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There are those in our bee club that teach buying a queen is better than having a hive raise one. The reasoning is that the success rate for a naturally raised queen making it back from her mating flight(s) is very poor.

Is it safer to just buy one? What do you do?
 

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My opinion, If you buy one, she is ready to lay sooner of course, as long as they accept her. It would only seem natural to lose some queens on mating flights, I just had one return, first time for me, and shes fat and sassy, so Im gonna let em try on their own from now on unless I am in a pinch.
 

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Virtually all commercially sold queens experience mating flights. The only alternative is instrumentally inseminated queens, which are relatively expensive due to the human labor.

The significant delay in brood production from allowing a walkaway split to raise their own queen is certainly a factor to consider. But that isn't really as much of a factor if you are just talking about allowing a hive to supercede their own queen.

There are risks to everything. A purchased and introduced queen could be rejected/killed, especially if there is a virgin queen loose in the hive that you weren't aware of. Cost and availability of purchased queens is a form of 'risk', and if something goes awry in the shipping process you may be left scrambling for alternatives.


I let my bees raise their own queens. But I understand why others choose differently. :)
 

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Last year my three early queens all made it back from mating but my late queens went missing.

This year so far I have had one out of three go missing, but that one may have left with a swarm. I am waiting to see about a fourth. It is really cool when you first see the new queen they made and her first eggs or larvae.

I don't know exactly what the difference is between the timing but it seemed to matter. I wonder if it is the dragonfly population is nonexistent right now but up later in summer.

I am still learning but right now I am enjoying letting them requeen themselves. If that fails I can purchase a replacement or combine. Nice to have options.
 

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First year, I purchased queens. Had one arrive crispy, had one balled and another never layed an egg.
Now I am raising my own and the overall experience of beekeeping is greatly enhanced.

Also, you might check out mdasplitter.com and learn about the benefits of mite control thru the brood break that comes from raising queens.
 

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All good points! However, sometimes you want to change/improve genetics in your hives and buying a queen is the fastest way to do that. Last year I introduced VSH genetics into my hives for the first time. What a difference! So, yes, sometimes buying a queen is a very good investment indeed.

JMO

Rusty
 

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Local queens can be great - you need to consider the flying conditions and available drone populations for mating if you choose to make your own. A purchased queen does have introduction risk, but most generally they are mated and ready to go. If you do some research before buying your queens your odds of being happy with the purchased queens increases.
 

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>There are those in our bee club that teach buying a queen is better than having a hive raise one. The reasoning is that the success rate for a naturally raised queen making it back from her mating flight(s) is very poor.

I would say the success rate of purchased queens is deplorable. I'd rather risk a mating flight, the odds are better.

The better argument is probably time, but if you figure it takes you a lot of trouble to find someone to sell you a queen, a few days to a few weeks to get them to ship the queen and then sometimes it takes two weeks for those queens to start laying, and then you have the issue of acceptance, I think it's easier and just as fast to let them raise their own. That's not counting the improvement in quality and that you get a locally mated queen.

>Is it safer to just buy one?

No.

>What do you do?

I let them raise their own.
 

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There are those in our bee club that teach buying a queen is better than having a hive raise one. The reasoning is that the success rate for a naturally raised queen making it back from her mating flight(s) is very poor.

Is it safer to just buy one? What do you do?
Four queens "purchased" this year. One was rejected the first night. The second was killed or died shorter after laying (laid some worker brood then went drone layer). The other two are doing OK, but have only been hived for ten days.

If I can get some to survive I'm hoping to maybe requeen later this year with a Bush queen and get them rolling into the winter with something I'm a bit more confident in. Of the four queens I got one ONE was Carniolan... all were supposed to be.

My dad kept bees for a good number of years with my grandpa (15-20 years maybe?). He said they NEVER had problems with package bees having bad queens or poorly mated queens or drone layers or immediate supercedures. I've tried explaining to him that from what I've read, the package bee industry isn't what it used to be. Of course he just kind of dismisses me because of "how it was".
 

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I figure I can raise them as good as a purchased one, and the adventure of raising them myself is priceless.
If it's not priceless, it probably won't cost $25 plus shipping... buying everything takes the fun out of it. Start by just doing a split and let the bees make a queen or 2.
 

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"At the outset, I shall undoubtedly be met by those inevitable “Yankee questions” - Does Queen-Rearing pay? Would it not pay me better to stick to honey-production, and buy the few queens which I need, as often as is required?

"I might answer, does it pay to kiss your wife? to look at anything beautiful? to like a golden Italian Queen? to eat apples or gooseberries? or anything else agreeable to our nature? is the gain in health, strength, and happiness, which this form of recreation secures, to be judged by the dollar-and-cent stand-point of the world?

"Can the pleasure which comes to one while looking at a beautiful Queen and her bees, which have been brought up to a high stand-point by their owner, be bought? Is the flavor of the honey that you have produced, or the keen enjoyment that you have had in producing it, to be had in the market?

"In nothing more than in Queen-Rearing, can we see the handiwork of Him who designed that we should be climbing up to the Celestial City, rather than groveling here with a “muck-rake” in our hands (as in “Pilgrim's Progress”), trying to rake in the pennies, to the neglect of that which is higher and more noble. There is something in working for better Queens which is elevating, and will lead one out of self, if we will only study it along the many lines of improvement which it suggests. I do not believe that all of life should be spent in looking after the “almighty dollar;” nor do I think that our first parents bustled out every morning, with the expression seen on so many beekeepers' faces, which seem to say, “Time is Money” The question, it seems to me, in regard to our pursuit in life, should not be altogether, “How much money is there in it?” but, “Shall we enjoy a little bit of Paradise this side of Jordan."--G.M. Doolittle, Scientific Queen Rearing

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesdoolittle.htm
 

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As Rusty pointed out, there are very good reasons on why you might want to buy queens raised elsewhere. Genetics are obviously the key issue and can have a very dramatic change to your beekeeping success. If you already have good stock, and I believe that its not that common, then by all means make your own. However, some newbees wouldn't know good stock if they were staring at it, but hopefully you've got the basic skills to properly assess a queen for breeding potential. Queen rearing is a basic skill that all serious beekeepers should attempt to acquire. Not having good control of your mating area is another potential reason on why you might want to buy commercially produced queens. I see you're in Norfolk. I caught a swarm in Norfolk about 6 years ago that turned out to be the meanest bees I ever encountered (did I say EVER!!), so not all feral bees are good bees to breed your new queen with, particularly if you live in the city. Losses on mating vary quite dramatically throughout the season. Right now, prior to the build up of natural predators, mating success is very good, but come July and August, there can be a dramatic decrease in successful returns.

Not quite sure of the reason behind the MB statement: "I would say the success rate of purchased queens is deplorable." I've gotten over 50 queens in the last year, and haven't lost a single one - just got new pure VSH last week and she looks great. I've been getting queens for 14 years (a few each year), and sure some are lost, but "deplorable" - hardly. This post is about queens not specifically package queens. Package queens seem to be much more variable, but there are good suppliers for them as well.
 

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Try post #14 by jwcarlson.
Not clear to me if he's talking about package queens or other. I'll admit that some queens in packages have had "issues". However, when you buy quality from reputable suppliers, your chances are greatly improved. Add to that some basic skills in requeening, like the early identification of acceptance issues, etc, then requeenings would be much more successful. Requeening is a skill, and not every new beekeeper is going to get it right the first few tries. I recall back a good number of years ago when our club had a master beekeeper come into our area for demonstration of requeening. The club selected one of my yards to do the practical part, and watching the master do his work was extremely instructive, and resulted in major improvements in my success rates. Perhaps some of the issues are purely technique?
 
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