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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In the past when using southern packaged bees I have had a low winter survival rate. I have had pretty good success with local (New England) nucs that have already wintered once.

My question is, as I am starting again after a long hiatus, having sourced a package of bees from Georgia (via Better Bee), is it a good idea to requeen with a northern bred queen? I think it is, but the timing in the first year of their new home is making me a touch nervous. The package will arrive some weeks ahead of a new queen, and I'm definitely not planning on leaving them in their travel box. I'm worried that introducing a new northern queen in their first season will be just as detrimental as trying to winter on southern queen stock...Is there a time which makes more sense? Early, later, not at all?

Sorry for the rambling. I appreciate any thoughts on the matter.

Thank you,
Matt
 

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Hard to say on the winter season for Northern states... But in "theory", you could order a new queen for arrival a month+ after your package has been installed/started. You could pull a frame of brood and the queen into a nuc box and place the new queen in a cage with candy or under a screen to get her accepted.

The only concerns are if the nuc has enough time to build up and if the new queen will be accepted. I've never had a lot of problems getting a new queen accepted, but sometimes the nucs don't build up fast from a 1 frame split.

Someone in the northern states would have to answer if you'd have enough time to accomplish this.. In the south, I'd have no concerns doing it, assuming I got my package started soon enough.
 

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In the past when using southern packaged bees I have had a low winter survival rate. I have had pretty good success with local (New England) nucs that have already wintered once. My question is, as I am starting again after a long hiatus, having sourced a package of bees from Georgia (via Better Bee), is it a good idea to requeen with a northern bred queen?
Check out Overland's work on this very question. They found that requeened packaged bees did better than packages. They are now in a 3rd study.
http://mysare.sare.org/mySARE/ProjectReport.aspx?do=viewRept&pn=FNE10-694&y=2010&t=1

http://www.nesare.org/Dig-Deeper/Pictures-Stories-and-Video/Video-vault/Winter-hardy-bees
 

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Question is : Do the bees do better cause its a Northern queen or do they do better because the hive is going into the winter with a younger queen?
 

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This was a great study...and I agree with it 100%.
But let's break down the details a little and understand WHY the Northern queens out performed the southern ones.

I don't think you can really compare a Northern bred queen and one that has come from a Southern package after pollination services are complete. Their genetics, conditions under which they have been reared, previous work load and exposures are totally different. Not to mention the time of year they were mated.

The overwintered Northern queens are not only bred for cold climates, they are predisposed to the long inactive period we endure overwinter. But this long inactive period gives the Northen queen advantages too. Extended brood break for natural mite control and conservation of semen stores. They aren't usually reared near commercial crops and all the exposures that go with them. If the study queens were the same age, a northern overwintered queen that has laid a eggs for 6-12 weeks, then shut down all winter is now more mature and just coming into her prime, compared to a queen bred for pollination that has been in service for months laying hundreds of thousands of eggs now coming into the back end of her prime..
They are expected to produce all summer and overwinter once again before assessment.

Some of the younger southern queens are mated very early in the spring when days are short and weather is unpredictable. It is due to demand from the consumer for early packages that this is done, but you can't compare that to a small Northern queen rearer that has the luxury of getting their queens mated in the summer months. Unless I just missed it, it was not clear in the study the age of the southern package queen. I'll have to go back and look.

They are both technically 'Queens' but the southern queen out of an early package is exposed to and reared under more stressful conditions. And don't forget, they are bred to achieve one thing..large early build up of population for pollination. Northern queens are many times bred for hardness, reliable controllable production for the hobbyist/honey producer and overwintering adaptability.
I think there was one group left out of this study. Southern queens reared as the Northern Queens usually are. Mated in summer months and away from commercial crops with the same prior work load. I think you would find the obvious difference in the amount of brood raised during periods of dearth and wintertime consumption of feed resources would still give the advantage to the Northern queens.

While this study shows very well what management the consumer should consider with newly purchased Early spring packages, it is not a fair -all things equal-assessment of queen quality simply due to geographical differences.
It's clear requeening with Northern stock is highly advantageous for the beekeeper. But there are many reasons why, that I don't think were addressed in the study. You have to also consider the nature of the southern queen. Instead of considering the Northern's to be better, realize the southern's are simply just doing what they were bred to do. They are different

Just my opinion of course :)

I'd like to see a formal study on the overwintering differences between:
Established southern nucs with southern queen, established southern nucs requeened with a nothern queen and northern overwintered nucs. (Not nucs made recently from packages)
Some with no treatment, some treated for mites, some with correctly timed brood breaks and strictly organic methods for mite control.

In some respects, I've already done the study, like many others that have figured out how to successfully overwinter colonies.. Would the results really be surprising ?
A study like this would have to consist of a substantial number of control groups and several beekeepers in different regions to account of slight management differences, exposures and different genetics of the test subjects. I'd like to see the colonies followed for at least two years and note the supercedure rate and longevity of the queens involved.

Who is up for the challenge? Maybe We should apply for a grant.
 

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how many southern packages for how many years are you basing your queen failures on? No argument here that northern queens COULD do better but it makes no sense to squish a newly mated southern for a northern. I have had good success with GA, CA and HI queens here in MI. If you set on using northern find a bee keeper near you and buy racks of brood not packages.
 

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The overwintered Northern queens are not only bred for cold climates, they are predisposed to the long inactive period we endure overwinter.
The queens used in the study to re-queen weren't overwintered. They were raised in the second half of June. How do I know? I raised the queens that Overland used.

I agree about the package queens being raised when the conditions aren't the best, and that those queens aren't selected for what we need in the north. I'm not so sure about the acclimatized part. I would like to raise some queens from package queens, and see how they did compared to the queens I raise from my own stocks. That would be a better test of nurture vs. nature.
 

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Just to clarify as my guess is folks were more prone to read the abstract and not the details.
There were three groups.
Colonies started from Southern raised packages and their queens
Colonies started from Overwintered nucs from the North East (i.e., overwintered queens)
Colonies started from packages and requeened with Northern raised queens that Spring/Summer
 

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Very interested on learning how this turns out as a brand new bee haver.. What im understanding so far is Younger queen going into winter with correct amount of stores... a bit of luck and she( they ) should do alright coming out of the frosty wisconsin winter ..No matter where she started from ( location)

Randy

One Honeybee at a time....
 

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Would two months younger really matter?
My experience says Maybe.. Dependent on where on the calendar the two month lie and that relationship to maximum egg shooting days for that queen region. This partly depends on location of course. A possible way to test if it was the mating time vs the egg shooting time would be to integrate a test where early mated queens were repressed of their egg laying capabilities and then put back into production alongside a summer mated queen.
 

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I'd agree with Micheal Palmer. It's been my experience that early season queens from the south/packages are more than a little lack luster. Some of them are outstanding, but I'm not sure if the amount of duds, drone layers, supercedures out way the early time.

I understand the excitement of wanting to get buys, but if all things were equal... I'd rather have May/June queens than Mar/April.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks for the quick reponses everyone!

As far as your remarks on timing Kevin, they caused me to give myself a headsmack...and thank you for that. My package is coming last week of April/first week of May - and for whatever reason (my guess is the well worded prose on the website) I had locked in on one particular apiary, white oak, whose queens will be ready on May 15th for shipment. The greatest concern for me was bees stressed from traveling arriving on the 10th of may being requeened on the 16th, which I'm guessing is less than optimal. If I am correct in this thinking, then I must resource northern queens to give the hives a chance to get going before I start fiddling with them.

As far as you, whitevines, thanks for bringing the overland study back to my attention...as I've been out of the game for a while, I've found myself binging on bee information. Sometimes that leads me to hop around a bit, and while doing so, I had seen the video on youtube (and as a side note I reccomend apple tv to every...youtube takes on a whole new life on a 40" screen - bees everywhere!) but had failed to actually sit down and digest the written study. It was definitely a help thankyou.

Speaking of youtube, if you are the same Mike Palmer that lectured at the 2013 National Honey Show, I just wanted say that I really enjoyed your lectures about keeping bees in the frozen north and the sustainable apiary. Everyone north of the Mason Dixie line should watch them! Honored to have your input.

Lauri, great breakdown...What we need is an Apiary working in each of the hardiness zones AND in each time zone across the country to take into account all of the country's seasonal variances to work on your concept for the study...then we could get all of the answers in one fell swoop. That would be one heck of a grant proposal!

Thanks again to everyone. Sorry if I missed anyone, my triplets (5 next week) are running around the house and I get to do things like this in bits and pieces!
 

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I'd agree with Micheal Palmer. It's been my experience that early season queens from the south/packages are more than a little lack luster. I'd rather have May/June queens than Mar/April.

Not so sure the dates have anything to do with it beside there relationship to their location. In queen raising the old adage that " the bees know best" would be a great rule to following in timing our queen raising. I have always been under the impression that queens raised to be hatched at the time when hives in my area are generally known to throw their primary swarms of the spring is a good guiding principle in deciding grafting dates. The bees know when the best food is out there for raising the best queens. That date might be April 10 in my area and a month later for Lauri and three weeks after that for Mr. Palmer. Its less about the dates than it is about the timing in relationship to ones location.

On a side not I think that many of the southern queens ( including CALI) are done at least two to three weeks prior to what I would call "optimal dates"
 

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It will be interesting this year as the Cali queens/rearing conditions have been and likely will continue to be, supplimentaly fed for an extended period of time. Daylight temps are above normal, yet day Length is still short. Drones should be a plenty.

I guess we will see the results in a few months.
And as we typically do, we will really see the results next year, when all things considered can be evaluated..
 

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Honey-4-All,

Very well said! There is an optimal time period each year for raising queens. It can vary by several weeks from one year to the next. Watch the bees, they will tell you when it is time, not the calendar.

Joe
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Everyone South of the Mason Dixon line too (how DID I end up here?) should watch them and all of the videos that will ultimately be uploaded to that site by MP and the other lecturers. Found here: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiOtIebcpY0Zqqma0H5wLYQ
lol, just a reference to a part of Mr Palmer's speech on overwintering in the far north and working to become selfsustaining (other than reordering southern packages each year). No offense intended! :lookout:
 

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>is it a good idea to requeen with a northern bred queen?

Yes.

>I think it is, but the timing in the first year of their new home is making me a touch nervous. The package will arrive some weeks ahead of a new queen

Which is fine.

> and I'm definitely not planning on leaving them in their travel box.

Of course not. Install them when they get there and install the queen that came with them.

> I'm worried that introducing a new northern queen in their first season will be just as detrimental as trying to winter on southern queen stock...Is there a time which makes more sense? Early, later, not at all?

June or July would be a good time to requeen them. During a flow is always best for any beekeeping adventure… If you can’t get a northern queen, you can always dequeen them just before or during the flow and let them raise their own.

>how many southern packages for how many years are you basing your queen failures on?

Several hundred spread out over several decades.

> No argument here that northern queens COULD do better but it makes no sense to squish a newly mated southern for a northern.

I usually sell mine to someone locally very cheap.
 
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