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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I would like to make some splits next spring and let them raise their own queens. The plan will be to take the old queen + 2 frames of brood + 2 frames honey/pollen and put them in a nuc then let the original hive raise a new queen. That way I can recombine the nuc if it does not work.

The problem is that I don’t think there are enough hives around to properly mate a new queen. My cousin who live 6 miles from me had a hive swarm last year and the new queen layed good last fall but by spring she was laying mostly drones.

I have 1 hive, my cousin has 2 hives at his house, and 2 hives on a farm half way between us. How many hives should we have before we intentionally let our bees raise their own queens?

Many thanks Brian
 

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I have heard well presented arguments for both buying and allowing the bees to rear their own queen. We have always let the bees rear their own and have been happy with all but one.

From what I was told during a seminar recently it doesn't make any difference at all how many hives you personally have as drones will gather from miles around to give their sacrifice to your virgin queen. I suppose that you could give your bees a frame of drone comb to build up your drone population just so you would know for sure that your queen would be mated properly.
 

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My cousin who live 6 miles from me had a hive swarm last year and the new queen layed good last fall but by spring she was laying mostly drones.
Which is exactly the time of year when a good queen will lay mostly drones... because the bees need those drones in the spring if the colony is going to swarm later in the spring. I'd take a queen like that any day.

How many hives should we have before we intentionally let our bees raise their own queens?
It's not about how many hives you have, but about how many drones you have. If you only have one hive but it's got lots of drones, you're fine to let them make their own queen (that's what my bees did last year with only one hive at home and the queen I got from it was OUTSTANDING!!!).
 

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Mama Beek said:
I suppose that you could give your bees a frame of drone comb to build up your drone population just so you would know for sure that your queen would be mated properly.
That's a great idea. I really wish I could find or get plasticell foundation made with a few drone cells built into it with the rest being worker size so that the bees can make drones easier.
 

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Too much inbreeding in bees will lead to problems such as agressive bees and eventually a colony that dies. So, whereas letting a colony raise it's own queen and then potentially mate w/ it's brother does work for making splits you aught to introduce some new genes every now and then. Queens may appear expensive, but is $12 or $15 to $20 really to much? I understand that it can be. I have many more hives than 1 or 2 and I used to do the same thing as you, but my genetic pool was much larger.

So, think about spending some money as a solution to your problem.

Mike Palmer, of VT, is a great advocate for the idea that clubs raise queens for their members. Do you belong to a bee club? One that mite do such a thing? Raise locally produced queens? A queen Co-op?
 

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with very small number of hives available to produce a variety of drones by rearing your own queens you greatly increase the possibilities of inbreeding your hives. if your relatives and neighbors have bees from the same source as your own then this possibility can manifest itself very quickly.

there are beneficial aspect to inbreeding.. it is a practice employed by queen breeders to intensify certain observed qualities of bees. the downsides are first (1) very nasty bees and secondly (2) a misalignment of the sex alleles. evidence of 1 you will notice quite directly and evidence of 2 by the buckshot distributed blanks in the brood pattern (ie the alignment of same type sex alleles is a lethal combination for that particular egg).

so contrary to what some here seem to think the number and variety of drones matters quite a bit. there are of course times of the year when drones are either in short supply or are not present at all and any queens produced during these times are always suspect (that is questioned as to how long they will lay before becoming drone layers). at least here in the early spring a small number of queens will always show themselves as drone layers... which I think (don't absolutely know for certain) is as much about the freezing weather as it is about how the queen mated.

having posed this 10 minutes after sqkcrk post should reinforce a few prior misplaced ideas.
 

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Another alternative for diversified genetics is to use purchased queen cells. I pay $3.00 a cell. I have also this summer split a couple I liked really well this past spring and robbed a cell from the split to make another split from another hive and moved that split to my out yard. Diversifying the genetics that way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I thank all of you for the advice and insight.

I think for my early splits next year I will try to find some local queens to buy. And maybe buy a nuc or two. That way I should have some genetic diversity before I make my July splits.

Brian
 

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Brian,
You are on the right path, asking questions and soloiciting advice and learning about bees, queens and bee genetics. You'll be teaching the rest of us before we know it.

A wide spectrum of genetic material from the drones (ie sperm) is necassary for the health of the colony so that there is at no one time only bees that are resistant to or suseptible to certain maladies. If there is a good mixture of sperm from genetically different sources, then the colony will be better able to fend off diseases, such as the brood diseases, because of their house cleaning ability.

But, you don't want to select for only that one trait figuring that you will beat the possiblity of evr getting foulbrood, because then your bees won't make any honey. Rothenbuler et al, 1953 case in point.

Enjoy yer bees.
 

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Mark.... was Rothenbuler the fellow who demonstrated the multiple allele nature of hygienic behavior??? ie one for uncapping and one for removing larvae?
 

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I see in your profile your from nebraska. If you are looking for some good local queens you might give micheal Bush a try. Hes in Nebraska
 
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