drones to time the release 30 minutes after the last observed drone return. He uses a remote control to open queen excluder gates on the refrigerated colonies simultaneously - first all the drone colonies, then a few minutes later, all the queen mating nuc's simultaneously.

This is some excellent work, and highly recommended reading for any serious breeder using open mating schemes.

I did not take the German "moonlight" mating station scheme mentioned at the beginning of the link too seriously, noting the very high failure rate and considering it a waste of premium bee resources. The Australian late-afternoon setup appears to work very well indeed.

***********

To marshmsterpat, if you are still a regular here on beesource (I sure hope so! :) )...
True that a drone has no father, he is made from an unfertilized egg and is haploid, meaning he has only half (16) of the chromosomes all coming from his mother, who has 32 chromosomes. But he has only one grandfather, not many grandfathers.

Interestingly, he has no great-grandfather, but 2 great-great grandfathers and 8 great-great grandmothers. Such is haplozygosity, and hence haplo-diploidy. We often need to think 2 generations at a time in this scheme.
 
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