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Author Topic: How many hives are needed for good queen mating?  (Read 2366 times)
WOB419
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« on: May 03, 2009, 09:37:30 PM »

Assume that yours are the only known bees around.  How many hives in the bee yard would you say that it would take in order for queens to mate effectively?  The concern would be having enough drones and enough diversity in the gene pool. 
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doak
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« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2009, 10:05:18 PM »

 Just me, I would want at least three other colonies beside the one I got the queen from. Want plenty of drones from other colonies. might put a frame of drone foundation in a couple other colonies.
Some breeders have drone hives 5 deep high. With about two worker boxes added to provide for all that drone brood.

After my first year I have never came under 5 colonies and I have had some good queens.
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2009, 12:30:06 AM »

I like to keep my bee yard at 4-6 hives.  That gives a mix of genetics and since I have Russians, Carnies, and Italians, I'm insured a genetic mix.  Less than 4 hives, especially with the same type of bee can be problematic genetic wise.  More than 6 hives in a yard and it seems you have to rebuild it every year due to die off.  I've suffered more bee losses with bee yards  in the 6-12 hive range (approx 50% most years) verse bee yards of 4-6 hives.  I have 5 now and consider that optimum.
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« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2009, 12:46:29 AM »

Can someone provide some insight as to the range of this optimum number depending on practices such as drone trapping and natural comb?

Thanks,

SH
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Natalie
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« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2009, 11:16:23 AM »

Brian why do you think it is that you have higher losses with more colonies in the yard?
I am glad to hear that diverse genetics is a good thing because I have NWC, Russians, Purvis Goldline and some unnamed mutts in my bee yard.
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Buzzen
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« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2009, 06:09:45 PM »

I'm new and all, but doesn't each hive raise enough drones to mate their  queen?
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iddee
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« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2009, 06:29:51 PM »

I don't think it really matters how many you have. From my readings, the queen flies out of range of the drones from her own hive before mating. This prevents inbreeding.

If you have two yards 5 miles apart, you may influence the mating. Drones from one, queens from the other. Otherwise, I don't think you will.
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WOB419
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« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2009, 08:04:22 PM »

Thanks y'all for the information.  Seems it is a lot fewer hives than I was thinking.  With just 2 hives I did not find that my new queen mated well and the hive went right into supercedure.

Brian, it sounds like you have both russians and italians in your beeyard.  I am planning to add russians to my bee yard in a few weeks but am concerned that the italians will invade the russians when their queen slows down her laying to break the mites brood cycle.  Have you had any problems with the two types of bees in your yard?

Buzzen,  If a hive's new queen mates with drones from her own hive she will mate with her brother - bad for the gene pool.

I hadn't heard that the queen flys beyond her hive's drones before, have others heard of that? 
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sc-bee
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« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2009, 08:30:35 PM »

>I don't think it really matters how many you have. From my readings, the queen flies out of range of the drones from her own hive before mating. This prevents inbreeding.

You hear that in books --- but I had a well known queen producer say he has watched queens mate right over the top of her hive. But who knows where the drones were from?
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« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2009, 10:24:32 PM »

Thanks for the info wob,  I guess thats another reason to start with at least 2 hives.  Man, I'm glad I found this forum!----Todd
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2009, 11:30:33 PM »

Brian why do you think it is that you have higher losses with more colonies in the yard?
I am glad to hear that diverse genetics is a good thing because I have NWC, Russians, Purvis Goldline and some unnamed mutts in my bee yard.

I think everyone has higher losses with more colonies in their long term yards.  I thin 5-6 is optimum because beyond that number the following factors become increasingly hazardous: 1. Forage competition, 2. Robbing, 3. Drifting of drones and workers that spread mites/disease between hives, 4. Genetics, and 5. Hive Synergy. 
With 5-6 hives you have or can have enough genetic diversity to have good matings but if all of the hives are of the same stock then the genetics can be a failing within the beeyard.  Foraging is always an issue as the more hives in a location the less to go around, the more bees from other keepers within short distances compounds this problem.  Hives within 1/2 miles radius might as well be considered part of your bee yard when assessing forage for your bees, in which case I actually have 15 hives in my bee yard.  See the problem?
The more colonies verses foragable plants the more likely to invoke robbing--see the problem?
The downside of drifting bees where disease transmission can take place should be obious.  Overloading a yard with hives will cause the loss of hives that might have otherwise survived because of reasons 1, 2,3, 4, & 5. 
Hive Synergy is a hives own ability to use it resources for survival, the more crowded a beeyard the less this factor counts due to reasons 1 & 2.

I currently have Russian, OWC, NWC, and Texas hybrids in my bee yard, mostly from different sources in different years to preserve genetic diversity.  Out of the 5 hives I will do a community split in June that takes 1 frame of nurse bees and brood from each hive plus 2 frames of honey/pollen.  That gives the hive the remainder of the summer to build up for overwintering.  I will be taking that split over to my brother's place in eastern Washington as he's my out yard.  He has 5 acres in a land of acres of alfalfa and clover and I have 1.25 acres in the city.  I visit him once a year and we swap plants, livestock, and commodities for sustainable living so we each have a more rounded operation.




 
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Jim 134
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« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2009, 06:10:59 AM »

I don't think it really matters how many you have. From my readings, the queen flies out of range of the drones from her own hive before mating. This prevents inbreeding.

If you have two yards 5 miles apart, you may influence the mating. Drones from one, queens from the other. Otherwise, I don't think you will.


How far away do drones fly?? and how far away do queen fly?? and far away do workers fly??


   BEE HAPPY Jim 134
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charles
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« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2009, 01:46:45 PM »

Foraging is always an issue as the more hives in a location the less to go around, the more bees from other keepers within short distances compounds this problem.  Hives within 1/2 miles radius might as well be considered part of your bee yard when assessing forage for your bees, in which case I actually have 15 hives in my bee yard.  See the problem?
The more colonies verses foragable plants the more likely to invoke robbing--see the problem?
Can several (but not hundreds) hives actually deplete the nectar and pollen supply within their forage radius. I always figured their food resources (during a flow) were so abundant as to be practically limitless.
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Natalie
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« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2009, 03:49:22 PM »

If you have a specific race of bees and never requeen your colonies, but allow them to naturally supercede their queen and they open mate how long before you lose those genetics?
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jdpro5010
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« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2009, 04:19:13 PM »

I don't think it really matters how many you have. From my readings, the queen flies out of range of the drones from her own hive before mating. This prevents inbreeding.

If you have two yards 5 miles apart, you may influence the mating. Drones from one, queens from the other. Otherwise, I don't think you will.


How far away do drones fly?? and how far away do queen fly?? and far away do workers fly??


   BEE HAPPY Jim 134






I have read that queens may fly as 7 to 10 miles to mate depending on the situation.  Drones are not so much concerned with distance as they do a lot of hive hopping anyhow.  Workers generally don't fly more than 2 to 3 miles away.
























































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jdpro5010
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« Reply #15 on: May 07, 2009, 04:20:35 PM »

I have no idea as to why this forum does such strange things when inserting quotes shocked
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #16 on: May 07, 2009, 10:22:30 PM »

Foraging is always an issue as the more hives in a location the less to go around, the more bees from other keepers within short distances compounds this problem.  Hives within 1/2 miles radius might as well be considered part of your bee yard when assessing forage for your bees, in which case I actually have 15 hives in my bee yard.  See the problem?
The more colonies verses foragable plants the more likely to invoke robbing--see the problem?
Can several (but not hundreds) hives actually deplete the nectar and pollen supply within their forage radius. I always figured their food resources (during a flow) were so abundant as to be practically limitless.

It is possible to over populate a forage base to the point that hive loses occur.  this is more easily done in specific crop pollination where the crop lasts for a short period and there's not enough natural forage to provide for the bees once the pollination period is over.  In some  areas a few hives can max out the foragable plants, other places it might take 20-30, but there is a limit depending on the soil verses plant mixture the bees have to forage on.  Generally I consider a hives "normal" foraging area to be 1/2 - 1 mile radius of the hive, they will go further if the lack of foragable plants forces them too.  The further away from the hive the bees must travel the less efficient and problematic becomes their survival.  They can actually end up, under desert like conditions, of consuming what they harvest while returning to the hive.

The best forage crop for a large bee yard, IMO, is that of clovers, vetch, dandilion, and other weeds.  My mentor used to house 50 hives at the Arlington, Washington Airport when it was nothing but runways and fields and they always had plenty of forage all season long because the plants flowered all season long.

Keeping bees is like rasing cattle, it is better to under graze the forage to keep them fat than overgraze and have sick or lose stock.



If you have a specific race of bees and never requeen your colonies, but allow them to naturally supercede their queen and they open mate how long before you lose those genetics?

If a hive of bees takes up residence in an isolated area where only the genetic of the hive are available to it inbreeding begins with the 1st swarm.  Over a period of a few years the bees will grow more and more aggressive and thenthe hive size begin to dwindle due in part from the increased aggression and due to an extremely narrow genetic pattern.  They will most likely die out in 5-6 years because they lose the capability to ward off diseases and pests that a more diverse genetic makeup allows.
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heaflaw
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« Reply #17 on: May 07, 2009, 10:52:19 PM »

I'm learning a lot from this thread.  I've never thought much about genetic diversity.  I have Italians with some black bees in some hives.  Do certain breeds not breed well together?  Would all Italians but every few years bringing Italian stock from a different location be good enough?  Do I need different breeds?
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #18 on: May 10, 2009, 01:06:07 AM »

I'm learning a lot from this thread.  I've never thought much about genetic diversity.  I have Italians with some black bees in some hives.  Do certain breeds not breed well together?  Would all Italians but every few years bringing Italian stock from a different location be good enough?  Do I need different breeds?

Crossing different breeds can be a little touchy when crossing Italians with Carnies or Russians as they tend towards proddy at times but not always.  Crossing Carnies with Russians is easy.  If you raise a queen it's going to mate with a lot of drones so you can get bees with MH (brown to grayish), NWC (Dark Gray), Russian (almost Black), Caucasian (Gray), Buckfast (Redish), and Italian (Yellow-Orange) as well as several other breeds or strains of bee genetics inseminating the queen.  That is genetic diversity at the maximum, usually one 2-4 "breeds" may be within mating range of any particular queen.
And there's always that mutt (feral) bee out there that has survivor traits to die for.

Bringing new stock occasionally is one way of maintaining genetic diversity and a good idea.  Using multiple suppliers for purchasing bees is also a good way to maintain genetic diversity.   

So for maintaining genetic diversity use multiple sources for packages and queens.  Having different "breeds" of bees in a beeyard will provide the genetic diversity.  Feral bees will do so.   In all it is not that hard to maintain genetic diversity but it must be kept in mind and tended to if long periods of time occur in any specific bee yard.  Once the genetics get too tight from inbreeding it can be a hard ball of string to unravel and almost always results in hot bees after a few generations of inbreeding.
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Natalie
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« Reply #19 on: May 10, 2009, 07:05:05 PM »

I have purvis goldline, russians, carnies and a russian/carnie cross, my neighbor at the end of the road (I just discovered he is a beekeeper as well) told me he has russians and italians.

There is someone around 2 miles from me that keeps bees but I don't have any idea what kind and everyone else is further out of range.

I am trying to maintain some genetic diversity but I am wondering how far my queens will go to mate or how close the other drones in the area will come to my yard.

I have also heard that about the russian/italian crossing not producing the most gentle bees so I am hoping there won't be too many italian drones in the area during mating time.

Is it possible drones from the same yard but not necessarily the same colony mate with any of my queens?
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #20 on: May 12, 2009, 01:25:23 AM »

There is a possibility that drones from the same colony will mate with a new queen but the more hives within a 2-3 mile proximity reduces that greatly.  Sounds like you have an abundance of diversity as any hives within 2 miles should be counted as providing drones for mating to your hives.

The best dogs I've ever had were all mutts (mixed breeds) and I'll say the same for bees.  Some crossbreeds can produce a slightly aggressive hive now and then but it usually disappears with the next out cross (MH are a good example of this).  Aggressive bees from inbreeding are much worse and harder to dilute by out breeding.
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« Reply #21 on: May 12, 2009, 11:56:39 PM »

This has been a great thread with plenty of insights.

Thank you.

SH
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