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Author Topic: Queen Evaluation  (Read 2279 times)
RHBee
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« on: October 08, 2013, 07:06:11 AM »

During this time of year, what criteria do you use to evaluate a queen? I have a mixture of Italian and Russian bees. Some of my queens are laying heavily, others are not, one has a spotty pattern. Is there any hard and fast rule that covers all races?
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« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2013, 07:49:50 AM »

My "guess" would be it's not the time of year to be evaluating queens.  But hey, I'm a newbie, so I may be wrong.
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« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2013, 11:18:40 AM »

how spotty is the spotty pattern?  is it spotty due to backfilling or hygienic behavior?  queens laying a tight pattern on a few frames wouldn't worry me if i had russian genetics in the mix nearly as much as a shotgun pattern would.
if the pattern is really bad i'd consider crushing that queen and doing a combination or at least plan on replacing her as early as possible next year.  
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RHBee
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« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2013, 12:23:04 PM »

Rob yeah shotgun. Population small some backfilling. She's a swarm daughter of a Russian queen. The Russians wintered with a small cluster last winter. I'll let her go till spring and see. She is still laying worker brood, no drone.
Moots I'm not far ahead of you. Your .02 is welcome. That's why they call it a discussion.
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« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2013, 03:54:32 PM »

Just thought I would post an update. Well I decided to remove one of my queens from my back yard hives and combine the population with a cutout I recently acquired. I felt that her brood pattern was just to spotty.
Well, during my subsequent inspections in my out yards I found three other hives with the same indication. If this really is an indication of a poor queen then I have others. So, since I now had an extra queen and one of my goals is to winter my colonies in a either a single deep or double mediums topped with a medium of honey, I decided to make a split of one of my remaining double deep hives. I put the extra queen in the split in an introduction frame. I checked today and by the looks of it they are playing well no seen aggression and a lot of kissing. I'll let her out tomorrow.
This brood pattern that I was seeing could be the result of Russian genetics or the heavy goldenrod flow causing just a lack of space. All through the brood nest there are pockets of nectar. The spotty pattern has nectar filling in the spaces. I'm only in my second winter with different types of bees. Time will tell if I made the right decision.
Any thoughts are welcome.
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« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2013, 06:02:09 PM »


During this time of year, what criteria do you use to evaluate a queen?

I rear new queens and I change them mostly all before autumn.

But if a new queen is hostile, I change it
Otherwise, it is impossible to know what are new queens. Next summer shows it.


Quote
I have a mixture of Italian and Russian

No need to evaluate mixtures. YOu cannot take daughters from those hives.

Quote
Some of my queens are laying heavily, others are not, one has a spotty pattern. Is there any hard and fast rule that covers all races?

There is no fast or slow rules and you ask too many things. Those are not race things...
Inside Italian bee there are tens of strains. And  colonies are individuals.

Spotty brood area ---> squeeze the queen
Not enough  laying ...> squeeze the queen. Bad laying does not become better

I evaluate laying speed in 3 frame mating nucs, what it should be.
And angry mind too. If new workers show  to me sting, I squeeze the queen and join the hive to another nuc.
.
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« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2013, 06:09:10 PM »

I'm only in my second winter with different types of bees. Time will tell if I made the right decision.
Any thoughts are welcome.

Take it easy. Years are different too. It takes several years to convince yourself what is the rule of game.
And others do not know your bees. They cannot say much about them.
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RHBee
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« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2013, 06:22:49 PM »

"Take it easy. Years are different too. It takes several years to convince yourself what is the rule of game.
And others do not know your bees. They cannot say much about them."


Thanks for the replies Finski. You gave good advice. I'll evaluate further in the spring. No hostile hives, just not sure about the egg laying.
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« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2013, 09:28:53 PM »

This time of year if their alive I keep them til spring.  Woody
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RHBee
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« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2013, 01:41:39 PM »

This time of year if their alive I keep them til spring.  Woody

Yeah Woody, That's what I'm gonna do.

I just checked both hives today. I found and marked the queen in the cutout/combination. I found the queen that I had pulled and then introduced into a late split. Everything is fine with both.
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« Reply #10 on: October 21, 2013, 02:12:36 PM »

if all your brood is spotty then it's most likely something in the environment.  by that i mean available food, temps, etc.  how are the stores.  what's available out there for them. 

even in your warmer environment the queens will reduce laying.  shorter days.  less brood.  you may never good brood free, but less is to be expected.  less also, if there had been a dearth even if they have stored food.

when you say spotty brood, is the spotty brood all in the brood area?  does it look like brood has hatched and the queen has not gone back to fill in? is what's left pretty much capped?  these would be  signs of the queens taking a break for some reason.
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« Reply #11 on: October 21, 2013, 04:57:32 PM »

As days shorten queens lay less and brood patterns are sometimes spotty due to workers filling any available cells with syrup/nectar as winter approaches. 

Bees will hopefully reside and cluster on a large patch as temps get real cold but many of the scattered brood will die from being chilled and/or neglected.  A good reason not to 'overfeed' colonies in the Fall, which occurs more often and causes more problems than we know.
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RHBee
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« Reply #12 on: October 21, 2013, 08:23:44 PM »

if all your brood is spotty then it's most likely something in the environment.  by that i mean available food, temps, etc.  how are the stores.  what's available out there for them. 

even in your warmer environment the queens will reduce laying.  shorter days.  less brood.  you may never good brood free, but less is to be expected.  less also, if there had been a dearth even if they have stored food.

when you say spotty brood, is the spotty brood all in the brood area?  does it look like brood has hatched and the queen has not gone back to fill in? is what's left pretty much capped?  these would be  signs of the queens taking a break for some reason.

Kathy, this was one of my smaller colonies. As I checked my other colonies I found the same pattern in the majority of them. So..If she was bad than I have many others. In her case, there was plenty of available comb. I didn't destroy her instead, I made a split from a strong colony. In the strong colony I left a deep full of brood and a medium full of honey. There was still a lot of bees, 8 deep frames covered.

As days shorten queens lay less and brood patterns are sometimes spotty due to workers filling any available cells with syrup/nectar as winter approaches. 

Bees will hopefully reside and cluster on a large patch as temps get real cold but many of the scattered brood will die from being chilled and/or neglected.  A good reason not to 'overfeed' colonies in the Fall, which occurs more often and causes more problems than we know.

T Beek, it is still very mild here. I think the lowest it's supposed to get here the next few days is 45degF. I hadn't been feeding these bees but they have been and still are pulling in goldenrod. I am sure that I have enough population to cover any brood left. I agree that the spotty pattern was caused by back fill but I don't understand why they didn't use other comb available to them.
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« Reply #13 on: October 25, 2013, 05:04:31 PM »


T Beek, it is still very mild here. I think the lowest it's supposed to get here the next few days is 45degF. I hadn't been feeding these bees but they have been and still are pulling in goldenrod. I am sure that I have enough population to cover any brood left. I agree that the spotty pattern was caused by back fill but I don't understand why they didn't use other comb available to them.

They are slowing down for the winter and the bees are trying to reduce her laying area. Queens usually will not cross a nectar/honey band (unless, of course they are looking for drone comb, usually in the spring). Were the open frames right there or did she need to cross honey frames to get to the new area?
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RHBee
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« Reply #14 on: October 25, 2013, 07:06:13 PM »

There was open brood comb above her. I made a split from a pretty strong colony and gave her to it. I checked later and found that she was accepted. I don't know, time will tell.
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« Reply #15 on: October 26, 2013, 06:10:25 AM »

Hopefully it all works out.  A bit late for splits but...........? 

Did you give the split some time...(even a few hours) to realize that they were queenless before adding the queen?  Now the wait till Spring.....

"There are no mistakes only lessons"   It must have been a BEEK who said that the first time  Smiley
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« Reply #16 on: October 26, 2013, 08:03:21 AM »

Hopefully it all works out.  A bit late for splits but...........? 

Did you give the split some time...(even a few hours) to realize that they were queenless before adding the queen?  Now the wait till Spring.....

"There are no mistakes only lessons"   It must have been a BEEK who said that the first time  Smiley

Actually,  I introduced her using the BM queen introduction frame. Before I released her I gave them 3 days of scent time and fed syrup. She is well established judging by the way she acts.
As far as lateness for split, yeah kinda late but, I had an extra queen and a strong colony and I live down south. I also live on a peninsula so my ambient temperature runs a few degF higher than areas away from the lake.

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« Reply #17 on: October 26, 2013, 08:10:06 AM »

I would give her until spring, so I can see the actual pattern without the workers trying to restrict her laying area. Winter is a great selector, too.
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« Reply #18 on: October 26, 2013, 08:34:39 AM »

Quote;  "Winter is a great selector, too"

Ain't it the truth.......
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RHBee
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« Reply #19 on: October 26, 2013, 08:59:06 AM »

I would give her until spring, so I can see the actual pattern without the workers trying to restrict her laying area. Winter is a great selector, too.

Guys, watch my weather and compare to yours. Think chilly dearth, I can feed liquid syrup all winter.
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« Reply #20 on: October 26, 2013, 09:09:51 AM »

i think i can count the times i've seen snow accumulate on the fingers on one hand.  maybe a dozen flurries besides that.  i can only remember lows in the single digits a couple of times.  the bees are working now and will be again by january.  at this point i'd let them go until spring.
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RHBee
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« Reply #21 on: October 26, 2013, 09:20:55 AM »

i think i can count the times i've seen snow accumulate on the fingers on one hand.  maybe a dozen flurries besides that.  i can only remember lows in the single digits a couple of times.  the bees are working now and will be again by january.  at this point i'd let them go until spring.

Thanks Rob, That's my plan. No more splits. I will equalize though and soon.
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« Reply #22 on: October 26, 2013, 09:37:55 AM »

 laugh  I remember heading home one time from Ft Benning in the early 70's.  Atlanta was getting a rare snow storm as I drove through.  Traffic was as light as I've ever seen, besides law enforcement, city workers, tow trucks and those in ditches and stuck in the meridians.  Stopped a few miles north of the city, a Ford Pinto (remember them) slid into a truck while passing (passed me about 2 minutes earlier rolleyes and was stuck under the tractor trailer.  The driver of the pinto was an overweight woman and she was stuck real good but OK.  It could have been much worse.  Me and the truck driver squeezed into her 2 door (passenger side was accessible, drivers not) stayed with her until the ambulance arrived......always wondered whatever happened to her.  I think the city got under 3" of snow that time  (we've already gotten that much up here so far but its melted).

I really don't mind the snow but the cold can be taxing to say the least.

Southern snow fall is rare and therefore dangerous...............best to stay home when weather is bad.......I do now days Smiley  Sorry to stray................ embarassed

Agreed; Wait till Spring.....what other options remain?  I think it will be OK IMHO  It seems you did everything right.  

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« Reply #23 on: October 26, 2013, 09:51:59 AM »

You mentioned the hive overwintered in a small cluster. When I had russians this was one of there traits. Also slow to kick in in the spring but built up super fast when they did kick in
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« Reply #24 on: October 26, 2013, 12:27:49 PM »

You mentioned the hive overwintered in a small cluster. When I had russians this was one of there traits. Also slow to kick in in the spring but built up super fast when they did kick in

Yeah RR, That's one reason why I'm not going to stick with them. Just a little unnerving how they keep QC's all year. Extremely rapid growth rate in spring makes swarm control difficult. They do take brood breaks in a dearth which controls mites but, their differences can drive me nuts. I'll stick with 1 race, mainly Italian muts. When you want to efficiently and effectively manage 200 colonies race inconsistencies are something you don't need. SOME DAY.
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« Reply #25 on: October 26, 2013, 12:36:54 PM »

tbeek, i'll be the first to admit we don't drive well in it (we can show you a thing or two in slick muddy roads, though).  i can only think of two times we had snow over 2 or 3 inches (72 and 94 if i remember right).  we used to get ice storms in march now and then when i was a kid.  seems like the week after christmas it was cold enough for ponds to ice over in 98 and 99 and we had a cold snap in 09 and that's about it.  march was much colder than january and february this year.  there were highs in the 70's last december and this january.  i was concerned about walking my land because of rattlesnakes in the dead of winter.  
  
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« Reply #26 on: October 26, 2013, 01:15:32 PM »

tbeek, i'll be the first to admit we don't drive well in it (we can show you a thing or two in slick muddy roads, though).  i can only think of two times we had snow over 2 or 3 inches (72 and 94 if i remember right).  we used to get ice storms in march now and then when i was a kid.  seems like the week after christmas it was cold enough for ponds to ice over in 98 and 99 and we had a cold snap in 09 and that's about it.  march was much colder than january and february this year.  there were highs in the 70's last december and this january.  i was concerned about walking my land because of rattlesnakes in the dead of winter.  
  

Rattle snakes, copperheads and cotton mouths....I sure don't miss those guys.

It must've been that 72 storm I experienced then.  I spent a good part of my military life in GA.

 laugh In our region we actually have FIVE seasons  huh.  Our "mud season" begins with the winter thaw and doesn't end until the frost finally leaves the ground (its one big reason we spend so much on roads up here).  Trucks over a certain tonage are banned from many county and side roads (only school buses and emergency vehicles are allowed for up to 6 weeks or longer) so I have a pretty good idea about the hazards (and fun) of mud truckin'  grin 

The weather is something we can always talk about, heh?  Likely the most discussed topic going....... Undecided anywhere.....
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« Reply #27 on: October 26, 2013, 01:19:06 PM »

i've been in north dakota in november in the rain.  would that be similar to your mud season?
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RHBee
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« Reply #28 on: October 26, 2013, 01:31:25 PM »

tbeek, i'll be the first to admit we don't drive well in it (we can show you a thing or two in slick muddy roads, though).  i can only think of two times we had snow over 2 or 3 inches (72 and 94 if i remember right).  we used to get ice storms in march now and then when i was a kid.  seems like the week after christmas it was cold enough for ponds to ice over in 98 and 99 and we had a cold snap in 09 and that's about it.  march was much colder than january and february this year.  there were highs in the 70's last december and this january.  i was concerned about walking my land because of rattlesnakes in the dead of winter.  
  

Rattle snakes, copperheads and cotton mouths....I sure don't miss those guys.

It must've been that 72 storm I experienced then.  I spent a good part of my military life in GA.

 laugh In our region we actually have FIVE seasons  huh.  Our "mud season" begins with the winter thaw and doesn't end until the frost finally leaves the ground (its one big reason we spend so much on roads up here).  Trucks over a certain tonage are banned from many county and side roads (only school buses and emergency vehicles are allowed for up to 6 weeks or longer) so I have a pretty good idea about the hazards (and fun) of mud truckin'  grin 

The weather is something we can always talk about, heh?  Likely the most discussed topic going....... Undecided anywhere.....

ln March of '72 a storm dumped 18" of snow in our yard in Pinopolis SC. The entire area was paralyzed. My folks are from a small WV town called Richwood. Dad took me out and taught me how to drive in the stuff. That has come in handy several times.
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« Reply #29 on: October 26, 2013, 06:27:23 PM »

i've been in north dakota in november in the rain.  would that be similar to your mud season?

Close but we have lots of lakes, rivers, glacial hills and vast forest, not much open area around here.  Lake Superior effects our weather quite a bit depending on wind directions.

We usually get at least a couple 15-20" snow storms each season, but they probably average 4-6".  Over a 7 month period of potential snow accumulation it can add up.

Why am I talking about winter??  embarassed  it really hasn't even begun yet, we hit 44F today, darn near a heat wave!. 

One of my favorite parts of winter IMO is fishing through the ice.  Usually we can get on the lakes by Thanksgiving but its gotten later every year for several in a row.  Cold fish is best IMHO.  Can't wait...........there I go again.......I must just be getting my brain ready..... Smiley
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« Reply #30 on: October 26, 2013, 10:39:51 PM »

i have dreams about fishing starting around february and i hunt deer in my sleep starting around september.  i've also inspected hives in my sleep more than once. 
i've flown over wisconsin, i do remember all the lakes now that you mention it.  i've set my feet on the ground all around wisconsin but never in it.  minnesota, indiana, illinois, and michigan but never wisconsin.
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« Reply #31 on: October 27, 2013, 06:04:57 AM »

 cool  Perhaps you'll make it yet.  No better fishing in the world IMO, hunting ain't bad either.
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« Reply #32 on: October 27, 2013, 09:39:46 AM »

The ole forum hasnt changed much since I havent been around for awhile grin How does one go from queen evaluation to where we are now in the thread
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« Reply #33 on: October 27, 2013, 12:34:04 PM »

You beat a subject to death then it turns into a chat room. Sounds like an efficient recycling method.
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« Reply #34 on: October 28, 2013, 04:58:31 AM »

 :lau:The last few days of being off topic  I'm sorry were better than many of the days before....What's different?
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« Reply #35 on: October 28, 2013, 05:23:20 AM »

:lau:The last few days of being off topic  I'm sorry were better than many of the days before....What's different?

Nothing to be sorry about. I guess Finski and I kinda beat the whole inspection thing in the ground. All that could have been done via PM's. But, then no one would have been able to share in the fun. grin
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« Reply #36 on: October 28, 2013, 08:46:20 AM »

at least we aren't slinging insults.  also, i think everyone agrees to leave the queen in place for now.
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« Reply #37 on: October 28, 2013, 12:50:40 PM »

Yeah Rob, If you start yelling at me that might hurt my feelings. If I had any.Grin
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