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Author Topic: How to choose a queen to breed from.  (Read 1228 times)
BjornBee
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« on: November 05, 2008, 06:02:43 AM »

Many beekeepers would like to raise a few queens. Certainly choosing your best queen, based on your own criteria, is best. But how does one go about that?

Most breeders are looking (or should be) at hygienics, in the area that rates how fast bees identify dead or mite infested cells, their speed at cleaning them out, etc.

I think one of the best test for selecting queens is a test along the lines that the Ontario group has use for years now. It involves freezing a circle area of bees and counting the percentage of cells cleaned out in 24 hours.

But how does the beekeeper go about that if you do not have the equipment or freezing agent? What can the average beekeeper do?

You can look at several other items. One of the best items is the bottom board. (This may be difficult for those with full SBB.) Cleaned bottoms are a good sign. Some, will prick an area of cells with a toothpick, and see how fast the dead larvae is removed. Others may use the mite counts as a good indicator. All of these are a good measures.

One of the other things we like to do here, was something we picked up a few years back when we were playing with FGMO. At that time, the protocol (as per Dr. R) called for soaking cotton cords and laying them on top of the bars. We found out there were three type hives.  After a few days, we would find....1) This type hive completely ignored the cords. 2) a second group of hives would completely propolize the cords. 3) The third group would shred the cords and drag them through the hives and deposit them out the front entrance.

We no longer use FGMO. But we do test promising hives when looking for breeding stock by tailoring that FGMO experience. We take paper towels and soak them in oil, that has been tainted with a smell trigger such as menthol or thymol, and place them on the top bars of the brood chamber. We then compare the hives (checking on day 3, day 5, and so on) as to how fast and with what conviction they have in ridding the hives of this outside influence. The faster a hive shreds the paper, the better the grade.

This is no doubt different than bees triggering on infested cells with v-mites, and other hygienic behavior. Scientists are isolating different genes that trigger different responses and behavior. One for grooming, one for cleaning out cells, etc. But I think they are all related to hive health and survivability. You want bees to clean out infested cells. And you want good house cleaners that rid themselves of pests such as SHB, etc. And you want good groomers that clean off a good amount of mites prior to them doing damage in cells.

If your going to raise queens, use some criteria for selecting your best. And sometimes that criteria is not about the most bees or honey. How many times have you heard someone mention "I can not believe the hive crashed...it was my best producer and was loaded with bees!"?

Look at traits and behavior in cleaning cells out, grooming mites, and housecleaning. We use a list of items such as brood pattern, spring buildup, running on the comb, gentleness, etc. This gets us down to a few hives, then we test further with such items as soaked paper towels.

Thank you for reading.
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Cindi
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« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2008, 10:11:50 AM »

BjornBee.  Excellent, not meaning to go off topic here, but in your opinion, would this type of behaviour be considered in the realm of hygienic?  The bees did not enjoy the grass that I had put in their inner feeder, to help them from being prevented in drowning.  Immediately removed.  Have a most wonderful day and life, great health wishes to us all. Cindi



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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
BjornBee
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« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2008, 10:42:49 AM »

Cindi,
That is amazing. As you can only see so much in a photo, I am always looking for every possible angle to what I'm looking at. My first thought was that a few bees got stuck as the syrup dried on the grass and they were just trying to get unstuck. Then I thought "Why would they not propolize the organic matter, as I have seen many times". But then I thought...."Isn't that what we really want and what we're selecting for?"

And I figure if bees will shred cotton cords and drag them from the hive, why would they not consider grass in the same aspect, as something needed to be moved. I just have never seen grass so agressively removed as your pictures dipict. The paper towels are removed due to a trigger scent being added. But for them to recognize that grass needs to be removed while having syrup being fed, bodes very well.

This would certainly be a hive of interest to look at more closely and see if in combination of low mite counts, overwintering without treatments, and other criteria, would be worth propogating.

Very interesting indeed. Thank you.

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Please Support "National Honey Bee Day"
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Cindi
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Location: Grindrod, B.C. Canada


« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2008, 09:25:55 PM »

BjornBee.  It was the summer before this one past.  My Sister and I were looking into the colony and we watched these busy little girls flying away for some time with the pieces of grasses.  In their train of thought that grass was a foreigner, they removed a great deal of grass, and I also helped them out after we watched them for some time.  This is a colony that I had babied over the prior winter with a terrarium heater.  It blew through that summer, growing and growing and growing.  This past year this colony was so aggressive with brood rearing that I had to make a cut down split on two occasions -- they had every intention of swarming.  I have two of these progeny colonies.  And they are still strong and full of bees, lovely -- going into winter with large clusters.  The parent colony turned laying worker.  After that cut down split I had made lastly, the summer weather was so bad that the emergent queen very obviously was unmated, and the colony perished.  I ended their cycle a few weeks ago, they were shaken out some ways away and left to fend for themselves.  It was a sad thing, but I still have the original queen and her daughter heading two colonies (at least I think it is the original queen, hee, hee, but who knows about that one).  This is a swarmy couple of hives, but they are so prolific with brood rearing, that is fine with me.  I try to practice good swarm prevention measures, but have not quite got there yet with these.  They are hygienic, in my eyes.  The three day mite count I did recently showed a mite count of 7 daily, that is OK in my eyes.  They have since then been treated.  One day I am sure I will be chemical free with them, they are working hard to get there, that is clear.  They are Carniolan.  Have a wonderful awesome day and life.  Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
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