New Queens ------ Too easily available ?????

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by Barbarian, Jun 15, 2013.

  1. Barbarian

    Barbarian New Member

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    I have an urge to have a rant. :smile:

    On this forum, quite a lot of the US posts concern procedures about bought-in Q's. Think about it. There are packages, made-up nucs, delivery problems, supersedure, acceptance and the list goes on. I would suggest that part of the problems stem from the culture of easily available Q's. Reading the posts, there is sometimes a common factor. A beekeeper has a problem or thinks there is a problem and it's off to the phone to order a new Q.

    In the UK, the major bodies (British BKA and National Bee Unit) recommend that beekeepers obtain local bees. Imported Q's are available but not encouraged. Non-local UK bees and Q's are available but not easily until well into the season.

    I know the characteristics I need from the bees in my apiary. Only 20 miles from me the flora is different and a different strain of of bee is needed.

    I don't know what the supply situation is like in other countries, perhaps other members would like to comment. I have a horrible feeling that some non-US guests may view this forum and then ----- "Instant Q's are not available in my country. Sod this for a lark ---- I'm switching off."

    I feel better after that rant ----- time for a snooze. :grin:

    Over to you Big Brother.
     
  2. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    There, that wasn't so bad was it? :lol: Some times you have to let off a little steam. :wink:
    Up here queens (local) are not too difficult to get at this time of year, it's the early ones that everyone wants that (in my case) present a challenge.
     

  3. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    I bought a queen back about 1982. Other than nucs, I haven't bought one since. I've sold a few, but all local.I have to agree that there are way too many replaced on a whim.
     
  4. Omie

    Omie Active Member

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    I can only imagine how many new beekeepers think their hive is queenless (she's in there), the new queen is a failure (she simply hasn't had enough time to start laying yet), or they have a laying worker (a brand new queen is laying a couple eggs in each cell during her first week of laying and would be totally fine in just a few more days)...
    I honestly wouldn't surprise me if fully half the instances of newbie beekeeper re-queening involved either pinching a perfectly good young inexperienced queen, or putting an additional (and doomed) new queen in a hive with a young queen already in it.
     
  5. Crofter

    Crofter New Member

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    It is not easy to get queens where I am. This year things are late for the queen breeders; poor weather for mating and slow to get numbers up to make nucs. I got queens this week only because someone cancelled and I was prepaid. Our clover is just starting to bloom and they are not working it yet. No ferals here. I felt I needed more diversity since my other hives might well have all been grafted from the same queen. Hardly a typical example of how things are in the lower 48 but every situation is different.
     
  6. cheezer32

    cheezer32 New Member

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    I think we are slowely trending to where more people are producing their own queens. However, there is a huge amount of queens produced from very few suppliers I do agree. A part I would like to point out (time to get myself in trouble) is the "thinks there might be a problem" I have met many a beekeepers who could not tell a drone from queen, drone brood, from queen cells, to worker cells. Don't know when or how to pull supers, or roughly how much honey to leave on for winter don't know how to split a hive... etc etc when they have had hives for several years, my point is lack of information or know how. I personally never had anyone to teach me anything in beekeeping and taught myself just about everything I know so far, my biggest help the last few years being the forums and I have made just about every mistake in the book once or twice. I try to limit it though lol. I think some people buy a queen from me just so I will explain how to split a hive and ask questions rather than actually needing a queen. (Even though I woulda just told them if they asked)

    I would venture to say that it is in fact the beekeepers that cause alot of the problems you have stated as well as all the other factors. This is why (in my area at least) I'm excited to see the number of people attending the local clubs and events rising that way they can get good quality hands on experience and talk with other beekeeprs to see what does and doesn't work in their area. I think for awhile there have been alot of new beekeepers that haven't found a place to gain the knowledge needed to be successful. Another reason why forums like this are great, not only can you get quality answers quickly when you don't know what to do, but you can also get in touch with people in your local area to look through hives together and have "bee days :grin:" I try and make at least one day a week a "bee day" lol Me and gunsmith were spending the other day removing at a couple hives in the side of a house and just talking about the bees. :thumbsup: Someone I probably would not have met without this forum. I am seeing more an more small breeders showing up to produce queens and more of them are using their own stock as well to raise these queens. Hopfully this keeps up because people need someone close to go to when that have queen rearing questions, same as they need someone who overwinters great to ask about overwintering or whatever there situation calls for, even queen breeders need queen breeders, I often try to pick the brains of other who raise queens to try and keep improving my skill and stock. I think the more people communicate the more successful beekeeping becomes. Barbarian even hints at this slightly when he says the major bodies encourage local bees. This means you need to find a local beekeeper, and get in touch with them, and I would hope that even if you are a first time beekeeper this gives you that close by experienced person to call and lean on and go through a hive or two with to gain tons of experience and viasuals that they can then hopfully pass on one day.
     
  7. Lburou

    Lburou Member

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    I understood your rant, but no this sign off.....Can you translate? :)
     
  8. pistolpete

    pistolpete New Member

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    I take this to mean "write this off as a Joke"

    Anyway, I really don't think that you can truly say that queens are easily accessible. With shipping a queen comes to something like $30. Add to that a 10 to 20% failure rate of new queens, and you get queens that really cost $35 each. Not many people buy those on a whim. Up here in the north, the season is fairly short. Basically 4 moths from the start of build up to the end of the flows in August. Drones are not out in numbers till the end of May. So if you need to re-queen in the spring, you have to get a queen from someone further south. And thank goodness that they are available. So far this year I have bought two queens and raised two queens, seems like a good balance to me.

    I do agree that local bees tend to be a better choice, but just because you get bees locally does not mean they are local survivors. They may well have been brought in by someone 2 or 5 years ago and there has been next to no selection pressure to get them to adapt to local conditions. If you are lucky enough to have access to someone who has bees that have been local for 40 or 50 years then that is the best choice.
     
  9. Barbarian

    Barbarian New Member

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    Thanks for all the input. It is nice to know there is qualified sympathy with my rant.

    Sorry if the expression "Sod this for a lark" was confusing. Imagine the situation when you have tried several times to repair the toaster and it persists in blowing a fuse or launching the toast into orbit. "Sod this for a lark" would be a printable expression as you hurled it into the trash. Ever phoned a company, gone through a series of automated switching and ended up listening to a loop of "Jingle bells" or speaking to someone from across the world who cannot understand the problem ?
     
  10. Daniel Y

    Daniel Y New Member

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    I have often though that requeening was an overly abused activity also. This past sprig has not changed my ind but it has made me aware how readily bees will replace their queen though. The difference for me is that it is the bees replacing her not me. Now the newbie making it worse definitely applies in my case. I was not giving a new queen nearly enough time to get up and running.

    At one point half of my 12 hives where queenless and it seemed none of them could make or keep a new one. after thinking maybe I was meddling to much I just waited. it turned out only 1 out of all of them was truly queenless. The rest managed to work it out on their own. I am ow rearing y first queens where I will be able to observe the emergence. mating and laying of several queens. hopefully this will give me a far better intuition about the events surrounding queens in a full size hive. For the most part I was expecting to see evidence of a new queen after jsut 14 days. Until I found out it should be more like 28. I still have reasons to want to see a queen mated and laying well in 14 days. But no longer think it is an indication of a lost queen. A queen that takes 28 days to mate and start laying is simply not a candidate for future queen production though. I want far better performance than that right out of the gate.

    I still observed athat nay queen introduced to a queenless colony will be imediatley superceded unless thay can produce a tremendous amoutn of brood in a short period of time. the bees are still in queenless mode and will start queen cells from the first brood available. I saw this time and again. Do to this I am working on a queen rearing system that will allow the introduction of a queen to a colony along with 5 frames of her brood. I am hoping that so much brood wil reduce the tendency to supercede her right from the get go. otherwise queen introduction will be followed in a week by queen cell removal. I still do not know If I will allow my bees to ever replace their own queen. I am working on a managment system that will have mated queens in reserve at all times. queens will be replaced as I say so. And queens that meet my standards will not be allowed to be replaced.
     
  11. Lburou

    Lburou Member

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    Thanks for the explanation Barbarian :)

    Coming back last year to beekeeping after no bees for 20 years, one of the first things I noticed was that the queens seemed to be different somehow. Used to be that a queen would not even look up or slow down as you looked at her and inspected her laying pattern.

    In my 15 years of beekeeping prior to 1990, queens lasted three years at least. Now, queens run and hide and supersede at the drop of a hat and the brood patterns are seldom as good as in the past. The queens are different. I guess they are not as well mated as in the past, caused by mites and the viruses they bring to affect the health of today's drones. The sparse brood patterns of today may be cause for people ordering many new queens.
     
  12. BSAChris

    BSAChris New Member

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    I agree with the rant. I am a new beekeeper, and it rubs me a bit the wrong way that people in my location here insist you should requeen for this that and the other, and that you always need to purchase a queen, and that you should even requeen every year as a matter of course - their excuse being our Wisconsin bee season is too short to let the bees attempt to make their own queen. It strikes me as very counter-intuitive - its not being self-sufficient if you don't even give your own bees a chance to work it out. There is also some self-serving criteria employed by some bee suppliers to try make new beekeepers feel inadequate enough to produce their own queens. Rantworthy. The more I learn about bees, the more I know they (the bees) can work out pretty much everything by themselves, given time and the right resources.
     
  13. riverrat

    riverrat New Member

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    Thanks for the post I agree with you total Barbarian. I have never purchased a queen. My take is queens are readily available. The queen breeders are salesman. With that said anything wrong with the hive can be cured with a new queen and money in the breeders pocket. Im afraid it doesnt stop with queens its rampant in the beekeeping industry. Beekeeping supply houses selling things keeps, especially new keeps may not need but are convienced they have to have to maintain a healthy hive. ( rat quietly steps off his soap box and pushes it back under the bed.) carry on
     
  14. Omie

    Omie Active Member

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    You will. You may not know it at the time, though. lol

    Good luck with that Sir! :hi:
     
  15. Omie

    Omie Active Member

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    25 years ago there was no internet, no youtube, no "Beekeeping for Dummies", few bee 'gurus' hawking their wares, and way fewer bee clubs. Imagine for a moment trying to find a source to order bees without using the internet or up to date books. People had to learn about beekeeping by going to the library for weighty 50-year old queen grafting books, and by visiting longtime beekeepers.
    Now we have the internet and its bee forums and blogs, Youtube featuring thousands of beekeeping videos for beginners, a gazillion new books for beginners, movies about bees, clubs springing up everywhere, beekeeping classes springing up everywhere....

    Gotta say I really don't get it when I see a post that says "My packages are arriving tomorrow- what do I do when they get here? I just think there is no excuse anymore for not doing at least a little basic reading and youtube watching in order to prepare for beekeeping. You ordered the bees, so you ought to do some minimal homework in learning about keeping bees. Would I order a horse and then begin to wonder how to house and take care of it a day before it arrives at my door? :roll:
     
  16. Crofter

    Crofter New Member

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    The number of hives you have makes a big difference. Wait and see if the situation cures itself would not be so easy if you only had a few hives and want some honey. Season length affects the wait and see proposition as well. I have seen a run of sentiment on nursing a weak hive back to production and I have also seen the advice that it is better to shake them out or combine to make better economic use of the equipment.

    One successful pollinator and honey maker requeens every mature colony every summer. He raises his own queens and does very little besides the brood break to keep mites under control. He finds the younger queen lays better in fall and lowers the odds of winter loss of queens. He cant afford the time to give individualized treatments to colonies that are not keeping up.

    I dont think it is so much right way/wrong way, but what suits you. I think there is value and satisfaction in tinkering and studying but it can turn into bad economics if your free time is at a premium. It can be hard when sentiments and economics pull in different directions.

    Lburou, I think that some bees well could be different now than say 25 years ago. If you were comparing predominently Italian bees with some of todays mite resistant crosses that winter well. I can certainly attest to my bees being elusive and they will uncap a lot of brood and intersperse new eggs if the mite count is high. I nursed one hive through the summer last year and debated requeening but got the mites down and the pattern straightened out and she wintered well and picked up good this spring. She sure appeared messed up last summer. Not an ounce of honey from the hive and I think I fed near 60 pounds of sugar to it. Was that good or bad?
     
  17. Crofter

    Crofter New Member

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    Gotta agree with you on that Omie! You can tell by the posts that some people put a lot of faith in divine intervention to make beekeeping a success for them. I can attest with more personal experience that people certainly do exactly the same scenario with horses. I had one fellow come to me to buy a pair of shoes and some nails to shoe his horse. He asked if there was anything special he had to know about nailing them on?
     
  18. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    well, I agree with Riverrat. I think there is a certain amount of vampirism going on in beekeeping, the older keeps have so much invested there is a dependance on new people blowing things up to keep the whole business rolling as they order new packages and queens.

    I felt like an endangered species on the other forum after I lost my first bees, so scared of all the internet hawks I joined a beeclub and locally picked up 2 nucs and later, 1 queen. The bees from 2 out of 3 of those hives have made it through everything...Including EFB
     
  19. camero7

    camero7 Member

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    And we got our packages from Sears & Roebuck through the mail.
     
  20. Daniel Y

    Daniel Y New Member

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    I will say that learning is more convenient today than it was in the days of the library. It is also accelerated, but many due to the fact I can set at my computer every morning and every night and find information. The quality of that information has suffered. So the rate at which any individual will learn will depend somewhat on their ability to separate the poor information from the reliable. I find experience is vital in that ability. This is far from my first rodeo with animal husbandry. I can spot the garbage a mile off. and there is a ton of it. most of the good information is not that good. not even in the books. Not the first time I have seen that in a topic either. The bees have taught me more about beekeeping than anything else. And that has never changed. I think the net has changed the definition of successful. You are not allowed to make as may mistakes. or I should say we do not allow ourselves to make them and still consider it any degree of success.