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I am getting ready to make a split using frames from two relatively strong hives using a purchased queen, most likely a Carniolan hybrid. What I have been thinking about is to use a mated or virgin queen?

I can think of pluses and minuses for both and would like to hear your thoughts, here goes...

Mated queen - Positive aspects would include she is ready to start laying and will most likely be accepted by the bees. Whether or not she is a productive queen or not will be seen later. Negatives include that I am in MN and a lot of these queens are coming from much warmer climes, so hardiness is not gauranteed. Another one is cost. While I realize that $25-35 is not all that much, I am on a limited income and have to stretch every dollar my family has, so ...

Virgin queen - I have found one supplier selling them for $10, a bit more reasonable. Other positive traits include the chance for the queen to mate with drones from my survivors, and other local bees, I really like that idea quite a bit. Negatives would include that there is no gaurantee she will successfully mate, and also make it back to the hive. Also, will the bees accept a virgin queen? I have read a few other threads here and it sounds like some folks have had mixed results with virgin queens.

I have successfully done walk away splits, but do not want to loose the time to a completely homemade queen, I just feel that we do not have enough time in MN most years for them to successfully build up their numbers and overwinter. I am still pretty new to all of this and I am just interested in what ya all think. I am not married to either of these ideas yet, but I am going to have to decide what to do pretty soon. Thanks....
 

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$10.00 seems high for a virgin to me. Must cost as much for shipping as it does for the queen.
 

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Yup, ya never know. I pay under $5.00 for cells. Never bought a virgin. Just seems high to me. But maybe it's the normal price.
 

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I am selling my virgins queens for $10 each. But keep I mind I am the only producer of local queens. IF my customers want to take a two (4 hour round trip) hour trip over the hill I have heard of prices as low as $3 each.

As for the mated vs virgin. I had a two week spell that was terrible getting virgins introduced. I have not been able to discover a definite reason for this yet. Otherwise I get round a 50% acceptance and mated queen rate.

I tend to agree with the locally mated thinking but I also like the locally produced queen thinking as well. I have seen a lot of comments that shipping and the disruption to laying it has on a mated queen causes her to never be as good as she once was. so even a great laying queen will be harmed once shipped. No idea personally if that is true. I pay a lot of attention to avoid restricting the production of a newly mated queen.

There are some caged introduction methods for virgin queens that have been recommended to me by several people. They involve caging the queen on a frame of capped brood. allowing her time to gain some loyal subjects before being subjected to the masses within the colony. I have not tried it with a virgin introduction yet but I did attempt something similar in caging a breeder queen on comb. it failed. the bees simply ate through the comb and released her. I am thinking you will need to use plastic foundation to keep a queen trapped on any sort of comb. Maybe others can jump in with their experiences and methods.

In the end any queen introduction at this point is nerve wracking to me. Best to just have a hive that supersedes and moves on. they seem to be much better at it no mater what way you go. I do believe that if it is true that bees are better at making a new queen and successfully gettign her mated then it is possible for me to improve as well. I just need to understand how when and why the bees do it.

I will add to your list of pluses for virgin queens. you can purchase them in the first few days after they emerge. ship them in that first 4 to 5 days that they would not otherwise be flying. and have them ready with minimal disruption to their development prior to any mating flights.
 
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