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Author Topic: raising a queen or 2  (Read 1455 times)

Offline WayneW

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raising a queen or 2
« on: March 26, 2009, 05:26:13 PM »
I am going to try my hand at rearing a queen from my current hive for the purpose of requeening a package of Italians once they are established.
I have done quite a bit of reading about different methods and such and i think i will be trying the IMH method for a test run (so to speak). If that fails me, I will try other methods until I am successful.

My current queen (I only have 1 hive) has been truly great thus far. The bees are gentle, built up FAST and STRONG for the winter. (I didn’t buy the hive until mid July) and managed to fill a deep super 100% with stores for the winter.(10 deep frames capped both sides). Mite counts were high at the end of last season, and I thought for sure I would be beeless come spring. But they wintered GREAT, still have about 60% of their stores, and are already beginning to build up in numbers . Needless to say, going forward in beekeeping, I would like to keep her traits alive, and have many more hives like my first one.

What concerns me mostly is all the information I have read about drone saturation, and such. I can't imagine there will be a whole lot of genetic diversity in the queen(s) i raise since I only have 1 hive and I know there are no other beeks within 5 or so miles of me. Is this a major pitfall? Does inbreeding affect bees as much as it does other animals?

I did see honey bees in my yard on clover before I bought the hive, so I guess there are some feral bees around, (and I have picked them up from the clover tops barehanded, so they are gentle as well) although I’m not certain just where they are. Would this provide enough diversity? Would her mating with only her own drones hurt matters? I read somewhere that drones account for ½ of the genetic makeup of the queen. Does that imply that, if she mates with the drones from the Italian package that I would lose ½ of her traits? If that’s the case, why would her mating with her own drones be a “bad” thing? Unless of course, inbreeding affects bees as it does other species.

Sorry for the lengthy post. I just want to get this right and produce a queen with at least most of her traits. And who knows, if this works out REALLY well, I may have some great queens to offer to fellow beeks ( I only need 1, ok maybe 2….. or so…..lol )
A beekeeper is not what i am, it's what i aspire to become.

Offline JayC

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Re: raising a queen or 2
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2009, 06:41:48 PM »
Take all of this from a guy who has less experience than you.  My first packages will arrive in about 2 weeks.

If you're wanting to maintain your current queens genetics, I guess I don't understand why you ordered another package.  But, I expect you've already paid for it, or at least made a deposit.  But, if your bees build up as fast as you say they do, they'll likely be fit to swarm this season.  Presto, instant new colony with similar genetics. 

Yes, I believe queens avoid breeding with their own drones as a naturally programmed way to decrease inbreeding. 

If you had bees in your yard before you started your colony last year, it seems that there would likely still be feral bees in the area.  So, the absence of other beekeepers in the area isn't that big a deal if you're looking to maintain some genetic diversity.  If you start a new queen, she'll likely produce some brood that have been fathered by feral drones.  This can be a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it.  But, it seems that opinions are turning towards favoring feral "survivor" stock. 

If you really want some genetic diversity, keep the Italian queen you'll be getting with the package.  If the package is going along, and has traits you don't like.  Then re-queen it.  It might be a good idea to start a nuc to breed queen(s) with in case this is necessary, which is pretty much what you're planning on doing anyway.  But, you may want to give the Italians a try first.