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This is to be my first season as a beekeeper. I had ordered a nuc from an apiary in NH back in February and was just notified two days ago that they won't be able to fulfill my order now. Ugh . Fortunately I'm going to be able to get my hands on a package from Georgia Memorial Day weekend but I really had my heart set on getting a hive that had a good chance of overwintering. I live in New England so winters can be harsh. I'm thinking about requeening the hive I get with a northern bred queen from Full Bloom Apiaries. At this point though I won't get the queen until at least two weeks after my package arrives.

Would you advise requeening with a northern queen and if so when should I requeen? As soon as possible or should I wait until the fall?

Thanks for any advice!
 

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I am assuming you have already decided that you want to requeen and if so you should do it as soon as possible because the ability to overwinter is more about the brood and queen. If you requeen later you may be too late to go into winter with the bees you want.

Now; on requeening or not. I (personally) wouldn't but that doesn't stop people from getting a package and requeening immediately. I don't do this for a few reasons: (1) Why waste what could be a perfectly good queen (2) the hobby is as much a gamble an anything; in other words the queen with the package could do as good or better than any queen you would purchase locally. Yes, local queens may be better; but there is no guarantee.
 

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A person with no drawn comb and a late start with a package might want to set aside getting fancy and requeening. Reintroducing a new queen will mean at least a week and probably two with no eggs being laid. Queens are a crap shoot admittedly but my Florida queens made it thru the coldest winter lately at a fair rate. Don't mess around with screened bottom boards or other fads. Bees need heat to raise brood and look at those little holes in bee trees! Feed those bees until they have drawn comb in two boxes and then super if there is time and local beekeepers take a fall flow. Do sugar rolls to check mite levels and treat those mites with a thymol derived miticide in August or September if needed so strong non parasitized winter bees can be raised. In the spring if your colony comes out of the winter wrapping and moisture control measures well, you now have a northern survivor queen and when she is superceded or you make splits off her, your survivor queens offspring will mate with the sons of other survivor queens. At least that is the way I look at it. I have a hard time murdering a perfectly good queen because of the accident of her birthplace. Now at anytime during the summer, if she fails to produce lots of eggs, I would replace her with a local queen if you can find one in a heartbeat!
 

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I also live in New England and plan on requeening my hives before winter to better hedge my bet with genetics more accustomed to the north east. I contacted Warm Color Apiaries in MA. who raise 'certified' Russian Queens and run a very nice apiary. The proprietor came to the local beekeeper association meeting and gave a presentation on their methods and why they work with Russian bees. I was sold based on the data he was able to provide.

After explaining that I just started a couple packages, the experts at this apiary recommended that I requeen in June to get a couple brood cycles in over the summer and fall. That is my plan. I was coached not to requeen a package just starting out that is building comb and raising bees fine.
 

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I don't know how things are going there, but here we are running about a month behind. I've only seen a few drones and not a lot of brood rearing yet. June queens will be better mated...
I can't imagine trying to breed a queen here right now. Highs of 50, cloudy and/or rain every day. Lows in the mid-30s. Unfortunately, I think we had a virgin that should have been trying to breed this week. No way that happened.
 

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Get a queen in early to mid-July and get her started in a nuc. The nights will be warm then so you should only need a couple of frames. Once she is laying, requeen Brother Adam's style, by removing the old queen and introducing the new queen on a frame of her brood and bees. Or do a newspaper combine after removing the old queen. They will be really setting up for winter in August and September.
 
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