Packages and Queen acceptance

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by Pilotbeekeeper, Apr 1, 2013.

  1. Pilotbeekeeper

    Pilotbeekeeper New Member

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    I've only started two hives from packages. Both times i used a few frames of drawn comb, thinking that this would give the hive a head start. Both times, the queen has immediately been superceded. I'm starting to wonder if it's better to start a package from empty foundation only. Perhaps the extended time frame required to draw out comb would give the bees ample time to 'accept' the queen that came with the package? Is anyone aware of studies that may have been done on this? Or even better, can someone with much more experience share their findings? I have another package coming next week. I plan to start this one with empty foundation and see how it goes.

    Thanks
    PBK
     
  2. Ray

    Ray Member

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    Interesting possibility, I sure hope someones got an answer.
     

  3. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    No experience with packages, but I can tell you that up here the acceptance of queens from out of country is less than stellar.
    Queens from Hawaii are "OK", and the ones from Australia are less so. These are the only source of early queens for most of us here.
     
  4. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Supercedure is common with introduced queens. I don't think it has anything to do with drawn comb. I would install with the drawn comb if I had it available.
     
  5. Apiarist

    Apiarist New Member

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    Over the years I've started probably a dozen hives from packages, but it was only the last time I experienced what you described. Four 3 lb. packages purchased through a bee supply rep all started on foundation & drawn comb from year prior deadouts. Only one superseded the queen but it was immediate. The colony struggled after and I added frames of brood to help them out. Because I had used drawn comb I did pull excess honey off two of those hives that summer, but I also had high varroa levels in all four by end of July. I suspect the packages came in with a high mite load & also wondered about the quality of the queens. Keep us informed on how the girls are doing on foundation.
     
  6. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    what iddee and perry said pbk, it is not about the comb, it is about the queens. i have experienced a high rate of supercedure in the past with package bees irregardless of what is used. and like iddee said, i would install with some drawn comb.
     
  7. ApisBees

    ApisBees Active Member

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    Drawn frames are more attractive to the bees. foundation could cause the bees to abscond to find a more desirable location. If there is a problem with the queens it will not mater. when we use to get packages from California they would supply 10% extra queens to cover the queen losses so don't expect 100% on queen acceptance. Some years are worse than others.
     
  8. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    apis, some keeps have nothing but foundation........so to someone just starting out, what are they to do with no drawn comb?.....and you can start them on foundation without absconding.....it is important to feed, feed, feed. the queens do matter imho.....most apiaries in the states do not,( and i wouldn't), guarantee any of their queens unless they arrive dead.....lot's of variables in this, and beekeep error......
     
  9. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    a river bee snip...
    it is important to feed, feed, feed. the queens do matter imho.....most apiaries in the states do not,( and i wouldn't), guarantee any of their queens unless they arrive dead.....lot's of variables in this, and beekeep error......

    tecumseh...
    uh... not wishing to cause a fuss here riverbee but this snippet would seem to be in ABSOLUTE disagreement with post #6.

    I would suggest that if the queen arrives alive and if the feed in the feeder can has been treated with fumidil then the first place you might wish to look for cause in queen failure is the beekeeper. after looking real hard there.... then look at the package or queen source.
     
  10. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    tec.....
    i think we are on the same page, the queens do matter, even if they arrive alive and are superceded. queen failure is not always keep error.....to what you said....
    "then look at the package or queen source."

    i might add, how these queens are produced in mass numbers today. quantity.....not quality.
     
  11. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    I myself install good numbers of queens each year typically obtained from my good neighbor down in Navasota, Texas. I have never lost many of these in the installation process but there are a couple of caveats that I think do matter. 1) how queens are fed and 2) when they are caught. I do think fumidil gives some insurance against the stress of shipping (old old studies at least suggested this to be so) and I do NOT get in a big hurry to get queens from my supplier. I myself am a patient man and I would rather get good queens when I know there is excellent drone stock than too early when you are really rolling the dice in regards to the ultimate quality of the queen... there is also the additive problem that early queen really translates into the caught queens have not laid up much and can be caught when all the proof there is that they are a viable queen is a silver dollar size patch of eggs on one very small frame.

    I have no doubt Pilotbeekeeper that there is some weight to your observation here and have my own list of 'likely suspects'.... however a lot of times issues like these become the whipping boy of what went wrong. I myself would have a much better idea of THE PROBLEM if you described just what you did prior too, during and after installation.

    At this time I have a large ? associated with bees and bees reared from sources that originate from pollination sources (as far as I know ALL coming from the almonds) and for your location this might be associated with suppliers typically located in the very northern edge of Florida or the very southern portion of Georgia. <mind you this is all hypothesis from a wide range of data but at some times with enough information a lot of dots kind of start connecting themselves.
     
  12. Ray

    Ray Member

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    I was wondering about the nurse bees and their duties in the different conditions.
    Starting a package in a hive with drawn out comb:
    The queen starts laying immediately and copiously
    There has to be a shortage of pollen
    The nurse bees are eating eggs and larva to limit population
    The nurse bees aren't engaged in making wax

    Starting a package on bare foundation in a hive:
    The queen's egg production is limited to the available cells, as they're being built
    Pollen shortage is minimized due to a lack of brood
    There is less need to limit brood
    The nurse bees are engaged in making wax

    Then there is the possibility that the queens pheromones are distributed differently, in hives with or without drawn comb.
    Then there is the question about feeding pollen or a substitute, and if/how would change the outcome.

    :dontknow:Just my thoughts on the subject: I don't have any real experience and I get to pondering:think: the possibilities.:roll:
     
  13. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    pbk,
    what tec said about queens...
    also, his question "if you described just what you did prior too, during and after installation."
    if we forget, queens are not related to the bees in the package. there is stress in shipment. also, weather, delays, dearth, etc..
    when i hive a package of bees, i employ a slow release method to give the bees more time to accept that queen. they will either accept her or not.
    i also feed packages, and i have hived them on drawn comb and plastic wax foundation. IMHO, for myself, queen supercedure occurs with either.
     
  14. Pilotbeekeeper

    Pilotbeekeeper New Member

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    "if you described just what you did prior too, during and after installation"

    I'll do my best to describe the process:
    1. The packages were picked up in GA directly by one of our club members on Thursday, 3/14. I picked the package up from him on 3/15, stored them inside my heated bonus room over the garage (60 degrees) and installed the package on 3/16. as a note, there were very few dead bees in the box.
    2. Weather -- we had unseaonably cool weather upon pick up and the week after installation. Highs in the low 50's, lows in lower 30's.
    3. it was approx 58 degrees when i installed the package at 3 pm on 3/16. I placed 5 frames in a 10 frame deep. Two of the frames were drawn comb with empty cells (like new wax). One frame was full of pollen which had been taken from a deadout a month earlier and frozen. This frame had been thawed 48 hours before the installation. the remaining two frames were foundation. I removed the queen, placed her between frames 4 and five, then sat the hole package of bees on the floor, on the empty side of the box, then placed hive top feeder on top, emptied contents of the can into it, replaced the top and walked away. I waited a couple hours, went back out and removed the mostly empty bee box, shook out the few remaining bees, placed 5 more frames of foundation in the deep and put feeder and top back on.
    4. I added more syrup every couple days to insure it didn't give out. I did not open the hive again until Sunday, 3/24. I did not see the queen, though she had been released. I did find a small patch of larvae and three queen cell cups with larvae in them. I plan to go back in this coming weekend, to insure the queen cells are capped and I may add a frame with eggs from another hive as insurance.

    If i missed any important details in this description, let me know and I'll be glad to address it.

    Thanks
    PBK
     
  15. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    was there feed in the syrup can when you transferred the queen cage and package bees to the hive body or was it empty?

    upon refilling the hive top feeder were there any dead bees found in the feeder? <I am always a bit suspect of hive top feeders and small population of bees... any thing less than ABSOLUTE bee tight can lead to problems here.

    58 degrees sounds a bit cool to me. with the up and down weather and a queen in an introduction cage (where I would guess she stayed for a couple of days till she got out) and 30 degrees somewhere in between, there is good possibility that the queen could have gotten a bit cold in her cage and anything below 55 degrees might mean the workers couldn't have gotten to the feed anyway and any temperature below that pretty much means the syrup was too cold to pick up anyway.

    I take it you did not wet down the package while you had it in your garage with either thin syrup or water?

    and likely the oddest questions yet... you don't perhaps have any pest strips or fly strips hanging in your garage? I guess what I am askin' here is there anything in the garage (an enclosed and I would guess somewhat heated area) that might cause problems... a running vehicle or anything that might create excessive fumes?