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Discussion Starter #1
The reason I ask is I often see that younger queens are seen as more fecund, but - year after year - swarms I catch seem to be both more able to survive the (cold NY) winter and come out of it booming.
As long as they aren't crazily late in the year as swarms (October...) they outperform my "regular" hives at survivability, build up and production.

I appreciate that my sample size isn't large but would love to learn more.

Thank you.
 

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If a swarm that is starting from scratch with half of the bees of a continuing production hive and is outperforming your continuing production hives, I would think that maybe you have a problem. Yes, swarms will certainly build comb more quickly, but they are at a disadvantage in time and numbers for production. I can't think why they would overwinter better except that they come from better stock. Maybe you should re-queen? J
 

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I can't think why they would overwinter better ...
A swarm experiences a total brood break, and thus starts (or more correctly 're-starts') brood-rearing with a minimal (or at least reduced) Varroa population. That could account for this otherwise curious observation. It may well be a colony with an older queen, but is most likely a colony with a much cleaner bill of health.
LJ
 

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Good point Little John. I was assuming Mark's hives are treated properly. I was not thinking of this before, but wasn't there a recent article calling into question the assumption that brood breaks are a good method for Varroa control? J
 

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No, it doesn't breathe new life into an older queen, if it did, the majority of swarms would not supersede their queen within 2 months of swarming.
 

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A swarm experiences a total brood break, and thus starts (or more correctly 're-starts') brood-rearing with a minimal (or at least reduced) Varroa population. That could account for this otherwise curious observation. It may well be a colony with an older queen, but is most likely a colony with a much cleaner bill of health.
LJ
Brood break has noting to do with it.Swarms were doing the same way before tracheal mites or varroa came on to the scene.
 

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Brood break has noting to do with it.Swarms were doing the same way before tracheal mites or varroa came on to the scene.
I very much doubt that the OP is referring to 'apparent rejuvenation' observations made before the days of tracheal or Varroa mites ...

The population of Varroa mites going into winter is an important issue. As we've learned within the last 12 months, healthy fat bodies are essential for colony survival.
It used to be the case that colony size determined winter survival (or not) - now it's colony size and a more-or-less Varroa-free colony which determines this.

LJ
 

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Some swarms may also be cast swarms with virgin queens who are younger (the same year as the swarm.) Prime swarms usually happen when a hive is strong and populous after overwintering, so that would be a cohort of bees with perhaps a slightly better genetic make-up and also a slightly better recent history with regard to disease challenges and nutritional sufficiency. Even swarms that have an established (overwintered) queen may not supersede the first summer. She may be just entering her second year with a good deal of life in her after the swarm,. I don't regard a two-year old queen as old and failing. Mine last longer than that.

It's also possible that my swarm queens are locally open-mated, not purchased queens. My local foraging area (greater mating area) is not, as far as I know visited by transient bees for pollination.

All my bees arrived here originally as swarms, and I didn't have any supesedures until the their second season with me, i.e. not in the summer of the year they arrived. The earliest one was in the second summer, and one was even in the third summer (but I suspect that one may have been a virgin queen in a cast swarm.)

MarkinSaratoga and I are (relatively speaking) in the same part of the world (upstate NY), so our similar experience may be a regional phenomenon.

Nancy
 

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What is the source of your "production" hives? If it is a swarm from the previous year that had similar behavior you can remove the genetic line of reasoning. Then you get back to equipment, management (brood breaks, etc.), and Varroa with their disease inputs.
 

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Besides a brood break they also get a complete comb change. That is unless you house them in drawn frames.
 

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I'm not a huge fan of swarm queens. Rarely do I find one that outperforms queens that I produce. I still actively collect swarms, mostly because of their comb building desire, but rarely does one get kept for a second year in my operation.

Another potential reason the OP has observed this is that perhaps his stock is not very good? Again, we're assuming varroa are seriously managed. Swarm queens are usually reared in ideal conditions - massive size cells with lots of RJ. Swarm cells are the "gold standard" for anyone producing cells. Cell size matters, and Prof David Tarpy has provided lots of data supporting this. Maybe the OP is just observing the difference in cell quality?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
If a swarm that is starting from scratch with half of the bees of a continuing production hive and is outperforming your continuing production hives, I would think that maybe you have a problem. Yes, swarms will certainly build comb more quickly, but they are at a disadvantage in time and numbers for production. I can't think why they would overwinter better except that they come from better stock. Maybe you should re-queen? J
My regular hives are doing well too. It's just that the swarm ones are doing even better. I'm not trying to boast as this all may be luck, but there's no clear reason to requeen the "regular" hives at al. I just wondered if the act of swarming somehow gave an older queen a jolt!

As Enjambres says, this might just be a local thing.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Good point Little John. I was assuming Mark's hives are treated properly. I was not thinking of this before, but wasn't there a recent article calling into question the assumption that brood breaks are a good method for Varroa control? J
My hives are treated properly, if regular mite checks and a good series of oav in the late summer to fall counts as good :)

I have high survival rates thankfully. So far!
 

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The reason I ask is I often see that younger queens are seen as more fecund, but - year after year - swarms I catch seem to be both more able to survive the (cold NY) winter and come out of it booming.
As long as they aren't crazily late in the year as swarms (October...) they outperform my "regular" hives at survivability, build up and production.

I appreciate that my sample size isn't large but would love to learn more.

Thank you.
A swarm Issues from a colony that:
1) had enough stores to Swarm
2)had enough bees to swarm
3)had a fast build up and maybe found the cavity they were in filling up with bees , running out of space.

all of these relate to the queen, a slow laying queen may not ever get to swarm stage.
SO IMO swarms are from the better/best Queens to Begin with. Finding them above average compared to the whole lot of them would be "expected" I would tend to make splits from the best hives that overwinter, and somewhat propagate the best.

I think your observation is "normal" as well commercial queens can be "sub par" for many reasons, raised a bit early in the year, not enough nurse bees in the starter hive, not left to lay until the ovarials are fully developed,, shipping over/under temp. rough handling etc.

Hive the swarms and enjoy.
GG
 

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>SO IMO swarms are from the better/best Queens to Begin with. Finding them above average compared to the whole lot of them would be "expected" I would tend to make splits from the best hives that overwinter, and somewhat propagate the best.

Usually. I agree. But sometimes they come from a swarmy hive that swarms when they have no good reason to swarm.
 

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>SO IMO swarms are from the better/best Queens to Begin with. Finding them above average compared to the whole lot of them would be "expected" I would tend to make splits from the best hives that overwinter, and somewhat propagate the best.

Usually. I agree. But sometimes they come from a swarmy hive that swarms when they have no good reason to swarm.
I Concur, I was generalizing, Can also get swarms from over opening the hive, or some Supercedures can turn into a swarm.
You would somewhat need to watch the swarms you hive for "unattractive" traits and cull a few queens. In general the "unmarked" queens I see from early swarms are better than average, averaging in the queens I buy, create, order straight up or in packages.
my personal average from best to worse over last 5 years (over 1 winter only consideration):
best Swarm Queens, 3 of 4 overwintered
Second best My own split queens 7 of 10 over wintered
next best ordered queens, 6 of 10 over wintered
worse package queens 0 of 12 overwintered

I now will requeen all packages from split queens or small late swarms with virgins, in the aug time frame.
Just tired of package queens not making the winter. Bond has at times forced me to order packages... another thread :)
I have 6 surviving hives this spring, from about 40 over the last 5 years, been slow but starting to get genes that can do the winter and with Varoa tossed in. had total loss in 2014 and 2016 so hopefully I am getting some traction.


I know this is a small set size and my practices do have an impact, as does my locale, so this is my own data and my own response, to the Aforementioned, Empirical data. I urge folks to keep records, make decisions based on your locale.
GG
 
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