Go Green with a VSH F-1 Hybrid Survivor Queen (sm) or a Carolina Survivor Queen (sm)
Quality Hygienic Queens for Breeders, Hobbyists, Honey Production, and Practical - Sustainable - Pesticide Free - Chemical Free- Natural - Organic - Beekeeping
Dear Fellow Beekeeper,
There is a trait that allows the Russian Honey bee to quickly cease brood rearing in periods of drought having periods of little or no incoming pollen or nectar flow. That is quite common here during our summer and fall months. This trait helps to make the Russian Honey bee resistant to Varroa mites but makes it very difficult to raise queens here in the summer months without supplemental feeding of pollen, pollen substitutes, and syrup and application of all kinds of treatments and do-dads. I don't do that! I do not treat my bees and I do not supplement their diets.
The goal of my beekeeping work is to take these wonderful VSH and Survivor Queens that I produce and let them by permitted natural swarming return to their natural feral environments all across the land and to multiply thereby over time returning the honeybee to North America.
The main reason for this attitude is a very simple statement:
"It is not natural thing to supplement the diet of the honeybee nor to treat the honeybee with any treatments. I want our honeybees to naturally make it through the summer, fall, and winter by their own means and methods despite all the outside adversities that currently interfere with the life and the health of the honeybee. I strongly believe that it is wrong for humans to interfere feed and treat the honeybee for it has existed here on Earth for over 300 million years and to do so is wrong for you are only trying to treat the problem of the managed hives and turn your backs on the feral honeybee so that the domesticated honeybees are tended to and not the feral honeybee. Hive treatments and supplemental diets are not the answer! WE are not trying to allow the feral honeybee to survive! It is time that we did!"
- Charles J. Norton, June 2000
From the early Seventeenth Century Until the middle of the Nineteenth Century the honeybee found in North America was Apis mellifera mellifera, the European Honeybee also called the Dark German Bee, the White man's fly. Then between the middle and the last part of the 19th Century additional races of honeybees were imported into the United States some documented, some not.
These races first began with the Italian honeybee in 1859 and over the next 50 some years beekeeping in North America began to change:
The Isle of Wright disease was perhaps the first unwanted "disease" despite strict importation requirements set by The United States Congress in 1922 which by curiosity, greed, and stupidity began a march of imported honeybee parasites, disease, and viruses as well as unwanted races of honeybees:
An Act of Congress (Public. No. 293__67th Congress) on August 31, 1922 was passed in an effort to prevent the importation of Acarine Disease. Only queens and their attendant workers could be imported and they had to undergo a strict importation quarantine and be sent directly to US Bee Culture Laboratory, Beltsville, MD for microscopic analysis of worker trachea. We now call them tracheal mites, they were called in 1922 Acarapis woodi. Starting in 1951 the tracheal mite, Acarapis woodi was transported with bees to South America, then to Asia, Africa and North America.
Note: Although Honeybee Research began with Land Grant Universities the USDA-ARS Bee Labs were also started in order to combat American Foulbrood Disease but there now exists the awesome task of dealing with a myriad of problems created by mankind with greed.
The Varroa mite, Varroa jacobsoni was first described on the honeybee, A. mellifera in 1963 in the Philippines and was later discovered to have been transported from Asia to Europe before 1970 and thence (or directly) to Africa, and to South, Central, and then to North America, see below.
July 1984 Tracheal mites, Acarapis woodi were discovered for the first time in the U.S. on the U.S. Mexican border.
September 1987 Varroa jacobsoni were found for the first time in the U.S. in September 1987 in Wisconsin. Today we also have Varroa Destructor and it vectors disease and viruses.
October 15, 1990 (M. Rowell, L. Bradley, & C. Cole, 1993) First discovery of Africanized Honeybees in the Continental US.
The Small Hive Beetle, Aethina tumida, was first discovered in the U.S. in 1996. Beetle larvae may tunnel through combs of honey, feeding and defecating, causing fermentation of honey and when heavily infested the colony of honeybees may abscond .
â€¦and there is more, a lot more! ( See: American Bee Journal, March 2007, (Norton, C.) pp.199-202.)
We and the honeybee are now plagued by a myriad of beekeeping woes! This is why we are and have been breeding quality queens for over 20 years that have defined genetic diversity with resistance to disease and parasites by the continuous control of isolated strategic multiple mating queen yards, and the utilization of quality minded procedures and inspections throughout the entire queen rearing process.
For further information on our breeding operations please read further.
The Queens for Sale at Norton's Honey Farm and a Summary of our Operation
Having started my career in the Aerospace Industry after serving in the US Navy QUALITY was and continues to be paramount and an integral part of my thinking and my business. I want to produce well mated Varroa resistant queens that are also tracheal mite resistant while also being cognizant of controlling Small Hive Beetle populations, Deformed Wing Virus (DWV), Nosema, American and European Foulbrood, Chalk brood, and Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV). I want to produce queens that are readily accepted when they are introduced to their new home and are less frequently superseded. And just as important and because the genetics that our Twenty-First Century queens carry within their own genes and the soup of semen they carry within their spermatheca tend to be limited due to genetic diversity and with limited disease resistance between genotypes since they as individual colonies must also have enough genetic diversification to carry the many traits specific to resistance to both tracheal and Varroa mites, exhibit multiple hygienic behaviors and disease resistance as well as having traits such as being good layers with rather solid brood patterns once established, gentle on the comb, able to overwinter in various climates, and SURVIVE! I also believe that the queen must continue to mature in her own colony after she begins laying and that her brood be inspected as they cycle through metamorphosis and to continue inspection after emergence thus by inspection of brood Varroa, disease and efficiency of the queen are assessed and compared to acceptable standards.
Transfer of a "laying" queen from a mating nuc to a 10-frame hive often populated with a skewed population of older workers with limited brood or just a very large population can be traumatic on a very young untried queen such as those 28 day wonders that arrive from large queen production factories or now Amazon. In my opinion there are two ideal times to pull queens. The first time is when she is laying well and has given you a frame of at least 60% capped brood; and the second time is about a week after her daughters have begun hatching out of pupation and are readily available for inspection. This allows the newly laying queen an extended amount of time for her to continue her hormonal development that signifies to workers that she is a fully capable laying queen. Mated queens that have not begun to lay lack these hormones and acceptance issues of such queen soften result in a dead queen in a hive that has no brood and thus can not survive. The older the queen becomes -to a point- the stronger her hormonal output is spread across and throughout her hive.
Quality Assurance procedures are inherent to our queen rearing operations. The selection criteria of all queens are performed in a systematic manner with established quality parameters resulting in inspection and rejection at all stages of development. From the purchase, receipt, and installation of breeder queens from our selected VSH queen breeders; our own grafting and queen rearing operations; selection, pulling and shipping of mature queens all the way to a satisfied customer we believe a conscientious endeavor to maintain quality throughout our production and operations is paramount to successful queen rearing.
Once Breeder Queens and Drone Mothers are selected and set up in dedicated mating yards many steps are taken along the way from grafting to imago to a mature laying queen in order to assure quality: We inspect and cull inferior queens throughout our production process and each queen has a history from the day she is grafted until the day she is shipped or dies because each queen raised has her own mating nuc box with an identifying tag and number that we now ship with our queens and nucs. We mark queens trice: by year, race and Tier. We also have shipping, packaging, and mailing standards in order to obtain and maintain our quality queens. We ship only under conditions that are conducive to the health and viability of our queens, your queen.
About Breeder Queens and Drone Mothers
I have been mentioning "breeder queens" and "drone mothers" without realizing that a lot of new beekeepers really don't know what I am talking about unless they have taken an advanced beekeeping class or have been curious enough to take the time to learn about genetics, queen rearing and queen breeding. It is really not very complicated; the young sexually mature virgin queen goes on a mating flight; the big eyed drone finds and mates with the queen, the drone dies in in almost instant ecstasy and falls off behind the queen then the queen goes on to mate with several additional drones before tiring and returning to her mating nuc. The next day the queen may go out on another mating flight and the same thing happens; and, then the day after. Sometimes it will rain or snow and the queen stays in her mating nuc; and then day after day it may be too cold or windy for her to go out and mate for she requires at least 70 degree temperatures and only light winds. Sometimes the virgin queen will never go out and successfully mate and after several weeks without mating she may become a drone layer or even worse go about each day inspecting and walking over readied and awaiting empty cells never to lay even a single egg. Sometimes a queen will go out on a mating flight never to return having been carried back to a nest by a swallow; it should be noted that this is a part of the talk about the birds and the bees that you never learned from your parents. The best result of all this is that a once virgin queen will probably mate with just a few to perhaps as many as 40 drones on one to several mating flights returning to her hive carrying a genetically diversified (almost) lifetime supply of semen soon to migrate to her spermatheca where the sperm is stored and nourished and kept viable over the years of her viable life.
Now think about those poor dead drones. They are haploids, they have a single set of chromosomes, they have a mother but no father. As a result they reflect the genetics only of their mother hence, a drone mother. If their mother is a pure Russian they will be pure Russian; if they are pure Italian they will be pure Italian or if they are half and half carry half of the traits of each. Drones will only carry the genetic traits or of their mother; if their mother has a specific hygienic trait they will carry that same hygienic trait. Now think about that queen that just mated with 39 drones over a period of 6 or 7 days. Inside that queen there is a "bladder like" sac called a spermatheca which will harbor for the rest of her life as a laying queen in a homogenous manner the sperm from the most or all of the 39 lucky drones that were successful in making the trip up from the vagina and into the spermatheca. When the successfully mated queen starts laying the queen will open the duct to her spermatheca to allow just one sperm from one single drone to fertilize a passing unfertilized egg from her oviduct. That egg once fertilized with one sperm from that single drone will create a female from two complete sets of chromosomes, a diploid that will develop from a fertilized egg into a female worker honeybee or if during the first 36 hours of the larvae's life a queen cell is constructed and the larvae is fed a diet of royal jelly it will morph into becoming a queen honeybee. A queen's spermatheca will contain several million sperm cells! Each of the drones that successfully mated with that queen had ejaculated over a million sperm carrying the genetics of the individual drone and the individual drone's mother, the Drone Mother. Now if all of those successfully mated drones had the same mother then all the workers would be sisters and all those workers would carry the same genetics. It does not happen for several reasons; however; it was learned in the fifties and sixties that queens do undergo multiple mating and they also have multiple mating flights. It is also normal for drones conjugate in what are called Drone Conjugation Areas and in doing so it allows drones that have migrated from hives several miles away to mate with a receptive queen. It is this multiple mating that helps assure genetic diversity by the natural mating and mixing of sperm from many genetically different drones from many different surrounding hives into and within the queen's spermatheca all at one period within the queen's rather short but extremely active sexual life. Thus during any one period of a day during active laying the queen lays her fertilized eggs from 800-to over 1300 from the drones with which she mated. The ratios of a particular queen's laying day's work will likely differ in fraternal parentage from day to day and week to week There is no super drone that can naturally carry all the genetic traits required by Twenty-first Century Beekeepers; however by providing enough Drone Mother hives within the desired area with different specific genetic races, lines, and traits that will produce enough drones with the specifically desirable genetic traits thus having highly desired diversity one may artificially create a high statistical probability of successful mating with a single virgin queen that you grafted as a just hatched egg from a selected Breeder Queen also carrying specific desired genetic traits. Well, BINGO! You got a queen with most of the genetics that you desire! This can be done with instrumental insemination as well; however currently marketing goals are toward specific genotypes of queens and races of queens such as VSH, Minnesota Hygienic, Russian, Carniolan, etc. each carrying a piece of the pie but never being able to stuff all the pieces together into one pie unless a specific ratio, a formula if you will, of specific homo-diversity is allowed by design or through natural selection a drone population that carries enough drones having enough desired genetic diversity during "a sum of a queen's mating" with any one random group of drones that would produce all the desired results for to have such a population of drones within one or two drone congregation areas would be very unlikely unless it was specifically created because the sources of these high-tech queens are quite diverse and limited by a drone's ability to fly from his place of origin to the desired Drone Congregation Area.
Now statistically this mating would be difficult to naturally duplicate unless one would set up a bee yard with several if not many of these hives carrying the variant desirable genetics the pressure on the mite population, both the Varroa and tracheal mites, disease resistance toward Nosema, the foulbroods, and viruses etc. would allow the genetic diversity within a particular queen to transfer to adjacent hives, and where one hive may be stronger in one area than another the colony of hives artificially creates a super-apiary that is almost like a living organism because honeybees naturally drift from one hive to another.
About our Hybrid Queens
I began beehaving in 1986 with a swarm in northern Guilford County, North Carolina. It was not until 1993 after our move to Rockingham County that I began beekeeping by going to local and state beekeeping meetings, reading George Imire's "Pink Pages", Bee-L, and Alan Dick's "Honeybee World" and started using Italian bees from Georgia. Both Varroa and Tracheal mites were serious problems for keeping bees and they remain as such.
I kept my yard in Browns Summit even though I lived in Reidsville with a few hives and began as most beekeepers as a chemical combater of mites. Then as I learned more about beekeeping I learned more about the races of honeybees available including out old friends imported prior to 1922. It was about this time that I began yards in several North Carolina counties providing pollination and I was asked if I could provide the State research station near Reidsville if I could have a couple of hives placed for pollination purposes. What began as 2 hives ultimately at it's peak turned into over 150 Russian hives plus mating nucs several years later with first plain old Italians, Then Marla Spivac's Minnesota Hygienic, Carniolan, German Dark (first race hived), SMR, and others. All these hives over the years have swarmed for when keeping bees hives will swarm. The benefit of all this is that the genetics that these bees carried went to the woods and over a 20 year period were allowed to swarm, mate, and develop a resistance to a myriad of honeybee problems including Tracheal and Varroa mites.
Like what happened in over a period of 110 years in the Primorski region of Russia when with the eastward flow of many races of European Honeybees, Apis Mellifera, via the Siberian Railroad there became a new melting pot of survivor bees surviving year after year and benefiting from the genetics that had swarmed into the woods from my own yards on this isolated area of over 1000 acres. We also have other isolated yards on other research stations and 3 organic farms.
We no longer sell Italians, Minnesota Hygienic, Russians, Carniolan, German Darks, SMR, and other races, lines, and types of honeybees. We breed our best hives from year to year having the following desired main characteristics:
We only sell our Survivor queens and we also sell VSHF-1Survivor Queens. Our VSHF-1Survivor Queen Mothers are Instrumentally bred VSH Breeder Queens from Harbobeeco (Dr. John Harbo, PhD. (retired USDA-ARS Lab in Baton Rouge, LA.)
Our VSH Hybrid Queens for sale are daughters of Dr. John Harbo's VSH Breeder Queens and they are mated in our mating yards with feral drones on research stations with a few well placed VSH Drone Mother Breeder hives that provide the other 50% of the grafted queen's daughter's genetics. It is the genetics of the mated queens that we raise and sell and her workers determine the desirable traits that we are looking for. The "sires" of these daughters, the drones, are indeed special and we are very fortunate to be able to offer you our own Survivor Queens. I had no idea that when I started with my first Minnesota Hygienic Breeder Queen that the Breeder Queens that I have purchased over these many years would result in the multi-genetic mite and disease resistive feral drone population that has developed.
From Notes on VSH by Tom Glenn, founder of Glenn Apiaries in Fallbrook, CA
Part Two: Our Bees, Explanation of Tier Numbers, Our Queen Marking Scheme, Queen Prices, and Order Sheets: http://www.Survivorqueen.com (Part Two)
Part Three: Nucs (Overwintered and Spring Pricing), Booking, and Shipping Information: http://www.usedbeestuff.com (Part Three)
(End of Part One to continue please go to Part Two.)
Copyright March 5, 2018, Charles J. Norton, All rights Reserved