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Discussion Starter #1
One of my friends sent me a link that has the 3 pound bee packages for sale. One option was for clipped wings on the queen. That's the first I have heard of that. I know it would stop swarming...But what detriment would that have on a queen? How long would it work? That is...how long before a queen would regrow her wings back again. Or do they not regrow and is permanent? What do you guys know about this practice?
 

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The wings do not grow back after being clipped. It will not stop the colony from swarming, but it does buy the beekeeper some time. If you fail to notice the colony building swarm cells, and a prime swarm leaves, the queen will attempt to fly and flutter to the ground in front of the hive. A few workers remain with her and will ball her to protect her. When the swarm realizes the queen is not with them, they return to the colony they had left.

If the beekeeper is present when the swarm leaves he doesn't have to worry about losing the bees. He has time to gather equipment and make a division of the colony. He just retrieves the queen from the ground, cages her and puts her in the new division. When selecting the brood for the division, he picks the swarm cell he thinks will produce the best queen and removes the rest. This will prevent afterswarms.

There is no worry about high swarms that you will lose, no high ladders, no climbing your neighbors fence. Some worry about the queen being damaged when she is clipped, if the person doing the clipping is not experienced this can happen. Only 1/3 of a wing needs to be removed and this does no damage to the queen.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you AR! That's a very interesting way of controlling swarming to a degree. I had kind of thought the wings would grow out...but now know they do not. I had not heard of this type of procedure before.
 

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FYI - My instructor had/has the following view on clipping wings. Below is not quite verbatim but extremely close. I rememeber it as it really stuck out in my head.

"This is a barbaric practice leftover from a time when nobody knew any better. Mostly only the much older generation still do this, as it does nothing to prevent swarming and easily can lose your queen. This practice will likely die out when those practicing it no longer keep bees."

Obviously, he is not a fan of this practice.
 

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Dan, I would suggest your instructor should read scientific queen rearing by Gilbert Doolittle who has clipped the wings of all his hives queens ever since he lost a swarm from his first hive. He did not lose a queen or swarm for the rest of his life I believe.
Johno
 

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Obviously, he is not a fan of this practice.
Seems so. But I reckon at least the half of the World is still doing this. The professionals. It is not about loosing a queen, but not loosing a swarm! Bees return to the hive and the old queen gets lost in front of the hive. A landing board to the ground even makes her walk back up into the hive. Break or harvest surplus cells next time you visit the hive and you're done with it.
 

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>He did not lose a queen or swarm for the rest of his life I believe.

He also hired young kids to watch his yards for swarms. If you can catch them when they are still on the ground with the clipped queen, you can do something. If you don't catch it, they swarm with the next virgin out...
 

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I have a II breeder queen. Her right wing is clipped she is almost a year old now and so far haven't noticed any problems. I will be moving her to a nuc soon just to be on the safe side and to make it easier to find larva when grafting. I don't see anything wrong with it but, don't routinely do it on production queens.
 

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We have been clipping queens since hte late '30s, and have not seen any resulting damage to the queen. It is your choice.

Crazy Roland
 

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Discussion Starter #11
So the pros and cons...

If you don't clip a wing, the queen would at least survive somewhere else if she swarmed. If you don't check your hives that often and missed a clipped queen that tried to swarm I guess she would probably die eventually, since she would be on the ground nearby with a ball of bees. I think I would rather lose a queen and let her live some other place than die on the ground between hive checks. Hmmm...
 

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>Yeah...eight days later. Eight days is a lot of time.

It is if you're in the beeyard every day about 10 am to check... if you're not they have swarmed before you know it...

I have nothing against clipping wings, it just doesn't accomplish enough to be worth the effort except maybe on a breeder queen, UNLESS you have time to check the beeyard every day, which I don't.
 

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I strongly suspect that those selling clipped queens with packages are doing so to thwart initial absconding attempts. Last year we had a lot of first timers, hiving packages for the first time. I believe many of the absconding issues were related to new beekeepers installing in empty boxes, over screened bottom boards, not feeding, etc. Couple that with some strange weather that likely led to some poorly mated queens and it was a recipe for lots of complaints to package suppliers. I also saw hygienic bees working on chipping off last years red dot in the introduction cage and some people suggesting that 2 or 3 weeks after package install, the (now unmarked) fat, mated and well laying queen was a supersedure queen.


From the business perspective of a package supplier, I see the value. At least with the package supplier I know, they have enough experience that I’d trust the clipping gets done without damage. Most of the newbees are out there every day after they put in a package and despite the perceived barbarity of clipping, would rather find the clipped queen and a ball of bees on the ground than an empty hive 3 days after install.
 

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Don't understand what you mean. If you check a hive for swarm cells you do this on a regular basis.

Bees swarm once the first cell gets capped. So eight days from egg to capping. If you do not clip the queen the swarm is lost after eight days. So you need to check every week for cells. With clipped wings the swarm attempt fails. The old queen either returns to the hive or dies in the field. Either way you have to check the hive only every two weeks. It also helps if you missed one cell hidden somewhere on the comb. This way you loose a queen but not the swarm. So you keep the workforce which is necessary to make use of the honey flow.

If you keep good breeds removing the swarm cells one or two times is sufficient to stopp all swarming for this season. So a clipped queen and two hive checks for swarm cells is enough for swarm management. This is simply a time saver. If she still wants to swarm she is not worth keeping. So by dieing in the fields she is "selected" automatically. Such hives get a new queen which produces less swarms.
 

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>I strongly suspect that those selling clipped queens with packages are doing so to thwart initial absconding attempts.

All the "absconding" I've seen in recent years involved the bees moving next door and leaving the queen behind... but I can see the logic of the idea...
 

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So Redbug, pros and cons.
If the queens wings are clipped you have a chance at saving the queen and saving the hive for honey production.
You also have an opportunity to create a nuc with the queen.
You also have saved the queen and bees as before varoa only 24% of swarms survive their first winter
As for cons! I suppose you should spend more time with your hives, I appear to be quite lucky, the more time I spend with my bees the luckier I seem to get.
Johno
 

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I personally like to just mark the queen. I believe that clipping a queens wing increases the chance that the hive will reject her because they feel something is not right. Marking the queen ensures me that I still have the same queen as I did the last time I was here. I also try to check the hives as much as possible during swarm season.
Again, this is just me. I am sure that others like the practice of clipping, for me it just seems unnecessary. A good hive likes to reproduce and that is one of the characteristics I like.
Just try and stay one step ahead if possible.
 

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>I strongly suspect that those selling clipped queens with packages are doing so to thwart initial absconding attempts.

All the "absconding" I've seen in recent years involved the bees moving next door and leaving the queen behind... but I can see the logic of the idea...
We had a lot of new beeks loose the whole package days after installing in fresh clean top bar hives with screened bottoms. We put some brood comb in and had no issues.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
So Redbug, pros and cons.
If the queens wings are clipped you have a chance at saving the queen and saving the hive for honey production.
You also have an opportunity to create a nuc with the queen.
You also have saved the queen and bees as before varoa only 24% of swarms survive their first winter
As for cons! I suppose you should spend more time with your hives, I appear to be quite lucky, the more time I spend with my bees the luckier I seem to get.
Johno
Well...I am a new Beek, even though I had bees about 30 years ago. But times do change.

A visit to the bees at the farm at least once a week is good anyways. Interesting opinion from Chuck and a professional seller's angle. It makes sense.

Thanks Dave
 
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