Interest in detailed queens?

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by cheezer32, May 31, 2012.

  1. cheezer32

    cheezer32 New Member

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    Sorry, but I had no idea where to put this thread.... please move it if in the wrong place!

    I've been thinking about doing a little "twist" on queen rearing and sales... I have been thinking about running a program with 1 year old queens that come with a detailed report on the history of the queen, and the hives that she had been in possibly with pictures as well.

    The thing detailed would be stuff like: Graft mother information (who's stock etc), graft date, date transfered into mating nucs, type of mating nucs, what the hive was feed and when and quanitity, notes from every hive inspection that will detail foraging activity, brood amount, aggressiveness etc. how it was overwintered, etc etc etc... I plan for it to be a multiple page report on each queen.

    The only problem is the price because so much effort would go into raising and noting each queen, as well as making them prove themselves by surviving through a winter, the price will be decently higher than a normal queen.

    SOOOO... I ask the public what your thought's would be on this? To much? Not realistic? What would you pay for such a queen? Certain note's you would like to see? Or anything else that you think of just throw it out there! Thanks!
     
  2. ablanton

    ablanton New Member

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    Well, I'm a new beek (still green & ignorant), but... I keep hearing and reading that queens should be replaced every-other-year. Maybe every two years. If the queen is already a year old, I don't know that I would want to pay more for a queen that is only good for one year.
     

  3. cheezer32

    cheezer32 New Member

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    ablanton: In my opinion there is some truth to the replace queens every year.. but in my understanding for the most part that is geared for commercial operations who are pushing their colonies to the max in every possible way... moving, chemicals, production, stress, etc. etc. Most say the queens just can't produce long in those environments.

    On the flip side there are many people advocating using fall raised queen to re-queen hives in the spring (essentially using 1 year old queens) as well as using them for splits. There are many beekeepers who keep queens for 2-3 years successfully, only replacing queens when they see a problem or letting the bees naturally take care of the problem through supercedure; not every hive on the same day every year as with some operations.

    The main point of the program is you know what your getting, and it should hopefully, eliminate people receiving drones layers, improperly or under mated queens (the hope is they will go bad the fall, winter, or very early during the large brood buildup) before they ever are considered for shipping. Thus, eliminating a lot of aspects that require the need to re-queen yearly. These queens won't necessarily be 1 year old, just have survived a winter (fall raised). Though some might be, hence the details given with each queen.
     
  4. barry42001

    barry42001 New Member

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    Hello cheezer23,
    The fact is you won't be eliminating the possibility og a drone layer, by maintaining a record of the individual queen's prowess, stock and age--what you are doing is having a queen, that has already laid many thousands of eggs, ( I would think that would be a somewhat draining process ), then hoping that she wouldn't fail the following season as you sell her. In actuality, as a queen ages, the laying rate will slow down a bit and so little at first you might not notice as the 2nd year drags on it will become more apparent, but thats why is suggested to replace your queens in the fall, so your colonies have a fresh, young queen comming into winter, more importanatly--as you enter the heaviest brood rearing period early to late spring. For that matter you can never certian when her sperm supply will run out--because you don't know how well mated she is--suspect she won't tell you either, and should you ask you might want to duck or get slapped lol. Food for thought.
    Barry
     
  5. cheezer32

    cheezer32 New Member

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    Barry42001: The fact is that you can never truely eliminate the possibility of anything.... there are many people who run there queens for several years as I already stated, and I receive feedback from people who already have bought queens from me that are several years old, and they say they are still laying good patterns and producing. Everyones views and experiences are different but in mine the queens I have observed have not shown a progression to slower egg laying in the second season of laying, yes they have laid many thousands of eggs... but a properly mated queen has many millions of sperm stored in her, making the few thousand only a small point in the life of a healthy queen.

    You can't tell how well each queen is mated you produce.. but by examining both sample sperm counts for breed queen in your area, and taking percentages of failed queens from each batch per location.. you can get a pretty good ideas.

    It is suggested you replace queens in the fall.... with fall queens... because it is said these late raised queen will lay heavier than a queen raised earlier in the very same year (kind of taking the stance that a queen raised the same year is no better than a 1, 2, or even 3 year old queen) and the effect of this laying is not so much a young queen overwintering, but rather a large, young, worker force over wintering. At that same stance, many people buy strains of bees who are known for "small cluster" overwintering ability.. so then arn't you kind of countering why you bought that particular strain in the first place?

    When you talk about laying rate at any instance.. its kind of hard to aclimate it anyway.. certain strains slow down or speed up laying dependant mainly of forage and time of year... you could take what you think is a average laying queen in a hive bringing in enough forage just to get by, throw her and 5-6 lbs of bees on drawn, but empty comb, with a couple patties and syrup and watch her lay up those frames very quickly.


    If you are worried about having a new queen in the spring, and fall, or re-queening every twelve months so that you have a fresh laying queen every day of the year this obviously isn't what you would want. The purpose of this is so that you can get a queen that has proven traits that you want. ie surviving a winter so you don't have to replace hives every spring, or ordering a new queen in 2 weeks because your bees are superceding her, the drone laying while I'm sure not 100% fixed I would expect to be DRASTICALLY reduced.
     
  6. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    I think they use to call these kinds of queens 'proven'. Meaning they had enough progeny that you could discern the hives disposition + any number of other important (+ or -) qualities. I never really knew but I assumed these were used by queen rearing folks for drone laying queens.... the downside in using these for production purposes has been well stated above.

    We are in a new age where surviving is more important that any other perceived + or - qualities, so age may now be more important than anything else. this information only requires a color dot on the back of a queens thorax.
     
  7. heinleinfan

    heinleinfan New Member

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    Hey Cheezer,

    I like the idea and I'm a fan of knowing what I buy. I have never bought a queen. I've always thought if I needed to the person I would buy from would be the one who could tell me the most about the queen they send me, more than just their blurb on their website giving general information on their practices.

    However, I do think it would be a hard sell to the general beekeeping community.

    There is a growing trend of keeping not only organically, but also more...naturally. Mostly letting the bees do their thing and not doing as much keeper interference. A lot of keepers of this mindset go with top bar hives and they wouldn't dream of requeening each year, but might wind up in an emergency situation where they need to requeen or lose a hive. That might be your market.

    Perhaps you could approach it as almost like a business experiment. Decide how many of these detailed queens you could raise this way without having to raise the price significantly, even if it's only 5 or so, and sell them with only a smaller increase and then follow up extensively with your buyers for feedback and performance.
    Maybe even contact bee clubs in your area or a state inspector or someone else in the area that has a larger honey business (but who doesn't compete with your queen rearing), and try to get one of your detailed queens in a couple of their hives, maybe even for free. Enlist their help, basically. Small businesses generally do want to help other small businesses when they can, so see if they will work with you to track how these queens do compared to typically reared queens.

    If you were to start getting positive feedback and discover it was successful on a small scale, then you would know you could grow the idea into larger production. And you could have some references and word of mouth on your queens to help you grow the market.

    This would obviously take longer, but you might be able to find yourself in a niche market with many happy customers, instead of launching an idea that does not reach the right people and fizzles out.

    Good luck!
     
  8. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    I have seen a couple larger set-ups that raise queens on a limited scale. I have seen these mini mating nucs, 1 half sized frame in styrofoam. Queens are placed directly from these into queen cages. The "proven" part is the one that eludes me in a situation like this. How on earth can you tell how a queens laying pattern is developing on a single frame no bigger than small sketch pad? You may see eggs, larvae and capped brood but only on a miniscule scale at best. That said, I have been happy with the queens I have received even though I have to wait until mid to late June to buy local.
    A better history might be appealing if the cost was not too high.
     
  9. barry42001

    barry42001 New Member

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    Perry,
    I believe that he is talking about a yearling queen, that already has been in a full sized hive through a large brood cycle season therefore you would have some idea on the brood pattern and disposition of the workforce.
     
  10. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    He's just testing the waters. I don't think I would pay more for a year old queen. One full box with bored nurse bees and a supercedure and she's gone anyway.
     
  11. cheezer32

    cheezer32 New Member

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    tecumseh: The larger operation usually sell these as breeder queens, and are used as grafting mothers rather drone layers. The main point of these queens in mind was for the hobby beekeeper, one that wasn't trying to get 300# of honey each year, just enough for themselves and family members, but also who didn't want to end up buying a new package of bees every year.

    heinleinfan: The cost will have to raise for 1 queen or 50,000 produced this way.. there is just so much work involved in keeping tabs on every little thing that happens to this queen along with successfully overwintering all of them, that you would lose out selling these for 15-20 each.

    Perrybee: I use mini-mating nucs in my operation for my regular queens I produce, mine are 3 half length deeps frames so they have 1 and 1/2 deep frame total space.. not a whole lot but enough to gauge a "mill run" queen. This is the same way about every large operation you can think of rears there queens. These queens would be mated and overwintered in deep 5 frame nucs, with these needing to make the winter I wouldn't chance them overwintering in mini mating nucs lol (although I am going ecperiement this winter)

    barry42001: Exactly right.

    Gypsi: This is how I would look at your statement... many of you on here have made a split have you not? How many times was that the mother queen from the split superceded right away.. like you see with most packages or "new" queens?

    This is the way I thought of it when I origanially thought of the idea... I here to many people say that the queens they get don't perform period... as in they are drone layers, they don't lay a good pattern, superceded right away, are hot, etc etc.... The idea is that do you want a dead queen, or do you want a queen thats going to produce, and live the winter, and then add to your local gene pool so that her great genetics make it into the rest of your hives?


    They way most of you talk... you don't have any faith for a queen that is over 12 months old, what happened to this hive made the winter now there going gangbusters this spring!!! <--- that is the queen I'm wanting to sell... is that not the queen you want?
     
  12. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    some comments here about replacing queens. i do not replace my queens every year. why would you replace a queen that is laying well?

    cheezer, an industrious effort and thoughtful planning. i would purchase a yearling queen from you but i would not be willing to pay extra for the information, or a multiple page report. what i would be willing to pay a little extra for is a yearling queen that is a proven LAYING queen, nice and plump, and can tell me some of the information, when i ask, for example, when she was grafted, how you graft, how she is mated, and stock line. if you put your efforts into the care and rearing of your queens, rather than all the detailed paperwork(except for yourself & records), you will have happy customers.

    i would much rather purchase a queen from a breeder that has been laying well before she is sold to me, and would pay extra for that.

    whoops, cheezer was posting when i replied, cheezer said:
    "or do you want a queen thats going to produce, and live the winter, and then add to your local gene pool so that her great genetics make it into the rest of your hives?......what happened to this hive made the winter now there going gangbusters this spring!!! <--- that is the queen I'm wanting to sell... is that not the queen you want? "

    this is the queen i would desire and pay extra for, not the paperwork, or 'pedigree report'.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2012
  13. cheezer32

    cheezer32 New Member

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    riverbee: Sorry maybe I mis-explained the paper-work, queen price thing... I would be doing much more detailed reports of the queens on my own for my own records and breeding purposes, the paperwork included would basically be a condenced version of these records. The paperwork side of it isn't something I would be "charging extra for" more of a free fun fact sheet with your queen.

    The paperwork is more for me.. obviously not every queen I plan to overwinter and sell as a overwintered queen will be from the same graft, they will be done in different grafts. That way it allows be to cull whole groups of queens if I notice something wrong within a particular group of queens, again making sure the end result is only the best queens for the customer.
     
  14. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    cheezer,
    thanks for the clarification, " making sure the end result is only the best queens for the customer."
    a quality queen, and a statement about yourself cheezer. i would as i said, pay a little extra, to the person who cares about the quality of the queen they sell. i have purchased yearling queens, and fall and spring raised queens. to some with misgivings about this, there are no guarantees, with any queen, whether they are spring queens, fall queens or a year old. a queen can fail at anytime for any reason or be superceded. i prefer to purchase a queen with a laying track record, as in a nuc hive, not a queen in a cage that was just mated and captured, and sent to me in a cage. these i find more supecedure and overwintering problems with.

    tec said:
    "We are in a new age where surviving is more important that any other perceived + or - qualities, so age may now be more important than anything else".
     
  15. vermillion

    vermillion New Member

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    I think there is a niche market for queens priced somewhat higher with an accompanying data sheet.
    I definitely think it is worth exploring.

    I suspect you will be getting a fair bit of your business from the newer hobbiest beekeeper community, or perhaps clubs. I think you could add some value with a simple FAQ as well...."if you see x, try a" types of scenaria, simply described, that people could refer to before or after inspections, etc. You could also include some kind of simple record keeping system that your customers could adapt for themselves. The latter two items only need be created one time, but these along with your queens would provide a fair bit of bang for the buck for a new hobbiest beekeeper.

    my hive/queen was much like you describe, though no data sheet, it was just that I was around the beeyard when that batch was bred and distributed. i bought a whole hive, not just a nuc (believe it or not there is a market for that as well, albeit small). I was willing to pay that premium because I had, and continue to have, mentoring and help with my questions. And we cannot get bees or queens here easily (and nothing from the mainland); so taking all that into consideration, that is the route I went.

    (And I think it was right, because now I have three hives, in less than two months...)

    Good luck on your venture, I think you have gotten some great suggestions here!
     
  16. dr.buzz

    dr.buzz New Member

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    You have read some very logical reasons why your "detailed report" queens won't be an advantage over other queens. Even if every one of those reasons are 100% correct, it doesn't have anything to do with whether your business plan will succeed or not. In my opinion, there are tons of new beekeepers that are buying tons of things that are either not necessary or aren't any better than something you could make yourself. And it's subjective whether half the stuff being bought and sold today is worth the money or not. If you make a good case for your product and create a market, you can succeed in business, period. I mean, we live in a world that has made Justin Bieber, Marylin Manson and something called a "Snoop Doggy" multimillionaires. Rich people have their pets taken to be analyzed by psychotherapists. Charlatans called televangelists buy mansions with stupid people's money. I'm not saying your detailed queens are a scam like all of that stuff, I'm just saying, you might have a million dollar idea that you believe in and there is no reason you can't make a go of it. I don't personally buy queens at all and it's possible that the majority of queen breeders in general are profiting from the gullibility of new beeks. So whose to say your queens won't be as good as theirs?

    Go for it.
     
  17. cheezer32

    cheezer32 New Member

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    dr.buzz: I think your kind of missing the point behind this idea... for me personally these queens work, I use them every year in my personal operation and 1 year old queens have my 100% faith. This wasn't a matter of making a million dollars or even ten... I just wanted to see if other people were interested in a queen rearing process of this nature.

    "I don't personally buy queens at all and it's possible that the majority of queen breeders in general are profiting from the gullibility of new beeks. So whose to say your queens won't be as good as theirs?"

    Although there are thousands of thousands of hobbiest out there... I would say that there are far more queens sold to commercial operators.. with, for the most part only a small difference in price.

    My goal isn't to sell thousands of these queens each year, it's selling quality queens.. if not I wouldn't put in so much effort trying to produce them. I make the usual queens using mini mating nucs, caged after 3-4 weeks and then sold, I'm just trying to offer what I consider a better product.

    After this thread I'm actually highely suprised at how people value a year old queen... I thought they would have been given a much higher value, and not such a worn-out no good....
     
  18. dr.buzz

    dr.buzz New Member

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    I'm sure you are right, I don't know anything about anything, and whenever I start to forget that, I just come here and try to give someone advice and get reminded of it. :grin:
    Keeps me humble.
     
  19. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    I think dr buzz and cheezer are talking about the same thing but from two different marketing angles. cheezer is in the "let's explore this idea phase" while dr buzz is speaking to "let's make a market for this idea".

    let me assure you cheezer there is a market for this kind of thing. on a rare occasion I sell one or two here based on no more information that a color dot on the queens back and the disposition of the queen's progeny. I don't sell these to 'the general public' since this market is unable to appreciate or afford the service.
     
  20. gunsmith

    gunsmith New Member

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    Gong back and re-reading posts #3 and 4, we have a geographical difference of opinion. The queens cheezer is talking about are fall raised and only been laying through the winter, at a reduced rate. Personally, I haven't purchased a queen-I let the bees re-queen, but if I needed to in an emergency, I would be interested in buying one with a "pedigree" if the cost wasn't too sky high.