How to encourage the Queen to lay male bees?

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More drone brood also means Varroa likely to build up faster.
Where is your evidence for that ?
Weeellll ... I love drones as much as anyone, but surely this is fairly well accepted? Isn't it? All the research documents and websites I have seen quote something like 1.5 varroa mites emerging from a worker cell vs 2.5 from a drone cell. I know drones are capped for longer (hence the difference!) but even allowing for this, more drone brood must mean varroa can multiply faster, just in simple mathematical terms. There is a genetic reason why they prefer drone brood by a factor of 10:1 or something .....

For example

A comparison of the reproductive ability of Varroa destructor (Mesostigmata:Varroidae) in worker and drone brood of Africanized honey bees (Apis mellifera) - PubMed (nih.gov)

and

Choice in Varroa jacobsoni Oud. between Honey Bee Drone or Workerbrood Cells for Reproduction on JSTOR

and (by Randy Oliver)

IPM 5 Fighting Varroa : Biotechnical Tactics Part 2 - Scientific Beekeeping

and

"Drone brood is capped for longer than worker brood, so on average, more female Varroa mites are able to mature on drone brood. Research has shown that a female mite laying eggs in drone brood will produce on average 2.6 adult females compared to 1.6 adult females if eggs are laid on worker brood. This means that the reproductive rate of Varroa mites increases with the availability of drone brood." ( Varroa mites « Bee Aware )

and

"A female mite enters a brood cell 1 to 2 days before it is capped. About 60 hours later, she starts to lay her eggs at a rate of one egg every 24 to 30 hours. The mite eggs take somewhere from 3-9 days to mature, depending on their sex. Whereas worker brood remains capped for about 12 days, drone brood remains capped for 15 days. The difference in timing means that an average worker brood cell will yield 1.7 mites, but an average drone brood cell will yield 2.4 mites." (Reduce varroa mites by culling honey bee drones)
 

masterBK 

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I understand the perfectly valid reason for wanting more drones in your colonies to increase the chances of passing "favoured" genes on but I was simply pointing out that this will likely increase the number of Varroa drones in the colony (with the implied inference that good and more frequent Varroa control may need to be considered)

Evidence : ever read the NBU advisory leaflet "managing varroa?" You can download it from this link
On page 6 it states
"Varroa prefer to breed in drone brood (10-12 times more frequently), but will also use worker brood"
On page 7 it states
"The success rate of reproduction (new mature female mites) in worker brood is about 1.7-2 but increases to between 2 and 3 in drone brood due to the longer development period"

from the NBU leaflet : Using Drone Brood Removal as a Varroa Control
One mature mite entering an Apis mellifera drone cell will emerge together with the imago drone and five daughter mites that have an average survival rate of 83%. Mites entering worker brood cells will emerge with three daughters that have a survival rate of 46%.

Wilkinson, D & G. Smith 2001 Modelling biological approaches to controlling varroa populations. ABJ July 2001: 511-516
Wilkinson, D & DC Smith 2002 A model of the mite parasite, Varroa destructor, on honeybees (Apis mellifera) to investigate parameters important to mite population growth. Ecological Modelling 148: 263-275.

Wilkinson and Smith modelled the effects of drone brood management with regard to Varroa numbers.
At 5% drone brood, as many mites are emerging from 50-60 drone cells as from 1000 worker cells. This emphasizes the importance of drone brood in mite population growth, and the need for beekeepers to prevent large quantities of drone brood being reared unnecessarily Reducing drone brood from 4% to 3.2% would reduce the mite population growth rate by 25%.

Also check out

As a former Zoologist, I am more likely to believe "facts" produced as a result of proper scientific research than the opinions of someone lacking a biological background.
 
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pargyle 

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Yes ... I get all the reasons why varroa prefer drone brood but what I don't get is why there should be more varroa prevalent in the colony as a result of there being more drone brood. There is an assumption there that more drones = more varroa.

I know, when I have forked out drone brood (not to kill drone brood but to investigate the level of varroa in a colony and validate the levels provided by my sugar rolls) that only a relatively small percentage of the drone brood has varroa in there. So, forgive me, explain why - if there are already spare drone cells that would permit varro to enter and breed why increasing the number of drones in a colony would exponentially increase the levels of varroa ?

Surely - and I await to be corrected - the only thing that would increase the varroa levels is the number of breeding varroa in the colony and the conditions being favourable for varroa breeding - or the introduction of an increased number of mites from, say, robbing of a failing hive.

I cannot see any direct relationship between increased numbers of drones in a colony and increased levels of varroa ?
 

Erichalfbee 

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I cannot see any direct relationship between increased numbers of drones in a colony and increased levels of varroa ?
This is what the NBU says
Fork out a sample of drone pupae as in method 2. If 1 in 50 pupae have mites on them then the infestation is light and will probably need no control, if 1 in 20 pupae have mites on them, then it is medium, if 1 in 10, then it is heavy. If 15% of drone brood is infested then it indicates that the colony may be at risk of collapse.

So...if you have a heavy infestation and the colony is in peril ,with I presume many workers affected, why isn't the drone brood infestation higher if varroa breed preferentially in drone?
 
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Surely - and I await to be corrected - the only thing that would increase the varroa levels is the number of breeding varroa in the colony
If an average of 2.5 females come out of a drone cell, vs 1.5 out of a worker cell, wouldn't that by definition increase the number of breeding varroa in the colony?

I know, when I have forked out drone brood (not to kill drone brood but to investigate the level of varroa in a colony and validate the levels provided by my sugar rolls) that only a relatively small percentage of the drone brood has varroa in there. So, forgive me, explain why - if there are already spare drone cells that would permit varroa to enter and breed why increasing the number of drones in a colony would exponentially increase the levels of varroa ?
A perfectly good question. But you use foundationless frames I think, so have a plentiful supply of drone comb already I assume, which is perhaps why your varroa already have plenty of drone cells to choose from and don't need any more. For the majority of beekeepers who just use worker foundation, adding more drone comb is likely to have a more noticeable effect?

But to be fair, Prof Apiarist does say this:

"Colonies often draw out significantly more drone comb in foundationless frames than they do on standard foundation. It’s not unusual to have big slabs of drone comb on one or more of the outer frames of the brood nest. As a consequence, these colonies have lots more drones present throughout the season. Interestingly, I’ve not had increased problems with Varroa and deformed wing virus in these colonies." Foundationless frames reviewed - The Apiarist

So who knows.

It is scientifically proven, as far as I can see, that varroa reproduce at a faster rate in drone comb. Perhaps what is lacking in the scientific literature is a study showing that adding more drone comb does in fact lead to heavier overall varroa loads in a hive. I can't see why it shouldn't, but that's not a scientific statement.
 

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This is what the NBU says
Fork out a sample of drone pupae as in method 2. If 1 in 50 pupae have mites on them then the infestation is light and will probably need no control, if 1 in 20 pupae have mites on them, then it is medium, if 1 in 10, then it is heavy. If 15% of drone brood is infested then it indicates that the colony may be at risk of collapse.

So...if you have a heavy infestation and the colony is in peril ,with I presume many workers affected, why isn't the drone brood infestation higher if varroa breed preferentially in drone?
If varroa don't breed preferentially on drone brood, why is drone brood preferentially used for sampling in this way? 😉
 

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Hi Richard, You would be better off separating the two, crossing is unreliable and while I disagree that they always turn spiteful sometimes you will lose the best traits from each one.

Breed either Buckfast or Blacks, increasing the drone population is a good idea to increase the mating chances of the virgins.
I totally agree & hence why my black bees will all be going in a few months. I've ordered 3 more Buckfast and 1 Ligusticta queen for April 20th. In all honesty I'm not sure whether getting rid of my black bees will make much odds to increasing the chances of any new queens being mated with Buckfast drones. I mentioned previously an apiary c. 1.5km from me with around 25 hives and being on the edge of forest I assume there are also a fair few feral colonies scattered around. But I can try. Last year I posted a question about the disposition of open mated F2 / F3 etc... Buckfast and in general people were positive so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Worst case I have to keep buying queens to stay pure (& docile), or I revert to black & do my best to identify & keep good lines.

We're entering a period of pollen excess (lots of mimosa around), & we're in a fruit producing region (cherries, apricots and apples) so it will be interesting to see how the hives develop over the coming months both generally & specifically with drone brood. I'm still in my first year (swarms caught May 2021) so learning all the time.

Many thanks.
 

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So who knows.

It is scientifically proven, as far as I can see, that varroa reproduce at a faster rate in drone comb. Perhaps what is lacking in the scientific literature is a study showing that adding more drone comb does in fact lead to heavier overall varroa loads in a hive. I can't see why it shouldn't, but that's not a scientific statement.
Yes, I agree but ...conversely, I still haven't seen any evidence that increasing drone production (drone comb if you wish) encourages varroa to breed more prolifically ...
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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Yes, I agree but ...conversely, I still haven't seen any evidence that increasing drone production (drone comb if you wish) encourages varroa to breed more prolifically ...
same as there's little evidence that drone culling has any significant impact on varroa levels, so..............................
 

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In the foundationless horizontal hives I run its noticable (to my eye) that the number of drones raised is broadly proportionate to the size and development of the overall colony – more workers and frame space loosely means more drones laid and raised at times of good forage.

Having more drone comb just gives varroa more places to hide which can make it more difficult to access load with a fork test unless there is a high load? Just a thought - how many workers are employed raising and caring for one drone throughout its life? And how many workers are employed raising and caring for one worker throughout its life? Does that have the potential to impact final honey production?
 

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My point earlier was, if you intend to raise more drones the balance of the hive will change, you need to add frames of emerging brood from another hive to care for them.
 

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There's no silly questions in beekeeping right?

So, I too am looking to add drone foundation to my hives this year. I have 4 hives, 2 are hives which I want to keep their characteristics, the other two I am replacing the queen. Lets call them A's (good hives), B's (Bad hives - not too bad but not as good as A's).

I plan to raise queens from one of the A's, and drones from both of the A's.
I thought I'd place one drone frame from each A's, once laid, into B hives removing B's drone brood first.

Therefore, hopefully, flooding the area with my A drones.

Q1. However, I'm wondering how the virgin queen knows which are her brothers, is it distance (flying further to mate)? hive smell/pheromone?
Q2. I do have apiaries 3 miles apart and hoping to maybe have somewhere else by then. Is this worthwhile doing?
 

Murox 

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There is normally a % of drone brood in a hive If you add more from another hive won't they adjust it down to what they want?
Open mating and drone flooding is difficult, your mating apiary is best supported by several others nearby to keep up your chosen genetics. Even then your efforts are easily thwarted if there are other less desirable drones in the DCA.
 

Mabee 

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There is normally a % of drone brood in a hive If you add more from another hive won't they adjust it down to what they want?
Open mating and drone flooding is difficult, your mating apiary is best supported by several others nearby to keep up your chosen genetics. Even then your efforts are easily thwarted if there are other less desirable drones in the DCA.
Of course, but my thinking is that I would swap the B's drone brood for the more favourable A's, therefore adding to better genetics in the area. I know only having 4 hives currently isn't going to maybe have the desired effect but hoping it helps.
 

Murox 

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Of course, but my thinking is that I would swap the B's drone brood for the more favourable A's, therefore adding to better genetics in the area. I know only having 4 hives currently isn't going to maybe have the desired effect but hoping it helps.
OK taking out the 'B' drone and replace with 'A' drone - its worth a try I suppose especially if there are not any other known apiaries nearby and you are confident with your new virgin(s), you have to start somewhere.
I have a daughter queen from a particularly 'tolerant/gentle' red dot local who was mated probably by her brothers; the result was not so laid back as the mother and much more chalk brood in evidence - I will replace her later this year with a Jolanta bred queen. Because of where I am, there are only a half dozen or so other keepers in the whole area and the nearest would be over 4 miles away, I am prepared to buy in proven queens. A Getty queen I bought has done really well, but I won't intentionally breed from her as she has become too chalky for my liking, but she produces good natured workers prolifically.
 

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