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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
If a person is keeping a single colony, and there are no other colonies within say 10 miles of it, what would happen when the colony attempted to swarm?

What happens if the virgin queen can find no mate from another colony?

Adam
 

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I can't think of any reason that they wouldn't swarm. If there were absolutely no bee colonies within ten miles, the swarm queen would probably mate only with her brothers. Inbreeding would be an issue.
 

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As far as I know, there are no problems with a new queen being fertilized by her predesessor's drones. That is essentially the same thing that happens with "purebred" bees anyway, right?
 

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It's the conditions within the hive that determine if the colony will swarm or not. The presence of other bees in the neighbour has no effect on this. As swarming is the way honey bees reproduce themselves, it is going to happen if you don't control your colony for it.

If there is no other colony within a good range, mating of a virgin queen will be more hazardous but drones can cover great distances to mate (I think I saw 87 km reported in a study, but I don't remember where I put it...and really 87 not 8.7).

If a queen mate only with her brothers, inbreeding could be a problem (can be detected by the presence of sparse brood). Drones result from unfertilized egg and have 1 copy of each gene. Workers and queens result from fertilized egg and have 2 copies of each gene. If the 2 copies of many genes are the same in a fertilized egg it will give a drone but workers eat the larvae of these drones resulting in sparse brood.

I don't know what percentage of the genes need to have similar copy to produce a drone from a fertilized egg.

You can check the inbreeding status of a queen by counting, in the worker brood, the number of empty cells in a area of 100 cells.
 

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>what would happen when the colony attempted to swarm?

They will swarm.

>What happens if the virgin queen can find no mate from another colony?

She will find a mate.
I am sure many of you and especially you Michael know more than I, but I asked this question before and received no answer. My dad owns a farm in BFE TN. While helping him work at his farm and 2 others, we noticed their were no bees. LOTS of ground bees and Bumblebees, but ZERO honeybees at any of the farms. Bewtween the 3 farms, they cover about a 20 mile distance(not the farms themselves, but just locations between the 3) Blue and Black berries were in bloom in both locations, as well as everything else. There was not a single bee at any of the three. How then would a virgin queen be mated in a colony with no drones. His had no drones at all, they did indeed swarm and he has a virgin queen no doubt now(they swarmed in late Nov during a warmup)......what to do..... The location in BS that I asked this noone answered. The guys talked alot about DCA's but they avoided my question.....will the colony produce drones for her to be mated at that point. How long(other than the obvious colony survival rate) will they tolerate a queen that is not mated? Many questions and some ignorance on my part, but I have always wondered what the answer was....
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I agree with devdog here,

Michael's response is appreciated, but it really just says 'trust that all will work out'. Which is fine if you know enough to feel that way, but it doesn't help us understand what is happening. Maybe it's not really understood well by anyone - that's fine too.

Alwin's response suggests that drones travel so far, that true isolation is unlikely.

Inbreeding may also occur...

To this point, I don't understand what an isolated hive might do to reproduce, and there are areas with no honeybees. i understand a large area of China is one of them. It seems important to consider questions like this one if we are to understand how areas might build up healthy bee populations.

Adam
 

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They will swarm even if no other drones are around. I don't remember a hive swarming that didn't have any drones. If they did, you wouldn't want those genes around for long (stupid bees).

When I kept only 3 hives, it seemed that queens that I raised didn't last long. Like they weren't well mated.

So the queen will mate with drones from her own hive if that is all that is around. If there are no drones, she won't get mated. I have heard that a virgin needs to mate within about 3 weeks.
 

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Well, Virgin or not(been too cold) my Dads hive swarmed. The old queen and the rest died off, and we are unsure if she is mated or not. Its a sticky situation, but they left for some reason. He is feeding them when it allows to help them through if possible....I just know that there was not a single drone in that hive....no where, new or old....
 

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There are times that queens don't get bred or bred well. This has more to do with weather and the time of year etc. and less to do with other hives around. Keep in mind that one hive has a variety of genetics in it do to the number of drones the queen mates with. Granted the drones tend to be less varied as they come only from the queen, but they are still not clones of each other, they are created by a mixture of the diploid genetics of the queen, so they are not all identical. So even if there are no other colonies around (a doubtful situation since the queen will fly seven miles to find a DCA if she has to) there will be drones from your colony and for one or two generations this may suffice. After that, assuming a total lack of drones from other sources, you may need some new genetics to avoid too much inbreeding.
 

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I agree with devdog here,

Michael's response is appreciated, but it really just says 'trust that all will work out'.

To this point, I don't understand what an isolated hive might do to reproduce, and there are areas with no honeybees.

Adam
Perhaps you are worrying about things that aren't apt to happen. Even though varroa has done as much damage to the feral colonies as it has to the managed colonies, there are lots of colonies out there in the environment that you and I don't know about. So, unless your isolated colony is really truly isolated, such as on an island far from shore, there are probably plenty of drones avaiable to mate w/ the queen.

As far as mating w/ her brother drones goes, one generation of intracolony fertilization won't hurt things as badly as you might think.

Yes, there are areas in China w/ no honeybees, according to a film that I saw. Personally, I'm not worried about that. The lack of pollination in China has little impact on our food supply. At least at this point.

It is early winter yet. Me thinks thou dust worry too much. Learn more, worry less.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks Michael.

Mark, I'm not worried about anything in the slightest. My questions haven't got anything to do with worry. They have to do with interest. As I get into a subject, I tend to think about it a lot - and given that it's the beginning of winter here, this is a good time for just learning about the bee from people like yourself.

I have had a certain amount of exposure to the bee from helping my father and grandfather with them over the years. So now I'm just asking questions about whatever comes to mind.

It's all part of being excited about the subject.

Adam
 

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Adam, I understand. Get yourself some books and maybe an online beekeeping class or two. I can tell by your questions that you are an intelligent person. I would just suggest not thinking so hard. But don't stop thinking.

Like the heating a hive question. Look at how bees survive cold climates w/out human interaction. That will tell you something about how necassary heating a hive is and what the ramifications of doing so would be.
 
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