Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner

1 - 20 of 22 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
This year I am going to increase the number of queens I rear. Always looking to improve the quality of my queens and provide good genetic diversity, I am contemplating the importance of having separate and dedicated drone yards. I know there are many experienced (on this forum) in the rearing of quality well bred queens.

Is it important to have outlying drone yards with maybe four colonies roughly 2 miles in three or four directions from the queen yard to improve the genetic diversity or would you have the same diversity if those same colonies from the drone yards and the queen rearing yard all in the same location.

I have searched without success, so if this topic has been debated before, please point me in that direction.

Currently the closest beekeeper to me is 8 - 9 miles as the crow flies. So I have an area around me which is void of kept bees other than my own. I have brought in queens from several breeders to bring in the traits and genetics I am looking for.

Reading here, some of you have several large yards that rear a good number of queens, so are these yards close enough to produce drones of any number to mate with your queens in other yards and do you feel this is beneficial.

Ron
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Maybe I should restate my question.

Why are the text books, and queen rearing classes promoting having drone drone yards vs having the same number of drone producing colonies in your queen rearing apiary. Surely there is a valid reason for having the drones farther away from the virgin queen and for them all to congregate in a DCA. Does the distance between the drone producing colonies and the queen rearing apiaries help increase the mix of drones?

Ron
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,489 Posts
Surely there is a valid reason for having the drones farther away from the virgin queen and for them all to congregate in a DCA. Does the distance between the drone producing colonies and the queen rearing apiaries help increase the mix of drones?
That's my way of thinking too Ron. I've read drones get about quite a lot. Do you make special arrangements to ensure large drone populations?

Mike (UK)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,711 Posts
Regardless of what some studies say, the technical difficulty and expense of having drone production hives 2 miles away from your mating yard in various directions is for most of us too much. Just have them in or next to your mating yard. Careful of robbing of course.

Here is a pic of a nice drone comb from my own drone producing hives, you can have 2 to 3 of these combs in a hive and they can potentially turn out around 2,500 drones per frame each 25 day cycle. Several of these hives can have the air pumping with drones at mating time of the day the noise is amazing.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Mike, I do have plastic drone frames that I use to produce masses of drones as well as using them to some extent for verroa control when not breeding queens.

OldTimer, Nice looking drone comb, how did you get so much drone comb in what appears to be a wooden perhaps foundationless frame?

I am fortunate that I have neighbors that want hives on their ground all around me. So if it is truly beneficial to have outlying drone yards it wouldn't be an issue other than having to take care of them an multiple locations...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,076 Posts
Queens by preference fly about 1 to 1.5 miles to mate. Drones rarely fly more than 1/2 of a mile from the colony they originate in. This is why drone yards are suggested for best queen mating. Also, putting drone colonies at 1 to 2 miles from the queen mating area tends to saturate the area with desirable drones. This reduces the chance of mating with feral and/or unselected drones.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
463 Posts
In my isolated mating apiaries the drone providers are placed in the same apiary, along with the mating nucs containing the virgin queens, i have witnessed the queens being mated within the apiary quite a few times, often several virgins out mating at the same time, being chased by a comet of drones numbering from 20 or 30 to around 150, flying from just a few feet above ground to as high as can be seen, and usually within a hundred or so yards radius of the apiary. In more populated areas i have found marked drones turning up in hives eight miles from the hive they originated from, i believe they have been found to travel much further, as they are allowed in just about any hive, so they do this in stages... as Manley noted, this makes perfect sense really, why would a queen go on risky long distance mating flights with a chance of being eaten by a bird such as a swallow or some similar fate, it is not in the best interests of the survival of the colony, getting out, mated, and back in safety as quick as possible is.
But genetic diversity is also important, hence why the drones cover greater distances, go into any hives...and are much more expendable (if a few get eaten) because of their numbers compared to a valuable queen.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,711 Posts
how did you get so much drone comb in what appears to be a wooden perhaps foundationless frame?...
You are correct it's foundationless, I just put the frames with a starter strip in a hive and the bees build them into drone comb because the other combs are worker cos they were built on foundation.

Only trick is to remember drone combs are wider so leave the comb each side of it separated away from it a bit so the bees are comfortable it is a good place to build drone comb. The frames are wired in the normal way.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
916 Posts
I have three mating yards (one for each week of caging on a three week cycle). Each mating yard has 6 to 10 production colonies and the mating yards are centrally located in the middle of production yards that are 2 to 3 miles out providing more drones. I don't think you can have enough drones!!! I didn't originally flood the area for the sake of raising queens it was flooded to save on gas when driving from home to the out-yards, but has proven beneficial for queen rearing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I am still hoping for a more definitive answer as to why it is taught this way. I’m sure there is a very valid reason more than this is the way it has always been done.

However, it appears that lot of queen breeders are not using separate drone yards, but increasing the number of drones to about 10% or so, in their apiary. So would you say this is about the number of drones in your yards?

pine_ridge_farms – your three mating yard cycle makes a lot of since if you are rotating the queen cells to another yard reducing the chance of inbreeding.


Ron
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,711 Posts
It is taught that way because that is how it works in theory.

It is not always done that way due to the price of queens, which limits the ability to have your mating nucs surrounded by drone production hives at 2 mile distances from your mating yards in various directions. Some / most of the drones being produced 2 miles from the mating nucs would fly off in completely the wrong direction anyway.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks for all your comments on this! I thought I might be missing a key point in regards to rearing the best queens possible.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,773 Posts
I'll weigh in on the opposite end of genetic diversity.

Drone yards are for flooding an area with high quality drones with a specific trait being promoted, especially in an area free of other bees, and ideal at 1 mile from your mating nuc yard. Often drone colonies are subjected to special conditions that produce great numbers of drones. These drone colonies are graded and selected - others not making the grade are diligently snuffed out, and their mother is re-queened with better stock.

Mean, robbing, poor-wintering, and disease-prone bees that don't make much honey are mostly an expense - re-queen them, and do not let them breed!

Dr. Susan Ciobey consistently gets better results with instrumentally inseminated queens, as do many other I.I. queen breeders. This eliminates the need for drone yards, and ensures the mating of best queens with best drones, and allows the improvement of more than one line of genetics at a time, as well as many other techniques the breeder can employ. This is an important aspect of the future of bee breeding.

Since your operation is open-mating, and your bees are mating right there in the yard, just keep doing what you are doing, but make lots of queens and lots of drones, and be more selective about who you are going to keep.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
916 Posts
pine_ridge_farms – your three mating yard cycle makes a lot of since if you are rotating the queen cells to another yard reducing the chance of inbreeding.


Ron
All of our mother queens are II breeders and the drone yards are a huge mix of genetics from previous years breeders and other queen rearers having the same goals as myself. I am constantly testing and using other stock. My cells are raised in one mating yard out of those II mothers and the cells are transferred to the other two mating yards to be planted in mating nucs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,231 Posts
All of our mother queens are II breeders and the drone yards are a huge mix of genetics from previous years breeders and other queen rearers having the same goals as myself. I am constantly testing and using other stock. My cells are raised in one mating yard out of those II mothers and the cells are transferred to the other two mating yards to be planted in mating nucs.
pine_ridge_farms,

Sounds like you've got a nice system going! What kind of breeder queens are you working with?
 
1 - 20 of 22 Posts
Top