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I have a queen, mated late summer of 2012. She is marked yellow and I strictly adhere to marking conventions, so there is no chance she's younger than 2012. Last season I designated her colony for requeening simply because it was not performing to my standards. Bees were somewhat runny and broodnest was small. Late last season, she kicked it into gear and went into winter with good stores and populations. This spring the colony is amazing. Bees are calm on the comb and slammed with brood. What would cause a queen to under-perform and then do such a dramatic turnabout? BTW, I looked for other queens and none were seen. In fact I saw an egg dripping out of the marked queen during my inspection yesterday.
 

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any chance she heard you voicing your intentions for her and she decided better get with the program vs. off with her head? :)

seriously i don't have any suggestions other than maybe they were dealing with some kind of subclinical problem last year, or perhaps the drone sperm she is using now has a better mix of genes.

so far in my limited experience the strong ones from previous years continue to be strong and vice versa.
 

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any chance she heard you voicing your intentions for her and she decided better get with the program vs. off with her head? :)
I almost pinched her during an inspection in late June last year when she didn't make any spring honey. Perhaps you're right about a subclinical issue. Usually queens that are poor never turn it around, but I haven't given many the opportunity to flounder for a year before making a decision.
 

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What would cause a queen to under-perform and then do such a dramatic turnabout? BTW, I looked for other queens and none were seen. In fact I saw an egg dripping out of the marked queen during my inspection yesterday.
Maybe you are seeing a Virus? Often they're vertically transmitted.

Maybe she was producing workers who were infected.
She got over the virus and then all the workers she produced after her recovery were then healthy.

A guess. I've seen the exact same thing. Who knows??

Adam
vpqueenbees.com
 

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Possibly a varroa mite vectoring virus or bacterial infections in the hive. As mite populations are down so would be virus or bacterial issues. Just a thought
 

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It is probably a combination of a couple of things. The hive was probably sick last year. I have had hives nearly die and then boom and be among my best producers with the same queen. It is also important to remember that most queens mate with multiple drones therefore have offspring that will show the varying traits of both parents. I am not sure how that sorts out in her ovaries but perhaps she has accessed sperm from better fathers than she was accessing last year.
 

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i have a similar decision to make regarding my 'dink' of the yard colony. the queen is one i caught with a primary swarm from one of my other colonies about this time last year. it came from a colony that was began in 2011 as a nuc queened with a grafted queen from my supplier who has been selling these feral mutt survivors since 1997. He started these bees with confirmed feral tree cut outs off of the side of lookout mountain in northeast alabama.

so on the one hand i have a colony who can i trace it's roots back three winters off treatments, i.e. the stock has demonstrated good overwintering. also to it's credit there is a great looking queen laying a perfect pattern and all the brood and adults are healthy. there could be possible something subclinical going on and the honey smells a little fermenty but i did a careful inspection and nothing jumps out at me.

but to is detriment there are less than two frames of bees in this dinky hive at a time when the one next to it has a colony working a single deep and three medium supers which is the equivalent of three deeps of bees.

interestingly, the history of the parent colony is one of multiple swarming and no honey yield. they have survived treatment free and overwintered three years but are too frugal and too swarmy to be productive.

this colony will be split eventually to make mating nucs for queens from the most productive hives. the question is should i keep this queen in a nuc and let it swarm it's survivor genetics into the feral hybrid swarm?
 

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I think sometimes we don't take into account that not everything is the queen's fault. Some of it is timing and decisions made by the bees. Some of the timing is poor choices or good choices and some is luck. A queen can usually lay more eggs than a colony can raise. A colony has to have nurse bees and food to raise brood. It takes a work force to make a work force...
 

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yes michael. i was reminded by this colony of your comments regarding 'critical mass', 'more bees make more bees', 'strong colonies get stronger', ect.

it's obvious that this colony got too small to make a meaningful recovery on the early flows here. if it weren't for the three year history of always being small and swarming excessively i would consider boosting it with brood from donor colonies and giving it a chance.
 
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