Efficient requeening / Easy queen replacement

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Biodlaren 

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Hi.

There are many benefits with having a young queen in the hive. Therefor my intention is to replace the queen yearly, or every second year.
I have read in every source source I can find how this can be done. There are plenty of different kind of ways to do this, but every method starts the same; Find the old queen and remove her.
Even if the queen is painted I can have a really hard time to find her. Specially in the later half of the season. If I at all find her I have to calculate for at least half an hour for searching for the queen. I now have 30 hives. 30 hives x 30 min = 15 hours just to find the queens. This is just not sustainable. There has to be a better way?!

This season I will try to make nucs with new queens, and later reunite them with the main hive, without trying to find the old queen. My guess is the younger queen has a better chance against her older progenitor. The time consumption here is at least predictable.

How does those of you with a larger number of hives do? Is it even possible to requeen every hive yearly in a larger scale?
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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There are many benefits with having a young queen in the hive. Therefor my intention is to replace the queen yearly, or every second year.
I don't know anyone (commercial or hobbyist) who would contemplate replacing queens every year, every two maybe

This season I will try to make nucs with new queens, and later reunite them with the main hive, without trying to find the old queen. My guess is the younger queen has a better chance against her older progenitor.
Trying to unite two queenright colonies is going to result in, not only the queens fighting, but all the workers too - your hope that the young queen will win the fight is also just that , a hope, and as we know there are two hopes in the world, Bob and No
 

madasafish 

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I do this every two years. To find the queen: wait until lots of flying bees are out of the hive. A dummy board helps make inspection easier. Look for Q in brood nest first.

If I cannot find her first time, close up go on to next one. Come back when other hives done.
 

pargyle 

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....and use as little smoke as possible - none ideally
And try marking the queen with a white or yellow marker as they do tend to stand out more than the darker colours .. if the OP feels the need to change queens every year or two the colours make litte difference to the situation. Although - personally - I'd only change a queen when she needs replacing - many a good tune played on an old fiddle ...
 

Ian123 

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With 30 hives you should be able/proficient in finding queens, as above I really wouldn’t worry about replacing queens yearly. It’s just not done and a waste, effectively you wouldn’t get a whole proper season out of them. Get in the hives as soon as weather allows and get them marked whilst there’s fewer bees for you to deal with. Ian
 

Antipodes 

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Hi.

There are many benefits with having a young queen in the hive. Therefor my intention is to replace the queen yearly, or every second year.
I have read in every source source I can find how this can be done. There are plenty of different kind of ways to do this, but every method starts the same; Find the old queen and remove her.
Even if the queen is painted I can have a really hard time to find her. Specially in the later half of the season. If I at all find her I have to calculate for at least half an hour for searching for the queen. I now have 30 hives. 30 hives x 30 min = 15 hours just to find the queens. This is just not sustainable. There has to be a better way?!

This season I will try to make nucs with new queens, and later reunite them with the main hive, without trying to find the old queen. My guess is the younger queen has a better chance against her older progenitor. The time consumption here is at least predictable.

How does those of you with a larger number of hives do? Is it even possible to requeen every hive yearly in a larger scale?
Chris Hiatt (vice president of the American Honey Producers Association, and running about 7-8000 hives), replaces close 80 percent of his queens every year, but it is a huge cost to him. I'm not sure how they go about it in his company, but I presume it would be a quick process. I see you are contemplating perhaps two years between new queens. I would have thought you should get two years (or more) from a good queen.
Finding queens used to take me quite a while, but now, I usually find her quite quickly on the first, or second frame I remove. I don't mark them. Adequate glasses make a big difference.
I only introduce queens in little queen cages with a plug of candy in the end of it, and always with the other queen removed. Even if the hive has no queen, or has had no queen for a while, I still put her in the little cage.
 

pargyle 

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Chris Hiatt (vice president of the American Honey Producers Association, and running about 7-8000 hives), replaces close 80 percent of his queens every year, but it is a huge cost to him. I'm not sure how they go about it in his company, but I presume it would be a quick process. I see you are contemplating perhaps two years between new queens. I would have thought you should get two years (or more) from a good queen.
Finding queens used to take me quite a while, but now, I usually find her quite quickly on the first, or second frame I remove. I don't mark them. Adequate glasses make a big difference.
I only introduce queens in little queen cages with a plug of candy in the end of it, and always with the other queen removed. Even if the hive has no queen, or has had no queen for a while, I still put her in the little cage.
Very different beekeeping in the USA ... the bulk of their revenue comes from pollination and they need big colonies - plus, when you look at how some of the big operators work their bees over there you can understand why they have to replace queens with such regularity. They have a migratory beekeeping regime that must stress colonies in addition the monoculture crops their bees are exposed to cannot help and they openly admit that early queen failure is common (Mike Palmer has commented on the Florida queen rearing business in the past and how some of the queens they produce are of very poor and inbred quality).

There's an interesting read here -- actually from Chris Hiatt - which gives some idea of the issues that big USA beekeepers face. (I'm not unduly criticising what they do, they have businesses to run that need to survive financially - but - in so many ways it is not providing conditions or environments that are particularly kind to the bees).

 

Antipodes 

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Very different beekeeping in the USA ... the bulk of their revenue comes from pollination and they need big colonies - plus, when you look at how some of the big operators work their bees over there you can understand why they have to replace queens with such regularity. They have a migratory beekeeping regime that must stress colonies in addition the monoculture crops their bees are exposed to cannot help and they openly admit that early queen failure is common (Mike Palmer has commented on the Florida queen rearing business in the past and how some of the queens they produce are of very poor and inbred quality).

There's an interesting read here -- actually from Chris Hiatt - which gives some idea of the issues that big USA beekeepers face. (I'm not unduly criticising what they do, they have businesses to run that need to survive financially - but - in so many ways it is not providing conditions or environments that are particularly kind to the bees).

Yes, I don't reckon they take too much time to replace them, as in the replacement process..
Young queens are good however. No doubt about it, but sometimes it is better the devil you know than the one you don't.
 

madasafish 

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There's an interesting read here -- actually from Chris Hiatt - which gives some idea of the issues that big USA beekeepers face. (I'm not unduly criticising what they do, they have businesses to run that need to survive financially - but - in so many ways it is not providing conditions or environments that are particularly kind to the bees).


Thanks for the link Philip.

"Running hard to stand still" seems a good description..
Not helped by US farming practises...

I suspect it's unsustainable and a crash will happen .
 

Antipodes 

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Very different beekeeping in the USA ... the bulk of their revenue comes from pollination and they need big colonies - plus, when you look at how some of the big operators work their bees over there you can understand why they have to replace queens with such regularity. They have a migratory beekeeping regime that must stress colonies in addition the monoculture crops their bees are exposed to cannot help and they openly admit that early queen failure is common (Mike Palmer has commented on the Florida queen rearing business in the past and how some of the queens they produce are of very poor and inbred quality).

There's an interesting read here -- actually from Chris Hiatt - which gives some idea of the issues that big USA beekeepers face. (I'm not unduly criticising what they do, they have businesses to run that need to survive financially - but - in so many ways it is not providing conditions or environments that are particularly kind to the bees).

Have a read under "Questions and Answers" in this link. It's hard to contemplate the way the commercial people work. Quite different of course to running a few hives in your own back yard, or even a few dozen.

 

pargyle 

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Thanks for the link Philip.

"Running hard to stand still" seems a good description..
Not helped by US farming practises...

I suspect it's unsustainable and a crash will happen .
Yes .... I think there are so many converging factors in parts of the commercial sector of USA beekeeping that the conditions for a perfect storm are on the horizon. How on earth you reverse or even slow down what is potentially a honey bee disaster in the USA I cannot begin to imagine. It makes the problems we face in the UK very minimal ...
 

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Have a read under "Questions and Answers" in this link. It's hard to contemplate the way the commercial people work. Quite different of course to running a few hives in your own back yard, or even a few dozen.

Yes ... Don't you feel that the need to achieve maximum results for the minimum of effort and at the lowest cost is what is bad for agriculture, animal husbandry and the planet in general ? > I think there is a another thread where I was suggesting that a statement exhorting beekeepers to follow such a philosophy from 100 years ago was anathema to my beekeeping ....

 

Ian123 

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I think there is a another thread where I was suggesting that a statement exhorting beekeepers to follow such a philosophy from 100 years ago was anathema to my beekeeping ....

Yes but there’s rather a difference to what was being done 100 years ago and the statement was made in regards to then. Not really taken out of context and used atm.
 

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With 30 hives you should be able/proficient in finding queens, as above I really wouldn’t worry about replacing queens yearly. It’s just not done and a waste, effectively you wouldn’t get a whole proper season out of them. Get in the hives as soon as weather allows and get them marked whilst there’s fewer bees for you to deal with. Ian
If the OP is saying that the markings come off by the end of the season I would recommend a Toma pen rather than a Posca pen for marking as they last much longer. If they insist on replacing every year I would go for a fluorescent pink marker, in my opinion they stand out better than any other colour.
 

Ian123 

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If the OP is saying that the markings come off by the end of the season I would recommend a Toma pen rather than a Posca pen for marking as they last much longer. If they insist on replacing every year I would go for a fluorescent pink marker, in my opinion they stand out better than any other colour.
Are you using those oil based toma pens. How long does it take to dry.
 

Newbeeneil 

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Are you using those oil based toma pens. How long does it take to dry.
It takes a matter of a minute or so to dry. If I don't need to clip a queen but want to mark her I can put a mark on her while she's still on the comb and it's dry before any workers realise you have done it.
 

Ian123 

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It takes a matter of a minute or so to dry. If I don't need to clip a queen but want to mark her I can put a mark on her while she's still on the comb and it's dry before any workers realise you have done it.
I just normally pick them up to mark just wanted to check it didn’t take an age to dry.
 

Newbeeneil 

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I just normally pick them up to mark just wanted to check it didn’t take an age to dry.
I normally pick them up as well but if I don't want to take a chance of injuring her at the end of the season I just dot her, then early next year I will pick her up, clip and remark her.
The pens dry much quicker than the Posca ones.
 

Antipodes 

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Yes ... Don't you feel that the need to achieve maximum results for the minimum of effort and at the lowest cost is what is bad for agriculture, animal husbandry and the planet in general ? > I think there is a another thread where I was suggesting that a statement exhorting beekeepers to follow such a philosophy from 100 years ago was anathema to my beekeeping ....

Yeah, but it's tricky (particularly in some other countries), because, for instance, you need at least 200 hives here in Australia to make any money, and generally beyond that, the bigger you get, the more you make.

The reason I linked the article in post #11 was that the important point is made that the message from the big operators about requeening every year gets through to the small operators, but the focus for the commercials is different with so many hives. Therein lies some of the confusion because what is good for them about requeening, is not necessarily good for the tiny beekeeper with just a few dozen hives. You ought to be able to just about count the eggs with just a few dozen hives and be able to know the performance of every queen in each individual hive.:)

Finding queens is a skill that can definitely be improved with more experience doing it. One tip I would suggest, in addition to the glasses, is scanning for the queen only, and don't be distracted looking at brood or other interesting things in there... ;)

The OP asked if it was possible to requeen every year on a large scale. Certainly I've heard of it happening (commercial operators), and because Chris Hiatt does close to 80 per cent every year with 7-8000 hives, it can presumably be done.

Suggestions for the OP, mark queens as per suggestions from other posters (Neil, post #15), and try to get better at finding them. With only 30 hives, you should be able to be able to monitor the laying of each queen so get the two years (or perhaps more) out of some of them. Others may well be done after a year....or less!
 
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