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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have 3 hives which have requeened themselves over the past few years. Two hives are absolute non-producers, I haven't been able to take any honey off them for 3 years. Anyway I have several other hives I'd like to raise queen stock off of. There are other beeks in my area but not many. I'd like to reduce the chances my undesirable hives have of contributing to the queens I am going to raise this spring. Suggestions on how to eliminate them?

I thought about a combination escape board and excluder entrance but I think they would just join other hives if locked out. I have added drone frames to my best hives to increase their presence. Don't yet have an outyard to move the undesirables away to so that isn't an option yet and I need the new queens in order to cycle new genes into those hives.

Only thing I can think of is to add excluders to bottom of the undesirable hives during my queen mating flight periods in order to trap the drones inside their hives so they cannot join the DCA.

Any other ideas?
 

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Pick the hives you like and put in drone foundation. After you have some combs of drones put them in the undesirable hives. This will increase the desirable drones and decrease the drive for the undesirable hives to raise their own drones.

Here's Alley's method:
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesalleymethod.htm#destroying_drone-brood
 

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wfarler writes:
I have 3 hives which have requeened themselves over the past few years. Two hives are absolute non-producers, I haven't been able to take any honey off them for 3 years. The third has other flaws.

tecumseh:
given the general poor condition over the past three years in the vast majority of Texas I will assure you that there are a lot of other folks with hives that might be loosely described as non producers. these are the rule and not the exception.

I have no idea what 'other flaws' might suggest???

might I suggest... I employ a strategy of exhausive drone scratching (with a fork or capping scratcher) in the spring time for any hive that I know to not be of the best quality(s). typically I pluck 3 to 10 mature drone pupae* to determine if the hive has a varroa problem (and severity thereof) and then scratch all the drone cells (capped or not). I think???? this somewhat interrupts the varroa cycle plus somewhat hedges the drones in the area to those hives which demonstrate a lower mite levels.

*varroa investation on drone brood seems to me to be extremely patchy. that is you can pluck several mature drone pupae and find nothing and then discover a patch of drone cells with a fairly high investation level (multiple varroa on a single drone pupae). nothing really scientific about this... just casual observation.
 

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Why not just eliminate the hives that you don't want? It sounds as though you don't want the queens or drones from those hives, so why not just depopulate them and use the equipment for splits from the hives that you prefer?
 

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I would nuc them all. Honey bee mating systems are designed to naturally reduce inbreeding and any queens reared in a given apiary are unlikely to mate with drones from the same yard. Your undesirables could be a resource for making nucs and present an opportunity to assess some new queens.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Randomness

*given the general poor condition over the past three years in the vast majority of Texas I will assure you that there are a lot of other folks with hives that might be loosely described as non producers. these are the rule and not the exception.
When our best hope for breaking the drought is a hurricane we know it's been rough.

*varroa investation on drone brood seems to me to be extremely patchy. that is you can pluck several mature drone pupae and find nothing and then discover a patch of drone cells with a fairly high investation level (multiple varroa on a single drone pupae). nothing really scientific about this... just casual observation.
Actually there is a big gap in research inside the hive on varroa movement and selection. There are general findings around drone versus worker but the seasonal movements and in-hive location preference for drone brood that have never been studied. It could also just be that the 'patterns' are really just random.

I would nuc them all. Honey bee mating systems are designed to naturally reduce inbreeding and any queens reared in a given apiary are unlikely to mate with drones from the same yard.
Not having a lot of control over what is nearby and not having close outyards, I appreciate where I could read more about this. can you direct me?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
other flaws

wfarler writes:
I have no idea what 'other flaws' might suggest???
They are so populous in the fall as to make me thing they are overpopulated but fail to build stores - I mean in October the hives the hives look robbed out (which they may be) but full of bees. I feed but they don't take nearly as much as the other hives - maybe 1 1/2 gallons of heavy syrup - then the weird thing is they survive. Other hives with more stores have died out. These hives are 5 years without any treatment so I am sure they have superceded a few times. Original stock was RWeaver back in '04 which I think were Italians.
 

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They are so populous in the fall as to make me thing they are overpopulated but fail to build stores - I mean in October the hives the hives look robbed out (which they may be) but full of bees. I feed but they don't take nearly as much as the other hives - maybe 1 1/2 gallons of heavy syrup - then the weird thing is they survive. Other hives with more stores have died out. These hives are 5 years without any treatment so I am sure they have superceded a few times. Original stock was RWeaver back in '04 which I think were Italians.

If they are superceding, that might be why they aren't producing and why they might not have varroa issues too, correct. If their brood cycles are being broken they would have less workers to harvest polen and nectar and less brood available thereby keeping the varroa population from drastically increasing. But if they are surviving, that's a hard call. They must have some genetic trait worth saving.

Plus, how has the weather been there the last few years? If it's been too wet or dry that too would be another reason why they aren't producing as well too.

But I'm only a newbee so unfortunately I can't speak from experience with any suggestions....
 

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wfarler writes:
It could also just be that the 'patterns' are really just random.

tecumseh:
chaos theory is a pattern produced by random events.

I was suggesting that early in the sping varroa infestation seems to be more patchy than scattered. clustered if you will. early on when varroa hit europe drone scratching was considered an essential part of somewhat controlling varroa. some folks here still suggest it as a part of an integrated pest management system.

by your description the hive does sound to be extremely odd. I would suspect (like you have suggested) that constant superscedure may (+ your addition of a bit of resources at critical times) have kept them in the game.

a wfarler snip..
Original stock was RWeaver back in '04 which I think were Italians.

tecumseh:
rweaver thought that they COULD be also.
 

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. . .then the weird thing is they survive. Other hives with more stores have died out. These hives are 5 years without any treatment so I am sure they have superceded a few times. -wfarler
Evolutionary fitness and/or survival do not necessarily equate to "produces large stores" in honey bees.

What's best for the bees may not be what's best for the beekeeper.

If they're not up to your standards -- whatever those standards may be -- change (requeen) those bees, get rid of those bees, or change management to see if they might respond.
 

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"It has been shown that virgins very rarely mate with related drones, which reduces the chances of inbreeding, one of the perils to avoid in any controlled breeding scheme. " http://entomology.ifas.ufl.edu/sanford/apis/apis92/apsep92.htm

http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/as...459/drone-mother-colonies-number-position.pdf
"Best mating success has been reported when drone mother colonies are placed 2 to 2.5 Km away from the queen mating yard"

Considering the density of colonies around the congregation area and average flight ranges of males, the results suggested that most colonies within the recruitment parameter of a DCA delegated equal proportions of males to a DCA. Consequently, the relatedness of a queen to her mates – and ultimately the inbreeding coefficient of the progeny – should be minimal. http://www.beeculture.com/storycms/index.cfm?cat=Story&recordID=603

http://www.biobees.com/library/bee_breeding/DroneCongregationAreas.pdf
"...drones and queens from the same hive do not choose the same DCA"

In a nut shell honeybees being haplodiploid can become vulnerable to inbreeding and therefor have developed mating systems that avoid this. The two major ways this is achieved is through multiple matings and differential mating flight distances between drones and queens from the same hive.

There is some good science yet to be done on DCA's and some debate on the subject, however this does seem intuitive that honeybees would have natural systems to avoid inbreeding.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
thanks

good stuff - Thanks for the links!
 

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Let me see if I have all the facts here.

A. Bees that don't produce honey.

B. Bees that survive despite low reserves.

C. You are in Texas.

D. Bees have superseded numerous times.

Here is a possibility to consider....... African bees are known to be in much of Texas. African bees don't store nearly as much reserves as they did not need to survive a long winter in Africa. African bees are tough survivors despite poor environmental conditions.

African Hybrids are not always horribly defensive (but often are), so maybe your bees are Africanized and it happened slowly over time and you don't even know it.

I would consider requeening all the hives, both to get better stock AND to reduce the flow of African genes in your area.
 
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