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Have you had more trouble than usual with laying worker hives this year?

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I attended a Zoom session last night of the Eastern Piedmont Beekeeping club in Georgia.
In the chatter before the presentation several beekeepers said they had quite a few laying worker hives this spring- more than usual. I had two hives in which the queens just disappeared without them swarming. And I ended up with two laying worker hives.
We had two heavy frosts/cold spells-one at the end of February and one at the beginning of April. I figured the weather did the damage.

Now I see quite a few postings on here about losing queens and laying worker hives (I'm not sure if it is more than usual for this forum).
Also I just saw this article from Austin, TX-
From February's winter crisis to rising summer temps, climate change is threatening our safety and economy.
"Spring had arrived for the bees at Two Hives Honey, a small farm in Manor, when Winter Storm Uri struck in mid-February. Already finished with their winter rest, the queens were laying eggs while workers busily gathered pollen and grew the new brood. During a typical winter, Tara Chapman, Two Hives’ founder and owner, expects to lose about 5 percent of her hives. But Uri’s arctic blast hit Central Texas so late in the season—when the bees are already stretched thin caring for their young—that it destroyed a staggering 30 percent.
Usually, Chapman can cover her losses by making “splits,” which is when a beekeeper takes a healthy colony and divides it into two. But after Uri, Two Hives’ bees were too weak to build new hives, meaning her only option was to buy 30 brand new colonies—a move that, beyond being costly, will only preserve a fraction of the farm’s 2021 honey production. Now, Chapman is out thousands of dollars and months of labor. To make matters worse, navigating federal disaster relief programs was so cumbersome that she eventually gave up. "

Well, I guess I'll keep trucking along and hope for better times ahead.

"The farmer has to be an optimist or he wouldn't still be a farmer."
Will Rogers
 

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I had 1 laying worker hive out of a dozen hives this spring. I was fortunate enough to catch them attempting to build queen cells and was able to cure it with a virgin queen. It is now a productive hive.
A bigger issue I'm having now is mated queens. I bought 4 mated queens and only 1 is laying any worker brood at all.
 

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I think for a variety of reason we are hearing about queen losses. Perhaps it is a squeaky wheel situation where more of us write about queens losses here in the forum because of the devastating effect queen losses have on our hives. Beeks who don't loose queens don't write about them and that is most likely the larger percentage pf beeks. Perhaps we are seeing more failures, weaker queens, failure to mate, predatation by birds or other insects or just poor breeding. One of the comments that stuck with me from a recent post on this forums regarding queen breeding was a question was asked (paraphrasing) was out of all the queens you raised, how many did you pinch? The comment was more directed at breeding better queen and the termination of queens showing poorer traits. With the industrial scale of our hobby combined with a societal trait of always looking for a better deal, maybe we're buying lesser queens for lesser money. We have a saying in infrastructure construction, if you pay peanuts and you do get monkeys.
 

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Queen loss has many causes, to be sure, the progression to laying worker, though, is due to lack of intervention by the beekeeper, for whatever reasons.
To ask if one is having more issues with laying workers is to ask, are you taking care of your bees. :)
 

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raise your own queens and over time they will match your management style and you will have far less problems, with queens or anything else.
 

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Queen loss has many causes, to be sure, the progression to laying worker, though, is due to lack of intervention by the beekeeper, for whatever reasons.
To ask if one is having more issues with laying workers is to ask, are you taking care of your bees. :)
raise your own queens and over time they will match your management style and you will have far less problems, with queens or anything else.
Agreed with both but for Newbees with limited resources, it isn't as easy as just pulling another queen out of a castle. I would think (like myself) that in the first few years, queen production is limited to splits with QC's and as you're well aware of, failure to return, poor laying patterns etc., where you don't have those resources, it's a bigger deal. Remember last winter when Mike Palmer's guy posted a thread about failures to return-those guys aren't quite beginners. One of the problem that a newbie has is that after a slit or swarm capture, did the queen return, is she mated well or was she eaten by a passing dragon fly? Whatever happened they have no queen or resources to go to other than the community of Beeks.
 

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Not all queens are having trouble.
Photo taken yesterday afternoon.
63896
 

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Not all queens are having trouble.
Photo taken yesterday afternoon.
View attachment 63896
Clyderoad- I know you know your stuff and so far I'm not having any real problems-maybe I feel I will replace some with better traits (keeping records and ratings per hive). It does seem every year and at this time of year, queens become an issue. Possibly as we get into the season, we see more than just a nuc or split-maybe it the time the rubber hits the road and under performers become obvious.
 

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Boondocks:

If you haven't viewed it already, here is a good presentation from Mr. Roger Patterson from the 2018 National Honey Show. He describes some of the novel queen issues he has seen manifested in the last 20 years and proffers some educated speculations.

 

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We had two heavy frosts/cold spells-one at the end of February and one at the beginning of April. I figured the weather did the damage. Nice guess but wrong IMO

But Uri’s arctic blast hit Central Texas so late in the season—when the bees are already stretched thin caring for their young—that it destroyed a staggering 30 percent Was not the "artic blast" was lack of stores in the hive.


IMO many run the hives at the edge, stores wise, then a "weather event" happens and the bees are cought with not enough reserves to out last it. during normal years most are fine. Most years I am beating myself up for leaving too much honey, this year they needed it. We as keepers need to recognize the normal and the not normal , springs, falls etc, and compensate as best we can.

Also IMO queens being sold today are not like the ones 25 years ago. could be pesticide build up, could be polluted water, virus from Varroa, effects of treatment chems, could be lots of things, even combined. I may have mentioned it already but I have had 3 queens make the first winter of the queens I have ordered, separate , in packages, or in NUCs. (40ish) I plan to now replace most of those in July from the hives I feel have the best characteristics. Is Mail getting "X rayed" to look for bombs, drugs, or other contra ban? is this having an effect? best luck I have with queens, is the ones, I go pick up. could be the "local effect" or the not in the truck effect, I do not really know. Here this week is 87ish every day, I would hate to have a queen order in a truck for a couple days.

basic beekeeping does not change much, what we do needs to shift with the times somewhat.

good luck

GG
 

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I attended a Zoom session last night of the Eastern Piedmont Beekeeping club in Georgia.
In the chatter before the presentation several beekeepers said they had quite a few laying worker hives this spring- more than usual. I had two hives in which the queens just disappeared without them swarming. And I ended up with two laying worker hives.
We had two heavy frosts/cold spells-one at the end of February and one at the beginning of April. I figured the weather did the damage.

Now I see quite a few postings on here about losing queens and laying worker hives (I'm not sure if it is more than usual for this forum).
Also I just saw this article from Austin, TX-
From February's winter crisis to rising summer temps, climate change is threatening our safety and economy.
"Spring had arrived for the bees at Two Hives Honey, a small farm in Manor, when Winter Storm Uri struck in mid-February. Already finished with their winter rest, the queens were laying eggs while workers busily gathered pollen and grew the new brood. During a typical winter, Tara Chapman, Two Hives’ founder and owner, expects to lose about 5 percent of her hives. But Uri’s arctic blast hit Central Texas so late in the season—when the bees are already stretched thin caring for their young—that it destroyed a staggering 30 percent.
Usually, Chapman can cover her losses by making “splits,” which is when a beekeeper takes a healthy colony and divides it into two. But after Uri, Two Hives’ bees were too weak to build new hives, meaning her only option was to buy 30 brand new colonies—a move that, beyond being costly, will only preserve a fraction of the farm’s 2021 honey production. Now, Chapman is out thousands of dollars and months of labor. To make matters worse, navigating federal disaster relief programs was so cumbersome that she eventually gave up. "

Well, I guess I'll keep trucking along and hope for better times ahead.

"The farmer has to be an optimist or he wouldn't still be a farmer."
Will Rogers
5% expected loss over the winter? Those seem like GREAT numbers. 30% doesn;t sound great, but not devastating, either.
 

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We had two heavy frosts/cold spells-one at the end of February and one at the beginning of April. I figured the weather did the damage. Nice guess but wrong IMO

But Uri’s arctic blast hit Central Texas so late in the season—when the bees are already stretched thin caring for their young—that it destroyed a staggering 30 percent Was not the "artic blast" was lack of stores in the hive.


IMO many run the hives at the edge, stores wise, then a "weather event" happens and the bees are cought with not enough reserves to out last it. during normal years most are fine. Most years I am beating myself up for leaving too much honey, this year they needed it. We as keepers need to recognize the normal and the not normal , springs, falls etc, and compensate as best we can.

Also IMO queens being sold today are not like the ones 25 years ago. could be pesticide build up, could be polluted water, virus from Varroa, effects of treatment chems, could be lots of things, even combined. I may have mentioned it already but I have had 3 queens make the first winter of the queens I have ordered, separate , in packages, or in NUCs. (40ish) I plan to now replace most of those in July from the hives I feel have the best characteristics. Is Mail getting "X rayed" to look for bombs, drugs, or other contra ban? is this having an effect? best luck I have with queens, is the ones, I go pick up. could be the "local effect" or the not in the truck effect, I do not really know. Here this week is 87ish every day, I would hate to have a queen order in a truck for a couple days.

basic beekeeping does not change much, what we do needs to shift with the times somewhat.

good luck

GG
I agree. Just like politics and beer, all beekeeping is local. :)
 

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Agreed with both but for Newbees with limited resources, it isn't as easy as just pulling another queen out of a castle. I would think (like myself) that in the first few years, queen production is limited to splits with QC's and as you're well aware of, failure to return, poor laying patterns etc., where you don't have those resources, it's a bigger deal. Remember last winter when Mike Palmer's guy posted a thread about failures to return-those guys aren't quite beginners. One of the problem that a newbie has is that after a slit or swarm capture, did the queen return, is she mated well or was she eaten by a passing dragon fly? Whatever happened they have no queen or resources to go to other than the community of Beeks.
Well, gosh, I thought I had worded my statement in such a way as to not offend anyone's delicate sensibilities. I did say, "For whatever reasons".
The title of the thread is,
"Does it seem like honeybee queens are having a tough time recently?", but the first thing I saw was a poll asking about trouble with laying workers. If a poll asking that question is inserted into the thread then I think it is reasonable to point out that LWs are not a foregone conclusion to Queenlessness.
I'm not even complaining, I was only making a statement about what was written.

 

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Grey Goose, put 60 packages,, some Cali, some Georgia, on wax foundation. All are exceedingly consistant, and off the top of my head, no issues.. come to mind. Another 60 where on drawn comb. There I can think of some issues.

Want to go back 25 years? Buy from the best queen breeders(in the packages) and put them on wax foundation.

Crazy Roland
 

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I had one hive loose a queen in early spring, raise a new one that is not laying right, so I replaced her (moved her to a nuc and let the hive raise a new queen)

My queens in a package from last year both struggeled this year (2 queen hive) and were superseded. The hive seems to be doing much better now.
 

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Roland,
I am "small time" compared to most.
IMO the < 10 orders are filled from the "pile" orders of maybe 50 or more are, filled from the "good stack".
the producers can afford to have an unhappy customer of 1 to 5 packages, but if too many of the big customers leave then it can have a big effect.

I remember several queen ordered from Sears and Roebuck make it 3 or more years.
I KNOW there are folks that can make good queens. IMO as the success is discovered, they get more orders, need to hire help to get the numbers, and then slowly loose control of the "details" and the quality slips a little. As well the "cadge them and ship them" issue has been talked about for a very long time.

so we are IMO playing on different fields. the 80 20 rule applies here 20 % of the customers are 80% of the profits so those are "coddled" I have had 35 years in corporate America , it is what it is. Not really complaining, just the odds of someone ordering 1 or 2 queens, get them installed and having them be great and still in the hive 3 ish years later are fading.

It has some what forced me to raise my own and I have really found it to be more enjoyable the spinning honey.
so in the big picture, I am happier now working on making a few of my own and ordering is some genetics once and a while to keep up the mix and diversity. Have 6 really nice queens this spring already from swarm control splits.
Interestingly from the old mother (3 yr) and 2 of her F1s (2yr) so the best are from one family, the 3yr old is the best of 6 ordered in "18" .
each new queen is a bit different as with 20ish drones I would not get many looking exact. I had one very dark, purplish like a egg plant, and one as light as a cordovan, so interesting mix.

the ability to order a queen is a great thing to help folks get ramped up, but any one at the 10yr point with bees, is ready to try to "roll their own" I have more queens today than woodenware, so I have given 4 away so far and will need to cull a couple to get them all into gear for the winter.

again for me the push was something I needed and am glad to have "endured" unless the winter or mites, bite me in the back side, I only need to order queens if I want a different gene set. Nice to have 3 or 4 in a 5 frame NUC for the just in case , rather than scrambling to find one on short notice.

GG
 

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@My thought is that, one, if you don't treat for mites, the viruses in the hive may increase as the mites increase their population. This means the queen is being exposed to viruses. That may be a cause of the queen 'issues'.
Secondly, if you do treat, the queen is exposed to whatever you used was used to kill the mites.. That certainly can't be good for the queen even if it does not kill her.
So, IMO, it's kind of a Catch 22 situation. IOW, ****ed if you do treat and ****ed if you don't treat. But I believe this is the underlying situation which is causing queen problems that wouldn't occur in a treatment free, mite free situation.
 

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@My thought is that, one, if you don't treat for mites, the viruses in the hive may increase as the mites increase their population. This means the queen is being exposed to viruses. That may be a cause of the queen 'issues'.
Secondly, if you do treat, the queen is exposed to whatever you used was used to kill the mites.. That certainly can't be good for the queen even if it does not kill her.
So, IMO, it's kind of a Catch 22 situation. IOW, ****ed if you do treat and ****ed if you don't treat. But I believe this is the underlying situation which is causing queen problems that wouldn't occur in a treatment free, mite free situation.
good point
If sick bees feed the Queen , then in time she is also sick.

GG
 
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