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Author Topic: Queen's Age  (Read 3453 times)
doak
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« on: March 02, 2010, 10:01:50 AM »

I think this the appropriate place for this.
I would like"if possible" some first hand experience on the subject I am talking about.

over the past 4 or 5 years I have noticed in the number of colonies that I have lost that I consider above normal. Among the lost the colonies that have old Queens are among these.
The two strong colonies I have were splits from good strong colonies with the new queen going to the split. The two downer colonies went into the fall with a very large population of bees and good stores. The splits did very well but I did not take any honey from none.
The last one that went was my largest and had the most honey stores. They left about 3 and 1/2 boxes of honey. very few dead bees were found  inside the hive.

what I suspect is that for some reason the queen died and and for some reason there was no new queen reared. The worker population just dwindled away, which will happen with out a queen.

Has anyone else had this happen to them, that they noticed.
Are queen's living shorter life spans, or what? :)doak
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ONTARIO BEEKEEPER
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« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2010, 10:48:45 AM »

Thats what I don't understand; why requeen a good queen just because she's a year or two old ? Then eventually you're selecting for queens that are only viable for a season. I replace my queens when their pattern starts to fail or they have poor characteristics, not because they are old.

 I think what you might be seeing with your losses if I understand you could  be this ;  your new hives are surviving because they get a break in brood rearing (waiting for the queen ) which slows the varroa down.  The new colony also does lots of house cleaning while preparing for the new queen.  Your donner colonies had the varroa continue mating the whole time.

 Regardless, if the bees did not make it you can blame the queen.
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specialkayme
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« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2010, 01:22:52 PM »

I could be wrong, but I don't think doak is attributing the losses to varroa. What you are referring to is ourbreeding the mites, which is a different topic.

I believe doak is talking about queens dying faster than in the past, not necessarily the bees dying due to varroa, then the colony failing. But it could be that.

why requeen a good queen just because she's a year or two old ? Then eventually you're selecting for queens that are only viable for a season. I replace my queens when their pattern starts to fail or they have poor characteristics, not because they are old.

There are a number of advantages to requeening every year or every other year, as opposed to waiting for the queen to fail naturally. If you requeen every year, you are ensuring that genetic diversity is being put back into the hive. If you got one new hygienic hive, requeening your other hives will make use of the drones that are flying around carrying that hygienic behavior. If you wait and requeen as needed, genetic diversity only occurs every three years or so. You also ensure that the hives that make it through the winter get their genes passed on. If you have one hive that has a great characteristic of being resistant to varroa, requeening every year ensures that you can spread that characteristic among the rest of your hives faster. The downside, of course, is that you can spread poor characteristics just as fast.

Also, by requeening before you see problems, you are in a sense getting rid of problems before they occur. You get the chance to requeen before the queen fails, preventing the hive from dwindling in numbers more than it would have to.

There is also an article (actually a few) out about queens that are produced after the summer solstice (June 20th). Those queens seem to produce better through the fall, and overwinter at a greater percentage, or so the theory goes. Requeening every year allows the colonies to overwinter better, theoretically.

Last, I would just like to point out that if you are requeening whenever you see the pattern start to fail, not only are you behind the curve in fixing a hive problem, but you are also essentially requeening an old queen. So while you arn't choosing queens directly based on age, in a sense you really are. Older queens tend to have their pattern fail. Also, even if you requeen every year or every other year, that doesn't mean that you can't requeen every time a poor characteristic is shown either.

That of course isn't mentioning the fact that it's much easier to just routinely change out queens. Most people change their oil every 3 months or 3,000 miles. Some times the oil is still good after 3,000 miles, and could make it another 3,000 miles. But most people just do these regular maintenance issues as preventative to problems.
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kathyp
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« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2010, 01:59:11 PM »

i'm not into scheduled requeening.  if i requeen, i try to do it from my own feral stock.  i see no reason to kill a good queen just because she's older.  if the pattern is good and the numbers are good, i leave her.  i have one hive that i know has requeened itself...probably a couple of times.

queens are expensive and i have had more failures with purchased queens than with those that have been done by the hive, or with my own stock.

i think it's another one of those personal choice things.  if you are comfortable watching your hives for problems and making quick decisions, don't do it.  if you want to be reasonable sure you have good queens without having to worry about it, requeen on a schedule.  

i like a little adventure in my life smiley

BTW, the one hive i purchased a queen for last year (against my better judgment) died over the winter.
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doak
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« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2010, 02:41:41 PM »

The reason for not re queening these two hives is simple. Good build up, good honey crop the previous year. I could not see anything that said the queen was failing.

I will be starting a new program this year. Some things I haven't been doing.
#1. screen bottom boards.
#2 waiting till after honey flow to make splits and raise queens
#3 raise some extra holding queens.
#4 spray the ground around and under the hives. For hive beetles.
#5 do a late inspection for brood pattern, but not so late that the queen has slowed enough that I can't get a read on it.
 These may not be in the exact order they should come, but you get the picture, don't you?
Will also be running grease patties, year round. :)doak
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annette
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« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2010, 08:42:34 PM »

My oldish queen (2 years old) was not laying very well, I actually saw her in the hive walking around looking sort of smallish.

Well in the super down below was a nice, big, fat supercedure cell just waiting to be born.  So I knew that the hive decided to replace her.

A few weeks later, I went into this hive, the new queen came up and out of the frames and walked around on my hand. A beautiful big new queen. Later on I saw her brood pattern was extraordinary.

So what is the problem again with letting them decide to make their own queens??

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doak
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« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2010, 09:32:55 PM »

I don't have anything against them raising their own queen when they need to.

 Also didn't think of the Mite cycle not being broke on these mother colonies.
If I have some extra queens in the fall and inspect around the first of Sept. I can see what kind of shape the pattern is in, before the queen slows too much. Could have been they lost the queen too late to be replaced by the colony. If that was the case and had been discovered, could have made a difference. A late laying queen would be better than no queen.

Could be I let assumptions get in the way. Large population, plenty of stores, who knows?
In my area we should find some brood, small amount it may be, during the winter except 3 to 4 weeks from Mid Dec. to Mid Jan.

On the 18th of Feb. when I did my first inspection one colony had brood from eggs to capped so that means the queen had been laying sense about the 28th of Jan. The other good colony had a big fat queen. I did not look for the brood at that time because she was there.
Why I found the brood in the other one I was looking for the queen, never found her. Closed it up when I found the brood.

Now as soon as one of these colonies get's a frame of capped brood, the strongest one, I will ask it the donate it to the colony that has that small amount of bees, if it still has the queen.

I also found drones in all three colonies on the 18th of Feb.
I will be going back in as soon as weather permits. Need to check the oil pans any how.
Now I have to go get me a cup  of caffeine. at night? sure. :)doak
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specialkayme
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« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2010, 10:01:18 PM »


So what is the problem again with letting them decide to make their own queens??



Supersedure queens have the possibility to be genetically inferior to swarm queens. Because the queen doesn't choose to lay an egg in a queen cup, the workers need to pick worker larvae and put it into a queen cell. Sometimes they pick great larvae, sometimes they pick larvae too old.

Additionally, with one supersedure queen usually comes multiple ones, just to be sure. When two queens emerge, the bees may swarm.
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ONTARIO BEEKEEPER
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« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2010, 10:04:57 PM »

I guess what I'm after are queens that are good into their 2nd and 3rd years.  I can't do that if I'm pinching the  queen every year.  I've been breeding bees from an old time beekeeper who has not re-queened in over 20 years. He allows the bees to supercede. He is in his 70's and has not treated properly for varroa in the last 5 years. So I'm lucky I have a really good stock to breed from. I started 4 years ago with his bees only giving them non chemical treatments and raising queens from the best survivors in the Spring.

doak;    
The grease patties are a good idea. I make mine with some wintergreen oil. What you described with the dead-outs with hardly any bees, sounds like some that I had caused by tracheal mites.  This is a very good link with really good videos. It will show you step by step how to check for tracheal mites:
http://www.extension.org/pages/University_of_Florida_Bee_Disease_Videos
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2010, 10:51:22 PM »

Queens used to live an average of three YEARS.  I heard a researcher say they are now being superseded an average of three times a year.  Yes, they are living shorter lives, probably due to the contamination in the wax and the exposure to all the miticides, including, but not limited to, the organic acids, fluvalinate, amitraz and cumophos.  Also, drones are not as fertile for those same reasons, contributing to the queens not being as fertile (as well as the chemicals making them not as fertile) resulting in them failing.

« Last Edit: March 04, 2010, 12:51:00 AM by Michael Bush » Logged

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fish_stix
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« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2010, 09:01:41 PM »

Doak; you mention in your "Plan" spraying for hive beetles. You may kill a few larva in the ground but treating the ground does nothing for the beetles and beetle larva in the hive. By the time you get larva pupating in the ground your hive is usually history. Remember, the SHB larva mature in your combs then crawl out to enter the soil for pupation. The first line of defense for SHB is in the hive, with some form of trap and hopefully, some type of bait to draw them to the trap. In addition, if you're going to run grease patties you will be attracting multitudes of SHB to your hives. 'Tis no fun to take the lid off and find 50 beetles running around inside and SHB larva working through the patties.
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doak
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« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2010, 09:18:09 PM »

I am running oil pans :)doak
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David LaFerney
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« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2010, 10:00:03 PM »

Has anyone ever tried trapping SHB in baited traps outside of the hives?  I would think that baiting for SHB would be like a bug zapper - better if your neighbor has one attracting the pests to his yard instead of having one yourself.
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BjornBee
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« Reply #13 on: March 04, 2010, 07:18:53 AM »

doak,
Lets assume that 10 feral colonies come through winter. Or even 10 managed hives. Now lets also assume that for the managed colonies, it is the same as the ferals....no beekeeper intervention, no reversing the boxes, no expansion of the brood chamber...

Want to guess how many hives will swarm, and has been shown to do so in studies? 9 out of 10. Mother nature also always plays the best odds to her favor. And what does she dictate when swarming happens? That the old queen leaves first. She puts her odds in that the established hive has the best odds with a new virgin queen.

Now studies have also shown that bees in the wild, also have about a 90% first year loss in new colonies. Bees naturally try to increase this percentage by using old home sites, and taking advantage of past generation efforts.

Beekeepers of course catch swarms and feed, transfer over combs of brood, and do whatever they can to also increase these odds. So we certainly expect swarms to survive at a higher rate. but what happens in nature, and what has programmed bees for eons, is that swarms have little chance of survival, established hives are better off almost every year with first year queens as as shown and dictated by nature.

Yes, in years past, when things could be more easily manipulated, and bees had far fewer problems, you could take a queen and through management get several good years out of a queen. It was nice for nature to give us a product that could be a manipulated and a queens life extended, even though nature never intended it that way.

But with today's problems of chemical buildup, pests and disease, and a host of other issues, perhaps we need to go back and look at what nature intended and used as a survival trait for many more years longer than mankind started keeping bees as we do today. Nature uses and plays the best odds for survival. And we could increase our overwinter kill rate by learning and using some of these same odds.

First year queens outperform (on average) better than second year queens. second year queen perform better than third year queens, and so on. a younger queen not only produces more, but her colony can also be manipulated into swarming less as their internal desire of such supersede is decreased, and can be fooled by beekeeper management.

We are not going back to the way it was pre-mites. The day of getting 3-5 years from a queen is not the way to go. And think about it, if nature "upgrades" her stock every year, why would some queen breeder think that using the same queen 3-5 years is a good thing? Imagine no genetic selection or upgrade for 3-5 years. What a waste.

I found out years ago when doing splits in the same yard and left half with the old queen, and half with new queens, that the colonies with newer queens always had a better survival rate than the older queened hives.

hope this helps.
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« Reply #14 on: March 04, 2010, 12:20:35 PM »

Nice post. Your logic makes great sense. Thanks Bjorn.
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doak
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« Reply #15 on: March 04, 2010, 08:00:11 PM »

I think we have covered more ground than I intended.
Original topic, queen age. was just wondering if the age of the queen might have had any effect on the colonies dying. Nobody can weigh on that. because we don't know if the mother colonies were super ceded. I should have weighed that before posting the ?
Now, If I had the queens marked, and upon inspection found that the marked queen was still in charge going into winter, then we could look at it in a different way.

As for how many colonies swarm out of a given amount, of, which ones had what done to them.
That could also be weighed.
My original question had nothing to do with swarming.

Thanks for all the replies, although they did go be yound my ?
doak
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David LaFerney
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« Reply #16 on: March 04, 2010, 09:24:05 PM »

Doak,

I think most of the discussion was mostly relevant to your question. 

Maybe queens aren't living as long as they would if you could protect them from chemicals and polution. But whether that is true or not we know for sure that a healthy first year queen has a better chance of making it through the winter.  And we also know that the older the queen is it gets more likely that she won't. 

What I got from it is - If you want to be as non-intrusive as possible you can always let the bees decide. But if you don't want to gamble on winter losses caused by the death of an old queen then you should consider re-queening pretty often - which would probably also help to prevent swarming.

I think it was a good question, and it started a good discussion.  So, good job.
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RayMarler
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« Reply #17 on: March 05, 2010, 12:21:20 AM »

What I've noticed here myself, is that when I purchase a queen from a large commercial breeder, versus the queens I raise versus swarms captured....

Commercial queens have the lowest survival rate (maybe I'm purchasing from the wrong peoples?
Swarm queens have the next to lowest survival rate.
Queens I've raised myself have the best survival rate.

My goal is to have queens that are long of life and the hives supercede the queens when needed without my intervention.

I've got a mother and daughter in same hive now, the mother is comming out of her second winter

Last fall I've one that got naturally superceded her third year.

I've got 7 hives now with last years queens. I'm quite hopeful they make it through 2010/2011 winter and beyond.

I've been changing the way I manage my beehives the last 2 years. I'm trying to be more of a lazy beekeeper as Michael Bush has written, and long of life with successful supercedure of failing queens will help me achieve my laziness in beeking.

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« Reply #18 on: March 05, 2010, 11:01:23 AM »

I'm not sure where I read this, maybe ABC&XYZ or how accurate it is. It stated that average annual losses to old queens was around 10% on average.
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doak
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« Reply #19 on: March 05, 2010, 05:53:40 PM »

The two colonies in subject were 2 out of 4 lost
The other 2 were new queens making up the 2 splits.
I should have weighed this fact earlier.
The 3 queens I had when I opened my hives on Feb 18 were/is last year hatches.
Overlooking the fact that I had 2 first year queens as well as 2 2nd year queens.
The main difference was the build up between the older queens and new queens.
This would of course have resulted in the mother colony having a ready laying and on going brood.

was still a good topic and I got some good info. Thanks all Smiley doak
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