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Time to re-queen?

 
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DurangoKid
Nurse Bee


Joined: 15 Jul 2014
Posts: 36
Location: 7500', Durango, Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2015 2:02 am    Post subject: Time to re-queen? Reply with quote

Hello fellow beeks,

I have a 2.5 year old TB hive that is wonderful to work with, stores plenty of honey for the winter (and survives our winters!), and appears to be completely mite and disease free. However, the colony has not grown like all of the others. I have not opened more than half of the hive and they only inhabit half of what is open to them (in front of the follower).

Generally, my more populous colonies seem to thrive better and are more productive. Should I re-queen this colony or am I better off letting the colony decide when to re-queen?

Many thanks,
dK
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Smorning
Foraging Bee


Joined: 20 Aug 2013
Posts: 150
Location: Faversham Kent UK

PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2015 2:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would let the bees decide, if the queen starts to fail they will superseed her and the good genetic traits you described will be passed onto her successor. Your bees can breed a better queen than you could buy, let's nature decide that's my opinion. Hope all goes well
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DurangoKid
Nurse Bee


Joined: 15 Jul 2014
Posts: 36
Location: 7500', Durango, Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2015 2:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Smorning. I value your advice and am leaning that direction myself.

I should have noted that I was not considering purchasing a queen. I am leary of commercially raised bees and queens. Rather I would allow the colony to raise their own queen. Or, if that failed, to breed one from one of my other hives.
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1574
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2015 7:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi DK

I would be very surprised if they have not requeened themselves during that 2.5 years. Is the queen marked that you know for sure that she is the original one. Can you be sure that this hive has not swarmed during that time.

I have a colony that happily lives on 9 bars, but they throw 2 or 3 swarms every year. They are also very happy and healthy treatment free bees that make enough honey for themselves but no excess and survive winter well.
My feeling is that like any creature, there are large and small and in some respects, large is not always best, unless you are the beekeeper wanting a honey harvest! Wink

I love my little colony as much, if not more, than the big ones because it doesn't seem to ail for anything and I never feel concerned about it. I actually wonder if this is the optimum size from a bees point of view. At the end of the day, they don't worry about producing a surplus for the beekeeper and this volume is enough for them to store honey for their needs. Their interest is survival and propagation and they happily achieve both of these in that cavity.
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rmcpb
Scout Bee


Joined: 17 Jul 2011
Posts: 447
Location: Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2015 8:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As you have other hives it my be worth keeping a couple of queens in nuc colonies for just this "problem". In this case I may be inclined to use another colony to raise a queen from the smaller hive. You can never have too much genetic variation.

Cheers
Rob
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AugustC
Silver Bee


Joined: 08 Jul 2013
Posts: 613
Location: Malton, North Yorkshire

PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2015 8:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is there any chance at all that the hive has swarmed already this year and you missed it? It would account for the low bee numbers. Do you know you have a current laying queen in there ie have you seen her or her eggs? How many combs do they currently inhabit?
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DurangoKid
Nurse Bee


Joined: 15 Jul 2014
Posts: 36
Location: 7500', Durango, Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Fri May 15, 2015 2:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barbara wrote:
I would be very surprised if they have not requeened themselves during that 2.5 years. Is the queen marked that you know for sure that she is the original one.


Hi Barbara,

Our colonies sound very similar. The queen is not marked and I am quite sure they have not swarmed yet this year. Last Sunday I had to wade through 30 inch show drifts to reach my hives from yet another Spring storm. It is now warm again (if you think 15c is warm) and there is a nectar flow but not enough yet to trigger a swarm here in Colorado.

I removed one comb full of honey last autumn as it was in shambles. It was coming lose from the bar at one end and double-width (read heavy) at the other end. I may remove one additional old and dirty comb which still has honey on one side.

AugustC: They are currently inhabiting six combs and have partial stores from last winter on three additional combs. I opened the hive yesterday and saw both eggs and very small larva. That tells me I still have a queen. She is just content to lay in dribs and drabs.

Many thanks to all who have responded. The distilled wisdom on this forum is amazing and refreshing.

Cheers
dK
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