Author Topic: Requeening  (Read 360 times)

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Offline SouthAussieBeekeeping

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Requeening
« on: April 16, 2018, 08:14:17 am »
I hear that a queen lives for four years, and that, in order to maximise honey production, it's best to requeen every two years, as an aged queen is not as prolific as a younger queen.

Do you guys requeen every two years? What sort of difference in honey production is there in letting them keep an old queen?

Do you guys replace an old queen? I'm under the impression that if she's laying not consistently, if her eggs are scattered and if there is not many, or if she otherwise simply looks unwell, it can be worth replacing. I'm also under the impression that the bees will replace an old, bad queen themselves; are they good at doing this? Or do they tend to keep bad queens for too long?

When replacing, do you guys add a queen yourself? Or do you find the bad queen, squish her and then let the bees make themselves a new queen? My concern with the latter approach is, I believe the longer the larvae has access to royal jelly, the stronger, healthier more prolific the queen will become, and that sometimes emergency replacement queens can be less productive due to not receiving enough royal jelly.

I also stumbled across this quote:

"If you use hybrid bees or bees of a selected stock in your operation, be sure to requeen regularly. Allowing natural queen replacement usually leads to loss of hybrid vigor and sometimes causes colonies to be quite defensive and thus more difficult to manage."

Found at the bottom of this link:

http://agdev.anr.udel.edu/maarec/beginning-beekeeping-2/selecting-the-right-type-of-bee/

What do you guys think of this? Is this statement true? What does it mean exactly by "of a selected stock"; are they saying if someone orders Ligurians from some breeders, then allow them to naturally replace their queen, then they will become more defensive?

Offline LazyBkpr

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Re: Requeening
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2018, 09:46:35 am »

   Yep, a queen raised in the hive will be delivering half local eggs/bees so their resistance will be diminished depending on the genetics of the local bees in your area.

   i am on the line with replacing queens... I have quite a few hives, so it begins to get difficult to keep track. When I did keep track, I had one queen that lasted five years before the bees decided to replace her, and THEN she remained in the hive for almost a month still laying with her daughter. That hive was booming by the time she disappeared.
   Now, I replace queens when i see that they are not up to par. it might be because they are getting old, or because they are not well mated, maybe because they are producing temperamental bees etc, etc...  Usually as they get old you will start to notice they are declining, if you pay attention. If you don't pay attention, the bees will start making queen cells and make SURE you notice!  :P
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Offline Wandering Man

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Re: Requeening
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2018, 10:03:45 am »
Many of our locals replace their queens yearly. 

I've been having to do this, simply because of circumstances, but this is only my third year keeping bees.

As far as letting bees make their own queen, we live in an area with too many africanized drones, and so it is usually unwise to allow the queens to mate with feral stock.  I've learned the hard way that when catching a swarm, I need to requeen as soon as possible, since the genetics are unknown.  It is easier to requeen soon after the swarm has been caught than waiting until they become aggressive.
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Offline riverbee

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Re: Requeening
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2018, 09:35:57 pm »
omni, that's a good article overall, i disagree with the last paragraph.

this is and has been my practice, i don't requeen every year or every two years. (i don't live in texas or other states where AHB genetics are of concern)
if i have a queen that is doing well, i don't mess with this, until she starts to fail. i requeen as needed. i use swarm cells in the spring for divides/nucs. i have used swarm cells to 'requeen' hives with less than adequate queens from the previous season that managed to make it through winter months.

i keep russians and russian queens aren't available typically when i need one.  i don't like having the bees requeen themselves, but i do, sometimes this flys sometimes it doesn't, depending on what month. i will requeen with different stock available.

having said above, mutt queens and bees work for me.

"the longer the larvae has access to royal jelly, the stronger, healthier more prolific the queen will become, and that sometimes emergency replacement queens can be less productive due to not receiving enough royal jelly."

well fed queens, royal jelly. emergency cells typically not well fed and supercedure cells (dependent on many variables and timing of season).

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Offline Bakersdozen

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Re: Requeening
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2018, 05:38:23 am »
For optimal honey production, many here requeen every year.

Offline SouthAussieBeekeeping

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Re: Requeening
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2018, 09:48:39 pm »
I had one queen that lasted five years before the bees decided to replace her, and THEN she remained in the hive for almost a month still laying with her daughter.

I find this to be very interesting, because I've always been told that one hive always has just one queen, and that new queens will seek and kill all other queens so that there's only one queen present, but it's becoming apparent to me that this is not always true.

i have used swarm cells to 'requeen' hives with less than adequate queens from the previous season that managed to make it through winter months.

How are the swarm cells surviving a whole season? I think I'm not understanding something here.


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Re: Requeening
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2018, 10:32:56 pm »
It is the queen pheromones that effect the bees and wanting to replace the queens. as she gets older and lays less the pheromone levels are reduced so she is not considered a threat. The bees have no interest in swarming with her so they do not skinny her down to swarm. It is also probably a survival in-stink, in that if something did happen to the queen during mating and she is lost then they could raise another queen.

River is using swarm cells from good hives that are making cells to requeen hives that had queens that did not produce well the year before
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Offline riverbee

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Re: Requeening
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2018, 10:58:26 pm »
"River is using swarm cells from good hives that are making cells to requeen hives that had queens that did not produce well the year before"

omni, what apis said, yes this is what i do, sorry i was not clear about this.
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Offline tecumseh

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Re: Requeening
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2018, 07:20:05 am »
always an interesting question.  the very very old school guys (going back let us say 100 year)  would tell you to maximize production to keep young queens in the box.... some of those guys actively or passively requeened yearly.  as far as how to source queens several things should be considered.... one if you are a small apiary requeening with you own stock can lead to inbreeding and the increased likelihood of the alignment of lethal sex alleles < this will show up in the brood patter so it is not difficult to id. hybrid bees (mentioned in a post above) can become quite nasty once these queens are replaced by their daughters < in statistical/science terms this is called 'reversion to the mean' which can be basically interpreted as the offspring end up with the worst of their parent's characteristics. For myself who raises 'no treatment' bees (I know the terms is overused and misused but bear with me here) the idea is to focus on survivors so I breed from queens that survive the longest <typically 3 to 4 years old.  As in most things bee 'purpose' always drives my own decision making. 
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Offline Lburou

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Re: Requeening
« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2018, 11:03:40 am »
Always good to hear from Tec! 

A few thoughts follow, aimed at, 1)  The occasional (normal) periods of a hive having two queens, and 2) Queen development. 

It has been reported that, in the spring, 20% of bee hives have two queens.  Presumably as part of the (normal) supersedure process.  I don't have a problem with a hive superseding their queen.  I have a four year old queen still in the hive with a partial green dot.  Thought I had lost her to supersedure, but she showed up again early this year.  I've made a few queens from her (taken her daughters when they were side by side on the comb). 

In my view, the best potential for a well nourished queen is during the swarm process or a supersedure.  Emergency queens can be well nourished in a large hive during a honey flow, but, new beekeepers tend to force smaller colonies to make emergency queens. Smaller colonies have fewer bees and resources to expend to produce a good queen in an emergency.  The genes are still there, but the resultant queen may not be the best nourished and best developed specimen.  Not to worry, bees will supersede her in time.  Just don't go into winter with an iffy queen. JMO  :)

P.S.  I bring new queens into my apiary almost every year, so the bees always have fresh genes in the mix.
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