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So the bee club has ordered a truck load of nucs and packages for general sale to members and the public. What can be expected in the way of queen quality? Are they just your run of the mill generic queen, able to keep a hive going, but without any special bells and whistles?
I’ve read many posts by folks who feel there are queens, and then THERE ARE QUEENS! Outstanding production queens bred for northern climates, very gentle to work with and produce good production brood.
They say that a “hot” hive of bees can be calmed down by requeening with a known gentle strain. So how does one find these “gentle strains”? Are gentle queens reproducible or is it just the luck of the draw?
Can you suggest a queen breeder who produces queens suitable for wintering in cold states (Michigan) and are also of a very gentle nature? I'm sure a gentle hive is a true pleasure to work with and half the battle!
 

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There are certainly hot-tempered queen lines from areas with a lot of AHB genetics. And from time to time a colony will seem more antsy in response to some specific stressor. Particularly at the end of the season when they have precious winter stores to protect they can be a little more assertive about their space.

But more commonly there are unskilled beekeepers who are unknowingly exciting the colony, which makes the hive seem unpleasantly hot. I've also had beginning beekeepers who somehow have acquired the idea that they will never get stung, so any sting equals a dangerously hot tempered colony.

I work my bees with bare hands. I still get stung on most days, but my bees are perfectly normal, European-tempered, mutt bees headed by locally-mated queens. I could easily change their temperament for the worse if I wasn't careful about how I handle them.

If you are looking for northern vigor or heavy honey production then those attributes are worth seeking out. But, in general, I would look to your own handling of your bees for answers to hot hives, especially if you are new and/or if you think all of your colonies are hot. Of course, if you live in areas where AHB are very common, then all bets are off.

Nancy
 

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Aylett, VA 10-frame double deep Langstroth
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All my bees were calm when they were nucs, even the ones i made from so called "hot" hives. As they hives grew, they became a little more testy. My handling most likely had something to do with it, along with the summer dearth, etc. Saturday, I ran into the calmest hive I have seen so far. Nothing I did seemed to upset them. That includes using an impact drill to screw in a board to the openinig of their hive, using a stapler to staple a screen to the board, and then shoving a piece of PVC pipe into their entrance. Not a bump or even a buzz bomb run. Just bees being bees. Very pleasant.
 

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able to keep a hive going, but without any special bells and whistles?
Whatever queens you get, they are unlikely to be set, and forget. Pretty much all bees will need some special bells and whistles. That is, unless you are OK with losing a good portion of them over a season or two.
 

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Gentle queens are not a myth...they do in fact exist! My wife really liked the queens we got from Honey Run Apiaries. She called them her “sweet bees.” http://www.honeyrunapiaries.com and...there are other places to get good quality queens too. Sometimes the best queens are the ones you raise yourself...and remember there are also good queens and poor queens even within a category. For example, you can have a good gentle Italian queen or a not so good one. You can have a good NWC queen or a not so good one, etc. Ahhh...the quest for the “perfect queen” has been the desire of beekeepers for years.
 
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