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Okay, here is probably a dumb question but I'm throwing it out anyway. If worker bees can produce a new queen at will when the old queen fails or dies why do we need to buy new queens to requeen every so often?
 

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You don't *have* to do that, but its best to do it every other year or so to make sure you have a healthy productive queen. As the queens age, their productivity begins to slow down a bit.

At least, that's what I've read.
 

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Another thought to that is your 'new' queen might breed with drones that have undesirable charactoristics, stinging, execessive swarming, little honey production, etc.
By getting a new queen once in a while mixed into your apiary you keep good charactoristics, plus most of the reputable breeders have done extensive culling to create a 'good bee'. Years ago when I started bee keeping (1974, last century, ha ha) the idea was to keep bees that are agressive. Problem with that is it took away from enjoying keeping bees. I now can go out in a tee shirt, not use smoke that often and really enjoy my bees. Before the mite hit I ran about 100 hives. Now that I'm older I keep to 18, with 18 nucs on top of them. They winter that way. I also insiminate my own queens (NWC) from Susan Cobey, from Ohio State. Take a look at some of these webb sites out there. Gleen Apiaries, Strachan Apiaries, Ohio Queen breeders, Can-am Apiaries, and Susan Cobey(there are the people I deal with). They all will give you a brief discription of thier breeding goals. By purchasing one of thier queens every so often I avoid inbreeding and loosing my type of bee. It also depends what your looking for in your bees. I hope this helps you.
Dan
 

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You don't have to order queens every two years either.

People in the business just like to requeen every year, some in fall and some in spring.

They usually have gobs and gobs of hives.

What happens is this.....

They order say 15 queens, knowing that they're gonna visit several yards to inspect the brood pattern. So, they open the hives, check the pattern and if they don't like what they see, they find the queen, snuff her, and add a new queen, and on down the line, at each of the yards.

That's it. Plain and simple.

On the other hand, if you're hobbiest, and you are producing honey for family, friends and the local farmers market, you can just as well let the bees acclimate to your region/area, allowing them to mate with the local drones etc. Heck, they'll do it anyway, and you can't prevent it.

So it's just a matter of business plan and or personal goals....

Bees have never depended on queen breeders. Only beekeepers.
 

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Here in Kansas, I have never seen a really agressive honey bee. I am letting my splits raise their own.

If I lived in Southern Texas, where Africanized drones are wandering about, I would buy my queens as I don't want agressive bees.

It's a matter of personal choice, I think.
 

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If you have residue of Check mite or even a lot of residue of Apistan it's known to lower sperm counts in drones and shorten the life of the queen.

Assuming you don't, Jay Smith (famous queen rearer) in his book "Better Queens" on page 18 says "In Indiana we had a queen we named Alice which lived to the ripe old age of eight years and two months and did excellent work in her seventh year. There can be no doubt about the authenticity of this statment. We sold her to John Chapel of Oakland City, Indiana, and she we the only queen in his yard with wings clipped. This, however is a rare exception. At the time I was experimenting with artificual combs with wooden cells in which the queen laid."

I'm not suggesting that you keep yours 8 years, but I tend to keep them two unless they are doing poorly and more if I really like the genetics and want to get more queens from her.

As to genentics. I think you are better off to raise your own queens as long as they are doing well as they will breed with feral survivors, hopefully, that are adapted to your climate. Of course if all my bees got hot and mean, or totatly unproductive, I'd buy new queens in a heartbeat.
 

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Well stated MB. When I first started in beekeeping I tried various races. Midnights, italians, buckfast, etc. Wanted to see how each one worked. All were nice and pleasent to work with in the begining. Over time they started to mix and yes if your into beekeeping you know the outcome, when all these F1, F2 generations start to mix you get real HOT bees. I popped open one hive and it was a honey flow, nice weather, temps in the 80's. A cloud went up and I walked away with over 100 sings on my arms. They were so swollen that I could not move my elbows. This is what I was talking about. I could not wait to get a hold of that queen. It took me 2 months to find her and ......
Now a days we beekeepers have to becareful on keeping bees. Nieghbors are to quick to take you to court. As time went on I came up with a quiet bee, tolerent of me, produce honey, and not subject to AFB. Then the mite came in and killed them off. It has been a long time to get back to were I am now. Like I said it all depends what your looking for in your bees. You can't beat a bee that is from your area. They have the ability to live in you climate and will do well.
Dan
 

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Dan,

Regarding neighbors and litigation etc.

To the point.....

Never never agree with anyone who implies that your bees have stung anyone.

Frist of all,

You have No idea if it was one of your bees.

Just don't go there.

Bee Smart

[This message has been edited by Daisy (edited June 23, 2004).]
 

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Daisy, Been in the buisnees to long to admit it was one of my bees. I have 27 acres of land in upstate NY. I carved out a 2 acre area, from the woods, where I have my house and bees, and dogs, and grand kids, and .......etc
Most stings come from yellow jackets (hornets). I have NWC which don't even look like them. Just thought I'd let people know there will alway be someone out there trying to make a quick buck on someone else.
Thanks for the input though.
Dan
 

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Daisy has a point that is valid on several levels. First, it is actually DOUBTFUL that it is your bee. From my experience it's almost always a yellow jacket.

Second, it is just natural to want to take responsibility for anything that is your fault, but you really shouldn't assume that it is your bees and even if it is, that it's your fault. The world has to have bees to survive.
 

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why do we need to buy new queens to requeen every so often?

References: ABC & XYZ of Beekeeping and The Hive and the Honeybee.

The worker bees may select an older larvae and your natural queen is a mesomorph.
Queen breeders graft larvae under 24 hours old as we know that we can produce a queen with full reproductive capacity. Research has been done on the number of egg producing tubules. Our goal is 180 tubules per ovary per side!
Maintain genetic qualities.
Prevent supercedure during spring build up or honey flow.
Prevent winter dead outs and low frame counts for pollination.
Uniformity, disease resistance, mite resistance uniformity in capping wax, and much more.
Good beekeepers requeen annually and some twice annually
When top prices are paid for high frame counts for pollination,$165.00/ hive in almonds, it is required to requeen!
Why are there going to be 3.2-3.4 million hives in California in a few days. $$$$$$$$$$$$$ for alnond pollination. Why are there 15,000 hives staged along i-5 owned by one beekeeeper in California? $$$$$$$$$$$$ for almond pollination.
We need productive queens because we feed the hive for big populations and bigger populations produce more honey. We essentially burn out the queen.
Here is a question back to you. Why does'nt a poultry egg producer keep the hens for a second laying season? The answer is that it is cost prohibitive. You have to feed the old hen throughout the molting and back into production at a reduced number of eggs in that 2nd laying season. I think that we all know a few chicken jokes that would also explain the answer. But, I will not go there.
The bottom line is that we have too much invested in the colony to be cheap and not requeen properly. We have beekeepers and bee havers. One will not stay in business.
Regards,
Ernie--A Southern California queen Producer located in Ventura County.
 

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Bees will definately supercede when the old queen starts to fail, unfortunately the old queen doesn't look at the calandar to see when that should be. I have lost some hives because the queen failed in late Sept or Oct and the virgin queens produced were unable to find drones to breed to. The simplest way to go on a small scale is to do an artificail swarm right after the main honey flow and re-combine when the new queen starts laying well. When you do it that way you can wait a couple of months to see how you like the new queen before you squish the old one and the combined hive will be real strong for any fall flow you may have. The virgin queen will have emerged at a time when drones are plentyful and should mate with enough drones to keep producing well into the next season.

Another riskier method which seems to produce very good queens is to push a hive to swarm conditions by crowding and feeding them heavily. You have to watch them close and examine every frame at least once a week, but once they start building swarm cells you can usually harvest half a dozen, and in my experience swarm cell queens are almost always very good. The down side is, miss one queen cell on your examination and you will lose about a third of your bees to the resulting swarm. You can take the queen out to stimulate queen cell production, but that usuallly produces mostly wimpy cells and not the best queens.

The Jay Smith method that MB refered to is excellent for those of us who can't see very well anymore and it produces queens of the same quality you can get from swarm cells, but it does require more colonies and more bees and is more time consuming if all you want is a few bees for some backyard hives.
 

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BTW Terri, there is no such thing as, "Southern Texas"; only South Texas. Same for North Texas, West Texas, and East Texas. There is also no such thing as too much Texas (or Texans). :)
 

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Also the Panhandle, the Blackland Prairie, the Piney Woods, the Gulf Coast, the Hill Country, the Cross Timbers, etc. Texas is a whole world (or at least a country) of it's own.
"Texas is a state of mind. Texas is an obsession. Above all, Texas is a nation in every sense of the word. And there's an opening convey of generalities. A Texan outside of Texas is a foreigner.”
John Steinbeck
 

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Don't queen rear with your honey hives

Are you talking about having your honey hives just make their own queens?
Generally you want to requeen your honey hives instead of allowing them to do it themselves because you want to have a top notch queen building your hives up. Having a huge honey hive make it's own queen causes 2 big problems:

1. IMO queenless hives are less productive during the queenless period (less motivated)
2. The queenless period will leave you with a gap where no eggs are being laid so the hive's population will drop once those missing eggs should be turning into new bees.

If you want to rear queens on your own, then use a system that makes sense. Don't waste your huge honey hives by giving them the task that 1/100th of their population could do. Queen producers (most of them anyway) aren't price gouging. Producing a high quality queen takes effort. If you could take the lazy or cheap way without repercussions I assure you we would all be doing it (not that you shouldn't question it).
 
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