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Queen industry 'fun'

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So everyone knows that things are a bit 'interesting' in the industry at the moment. There are also some things going on with respect to queens and queen breeding too. 

 

A number of beekeepers are all of a sudden 'queen breeders' also. I personally find this a little insulting. We eschewed the honey money and developed our breeding program over the past 12 years. Anyone can produce a few cells, maybe even a few queens but delivering high quality queens consistently to order is a bit more challenging than that!

 

I now hear that some of the new breeders (honey producers until a year ago) are buying from others, marking up and on selling the queens while still claiming to be breeders....yeah that's not how it works. A bit or schmoozing and marketing doesnt make you a queen breeder...and I dont believe that the supplying operation will be as careful with the product when their name isnt on the product. 

 

The queen is your hive motor....without a good one you are just wasting money no matter how cheap it is... find a reputable breeder who has a track record and is hands on and spend your money is my advice. Or breed your own and uss a breeder for extra support/diversity supply or to patch up in poor mating seasons. 

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41 minutes ago, BSB said:

 

The queen is your hive motor....without a good one you are just wasting money no matter how cheap it is... 

So true.. 

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1 hour ago, BSB said:

So everyone knows that things are a bit 'interesting' in the industry at the moment. There are also some things going on with respect to queens and queen breeding too. 

 

A number of beekeepers are all of a sudden 'queen breeders' also. I personally find this a little insulting. We eschewed the honey money and developed our breeding program over the past 12 years. Anyone can produce a few cells, maybe even a few queens but delivering high quality queens consistently to order is a bit more challenging than that!

 

I now hear that some of the new breeders (honey producers until a year ago) are buying from others, marking up and on selling the queens while still claiming to be breeders....yeah that's not how it works. A bit or schmoozing and marketing doesnt make you a queen breeder...and I dont believe that the supplying operation will be as careful with the product when their name isnt on the product. 

 

The queen is your hive motor....without a good one you are just wasting money no matter how cheap it is... find a reputable breeder who has a track record and is hands on and spend your money is my advice. Or breed your own and uss a breeder for extra support/diversity supply or to patch up in poor mating seasons. 

Will breeders sell just one or two queens to a hobyist .

A few yrs ago they wouldnt bother .

I breed my own queens because I could not buy singles , has that changed . ?

I would like to introduce new genetics .

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What rips my ration book is that now, as the beekeeper has to put their beek rego on any advert for sale of bees on Trademe, we have people with less than two years beekeeping experience mass producing 'queens' it is obvious as we all know where the numbers are relative to the year they registered and they have maybe even 10 hives. They are blissfully unaware a reputable breeder would usually have hundreds to pick a breeder queen from, after seeing how that queen and her daughters went in hives. Gullible people post on Backyard beekeeping looking for a queen have suppliers suggested, but those recommending suppliers have no real idea about the experience or AFB status of those they are suggesting, much less the type of characteristics the breeder thinks are great. I well remember one who believed that aggressive bees were a good sign in bees as they would produce more, but selling those types of bees to urban hobbyists was a recipe for disaster for not only the beek, but the neighbourhood that copped one of these queens, never mind that gently bees are just as productive. 

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1 hour ago, BSB said:

So everyone knows that things are a bit 'interesting' in the industry at the moment. There are also some things going on with respect to queens and queen breeding too. 

 

A number of beekeepers are all of a sudden 'queen breeders' also. I personally find this a little insulting. We eschewed the honey money and developed our breeding program over the past 12 years. Anyone can produce a few cells, maybe even a few queens but delivering high quality queens consistently to order is a bit more challenging than that!

 

I now hear that some of the new breeders (honey producers until a year ago) are buying from others, marking up and on selling the queens while still claiming to be breeders....yeah that's not how it works. A bit or schmoozing and marketing doesnt make you a queen breeder...and I dont believe that the supplying operation will be as careful with the product when their name isnt on the product. 

 

The queen is your hive motor....without a good one you are just wasting money no matter how cheap it is... find a reputable breeder who has a track record and is hands on and spend your money is my advice. Or breed your own and uss a breeder for extra support/diversity supply or to patch up in poor mating seasons. 

 

I think that if you are producing a quality product, and your customers are happy, they come back and recommend you.  If not, you have no customers.

 

As for trading, I can't see a problem in that, the same applies.

 

This will all shake itself out in the next few years.

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Good nutrition and hygiene will carry a Breeder a long way.
Same applies to all livestock Breeding. 

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3 hours ago, kaihoka said:

Will breeders sell just one or two queens to a hobyist .

A few yrs ago they wouldnt bother .

I breed my own queens because I could not buy singles , has that changed . ?

I would like to introduce new genetics .

We have always sold to hobbyists, the only sticking point with them in the past has been that orders often come in the week that they need it and we are often fully booked out with others who order months or years in advance. While dealing with large clients is sometimes easier in terms of queens per interaction, just in amount of time. I have always found that the enthusiasm of hobbiests is quite up lifting. 

3 hours ago, Sailabee said:

What rips my ration book is that now, as the beekeeper has to put their beek rego on any advert for sale of bees on Trademe, we have people with less than two years beekeeping experience mass producing 'queens' it is obvious as we all know where the numbers are relative to the year they registered and they have maybe even 10 hives. They are blissfully unaware a reputable breeder would usually have hundreds to pick a breeder queen from, after seeing how that queen and her daughters went in hives. Gullible people post on Backyard beekeeping looking for a queen have suppliers suggested, but those recommending suppliers have no real idea about the experience or AFB status of those they are suggesting, much less the type of characteristics the breeder thinks are great. I well remember one who believed that aggressive bees were a good sign in bees as they would produce more, but selling those types of bees to urban hobbyists was a recipe for disaster for not only the beek, but the neighbourhood that copped one of these queens, never mind that gently bees are just as productive. 

I agree breeding is like a pyramid general hives at the bottom then drone supply hives with breeders at the top. The more that you have in your pyramid the better the breeders are and therefore queens/cells. We are constantly monitoring and marking hives/queens that we may want to use.

 

The other aspect is that inexperienced breeders ( or those who dont care) cage anything that is laying not taking into account what the pattern is like, if they are drone laying etc....anything we are not sure about has a line put on its cage and is run through another nuc for at least a further 2 weeks before we make a call on it. Anything laying poorly is pinched. 

2 hours ago, CraBee said:

 

I think that if you are producing a quality product, and your customers are happy, they come back and recommend you.  If not, you have no customers 

Unfortunately I think some late entrants to the industry are very good at producing honey but have a poor understanding of queens and how they work. Now it is somewhat driven by cashflow which can mean making decisions that arent always best for the hive/production. 

 

As for trading, I can't see a problem in that, the same applies.

Meanwhile the client and their business suffers....1 bad season of queens could be fatal for a business in today's climate. 

 

This will all shake itself out in the next few years.

 

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8 hours ago, BSB said:

We have always sold to hobbyists

That is good to know .

So I should order in autumn ?

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Yep, we are all go through till the end of March here!

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There has been no set of standards from queen breeders, for their cells or their queens, and some times it would be hard to quantify.

Im not sure if it could be done.

I know a couple of beeks who have used very very expensive breeder queens and had better results out of a swarm queen or their own stock queens.

So what do they fall back on if a queen turns out to be a dud.

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29 minutes ago, Dennis Crowley said:

There has been no set of standards from queen breeders, for their cells or their queens, and some times it would be hard to quantify.

Im not sure if it could be done.

I know a couple of beeks who have used very very expensive breeder queens and had better results out of a swarm queen or their own stock queens.

So what do they fall back on if a queen turns out to be a dud.

I agree Dennis and although not straight forward there are some aspects which can be standardized.

Back when I sold Queens the max I could cage in a good day was 30.
This is because my mating nucs were 3 frame full depth Hives which had the grunt to Feed and look after a new Queen properly, not skinny little mini's
Then there is the time the caged Queen spends in storage before sending off.
I always sent Queens the same day but know that some outfits keep them caged for a few days.
 


 

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2 hours ago, BSB said:

Yep, we are all go through till the end of March here!

What if I wanted a queen in spring ?

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@BSB
I am fortunate that the quality of drones I have to mate with is good .

Both the migrant beeks who come and the local area hobyist have been beeks for yrs and have nice yellow bees.

One of my hives is pretty chilled , never seems overly busy and is very calm , never agressive , but it brings in the honey and draws foundation well.

Another hive is always busy and slightly aggressive but it does not bring in the honey so much or draw wax so well .

Is it the queen that determines all of that .

 

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Yep and I push that too....heavy spring demand is a relatively new thing.

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28 minutes ago, BSB said:

Yep and I push that too....heavy spring demand is a relatively new thing.

Interesting , I have been told by someone whon worked in the industry for 40 yrs that they requeened every spring .

But this was in canterbury area and spring is normally hot .

But late summer is certainly a much better weather for reliable matings .

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@frazzledfozzle
Will it matter that an autumn queen is laying all winter .

Should I keep her at home .

The hives I put in the hakea  over winter will often cap honey and draw foundation .

Will she be worn out by spring .?

 

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@kaihoka no she won’t be worn out by spring.

just do your usual thing in Autumn.

You might need to pull some brood in spring if you are running single broods. 
 

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On 24/01/2020 at 8:44 AM, Sailabee said:

 

Listened to a now semi-retired longterm commercial beek speak who suggested requeening in autumn - reason was that should get excellent matings, and once mated, over the winter the queen has the time to totally mature during a period of lower laying rates, and hit the spring running as a fully matured egg machine. Just one perspective, but rang true to me.

 

The beekeeper has to decide what the best requeening regime is suitable for their type of operation, climate etc.  And of course everyone for multiple reasons has a different opinion.

 

I am in a mid Canty cropping area and when the crops are harvested, it is like a light switch turning off.  I like to remove honey 5-10 Feb.  Thereafter strips in ASAP for six weeks.  Then requeen.  I use a combo of laying queens, protected queen cells and top splits.  I find the protected cells do best with good pollen sources and late nectar sources (which for me by now are sporadic but stored in the brood box).  This regime works well for me.  Lets me assess queens and patch up any issues while there are still brood and young bees in the hive.  I do a varroa assessment the second week of May.  I am not migratory, my sites are permanent, and I have a fairly good idea who the surrounding beekeepers are and when they treat.  With this plan, my aim is to go into the main flow, the following season, with the queen exposed to only one miticide treatment i.e. the spring treatment.  I have had chance to assess the queen since autumn, and I believe this along with only one miticide treatment lessens the chance of the queen konking out prior to the main flow.  

 

Some commercial beekeepers don't have a great success rate with protected queen cells getting back mated, and I wonder if this is to do with lack of natural pollen sources.  And also the fact that post varroa we requeen more frequently and it maybe that the old queens pheromones are potentially not so depleted.

 

I don't profess to know everything about queen rearing, I think you would have to be as old a Methuselah to fit this criteria, but I have always surrounded myself with reputable beekeepers that are also good business people.  You can learn a helluva lot from older experienced beekeepers; some who may have given up bees but still are interested in the industry and conversant with all sorts of theories and who have great contacts.   

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5 minutes ago, Maggie James said:

I find the protected cells do best with good pollen sources and late nectar sources

Maybe this is due to the Bees being less interested in harassing or killing the new Virgin if there is other work to do.

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1 minute ago, Philbee said:

Maybe this is due to the Bees being less interested in harassing or killing the new Virgin if there is other work to do.

 

I don't know, but it is always interesting to have conversation.  For me the late nectar sources are not prolific, just enough for them to pack the brood box for winter stores.  Don't have a problem with late pollen, cos I am fussy about sites, like them near river beds.

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On 24/01/2020 at 10:16 AM, frazzledfozzle said:

For us in our area Autumn queens are generally well mated because the weather is more settled and she can go on mating flights multiple times whereas spring being more fickle she may only get out once. 
 

As @BSB said the demand for queens is high in spring but those beekeepers have been told the quality may not be as good as the Autumn queens. 

I think it’s just a mindset and also a time management issue with late spring, early autumn being a busy time with honey harvest etc.

Most beekeepers Seem to be doing spring splits and putting new queens in and hope they get up to speed before the flow but to my mind if you requeenin in autumn queens are easier to source, probably better mated and autumn splits will be rearing to go into the early manuka no problem.

Spring splits don't build in time for a crop here. We dont the have enough Spring forage and they don't raise many

drones until November. 

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2 hours ago, nikki watts said:

Spring splits don't build in time for a crop here. We dont the have enough Spring forage and they don't raise many

drones until November. 

That surprises me , I thought the barrier would be full of flowering plants for bees in spring .

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