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David P 

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A quick question to those in the know, How long can a virgin stay a virgin before its too late to be mated?

Reason for the question-- Long story but i managed to get a virgin queen stranded on the wrong side of a queen excluder, according to my notes and calculations she could have been there 7-8 days. Since the weather has been crap for most of that time I dont really think she has missed an opportunity.
As a side note I am going on holiday for 12 days in a weeks time. On the one side this is good since it means if she now goes out and mates I wont be disturbing her out of idle curiosity. On the other hand if she doesnt it means a long time before anything can be done.

I was wondering if it was worth chucking in a frame of eggs/larvae from another colony before i go the rationale being if shes ok they will ignore it and if not it gives them a chance to sort themselves out.
 

Hombre 

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Hot potatoe. Good luck and I hope the weather changes rapidly for yourself, your virgin and the rest of us.

I understand (that means that I don't) after 28 days it's a pretty hopeless case, 21 days is pushing it and up to 14 days seems fairly normal. I don't know if she is likely to have been traumatised at all by being captive. Enjoy your holiday and don't worry. In about three weeks time you should have your answer from the product specialist herself.

I'm sure someone more enlightened will be along to bust any myths in the morning.
 

alexx_v 

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The absolute maximum is 45 days. But usually it takes about 2 or weeks a virgin queen to be mated and to start laying eggs. I've even read in books that sometimes a virgin queen can stay virgin for a longer period, even for wintering, the colony keeps drones in the hive and at spring, when the weather is fine the queen mates.
 

Finman 

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I've even read in books that sometimes a virgin queen can stay virgin for a longer period, even for wintering, the colony keeps drones in the hive and at spring, when the weather is fine the queen mates.

I believe that you have read, but that overwintering is not possible.

Biggest limitation in mating is the weather and the winter does not make it better.
 
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oliver90owner 

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wondering if it was worth chucking in a frame of eggs/larvae

Likely no use. If not mated she would just be another drone-layer. Queen is there and young, so the workers would probably accept her until too late. Better to remove the queen before putting in eggs/larvae. But it can do no harm (if disease-free) and might work.

She should be alright but you can never tell. I would be trying to organise an alternative QC (temporary split on one of the other colonies? or other means...) to gain time just in case she starts laying without mating. Nothing lost as long as wasps are not a nuisance and invade one of the weakened splits at this time of the year.

Regards, RAB
 

anwe 

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Longest I have had to wait for Q to start laying is 8 weeks usually if they wait this long they are drone layers.optimal mating takes place in the first 2 weeks after emerging.laying may be delayed by other factors a virgin overwintering would be too old to mate successfully
 

jon 

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If your queen was stuck on the wrong side of the queen excluder for only eight days I don't think you will have a problem. The queen has to take orientation flights before it takes its mating flight anyway, so that it can find its way back to the hive. As far as I know the queen does not fly for about 5 days after hatching anyway. I only start to worry after a month. Lots of people are reporting queens taking 3-4 weeks to get mated.
 

mikethebee 

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Mating flight three days is the best,
BUT she needs good weather 24 deg for at least 14 days befor and after mating flight
ITS been posted on the forum many many times The UK weather unrelible.
That’s why you should buy IMPORTED MATED QUEENS.
 

oliver90owner 

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BUT she needs good weather 24 deg for at least 14 days befor and after mating flight

I agree she is all the better for good weather when on mating flights, but that quote is just plain mischievous!

14 days before - she could well be still tucked up in a QC - and after she has mated she is in the warmth of the hive which will be as much as required, so once mated it does not really matter one jot.

Yes, UK weather is unreliable, but not that many warm days, at the right time, are required!!

I always say the UK has a good climate - just has lousy weather.

RAB
 

jon 

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I might be mistaken but I thought that many queen imports were delayed this year due to bad weather in Greece and Continental Europe.

This article has good background information on the timing and frequency of mating flights.

http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/theses/available/etd-08162007-092313/unrestricted/lmburley.pdf

The first task of a newly emerged queen is to seek and destroy potential rivals
either existing queens or queens in cells awaiting emergence (Laidlaw and Page 1997,
Caron 1999). Virgin queens are smaller than mated queens and tend to be more active
and flighty. Virgin queens are fed primarily honey until after mating; honey gives virgins
strength and energy for mating flights (Laidlaw and Page 1997). Mating of the queen
takes place with multiple drones outside of the hive. Three to 5 days after emergence a
queen will take orientation flights to become familiar with the location of her colony;
mating can sometimes occur on these flights (Caron 1999). Typically, virgins will make
one or more mating flights five to fourteen days after emergence from her cell (Roberts
1944, Woyke 1964, Mackensen and Tucker 1970, Harbo 1985, Caron 1999). If the
weather is unfavorable for multiple weeks, and a virgin cannot leave the hive to mate, or
she is unsuccessful during mating flights, then she may start laying unfertilized eggs.
Queens that only lay unfertilized eggs are known as “drone layers” and will not leave the
hive again for mating purposes (Laidlaw and Page 1997).
The number of drones with which a queen will mate varies from queen to queen.
It is currently estimated that a queen will mate with between 6 and 24 drones (Woyke
1962, Winston 1991, Neumann et al. 1999) mating with 5 to 10 in rapid succession
(Koeniger 1990b). The number of mating flights a queen takes also varies. It is thought
that a queen will make repeated mating flights due to a lack of sperm received and stored
on the first flight (Roberts 1944, Woyke 1964). Through his research Taber (1954) found
virgin queens mate on average 6.5 times over multiple mating flights. Virgin queens
allowed only one mating flight had significantly lower sperm (3.27 million) contained in
the spermatheca than queens that were able to freely mate (5.73 million) signifying
multiple mating flights. Results of progeny of queens allowed to mate once clearly
indicated that queens mated with more than one drone on a mating flight based on allele
frequencies (Taber 1954). Woyke (1964) observed that queens will repeat mating flights
up to three times with the average number of stored sperm increasing with each flight.
Two mating flights on the same day can occur but is not likely. Only 6.8% of mated
queens flew again on the same day to mate further; most of the queens were found to
12
mate again on succeeding days. If a queen does conduct a second mating flight on the
same day, the duration of the second flight is dependent on the time interval between the
first and second flight (Woyke 1962). The longer the time interval between the first and
second flights, the shorter the second flight, and the less likely the queen was to mate
successfully on it.
The duration of mating flights can vary depending on the success of the flight
and season of the year. Flights when queens successfully mate last longer than
unsuccessful mating flights. Non-successful mating flights average 11 minutes in
comparison to successful mating flights that average 14.4 minutes with some flights
lasting as long as 31minutes (Roberts 1944). Woyke (1962) observed a slightly higher
average of 21 minutes for a successful mating flight with a second mating flight on the
same day lasting 20 minutes. A time interval between two successful mating flights is
much shorter (47minutes) than the interval between the first successful mating flight and
an unsuccessful mating flight (77 minutes) (Woyke 1962). Mating flights tend to be
longer in early spring and then shorten in the summer when the temperatures are warmer
and drones are more abundant (Roberts 1944, Laidlaw and Page 1997). Roberts (1944)
for example, showed that duration of mating flights decreased from 19.3 minutes in April
to 11.9 minutes in June.
 

Queen B 

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Fascinating stuff. I guess the multiple matings with assorted drones explains why in one colony there can be workers of different colours. As for UK weather not being suitable for queen mating, that's rubbish. Mine never have any problems!
 

Hebeegeebee 

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Earlier this year some of my queens took about 24 days before they started to lay. A queen that emerged a week or so after the others came into lay at around the same time so the earlier lot were waiting on weather. It certainly wasn't 24 degrees at that time of the year! Queens later in the year were laying quicker - in around 2 weeks.
 

alexx_v 

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Most of the books I've read are from Russian authors. I admit I've never been to UK but I think the weather in Russia is one of the severest in the world, so if they say it's ok for queen to mate after wintering I think is possible. I had queens mated in October and March. It's not the best weather for queen to mate and here (in Bulgaria,) but the colonies with such queens didn't underperfform. I have to admit also that one year here was extremely rainy and even there were good days most of mine colonies with queens from that year superceded ( I am not sure if I use the right word) their old queens with new.
I believe that you have read, but that overwintering is not possible.

Biggest limitation in mating is the weather and the winter does not make it better.
 

Finman 

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I live in Finland. I have never heard that the queen may mate after winter.
In my country September is out of mating period. May is the next.

Queen does not mate after 1 month period. How could it happen after 6 months?

I know from experience that queens need here 20 C temp and sunny day that they make mating flights. Some may do at temp of 18C.

I have nursed bees 47 years and I know that Russian may write what ever like other beekeepers in the world. If beekeeper do not know, he imagine the rest.

In that case, if the queen has just died it and then they rear the new one, will mate after winter.
 

alexx_v 

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Look, I don't want to argue with you. Just saying what I've read and decided to share with the rest some interesting cases that's all. I've never experienced it or want to.
I live in Finland. I have never heard that the queen may mate after winter.
In my country September is out of mating period. May is the next.

Queen does not mate after 1 month period. How could it happen after 6 months?

I know from experience that queens need here 20 C temp and sunny day that they make mating flights. Some may do at temp of 18C.

I have nursed bees 47 years and I know that Russian may write what ever like other beekeepers in the world. If beekeeper do not know, he imagine the rest.

In that case, if the queen has just died it and then they rear the new one, will mate after winter.
 

anwe 

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There is a big difference between mating and laying while the two may be seperated by a day or so laying can take much longer. Where I live the Drones are flying at about 16c I think this is the lower limit for mating Amm other bee types may require more.I have been aware of mating taking place in Oct and the temp would not reach 20c then.
 

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