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Author Topic: Why would drones visit another hive?  (Read 1832 times)
David LaFerney
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« on: August 23, 2009, 09:55:01 PM »

I'm under the impression that virgin queens always mate by venturing forth to find drones (up to 5 miles away) and then mate on the wing.

I recently brought home a small queenless hive which has queen cells that are due to hatch any day now - it has no other brood except the one frame with the queen cells.  Yesterday my other hive was having one of those big orientation flight events where hundreds (thousands?) of bees fly around the hive all at once.  This event featured quite a lot of drones.  While I was watching this I noticed at least 2 drones land on the small queenless hive and beg their way in - the entrance is restricted to 3/8 X 1 1/2 to minimize the chance of it being robbed.  There was also a number of bees including at least one drone hanging out on the bottom of the screened bottom.

This certainly looks like the drones are positioning to mate with the queen ASAP.  Will they follow her out, or will they try to mate in the hive? 
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2009, 09:58:16 PM »

Queenless hives welcome any drone.  Actually most any hive welcomes most any drone, but drones seem particularly attracted to those that are queenless or have a virgin queen.  It has nothing to do with who will mate with whom.
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« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2009, 10:59:02 PM »

Queenless hives welcome any drone. 

Why is this?  I believe that queenless hives have bees that are less defensive, forage less, etc.  Is it that a queenless hive is letting down their guard and the wayward drone is simply looking for a free meal?
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Paul

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David LaFerney
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« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2009, 11:14:03 PM »

Queenless hives welcome any drone.  Actually most any hive welcomes most any drone, but drones seem particularly attracted to those that are queenless or have a virgin queen.  It has nothing to do with who will mate with whom.


Thanks, I didn't know that.
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« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2009, 11:39:32 PM »

i have noticed swarms that leave with a virgin queen, also seem to have many more drones that most swarms.  perhaps drones are drawn to the  hive from which a new queen will emerge.  perhaps hives with queen cells or virgin queens encourage the congregating of drones.
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JP
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« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2009, 12:22:36 AM »

i have noticed swarms that leave with a virgin queen, also seem to have many more drones that most swarms.  perhaps drones are drawn to the  hive from which a new queen will emerge.  perhaps hives with queen cells or virgin queens encourage the congregating of drones.

I notice lots of drones in swarms with virgins.

There are no rules when it comes to drones. They come and go as they please, as if the girls feel sorry for them, usless bums, except come mating time, then they are kings, at least for a few wonderful seconds!


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« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2009, 05:34:42 AM »

one of the ways to spot a hive with a virgin or developing queen is the large number of drones in the hive.

the queen will often leave on mating flights with a cloud of drones.  i expect this is mostly protection (the queen is a slow flier, big and juicy, and ripe to be picked off by a bird or dragonfly).

sometimes, some of these drones probably do mate with her...but for the most part, i think she flies further than they do most of the time.

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Michael Bush
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« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2009, 05:45:30 AM »

>Why is this?

Because that's what their instincts are.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2009, 06:39:37 AM »

You really need to go back to nature to seek answers for such questions.

In nature, how far would the next hive be? 100 yards or a quarter mile? How many hives would contribute to any particular DCA? Would drones of other far off hives, tend to be attracted to hives to be near and ready for mating? Sure.

We picture what happens many times in very unnatural circumstances when we as beekeepers place many hives in one area. Then try to rationalize that queen's fly this far, drones fly this far, etc. Which for me is nonsense.

Drones flood towards hives with virgins to increase the chances that the queen will mate with drone outside her genetic pool. Some have suggested that queens can tell her own drones and avoid them in mating. Others say that bees clean out cells that are laid with inbred eggs.

Inbreeding is not just about a queen mating with her own drones. It is about what happens when you flood an area with one genetics, and over time, the genetic stock is saturated by swarms, etc.

In nature, a virgin queen may attract drones from colonies over a couple mile wide area. They congregate in these hives, and this increases the chances that the virgin will not mate with her own drones. I think this whole "a queen flies this far (up to 5 miles now some are saying.....NOT!), or a drone flies this far" is widely exaggerated. a queen flies as far as she needs too. And when drones from colonies in the area all congregate inside this virgin queen hive, as nature dictates, why would she fly 5 miles?

It is only when we as beekeepers, keep huge groupings of hives in one area, that we need to rationalize and come up with ideas that fully contradict what actually happens in nature.

Will a queen fly two miles if she needs too! Yes. But it is that way in nature especially when the next hive may be far off. But they do not fly that far by some call of nature.
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« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2009, 07:59:28 PM »

They come and go as they please, as if the girls feel sorry for them, usless bums, except come mating time, then they are kings, at least for a few wonderful seconds! 

True - but then they die.  And if not successful in mating, come autumn - they get forced from the hive and die.
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« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2009, 09:37:50 PM »

It's kinda like the Human Male, going from one singles bar to the next !   Wink

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David LaFerney
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« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2009, 10:37:58 PM »

A bit of follow up.  I opened this hive last Monday - 28 days after putting a frame of eggs/larvae in it - and saw a nice fat new queen.  So I gently closed it back up to keep from causing any more disruption than necessary.  On Friday - 32 days after giving them the egg frame - I checked again with the intention of either finding brood or combining it with another hive since it's getting so late in the season. 

Much to my pleasure I found between 4-5 frames total of brood including quite a lot of capped brood - indicating that she had been laying eggs for at least 8 days (I think) - or since last Thursday - 24 days after the frame of eggs was put in there.  I'm guessing that the queen resulted from a larva that was already out of the egg - hopefully not more than 36 hours.

It could be coincidence that this queen was mated and started laying so quickly, but I would speculate that she was met at the door (or even inside the hive) by a group of waiting suitors.

BTW, this is an "emergency" queen in that she was reared in a queenless hive.  However before I put the frame of eggs/larvae in the queenless hive (an 8 frame medium) I crowded the bees by replacing 3 frames with dummy frames, and I put the frame of eggs (with nurse bees) between 2 frames of pollen and honey.  So I have high hopes that she will perform well at least until I can rear some more next spring.  Fingers crossed. 

Is her good performance so far an indicator that she is a good queen or might she just as likely burn out in 6 months?
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RayMarler
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« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2009, 05:40:34 AM »

Is her good performance so far an indicator that she is a good queen or might she just as likely burn out in 6 months?

In my limited experience raising queens, I'd say this is a very excellent sign for your queen, and to me, how you made your nuc up is great and should produce good queens. Not every time, but at about a 65% success rate or better, is what I get here doing walk-a-ways.
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« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2009, 08:16:21 AM »

David, 24 days is not quick or coincidence. It only takes 12 days for a queen to emerge, so that left 12 days for her to get mated and start laying. She was probably laying longer than the 8 days as you suggested.

Good job!  Wink
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David LaFerney
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« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2009, 10:59:54 AM »

David, 24 days is not quick or coincidence. It only takes 12 days for a queen to emerge, so that left 12 days for her to get mated and start laying. She was probably laying longer than the 8 days as you suggested.

Good job!  Wink

I see that you are right of course. I don't know why I was thinking 28 days to lay. It sure made me happy to see her, and again when I saw all that nice tight brood.
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David LaFerney
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« Reply #15 on: September 13, 2009, 11:05:24 AM »

Is her good performance so far an indicator that she is a good queen or might she just as likely burn out in 6 months?

In my limited experience raising queens, I'd say this is a very excellent sign for your queen, and to me, how you made your nuc up is great and should produce good queens. Not every time, but at about a 65% success rate or better, is what I get here doing walk-a-ways.


Your comment makes me feel better about it - thanks.  Now, next spring I can try that cell punch queen rearing method from the link you posted to expand a bit to get my eggs into a few more baskets (so to speak). 
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« Reply #16 on: September 14, 2009, 03:39:05 PM »

They are bored and looking for excitment!  Kiss
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Geoff
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« Reply #17 on: September 14, 2009, 07:21:06 PM »

Bee-Bop you got in one!!
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