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Discussion Starter #1
After feeding the pigs this morning I figured I better check and make sure the hives are battened down with the storm that is coming. Long story short I've still got drones coming out for cleansing flights flights. Had them all fall and winter. Is this normal? Makes me wonder how early we could have mating flights this year... and would they still be viable?
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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Not really "normal" but not unheard of either.I would not trust the viability of the sperm from older drones. But if you still have them in the hive, I suspect you have a very strong and well provisioned hive. Drones and queens won't do the mating thing unril the temps are right. Just because you have them does not mean they will do you any good. I did not over winter any drones that I know of, but one of my strongest hives already has some drone brood in it, along with three partial frames of capped worker brood. This one will bear watching and may be worth grafting from later.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Just seems like a waste of a hives resources to carry drones over winter. Any idea how they might fit in with the clusters heating Dynamics? Mating flights in upstate NY wouldn't be until May. How long do drones live for and could there be winter drones? So much to learn. Next time I'm going to see if I can catch some and mark them.
 

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Drone sperm levels drops off after 30+ days, so they'd not be any use for mating.
Drones are retained in queenless hives much longer than queenright.
There's no chance that the queen - assuming one is present - has turned into a drone layer?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hopefully not. Had eggs and larva when I did my alcohol washes in the beginning of November. I've only seen 3-4 drones total amongst 4 hives. That's why I'm going to mark them different colors to see just how many and how long they are around.
 

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I had the same question. Thanks for the comments. What temps do they need for mating? Do warm climates have bees mating all year?
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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I seem to recall that the temps need to be mid sixties before the queen will go on a mating flight. I do know they prefer the mid day heat as most flights appear to take place between 2 and 4 pm. Maybe someone from South Florida or Southern California can answer the year round mating question.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Update on the drones. Haven't had flying weather for quite some time but I'm seeing dead drones in the snow underneath the entrance. Hard to say as to how many as the skunks are prevalent here. I've been watching Tim Ives on YouTube and I think he said that his drones start end of February/ beginning of March.
 

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This is my first winter with bees. I just checked the hive for the first time in a couple of weeks and there is a lot of drone comb. There is also some normal capped Brood. It looks like 2 drones to each worker brood cell. I am guessing that if the queen is running out of sperm then she will progressively lay more and more drone comb. It was too dark to look for eggs or larvae.
Comments?
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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You definitely should not be seeing a perponderence of drone brood in lieu of worker brood. Every time that has happened to me, the queen ultimately failed and the hive died.
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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That video does not look as bad as you described. The drone cells, while seemingly numerous, are exactly where drone cells are supposed to be on a frame in a healthy hive. At this point, I would wait to see if the cells in the center of the brood nest don't end up all being worker brood.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Evening. At what point does the hive start to re queen its self? And if it starts down that road, would they except a different queen? Of course if it's too early in the season this could be a moot point. Could you paper combine a queen right nuc if both units are clustered? And would the better queen succeed? Wow! Sorry for the rambling. Long night last night farrowing our first litter of piglets of the year.
 

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Cute piglets!
JW Thanks for your input. I saw scant larvae and no eggs today. High temps are in the 60-70 range. No drones in the second hive so assume mating would fail if I made a queen. I will wait a few days for a sign of promise (it is a one year old queen after all.)
Then what if she is a failed queen? Merge with the other hive?
No (zero) varroa in the drone brood (which I destroyed) so that’s good even though the hive is doomed.
 
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