Virgin Queen Diet Question

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Alastair

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After much experimentation I think I have cracked how to keep virgin queens alive in the cage they hatched in, in an incubator with no attendant bees, for the 7 or 8 days needed for the AI process to be done until they are introduced as a mated queen to a hive.

Wondering if anyone has knowledge, or could point me to a study that gives the optimum diet at this stage of their lives.

I'm asking because there are opinions on the net, but nobody seems to know for sure or be able to back their opinion with a properly done study.

Because in the world of queen bees, the first one to hatch gets to kill many of the others while they are still in their cell. For that reason queen bees have evolved to have a shorter time in the cell than workers, they emerge ready to fight, but in some other ways still have some development to do. For this, it would seem logical they need an optimal diet that will meet their development needs. But a search of the net will tell you based on who you read, that they are fed honey, or they are fed royal jelly, or they are fed something else or in between.

I would like to know that the diet I give my queens will enable them to develop into the best possible queens.

Anybody help?
 
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I have seen virgins walk to open cells and gorge on honey after hatching if that is of any help, do you need to keepthem separate from nurse bees? They would feed her what she needs im sure.
 
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Alastair, if you want the best queen bees, they must be born in a hive.
If the goal is to train at the lowest cost, then yes, an incubator will do.
From my observations I can draw some conclusions.
1. Temperature is very important for virgin queens. They do not tolerate high temperatures well. Therefore, in the Hive they are at the extreme limits. The temperature in the incubator should be 23-25°C. (I can’t say more precisely, I don’t remember)
2. In terms of nutrition, in the hive, virgin queens can feed on honey on their own. (open cells)
Most likely, before the mating flight, her bees feed her with royal jelly to give her strength. Same as the drone.
For the incubator, I think not liquid honey, or Candy (powdered sugar with honey, but so that it is not too dry) is suitable; the main thing is that the queen cannot smear herself on the food, but can also eat it.
For my work, I use micronuclexes. There the queen remains from birth, insemination and until the brood is closed. This prevents the queen from being killed when introducing her into the hive.
You can try using a queenless colony instead of an incubator. The so-called queen bank. As far as I remember, this is Polish technology. I want to experiment with it next year.
As far as I know, this technology has its drawbacks, such as bees do not pay attention to all virgin queens, sometimes they treat them aggressively. They cripple their feet (they chew off the pads on their paws).
Queens cannot be without accompanying bees for long periods of time. Therefore, they will still have better conditions in the colony.
I hope I answered your questions. Happy New Year !
 

Alastair

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Thanks for the replies, awesome!

I have seen virgins walk to open cells and gorge on honey after hatching if that is of any help, do you need to keepthem separate from nurse bees? They would feed her what she needs im sure.

I am keeping them without nurse bees. The reason is my house, and where I do the inseminations, is in the suburbs. My neighbours have a problem with bees, I can only have no bees at all, or (sneakily) a very small number. Having a queen bank at the house won't work due to neighbour issues.

Alastair, if you want the best queen bees, they must be born in a hive.

I know this is the ideal.

1. Temperature is very important for virgin queens. They do not tolerate high temperatures well. Therefore, in the Hive they are at the extreme limits. The temperature in the incubator should be 23-25°C. (I can’t say more precisely, I don’t remember)

I have done a lot of experiments with this over the years. I had queens in incubators die at brood nest temperature (34 degrees) in just a few days, I believe it is because if they are fed candy and relative humidity is 50 - 60 they dehydrate. At this time I am keeping them at 34 degrees and RH around 80 to prevent dehydration, this has good success. I know this is not natural, but it is what works. In addition, after the insemination, the queens need to be in a temperature close to 34 degrees for around 50 hours for the sperm to properly migrate to the spermatheca.

2. In terms of nutrition, in the hive, virgin queens can feed on honey on their own. (open cells)

Yes, of course, we have all seen that. However my question was about what else they may eat, and therefore what else I should perhaps give them. Honey is pretty much just carbs.

For my work, I use micronuclexes. There the queen remains from birth, insemination and until the brood is closed. This prevents the queen from being killed when introducing her into the hive.

Yes that is the best. Just, for me, I can't do it at my property, I have to develop a different method.

You can try using a queenless colony instead of an incubator. The so-called queen bank. As far as I remember, this is Polish technology. I want to experiment with it next year.

That is what I have been doing for years, but for AI at my house it is just not practical. The other problem with queen banks is the bees can damage the tarsal gland on the queens foot. This reduces her ability to spread her queen substance around as she walks on the comb and can cause the bees to supersede her early.

Queens cannot be without accompanying bees for long periods of time.

Depends what you call a long time. For the purposes of inseminating them it needs to be for 7 - 8 days until they can be put in a hive. The method I have developed can keep newly hatched virgins for this amount of time with no bees, and at the end they seem vigorous and healthy.

I am just looking to improve the method further, what I do now "works", but I am wondering what I could add to their diet to improve things.

Hey much thanks for the responses I appreciate it hugely. I suspect one of the problems is that nobody can go inside an unopened, naturally functioning beehive, and see what the queen actually eats or is fed. The assumption is royal jelly but I would like to know for sure, is it some kind of special royal jelly, or the same as what is fed to larvae, or what. And can we reproduce it.
 
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I would like to add that virgin queens who are born in “Curlers” first of all eat up the remnants of royal jelly, which is in the queen cell. What the queen didn't finish eating when she was a larva.
There are two types of royal jelly itself. Transparent and white. How the queen is fed is the question.
You can try adding royal jelly, but I find it difficult to answer what effect this will give. And is it worth the time and effort?
After insemination, I also keep the queen bees in the incubator for some time, but it is equally important that the bees have access to the queen so that they can help and serve her. The smaller the dose of sperm, the less critical this factor is. ( in my experience)
 
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