Brood Pattern Not A Good Measure of Queen Quality

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Countryboy
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Brood Pattern Not A Good Measure of Queen Quality

Unread post by Countryboy » December 18th, 2019, 3:40 pm

https://res.mdpi.com/d_attachment/insec ... H17nWujbpQ

This is an interesting study. They found that brood pattern was not a good measure of queen quality.

And poor brood patterns tended to be indicative of some other disease pressure.

1) If this is true, then how should beekeepers evaluate queen performance?

2) If this is true, it further illustrates the importance of keeping diseases under control.
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Allen Dick
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Re: Brood Pattern Not A Good Measure of Queen Quality

Unread post by Allen Dick » December 18th, 2019, 6:10 pm

I did not read the whole thing, but this has been obvious to me all along. Too many factors enter into why a pattern may be shotgun from hygiene to the history of the comb, especially coming out of winter or after a new queen takes over.

On a new comb, the pattern is more meaningful, but again, many factors affect what we see.

How do we judge a queen? I asked Steve Parks that once and he said, "If they're yalla, we breed 'em".He was kidding of course, but the answer is not something that can be summed up in a few words. There are so many small factors that enter into it that it is more art than science.

Of course, with genetic science and testing, we are trying to make it more scientific, but IMO, it is still an art.

Judging individual queens is a bit of a mugs game, but selecting colonies is less so.

The greatest stock improvement we achieved one year was by marking all out best hives the previous year, then breeding the ones that survived looking good and not showing any chalkbrood mummies on the floor in spring. I'm sure we rejected many great hives, but the ones we did pick were in the top percentiles for production, disease resistance and wintering. (And luck).

Although that was a huge success, the next year we went into pollination and bought bees. Hive numbers was the goal then.
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Re: Brood Pattern Not A Good Measure of Queen Quality

Unread post by Countryboy » December 20th, 2019, 6:06 am

The greatest stock improvement we achieved one year was by marking all out best hives the previous year, then breeding the ones that survived looking good and not showing any chalkbrood mummies on the floor in spring.
What I have been doing is picking out 3 or 4 of my best/strongest overwintered hives in the spring. (that aren't mean) Then I try to graft from each hive and use for queen replacement, splits, or nucs.

I don't know that I am really improving my stock. I think it is more that I am just culling out the worst, which raises my average.
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Re: Brood Pattern Not A Good Measure of Queen Quality

Unread post by Allen Dick » December 20th, 2019, 6:52 am

Same thing.

3 or 4 are about the minimum for good results and more is better up to a point. Don't want to much inbreeding.

That is assuming you try to isolate your breeders enough that the drones from the losers don't dilute your efforts.

We kept our breeding and mating hives in a location reasonably distant from our production hives.
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Re: Brood Pattern Not A Good Measure of Queen Quality

Unread post by Countryboy » December 20th, 2019, 2:06 pm

Do drones from the "loser" hives dilute your efforts?

Or are the loser hives too wimpy to produce many drones, meaning a smaller percentage of drones come from weaker hives?

I've never been able to get much good information on the placement of drone hives. Some guys say you are supposed to surround your mating yard 1/2 to 1 mile away with drone hives. I've heard other queen guys say they see mating happen right in the queen mating yard. They have dead drones falling out of the sky right there in the yard.

Do we even know for sure?

I've always been of the belief that bigger, stronger hives would produce more drones, and the majority of drones in a DCA would likely be from those bigger, stronger hives. Meaning that even if there were drones from "loser" hives, they would be fewer in number and not pose any real issue of dilution.

Where I am, I don't know that there is such a thing as isolation. No matter where you go, there are wild hives in trees or wherever, or hobbyist hives in close enough proximity to where I was mating queens that I would not be isolated.
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Re: Brood Pattern Not A Good Measure of Queen Quality

Unread post by Allen Dick » December 20th, 2019, 4:28 pm

It is easy to imagine that hives susceptible to mites or disease might produce fewer drones, but drone layers produce nothing but.

If your mother hives number only three or so, how many unselected and loser hives are nearby? Do they outnumber your breeder hives? If so, your queen rearing efforts are bound to be strongly diluted and you are spitting into a wind of your own making.

How many interloper loser drones can you tolerate ? 10%?, 20%?, 40%? 50%? 90%?

Many breeders add drone comb to the best hives and encourage drones in them. They also look for any isolation they can achieve. In my experience a few miles is lots and if your drone hives are in the queen-rearing yard, that works.

Of course we know queens can travel far to mate, but we observed lots of mating happening before the queen got out of the home yard and I assume that the queens won't fly far if they encounter lots of nearby drones.

It is a numbers game and we try to stack the deck.
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Re: Brood Pattern Not A Good Measure of Queen Quality

Unread post by Allen Dick » December 28th, 2019, 11:44 am

One other thing. Different strains start flying earlier or later . For example, AHB drones are known to fly earlier.

Consequently anything we can do to ensure that desirable drones are most plentiful and flying nearby will have a large influence.
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