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Author Topic: Mating Flight Question  (Read 328 times)

Offline Ben Framed

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Mating Flight Question
« on: June 24, 2020, 03:05:21 pm »
On their mating flights, will a queen with her little entourage of accompanying bees sometimes land on a limb or bush just as a small swarm may do? The reason I ask I found a very small cluster in a limb with a very thin looking, what I assumed to be, new unmarked queen . I was wondering if this was perhaps a virgin out for a mating flight and hunkered down for a bit?




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« Last Edit: June 24, 2020, 03:35:55 pm by Ben Framed »
For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Offline JojoBeeBoy

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Re: Mating Flight Question
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2020, 03:36:09 pm »
It will be interesting to hear from folks in the know. I didn't realize she took an entourage with her. Just now set up my first mating nucs so there is a ton I don't know. A couple of years ago my son found a swarm you could put in a teacup on a tire in front of my storage building.

Offline AR Beekeeper

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Re: Mating Flight Question
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2020, 05:00:05 pm »
None of the queens I have seen leave or return from mating flights had workers with them.  I don't believe in the "mating swarm," I think that it is a myth based on beekeepers seeing small afterswarms with virgins.

Virgins returning from long mating flights may need to rest, I don't know.  Mated queens are attractive to workers, but workers are also aggressive toward queens, that is probably why workers and queens fly at different levels above ground to keep them separated.

Offline iddee

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Re: Mating Flight Question
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2020, 05:52:56 pm »
Most tea cup swarms are absconds caused by starvation or other maladies that reduce the colony to nearly nothing. As for your question, I don't know if mating queens land or not. Knowing nature, I would guess it happens now and then.
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Offline van from Arkansas

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Re: Mating Flight Question
« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2020, 06:31:47 pm »
Mr. Ben, love the post/video in the coffee house.  About the slim queen: virgin or mated?  I have seen tiny queens that I knew were not mated due to an excluder.  I am talking a tiny queen only recognized by her thorax and by luck I just happen to spot her in a queen builder.

Usually I looks for queens that the tip of the wing nearly touches the 3rd abdomen segments.  If the wing is in the middle of the third abdomen, she is to small.  I am talking the segments of the bees abdomen starting at the base or stinger end as segment number 1.  I?ll post a pic of a queen that demonstrates the wing tip as I use this for size measurements.

I have seen queens from several apiaries and I have seen these tiny queens and notice the beek also  comments that the queens are vanishing in these apiaries.  Don?t confuse the tiny queens with the naturally occurring small species of honey bee.  I am talking a standard size bee in a healthy hive that has a smaller than normal queen.  I am beginning to believe these tiny queens are problematic.

[ You are not allowed to view attachments ]. This is a day old virgin, a beautiful queen: note the wing tip just touches the 3rd segment, a full size queen, at birth.

I have been around bees a long time, since birth.  I am a hobbyist so my answers often reflect this fact.  I concentrate on genetics, raise my own queens by wet graft, nicot, with natural or II breeding.  I do not sell queens, I will give queens  for free but no shipping.

Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Mating Flight Question
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2020, 08:40:36 pm »
It will be interesting to hear from folks in the know. I didn't realize she took an entourage with her. Just now set up my first mating nucs so there is a ton I don't know. A couple of years ago my son found a swarm you could put in a teacup on a tire in front of my storage building.

JoJo the entourage as taught to me, is accumulated (after) she is mated and on her way back. I learned this from a queen breeder in Georgia. He may be wrong, I do not know. I have a lot of confidence in him but I also have a lot of confidence in AR Beekeeper. So this is one I will hold the neutral sign. Let me add Mr AR has never led me wrong. .   

Iddee is also a beekeeper who I have respect, for his years of experience and knowledge. This little swarm came for where, I do not know. This occurred at my home yard. All my hives here are bumping and jumping. No starvation.  My home queens are marked. This little queen was not marked. A mystery to me.

Thank you Mr. Van. my good friend. And thanks for the good information about queens and what to look for. (Goldilocks) I call her from her picture, is a beautiful queen! (I do not remember what you named her). How is she working out production wise?

« Last Edit: June 25, 2020, 04:09:31 am by Ben Framed »
For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Offline van from Arkansas

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Re: Mating Flight Question
« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2020, 08:48:07 pm »
Queen was given away so I don?t know how she preformed?
I have been around bees a long time, since birth.  I am a hobbyist so my answers often reflect this fact.  I concentrate on genetics, raise my own queens by wet graft, nicot, with natural or II breeding.  I do not sell queens, I will give queens  for free but no shipping.

Offline CoolBees

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Re: Mating Flight Question
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2020, 11:45:14 am »
Beautiful queen Mr. Van. And good information. I've run into several runty-looking queens, and they don't seem to do too good. I did not know that freshly hatched queens could be as big as you show in that picture.
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Online TheHoneyPump

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Re: Mating Flight Question
« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2020, 04:49:41 am »
I am with AR on this one.  I have spent many a mid-after noon walking the mating yards and sitting in camp chair observing the comings and going.  In my observations, I also of the opinion that "mating swarms" are a myth.  The queens I see leave alone and return alone.

That said, I noted there is definitely much more activity and attentiveness by the bees at the entrance of the nuc or hive when she is out frolicking.  It is like a big send off party, quite a few bees ushering her out and bidding farewell.  Then they just hang out on the porch like an expectant welcoming party lined up at the terminal gate waiting for mom's airplane to land.

That is generally what I observe.  That said, there have been a few outliers.  For example some are followed all the way back by a bunch of drones. I have seen her hit the grass short of the hive on the way back and 5 or 10 bees land around her and nurture. So there may be a few, a small entourage, that follow or guide her. Certainly not a swarm of any noticeable size though.

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Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Mating Flight Question
« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2020, 07:25:36 am »
Thanks HP. As I told JoJo. AR has never led me wrong. Thanks for your reply.
For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Offline van from Arkansas

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Re: Mating Flight Question
« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2020, 01:58:39 pm »
Beautiful queen Mr. Van. And good information. I've run into several runty-looking queens, and they don't seem to do too good. I did not know that freshly hatched queens could be as big as you show in that picture.

Thank you Cool.  The queen in the pic is standard for a one day old Italian.  The color is rare, but the size is standard size that I see all the time in my apiary.

BenFramed, Phil, hope you don?t mind, I kinda Redirected your thread towards the small inferior queens, which was part of your original thread but not the main focus of a queen entourage on mating flight.  Hope this is ok with you? I agree with AR and HP.
I have been around bees a long time, since birth.  I am a hobbyist so my answers often reflect this fact.  I concentrate on genetics, raise my own queens by wet graft, nicot, with natural or II breeding.  I do not sell queens, I will give queens  for free but no shipping.

Offline Ben Framed

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Re: Mating Flight Question
« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2020, 03:19:04 pm »
Mr Van I enjoy your post anytime. Redirection does not hamper things one bit in my opinion. In fact your post ia an added bonus.
For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

Offline beesnweeds

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Re: Mating Flight Question
« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2020, 12:26:05 am »
I did read that if you see a few workers fly out of the hive with a virgin queen that it may be that some of them are still in swarm mode and fly back.  I have never seen it happen.  Today I caught this queen returning from a mating flight on a rainy day.  When I do catch a queen returning is seems they form a retinue around her when she returns and enters the hive or mating nuc. 


Online TheHoneyPump

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Re: Mating Flight Question
« Reply #13 on: June 30, 2020, 05:18:54 am »
Great picture!
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