November 2014 ABC Meeting Recap

Here is a recap of some of the tips and information provided by Karen Thurlow-Kimball in her excellent presentation to the Androscoggin Beekeeper’s Club from November 12, 2014.

Reasons to Re-queen a hive:

  1. Queen has a depleted supply of viable sperm.
  2. Beekeeper wants to change the race of bees (e.g. European, Caucasian, Carniolan, Russian, Buckfast and Minnesota Hygienic).

    Fun Aside: The journal article “Gramacho, K. P., and L. S. Gonçalves. 2009. Sequential hygienic behavior in carniolan honey bees (apis mellifera carnica). Genetics and molecular research : GMR 8, (2): 655-663.” does a nice job of describing hygienic behavior and how it is  “considered the primary defense of honey bees against American foulbrood, European foulbrood, chalkbrood, and Varroa infestations”.

  3. Queen is infected with European foulbrood.
  4. Can reduce swarm impulse by creating a break in the brood cycle.
  5. Queen is physically damaged.
  6. Sometimes you have no choice (i.e. the hive is queenless, the hive has a virgin queen that is too old to be fertilized).

Many options for re-queening a hive:

  1. Introduce a mated queen to the hive
  2. Introduce a young, virgin queen that will (you hope) get mated and begin laying in your hive
  3. Introduce queen cells
  4. Allow hive to raise a queen from fertilized eggs within the hive (i.e. a “walk away split”)

    Fun Fact: If you introduce a mated queen using a queen cage with a candy plug and the the hive bees are not eating out the candy plug, there is probably another queen (or queen cell(s)) in the hive!

The practical results of re-queening with a mated queen versus generating a queen from a walk away split:

Karen notes that it will take a minimum of 24-28 days before a mated queen introduced to the hive will result in the emergence of new bees.  Time required to produce new bees from either a virgin queen, a queen cell or production of a queen from fertilized eggs is approximately 31 days, 37 days or 49 days, respectively.  This will factor into your choice of re-queening method.

  1. A good laying queen can lay between 1,200 – 2,800 eggs per day.
  2. About 21 egg laying days are lost to a hive with a queen produced in a walk away split versus a hive re-queened with a mated queen (i.e. [49 days before a queen produced in a walk away split produces new bees] – [28 days before emergence of new bees from introduction of a mated queen] = 21 days).
  3. Assuming that 1,200 eggs laid over 21 days results in the emergence of a baby bee, the hive re-queened with a mated queen would have ~25,000 more new bees than the hive re-queened as a walk away split.
  4. A 3 pound package of bees with a mated queen contains about 12,000 bees and costs approximately $110.
  5. A mated queen costs approximately $25.
  6. So 12,000 worker bees/drones costs approximately $110 – $25 = $85.
  7. You are paying about $85 / 3 pounds = $28 per pound of bees.
  8. If 12,000 bees are ~ 3 pounds, then 25,000 bees are ~6.25 pounds of bees.
  9. By introducing a $25 mated queen into your hive instead of waiting for the hive to produce a queen, you produced (~6.25 pounds of bees) x $28/pound = $175 worth of bees!

Tips for finding your queen:

  1. Look on a sunny day
  2. Look on a day with good nectar flow when most of the field bees will be out
  3. Don’t use smoke, as this can induce the queen to run around in the hive.  Use a spray bottle of water to move the bees.
  4. Make things easier for yourself and mark your queen.

Karen’s choice for best time to re-queen:

Re-queen just after the summer solstice (i.e. June 21st for 2015).  Karen believes this will result in a smaller chance of swarming the year following re-queening as you are going into winter with a young queen.

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *