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clipped wings

Posted by brent central Iowa (My Page) on
Sat, May 5, 07 at 9:52

I was talking with a friend about installing new queens in a couple of hives and he mentioned clipping wings on the queens to prevent swarming. I have never read of this in any book, or heard of it from anyone else, but it seems perfectly simple and reasonable at first glance.

Does anyone do this?

If so, how is the wing clipped exactly?

And what are the pros and cons of wing clipping?


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: clipped wings

Queens with clipped wings cannot fly, but they can try and end up on the ground outside the hive. And... Queens with clipped wings are sometimes superceded quickly as the workers determine the queen is defective.

Swarming is a natural impulse and healthy colonies tend to swarm. Other than avoiding overcrowding and perhaps trying to split a colony before it makes the decision to swarm, you really can't prevent it.

RE: clipped wings

Queen bee breeders used to offer clipping wings as a way to mark queens (and I guess, some still do for a little extra $). Even year of her birth, the right wing was clipped and an odd birth year, the left wing was clipped. I may have that exactly backwards as it's been many years since I last clipped any wings. The technique I used at the time, involved using 'baby fingernail scissors' (very small, very sharp) and you'd clip about two-thirds of one wing off.

The breeders offered this service as a way of "marking" the queen and more-or-less keeping track of her age (for requeening purposes) - not as a way to prevent swarming; because they knew this would not prevent swarming so it was never advertised for this purpose.

I stopped clipping wings after a few years and opted for just the colour dot marking system for age determination purposes (and helping to more quickly spot the queen in the hive).

I can't really think of any "pro" reasons to do this and as for the "con" reasons, I do believe there may be something to the colony sensing the injury to the queen. I will say, on a few occasions (not a whole bunch, but at least a few occasions), I had what otherwise was a nice, large and healthy-appearing queen, superseded (clipped wing) for no apparent reason - only the bees know why they replaced her for sure.

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