Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner

1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
58 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
one of our local suppliers is offering packages of saskatraz bees this spring. supposedly the are a hardy strain that overwinters well in northern climates. anybody have them and what are your thoughts?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,186 Posts
One of my nephews got twenty Saskatraz packages last spring and liked them much better than the Russian nucs he got. They produced more honey and did not try to kill him every time he entered the bee yard as the Russians did.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
247 Posts
I wish I could offer something more definitive. Ordered a Saskatraz queen from OHB last year in July. Got it. Installed her in 4 frame nuc. She was accepted. Checked on her after a week and did not notice any eggs but she was still there. two weeks late she was gone. I do not have a clue what happened.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,329 Posts
I got 8 last year and made nucs in end of july. Most built into double deeps. One didn't get going quick but seems to have kept laying well into the cold weather as that double nuc has a healthy population. didn't notice much difference in temperament or honey then my others. hoping the overwinter rates are better then normal.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
19 Posts
I got 20 saskatrazv queens and 20 Italian at the same time last year. Due to health problem i had to put them all in a queen bank for a couple weeks. i lost 1 sas and 2 italian, about the same. Installed all in new splits with 2 frames of brood and nurse bees. All queens were accepted and all looked good, but the saskatraz queens were slower to start laying. I did notice the Saskatraz hives were a little slower to build up but 2 month later were about equal. All had 3 OAV treatments before fall and 1 OAV treatment afrer Thanksgiving. loses to date are at 5% for the Saskatraz and 10% for the Italians. Major cold coming in this week, they all have
candy boards on so I will reserve judgement until spring.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
86 Posts
I only bought a couple Saskatraz queens because it was all I could find early in the Spring last year. My impression was the strain developed to soak new beekeepers for a few extra dollars. I didn't notice any difference from the other California queens. Locally produced queens are the best queens money can buy IMO. Imported (to your area) queen genetics get diluted beyond recognition in 2-3 queen cycles anyway unless you live on a secluded island with no other beekeepers. But I only tried two Saskatraz queens so get a few and try for yourself.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
512 Posts
one of our local suppliers is offering packages of saskatraz bees this spring. supposedly the are a hardy strain that overwinters well in northern climates. anybody have them and what are your thoughts?
I built about 50 nucleus colonies last September and queened them with Saskatraz queens. I have not had them for a full year yet so I can only account to what I have observed thus far.

After allowing my built nucs to set queenless for a few days, I installed the queens. The frames of bees and resources I used to build the nucs came from my 8 & 10 frame hives which are basically commercial apiary almond circuit Italian muts which performed well for me. Once I installed the queens, for some reason I have not been able to figure out yet, most of the bees would NOT let them out of their California mini cages (no nurse bees inside the queen cages). After 3 days of this I tried manually releasing the queen with disasterous results in that the bees in the nuc immediately in most case tried to ball the queen and I had to remove here. I finally was able to observe this behavior long enough to see that if I released the queen well away from the main cluster of bees on the frames of capped brood, this allowed her to go down inside the hive and frames. All I could do at this point was cross my fingers and hope for the best. This seemed to work well as I did this with about 70% of the queens and in each case they were apparently accepted as I found lots of new eggs and varying states of brood after about 2 - 3 weeks later when I opened up the nucs for inspection.

During this time, I noted that the Saskatraz queened nucs were VERY active and brooded up FAST. So fast, I was having to add 2nd and 3rd deep brood boxes over the next month. In a few case a 4th. As time went on and Fall temperatures began to set in, this did NOT seem to phase the Saskatraz queened hives one bit. In fast as of 2 days ago, when the high temperature for the day was 39 degrees, the Saskatraz queened nucs were flying while none of the other hives were.

The Saskatraz queened nucs seem to be much more accepting of their hive being opened up and inspected without smoke than my other hives (I have a few Italian mut queened hives that are down right ugly if you mess with them even just a little bit for comparison in the same nuc yard as the Saskatraz). I would not read too much into this because nucs are weak hives and the weak hives behave MUCH more gently than very large hives. I have also noticed that the Saskatraz queened hives just don't seem to consume near as much sugar syrup as the other hives including the Italian mut queened nucs. Once these hives build up, I will post my observations on how they behave. Really large hives usually tend to be more if not very aggressive.

I requeened a few of my 8 & 10 frame hives with Saskatraz queens that are doing quite well. These hives so far are about as aggressive as my other hives which is not too bad but we are still in pretty cold weather.

I decided to try these queens to shake up the genetics in my apiary with traits that will hopefully be complimentary to what I am trying to attain.........better varroa mite resistance, better brood production, better honey production, and a much more cold hearty bee that can also tolerate the hot Tennessee Summers.

I have notice as of late that there seems to be a viral over exuberance about the Saskatraz queens and hence now the stampede to jump on "the Saskatraz queen train". The Saskatraz queens I purchased seem to be demonstrating that the chance I took on very late season nucs may pay off.........HOWEVER, I would STILL remain a bit reserved and cautious as you may find that as with many things that get hyped up, Saskatraz queens so far appear to be a good thing but are "not all that and a bag of chips" with respect to living up to the hype. The outrageous and extravigant prices I am seeing beeing charged for 3 lb. packages with a Saskatraz queen by some beekeeping retailers are down right crazy. Olivarez Apiaries on the other hand has been very reasonable and their customer service is just flat our excellent. I would recommend building your own nuc and buy your own queens as opposed to buying price gougingly hive 3 lb. package.

In the end, I think think each beekeeper will find the best queen they can get is from a well established line of queens that have been superseded and bred with local drones and well adapted to that particular area. In a sense beekeeping has some similarities with the 3 rules of buying and selling real estate "location, location, location" plays a BIG part. There is NO magic bee or much of anything in beekeeping that is going to make the big difference. Continued learning, hard work applying what you learn, and hanging in there with endurance to overcome the inevitable set backs is what I believe will make the biggest difference.

I think the videos that Ian Steppler posted about these is right on the mark.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTyW8z0Wx_4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z18wAOGplNg

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7dvJvIi5UHA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5UNZxtAPSE

I for one would be very interested in what Ian Steppler's most recent views and experience with his Saskatraz queens and hives are currently?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,933 Posts
Live Oak; If you made the nucs with brood of an age that can be used for queen cells, the reason the bees would not allow the queens out of the cages, and they balled the ones you released, was because they were making their own queens. The book says wait 24 hours to add the new queen to a nuc, but the books are wrong.

The bees start queen cells and will accept no other queens unless all cells are destroyed. Once they start making cells they usually continue until they no longer have eggs or larvae of the proper age to make a queen. When making nucs or requeening existing colonies always add any purchased queens when the nuc is made or the original queen removed. Even then they often make queen cells that must be removed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
512 Posts
Live Oak; If you made the nucs with brood of an age that can be used for queen cells, the reason the bees would not allow the queens out of the cages, and they balled the ones you released, was because they were making their own queens. The book says wait 24 hours to add the new queen to a nuc, but the books are wrong.

The bees start queen cells and will accept no other queens unless all cells are destroyed. Once they start making cells they usually continue until they no longer have eggs or larvae of the proper age to make a queen. When making nucs or requeening existing colonies always add any purchased queens when the nuc is made or the original queen removed. Even then they often make queen cells that must be removed.
The frames of brood I selected for each nuc I carefully checked for being completely capped brood to hopefully avoid that situation. In most of the nucs that I encounted this, I went through and check again for any queen cells they may have built did not find any. From my experience grafting queens, I realize they can make a queen cell surprisingly fast and one must keep a close eye out for it.

I encountered 3 nucs that the "beekeeper" (me) accidently transfered the queen into the nuc which of which I found those really fast and immediately noticed the defensive behavior of the nuc that caused me to look for this in addition to the queen acceptance issue. Trying to time the arrival of 80 queens in stages of 40 at a time to queen 50 nucs that I staged 25 at a time is a LOT of work. What you mention could be applicable here but from what I observed not likely. I sold about half of those queens to other beekeepers and they told me they had to manually release most of the queens too. This in the long run of how things went was not a big deal but I had never encountered this before in the MANY times I have requeened or used purchased queens to queen nucs I had built.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,017 Posts
I brought in 4 Saskatraz queens in the early spring of 20018 and hived them in splits from my existing hives, now those splits varied in strength from one to the other and was dependant on how strong the donor colony was. The strongest colony took off like a bull at a gate and produced a good honey crop by July 2018 the other 3 not so much. Of the other 3 one tried to swarm in the spring and was split again, one just limped along and never produced anything and the last had bees that were very runny on the comb also never produced much and eventually went queenless and raised an emergency queen very late in the season almost a write off however they are still surviving at this time. Hell I can do just as badly with my home raised queens.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,432 Posts
My first queens were Saskatraz, now in my 5th winter. Most of my stock I have now originated with these bees. I have both mite biting and VSH in my population of bees so I feel this is a good place to start. The bees were also quite hygienic near the beginning though I haven't seen if this trait held up through my natural selection process. Some have big problems with the local chalkbrood. That situation has improved with time with selection.


There is a fair amount of variation for various traits in terms of build up, honey production, temperament, mite production. No single trait is universally bad or good. But that is probably due to genetic chaos around me and how my mating areas were set up. I've made some progress in that regard hopefully so perhaps the amount of variation can be reduced. If the genetic chaos can be reduced (not so much introduction of new queens), with proper selection across a region, things can better be improved.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
495 Posts
I saw in the queenrearing section a number of mentions of extra-hard candy for queen cages... wonder if that played a role in the queens not being released in a timely fashion. Wouldn't explain the queens being balled while in the cage after several days in the hive. Hope it's a once-in-a-lifetime deal!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
512 Posts
I saw in the queenrearing section a number of mentions of extra-hard candy for queen cages... wonder if that played a role in the queens not being released in a timely fashion. Wouldn't explain the queens being balled while in the cage after several days in the hive. Hope it's a once-in-a-lifetime deal!
I noticed that the candy plug material was not very white or off color. I did call Olivarez back about it to make them aware of it and we both were thinking that perhaps this may have been why the bees were not letting the queens out. I CAN attest to the fact that Olivarez customer service is EXCELLENT. They fixed whatever the issue was with the candy material.
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Top