Poorly mated

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Tyson Kaiser
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Poorly mated

Postby Tyson Kaiser » Sat Jun 06, 2015 4:40 am

I've been noticing the number of complaints against commercial queen operators having poorly mated queens that are superseded or need to be replaced within a year. Recently I've had some close experience with someone who buys TF queens only to see them get superseded weeks later. This got me thinking about mating practices, and what well-mated means.

Since most queens other than breeder queens are open-mated, we can assume the operator utilizes drone flooding in a restricted area, presumably free of much outside influence. We know that a queen will do more than one mating flight, to return to the colony to have the endophallus removed if still attached. This may be one part of the "mated" signal that the queen emits, or a precursor to that signal. Queens mate several times, if not a dozen or more. We can probably assume the more times she mates she indicates a higher level of fertility based on the number of donor drones. It seems natural; the more number of matings and greater genetic diversity of the sperm content means a strong mated signal. Bees would be less likely to supersede as a result.

My question is how soon do commercial breeders- either Tf or not- pick those queens from mating nucs and box them for shipment? How many rounds can they have of mating, or is just a couple sufficient? How is it possible to look for physical signs of well-matedness?
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waspkiller
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Re: Poorly mated

Postby waspkiller » Sun Jun 07, 2015 8:43 pm

Well if you think about it they do not cage them until after they start laying eggs so that means the mating flights have been finished. An experienced old guy here been breeding queens all his life told me they make mating flights until they have the right amount of sperm in their sperm sack. So if there are good healthy drones they don't have to make so many flights. But if the drones are weak and have sperm count reduced by chemicals and viruses then the queen may have to make many flights or if there are not enough drones and she cannot meet them. So when it comes to the end of the time of the mating window if the queen has not been able to get enough sperm she just has to start laying anyway. It is impossible to tell by looking at the queen but it means she will lay OK for a while but then fail earlier than she should.

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Allen Newberry
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Re: Poorly mated

Postby Allen Newberry » Sun Jun 07, 2015 10:06 pm

I would think waiting till they are laying well before selling is one of the better ways. Ideally if local you could check out the queen's nuc and see her laying pattern. That is how it worked when I got queens from parker farms when he was still in Fayetteville. One of the benefits of buying local. Kind of hard to do with large scale mail order. In that case reputation and personal experience seem to be about all the info you can evaluate.

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Tyson Kaiser
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Re: Poorly mated

Postby Tyson Kaiser » Mon Jun 08, 2015 5:42 am

waspkiller wrote:Well if you think about it they do not cage them until after they start laying eggs so that means the mating flights have been finished.

This is the question I'm asking, how are you or they sure of that? I don't believe most queen shippers actually wait for that signal, the shipped queens I've seen aren't developed. It's impossible to tell if they are fertile.
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waspkiller
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Re: Poorly mated

Postby waspkiller » Mon Jun 08, 2015 8:56 pm

Well I'm not in America so cannot answer that question for what happens in America. I have read on Beesource people complaining they don't think the queen they got was mated But over here, if you buy a mated queen it will definitely be a mated queen, smaller country I guess and people need their reputation to stay in business.

Perhaps the idea would be to identify less ethical breeders not selling good product, and identify the ones who do. Bearing in mind that some problems people have with new queens are their own mistakes but they blame the queen so can't judge just by one bad report.

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Tyson Kaiser
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Re: Poorly mated

Postby Tyson Kaiser » Wed Jun 10, 2015 6:18 pm

My impression is that queens come to us in the US barely mated. I mean barely because they obviously have mated but ovaries are totally underdeveloped, and most caged queens I've seen look much the same size as a worker. The point of my question is to determine if breeders are grabbing the newly mated (once or twice?) queens from the mating nucs and jamming them into cages and shipping before they can develop enough mated cycles to produce a strong mated signal. That's the bulk of my theory about the supersedure of queens.
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