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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a book that says hat belo 70 degrees F the queen will not fly. Is this a hard and fast rule and does it also apply to virgin queens going on mating flights?

I raised an emergency queen and she emerged on the 16th of February. She is not laying yet and her 20 day 'fertility window' will be finished tomorrow. We've had a few sunny days in the 60-65 degree F range (including today, which may hit the high 60s).

Any wisdom on minimum temperatures for queen mating flights would be appreciated. Of course the queen also needs drones, but I have heard from several local beekeepers that they have spotted drones in their hives and since our swarm season is just starting up, I would have thought that this means that there are drones available by now.

-fafrd
 

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The drones reach fertility at 14 days +
You might want to give her a few more days.
I could have started grafting last month. But, experience has told me to wait until late March for good results
Ernie
 

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You will get a range of responses here. The concepts of a fertility window and mating temp need a little revision and further study. Basically I would give them a larger window if the weather conditions are not suitable to the task and a smaller window if the weather is consistently nice. I have seen many queens successfully mate after a three week weather delay. I have also seen hundreds, if not thousands mated at temps below 70.

I woulds suggest that the minimum temp may at least 5 to 7 degrees cooler. If there are drones coming and going and it is nice afternoon in the mid sixties the queens should be able to mate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I could have started grafting last month. But, experience has told me to wait until late March for good results
Ernie
Ernie,

I knew that to get the best results I should wait until March/April, but I'm just starting out and wanted to learn. I pulled a few frames and put them into my new observation hive and watched the whole process of them making an emergency queen. She may end up being a drone layer in which case I'll just pull another frame of freshly drawn and layed comb and try again...

Given that she emerged on February 16th, how long would you give her to start laying before giving up and starting over?

-fafrd
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The concepts of a fertility window and mating temp need a little revision and further study. I have seen many queens successfully mate after a three week weather delay. I have also seen hundreds, if not thousands mated at temps below 70.

If there are drones coming and going and it is nice afternoon in the mid sixties the queens should be able to mate.
JBJ,

my hives don't yet have any drones in them - both of my hives are still small and essentially nucs that are still building up.

This virgin queen was formed in my observation hive when I populated it for the first time with some frames of brood at the end of January. How long would you give the queen to start laying before giving up on her (she emerged on February 16th).?

-fafrd
 

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There were swarms in San Carlos and San Jose yesterday, so some bees near you think they can mate a queen. Most overcast winter I have seen in our area.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Most overcast winter I have seen in our area.
It has been one hell of a dark, damp, and cold late winter here in te Bay Area. Good for the drought but not good for the bees:(

I started all of this in early February in the hopes that I could learn if queens can successfully be raised in he Bay Area that early and specifically if they could successfully be mated by the early March.

Time is running out for this virgin queen (unless there are seasonal and/or environmntal factors that extend the classical 'fertility window' as dscovered by Huber - being stuck inside the hive during late winter becasue it is cold and wet outside is not the same thing as being artificially imprisoned within the hive for three weeks during the summer while it is 75 degrees and sunny outside as Huber experimented with long ago in reaching these classical definitions) but I will keep her around for as long as there are still bees in the observation hive (there has been no brood for almost three weeks now).

Unfortunately, given the El-Nino condtions of 2010, I may have chosen the wrong year to make this experiment and may need to try agan next year to reach a definitive concluson...

-fafrd
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
A quick update for those who have been following this thread. The queen started laying today, 24 days following emergence. I posted more details in the other thread on virgin queens and attendant behavior, but it appears that she succeeded to mate on one of the two sunny days we had recently that reached the low 60's (most of our weather since she emerged has been wet and cold - highs in the low to mid 50's).

-fafrf
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Are they fertile eggs? If they are then congrats... the books are not always right!
Yesterday I spotted royal jelly in some cells for the first time (three days after seeing the first laying behavior).

Doesn't this mean that the first eggs have hatched and I now have larvae and since they are in worker cells, doesn't that more or less mean that the eggs were fertile and the queen was succesfully mated? I know that in another week I can see the cappings to assure they are worker larvae and not drone, but I think the nurse bees would have removed drone eggs from worker cells before they added royal jelly, right?

-fafrd

p.s. the attendant behavior is now a ring of 8-10 bees like you see in the pictures and like I normally see around the queen in my two bigger colonies. The massive focus of almost the entire observation hive on the queen only lasted the first day when she first began laying. It seems like the entire small colony was pretty excited when the virgin queen first began depositing some fresh eggs following a dry spell of about 40 days without any!
 

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I hope your right, I made my splits on March 3rd. I noticed yesterday that the Queen cell was empty the hole was in the bottom, so that means she hatched and was not killed. Right?? I thought our weather was on the up swing but, it has been cool ever since I made the split. Today and the next 3 days are going to be beautiful finally. So everything should be ok, I've had drones now for over a month. I think we may see our first swarms of the year this weekend. I have the truck loaded up just incase. Good luck with your queen keep us updated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Good luck with your queen keep us updated.
First two cells of capped brood this morning. First frame is now full of open brood and the queen has been laying in the next frame up for close to a week now. The queen successfully mated around March 8th roughly 20 days after emerging on February 16th. There was very little sunshine in that period and the temperatures rarely broke from the mid 50's into the low 60's.

Don't know when she slipped out to mate, but my suspicion is that her late mating was due to lack of drones this early in the season and that mating can occur in temperatures as low as 60 degrees if there are drones present.

-fafrd
 

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I wanted to give you'll an update on my queen. I checked today and she has mated and started laying eggs. This was my first walk away split. I was so excited.
 

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Good for you! Congrats on your achievement
 
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