9 comments on “Queen Bee Initiative

  1. Stu; congrats on getting this going. Here’s some info for anyone in Southern IL; I’m giving my final Queen Rearing class of this spring on Sat., April 2, from 8 until noon at the KC Extension Center in Salem, IL. Hope that this website becomes a well-used tool for Illinois beekeepers. Again, thanks and good luck. -Terry Combs.

    • Terry, thank you for your comments. The real work on the website was done initially by Rhonda Daniels (Rochester) who does this for a living. At this point Carolyn Gerberding, our treasurer, and her daughter Chelsea are working on the content, Do you have any photos from your class this year or last; or any other photos that might go on the website? We will have a one day class on May 21 in Byron in northern Illinois and are planning for one near Springfield in June. Stu.

  2. We successfully grafted a queen cell last year from a large, old feral colony and, then, mated her in our mating yard. We then moved the colony to a different apiary. Although it was a new colony in 2010, it produced two supers of honey. It survived the winter and is showing very strong Spring build-up. When inspecting it, we found a queen cell at the bottom of a frame. We want to harvest this cell to produce a new colony. My question is: Can we take the newly emerged queen back to the mating yard for fertilization? I think that would cause inbreeding; my husband says not because all of the drones in the mating yard were evicted last fall and the new drones will have a different mix of genetics. What’s the answer?!

    • I’ll try to answer your questions as best as I can. First, a single queen cell could be indicative of supersedure, which may in turn indicate a problem with the mother queen. Second, yes taking the queen cell to the original apiary may increase the chances of inbreeding, however queens will try to avoid DCA’s with a similar genetic makeup. You could also restict the drones in the original colony via a drone trap when the emerged queen is due for mating flights. AS to the drone genetics this year; the could be exactly the same or completely different depending on the drone source for the eggs a queen lays at any given time. Since a queen mates with several drones, there are various subfamilies in a hive at any given time.
      Now to Fred’s questions; I’ve thought, read, and even experimented much in an effort to understand who is in charge inside a hive. As best as I can surmise, the queen is only in charge of 2 decisions both in and outside the hive. (Is this a worker or drone cell, and is it sufficiently cleaned for laying?) All other decisions appear to be generated from the workers functioning as a collective unit. Workers will often ball queens in order to prevent them from doing something and getting her into condition for flight is as simple as withholding food. As to the returned swarm; yes she could be too heavy for flight, but there may well be something else at work there. Although there is a genetic basis to swarming (tied to the need to reproduce), there are other, non-genetic triggers that seem to bring it to the forefront. There was research done in 2004 confirming these triggers, and some interesting mathematical models built around them. Here they are:
      1)Colony Size Model-swarming triggered if the colony reaches a certain threshold in size & space.
      2)Worker Age Distribution Model-swarming triggered if the workers which have eclosed (emerged) in th past 7 days comprise more than 1/3 of the active worker population
      3)Brood Comb Congestion Model-swarming triggered if the combined number of eggs and larvae in the brood comb is greater than 17,000.
      4)Reproductive Optimization Model-swarming teriggered when the workers can support more eggs than the queen can lay. This also seems to be conected to the queens output of pheromones and their distribution within the hive.
      I’ll spare you the models as they look like hyrogliphics unless someone explains them to you. Hope this answers your questions. Will be working on website stuff and photos tomorrow. Take care.

      Terry Combs, VP, St. Clair Beekeepers Association
      1113 Mulberry
      Keyesport,IL 62253

  3. How can hobby beekeepers like me “participate” in the IQI? For example, can I purchase a Carniolan or Russian this Fall? (I have only 2 hives in SE Lake Co., but they both survived the winter of 2010/2011).

  4. Hi. I have a couple of questions:

    What other benefits are there to joining the Illinois Queen Initiative besides those listed on your website?

    How important is diversity in rearing and mating queens?

    I’m looking forward to your answers.

    Thank you!

  5. glen49; thanks for your questions. In addition to the benefits listed on the home page here are a few more that come to mind. Recent studies have shown that locally adapted bees with desirable traits are beneficial both to the bees and to beekeepers and beekeeping. With healthier, adapted bees colony losses drop adding grerater stability to the beekeeping community. Newbees will have a higher success rate and are theregfore more likely to stick with beekeeping instead of getting discouraged and quitting. With the average age of US beekeepers being about 60 yrs. of age, we need new beekeepers, especially younger ones. An influx of new beekeepers will add more members to local and the State organizations and a greater stability in beekeeping will keep new members and encourage greater participation. Also with healthier, adapted bees and beekeepers generating their own queens and bees less $ will be spent on the expense of bee/queen replacement thus freeing up $ for other uses. Finally, if we start insisting on hygienic and adapted bees we can cause other bee/queen producers to sit up and take notice and drive the market away from mass produced queens and more in line with supplying our needs for healthy, adapted bees.
    As to your question of diversity; it is important but possibly overly worried about. We don’t want our queens mating with brother drones as this reduces brood viability to about 50%; but bees have a built-in defense mechanism against this in that virgin queens on mating flights tend to travel beyond the Drone Congregation Areas of their brother drones. As long as there are other colonies within 3-6 miles, whether feral or other beekeepers, you should have enough diversity to have well-mated, prolific queens. They seem to have skirted this issue in the wild and done very well without any help from us, at least until varroa mites came along a few years back. Hopefully this answers your questions adequately, if you have any others, please feel free to post them.

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