How Important is Queen Longevity?

How to make queens for yourself, don't be held back by the availability from somebody who is not local to you.
User avatar
Nordak
Backyard Beekeeper
Posts: 438
Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2016 6:24 am
Location: Arkansas

How Important is Queen Longevity?

Postby Nordak » Fri Jan 06, 2017 2:46 am

I'm starting to sort of figure out where I might want to go in terms of queen selection, having propagated several queens this (last) year from a 3rd year queen. She happens to be one of the more fairly productive queens, not very swarmy, not too defensive but showing good pest defense. Just all around good. Obviously long lived. Is longevity of life for a queen because of these factors, or is it luck of the draw? Basically, I'm assuming here that because the queen is long lived that the colony is doing something right. Is that how most of you take it, or am I missing the point entirely? Is there a direct genetic link with longevity of queens, or is it selecting against another trait like frequent supersedure? Should I be branching out with other bees with seemingly different behaviors giving them as much of the center stage? I realize I don't have just a ton of control (don't really want it) in an open mating scenario and a relatively small hive count, so just looking from the queen side of things, how do you view the longevity issue and it's importance to selection?

User avatar
SiWolKe
Hobbyist
Posts: 568
Joined: Mon Sep 05, 2016 5:36 am
Location: South Germany

Re: How Important is Queen Longevity?

Postby SiWolKe » Fri Jan 06, 2017 9:07 am

I have only limited experience and will be glad my queens see the next season in spite of varroa infestations or my failing methods. :roll:

But my thoughts are that what you claim, Nordak, is just right.
Basically, I'm assuming here that because the queen is long lived that the colony is doing something right.


Mating success is the most important criteria in my eyes. This success, if not crashing because of queens becoming prey, is correlating with what the quote says.
The bees knowing when the right time for breeding a new queen is ( flow, weather, condition of colony).
And such a colony knows about other dangers too. ( just speculating ;)

My belief is you must wait until a colony is established until you can estimate the queen. This is in the second year if you don´t split all the time.

Bees normally swarm every year if they are wild bees. But who has ever tested how old the swarm queen will become?
I mean a swarm queen, not a split queen.

Maybe MB knows about this, since he catches his own swarms in his bee yards.
Michael, after what time do the bees supersede their old swarm queens? Do you know?
Civility is strength. http://www.VivaBiene.de

lharder
Hobbyist
Posts: 503
Joined: Wed May 20, 2015 6:36 pm
Location: Kamloops, BC

Re: How Important is Queen Longevity?

Postby lharder » Fri Jan 06, 2017 4:35 pm

I view it as important, but can be difficult to verify unless one clips a wing.

I heard a M. Palmer comment recently that some hives just keep going and going. Obviously at some point they supercede, but the daughters are really good too. Maybe, its a hive stability thing that is more important. I've noticed some really seamless supercedures in some of my hives. One I directly noticed the new (fat and probably laying) queen on one frame, and the old a few frames over. If they do it right and hedge their bets, keep the old girl around until the new one gets established.

User avatar
Ferdi
Freshman Beekeeper
Posts: 37
Joined: Mon Aug 24, 2015 8:00 pm
Location: Istanbul

Re: How Important is Queen Longevity?

Postby Ferdi » Fri Jan 06, 2017 9:31 pm

I believe longevity is a sign of good genetics and quality. I do not have any scientific evidence to prove it, instead I'm just talking based on my experience. In May 2012 I bought my first hive from a bee supplier in my area. I was inexperienced and did not know almost anything about beekeeping. But as I would discover later that hive had the best queen I have had so far. It had good wintering performance and exceptional spring growth just before main flow, also tolerated my many mistakes. I always harvested more honey from that hive compared to others. It felt like that hive doing everything at the right time and right order.

I did not know how old the queen was at the time I bought it but I'm sure it was not raised in 2012. In November 2014 I gave that queen as a gift to my friend, and I last heard about it in the summer of 2015 and still doing great.

User avatar
Nordak
Backyard Beekeeper
Posts: 438
Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2016 6:24 am
Location: Arkansas

Re: How Important is Queen Longevity?

Postby Nordak » Fri Jan 06, 2017 10:31 pm

Thanks everyone. Common sense tells me to look at what works, I just don't want to get zoned in to the point I might lose sight of other potential characteristics from other hives. These bees are just as you describe, Ferdi. They seem to make all the right decisions based on my observations. On the flip side of these bees, I had a couple of hives I couldn't keep in my apiary this year that swarmed and seemed to be in a constant state of supersedure. Their mother, a feral capture, wherever she took off to, made the meanest bees I've come across yet. Despite all the swarming, and after swarming due to missed swarm cells (rookie mistake and lack of time for management) one of these hives were still one of the most populous hives going into winter with an abundant honey crop. Super prolific bees, just can't keep them around it seems.

moebees
Backyard Beekeeper
Posts: 378
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2016 7:57 pm
Location: Illinois

Re: How Important is Queen Longevity?

Postby moebees » Fri Jan 06, 2017 11:03 pm

Let me begin with a caveat. Since leaving academia I have lost access to the wonderful resources of a university library and I do not subscribe to any scientific journals. So any literature search I do is limited to open access materials which tend to not have the latest information. Secondly I don't want to spend allot of time searching the literature but you guys keep asking questions that lead to that. :lol: With that said there were several studies in the early 80's that estimate the heritability of longevity in honey bees fairly high and therefore it should be feasible to make progress in the selection for longevity. There apparently is also a positive correlation to honey production. Some vitellogenin (Vg) studies from the University of Illinois around 2007 showed higher production in older queens in the head and thorax. Interestingly honey bees are able to increase longevity but not at the expense of reproduction as is the case in other species. Vg is known to reduce oxidative stress by scavenging oxygen radicals and honey bees lack many of the antioxidants found in other species. This would suggest that older queens are healthier and more resistant to disease.

So then the question becomes should you select for longevity? Genetic progress depends on the heritability of a trait, selection pressure, and generation time. In this case heritability is high but your selection pressure is likely to be pretty low given your limited numbers. Generation time is very short in the honey bee but if you select for old queens you necessarily increase that time because the only way to measure longevity is to wait and see how long they last. Unless you can find a surrogate marker that could be measured more quickly. This type of breeding program would also impact your management practices in ways you perhaps might not like. And in the end longevity is most likely correlated to disease resistance and other traits you are going to be selecting for. So the bottom line is by selecting for mite resistance and honey production you will likely be selecting for queen longevity anyway.
Sam Droege, a biologist for the U.S. Geological Survey—“bees are not optional."

moebees
Backyard Beekeeper
Posts: 378
Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2016 7:57 pm
Location: Illinois

Re: How Important is Queen Longevity?

Postby moebees » Fri Jan 06, 2017 11:05 pm

I see a was just a little late in responding. Oh well.
Sam Droege, a biologist for the U.S. Geological Survey—“bees are not optional."

User avatar
Nordak
Backyard Beekeeper
Posts: 438
Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2016 6:24 am
Location: Arkansas

Re: How Important is Queen Longevity?

Postby Nordak » Fri Jan 06, 2017 11:19 pm

moebees wrote:Let me begin with a caveat. Since leaving academia I have lost access to the wonderful resources of a university library and I do not subscribe to any scientific journals. So any literature search I do is limited to open access materials which tend to not have the latest information. Secondly I don't want to spend allot of time searching the literature but you guys keep asking questions that lead to that. :lol: With that said there were several studies in the early 80's that estimate the heritability of longevity in honey bees fairly high and therefore it should be feasible to make progress in the selection for longevity. There apparently is also a positive correlation to honey production. Some vitellogenin (Vg) studies from the University of Illinois around 2007 showed higher production in older queens in the head and thorax. Interestingly honey bees are able to increase longevity but not at the expense of reproduction as is the case in other species. Vg is known to reduce oxidative stress by scavenging oxygen radicals and honey bees lack many of the antioxidants found in other species. This would suggest that older queens are healthier and more resistant to disease.

So then the question becomes should you select for longevity? Genetic progress depends on the heritability of a trait, selection pressure, and generation time. In this case heritability is high but your selection pressure is likely to be pretty low given your limited numbers. Generation time is very short in the honey bee but if you select for old queens you necessarily increase that time because the only way to measure longevity is to wait and see how long they last. Unless you can find a surrogate marker that could be measured more quickly. This type of breeding program would also impact your management practices in ways you perhaps might not like. And in the end longevity is most likely correlated to disease resistance and other traits you are going to be selecting for. So the bottom line is by selecting for mite resistance and honey production you will likely be selecting for queen longevity anyway.


Wow, great post, Moe. That put a lot of my questions into perspective. Thanks.

User avatar
Michael Bush
Backyard Beekeeper
Posts: 351
Joined: Wed May 20, 2015 11:34 am
Location: Nehawka, Nebraska
Contact:

Re: How Important is Queen Longevity?

Postby Michael Bush » Sun Jan 08, 2017 8:39 pm

>Is longevity of life for a queen because of these factors, or is it luck of the draw?

It's a number of factors including but no necessary limited to, genetics, contamination, good food while developing, good mating, and then just running out of semen. Obviously a queen in a really booming hive is laying more eggs and using more semen and will run out sooner. A queen that is poorly mated runs out sooner. A queen that was not well developed doesn't have as many ovarioles and will run out of eggs. But in addition to these environmental issues there is genetics as well. I think it's a good trait to breed for. I can't prove that there is a relationship between queen longevity and worker longevity but it seems likely, and worker longevity has a lot to do with productivity.
"Everything works if you let it"--James "Big Boy" Medlin
http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm

User avatar
Nordak
Backyard Beekeeper
Posts: 438
Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2016 6:24 am
Location: Arkansas

Re: How Important is Queen Longevity?

Postby Nordak » Mon Jan 09, 2017 1:46 pm

Makes good sense to me. Thanks, Michael.


Return to “Queen Rearing”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest