Discussion and questions.
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I just read Tom's article on the IBDS research Summary and found the same deficiencies that Tom found. Another aspect that no one wants to talk or write about is queen quality. I was recently told that over 2 billion (?) queens are being produced from 350 to 500 queen mothers in the US. I have no way of proving that is a correct number. However, I know that in addition, beekeepers are raising their own queens from these purchased "good quality" or "the best we can produce" queens. My own purchases over the last 15 years is that 25 to 50% of purchased queens die or are evicted in 3 to 4 weeks after introduction. Many have a queen retinue of 0 to 10 workers showing they aren't very attractive i.e. not producing the queen pheromones necessary to keep the colony together. Those colonies with less than 12 to 15 bees in the retinue will most likely fade away (lose their colony) by the first hard fall frost though some will exist till mid January. There are only a few bees left in the hive and maybe just a queen with a small cluster - more commonly called CCD. Colony sizes are shrinking over the years with very few in the 15 deep comb size in late February. But no one wants to talk about queen quality as the cause or instigator of colony demise. WA State Univ. is importing European drone semen to diversify the gene pool but any useful result of this work is numerically unlikely for the next ten years. I've been told that queens from their efforts to date "aren't very good." Whatever that may mean in meaningful detail. Viruses and other maladies may exist but until we solve the queen quality problem what would you expect from colonies with poor queens and in poor health?