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Author Topic: Natural......huh?  (Read 1802 times)
BjornBee
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« on: November 04, 2008, 03:23:45 PM »

I did not want to hijack other threads so I'll add this one. I have read a number of comments about early spring splits and queen rearing. That you will seemingly get quality if bees do it themselves since this is "natural" or the "bees know best". So I add my comments not focused on one thread but from a general comment as follows....

Giving bees credit in suggesting they know best, saying this is what they have done for millions of years, and somehow equating that with quality, when bees are forced to do it when they would not of done it as dictated by nature, always makes me wonder.

It's not natural to just do walk away splits and force bees to undertake this procedure when they are not prepared for it. They supercede and swarm when THEY know the time is optimal. To suggest that you will get quality over a bought queen, or say that this is the best way to get good queen, by doing this when bees are not ready for it, may be missing the boat.

Why force bees to do this when bees naturally would not be doing this cell building?

Why not just wait for the bees to make swarm cells and do your splits when the bees tell you its the right time and are better prepared for it?

Early spring splits means you are forcing bees to build cells when numbers may not be enough, you take a hive that goes from not even thinking about building queen cells to forcing them to deal with the situation with no preparations, and may be dealing with lack of mature drones, inadequate nutrition for queen development, and a host of other issues.

My comments are a collection of several different posts, all on the idea that taking a hive and overnight making it queenless, splitting it, and forcing bees to make queens when they would not of done it themselves, and then calling it "natural" or in some way calling this a superior way of getting quality, at least for me, is a bit off the target.

I also read about doing splits for swarm prevention, which always has me scratching my head.

You want to split, that's one thing. But to suggest bees are best at this, when you force them to do it when nature dictates otherwise, is questionable. It just may be "Just good enough", if that’s what your looking for.

There was a recent article in bee Culture about summer splits and the benefits of them. And almost all the possibilities that play negatively in spring splits are not present in summer splits, with actual more benefits to be gained.

Thank you for reading.

Comments welcome....  grin
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TwT
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« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2008, 06:02:19 PM »

interesting post, I thought you grafted and raised queens Bjorn instead of just taking swarm cells  Wink . Building cell starters, grafting, ect. seems would fall under what you said above, we all just cant watch hives and then takes cells from them when they are ready to swarm or supersede, I dont really have the time to be honest, maybe I am missing what you are saying. if your saying raising queens by grafting or spliting and all is not natural I would agree with that but not always when a hive swarms is it best for them to raise a quality queen.

on the spring vs summer splits, around here a spring split will explode and when the main flow hits they build up nicely, around here you can do summer splits but our dearth and the droughts we have had the past 3 years will cost you time and money because all the feeding you have to do to get them built up and with stores. our summers are to long and haven't had a fall flow in 3 years. I would rather do them in the summer but here it not the best time from what I have seen.
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« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2008, 07:15:36 PM »

When forced into an emergency situations, the bees will do what they can to produce a queen so that the colony can survive. Sometimes they will produce a quality queen,  sometimes they will produce a good queen, sometimes they will produce a mediocre queens and sometimes failed or no queens at all.   It is sort of like breaking down with your car,  if your at a service station your car will be fixed better than if your out on a desert highway with just a leatherman and duct tape. Yes you will get your car going, but for how long?

I too think if you want natural queens,  rear them from your own stock or wait until the bees think the conditions are right and build swarm cells, that is when the bees know best and have all the resources to raise queens that are up to their standards.

It has been my experience, and I've seen it here many times as well,  that although these emergency queens seem perfectly fine at first, they are superseded more often and they fail at a higher rate in the late Fall than non-emergency queens. 

There is nothing wrong with raising your own queens, in fact I would encourage everyone to raise/use acclimatized queens,  just don't take the lazy way out by using emergency queens that have a higher chance of being poor quality.

Or as Krusty says........

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BjornBee
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« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2008, 10:28:05 PM »

TwT,
I never said I didn't. And much goes into that, from feeding, to encouraging drone numbers, etc. And even then its flawed sometimes. I may graft 30 to have 25 mate, to having 20 good enough to keep. Hardly comparable to walk away splits.

My point was that some feel that walk away splits are natural and bees know what they do best, and somehow all this equals quality. There is nothing natural, and quality is questionable, when a beekeeper splits a hive at a time when nature would dictate otherwise...and steps back and somehow suggests that this is all good and the best way to go about it...because bees have build their own queen cells for millions of years. Nothing natural about having a beekeeper split a hive, create a situation to have a hive make emergency queens at sometimes less than ideal times, etc

Yes, I'm for selecting the best genetics and propogating the best the bees have to offer. And I'm not against walk away splits. Just the comments that this is somehow more "natural" as if the bees did this themselves, or bee will produce quality queens when forced to make them at times when nature dictates it less than suitable.
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« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2008, 12:04:26 AM »

Whether doing walk-away splits, raising queens from selected stock, purchasing queens, or what ever method you opt for my test is survivability.  I want bees that will survive and even flourish under the most diverse weather in my area.  If they don't or can't survive, they are worthless.    So my choice, when opting to do any of the above, is survivor traits, then hygenic behavior, then honey productivity; feral stock if and when I can find it.

The method isn't as important as the source and condition of the eggs used in making queens.
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BjornBee
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« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2008, 05:19:05 AM »

Brian,
I agree with the survivability part. Mother Nature is my best employee, and has been used as my "culler" for 6 years now. She was hired into a chemical free environment....  grin
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ikeepbees
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« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2008, 01:22:13 PM »

Quote
It has been my experience, and I've seen it here many times as well,  that although these emergency queens seem perfectly fine at first, they are superseded more often and they fail at a higher rate in the late Fall than non-emergency queens

My experience is the opposite. I think there are a lot of factors at play here, however. I do think the bees know what they are doing, but I agree with Bjorn that my method of splitting (splits rearing their own queens) is far from "natural". Given the right conditions and plenty (I mean LOTS) of bees and stores, the emergency queens I see are superb queens. If the split is not adequately provisioned the possibility of an inferior queen is probably increased.

I wonder if Bjorn might have touched on one of the other factors: waiting to see queen cells to know that the bees think the time is ripe for rearing queens. I have adult drones emerging in late January most years, and have seen swarms as early as late February. I have watched swarms depart boomer colonies as late as the last week in April. Strong, extremely productive colonies routinely supersede in May. Obviously, the window for optimal queen rearing in my area is long. This may be a big reason that I have such good luck with my "walk aways." I suspect that in Robo's area, the window is much shorter and somewhat elusive, which may explain why it is more difficult for him to get good emergency queens.

I should mention that I discovered this method of splitting out of pure laziness. I was looking for a way to make splits a less time consuming activity, and by chance found that this method works real well for me. It was only afterward that I considered the mite control benefits of the method.
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« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2008, 02:56:02 PM »

I think there are a lot of factors at play here, however.

I agree, and one thing that I think we all tend to overlook is the weather.   I assume your winters are a cake walk compared to mine here up in the mountains.  For me, this is what separates the good from the bad and falls in line with Brian's survivability test.  I have had queens from the south that were exceptional only to become duds when the cold weather arrives.  I think that is my experience with emergency queen too,  they appear to be fine, but are just not hearty enough for the cold weather I get.  These same queens would probably continue to do fine for you where they weren't put to the test of hard winters.

It's often easy to forget about climate when we discuss our opinions because most of us only keep bees in one area and it is just a standard for us. 
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ikeepbees
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« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2008, 04:16:02 PM »

Exactly, Robo - the weather and length of season make a big difference, one that we don't mention enough sometimes.
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