Sunday, January 13, 2013

Queen Rearing

I've not been that busy over the winter, but I have started to prepare some mating boxes for rearing my own queens! I intend to try (in a small way) to breed my own queens from whatever local bees are out there.

I was caught out in the late fall last year, when I tried to re-queen a hive but couldn't find anyone with any queens available. When I did finally did get hold on one, I found laying workers had established themselves in the hive before I could install the new queen. And as if this wasn't enough, the replacement queen I got hold of died the day after she arrived!  I ended up having to kill off this hive; my FIRST EVER loss!!!

As a result of this mess, I have decided to try some basic queen rearing. I've bought a couple of mating boxes (I call them my Pershing Boxes) and my intent is to take frames with swarm cells from my colonies (as and when I find any?) and install them in the mating boxes. I hope by doing this I'll be able to prevent both swarming but I will also be able to "bank" a few queens and have them on hand should I (or any of my beekeeper neighbours come to that) need them later on in the summer.

Completed Mating Box

I think there will be a good chance any queens I rear will have genes from good hygienic local stock as there are so many Beekeepers in my immediate area, and most of them got their bees through the EMBA.

It will be an interesting experiment to perform and I hope easy to manage. I don't want to get into grafting eggs, I just want an easy way to rear queens that anyone else feels they can copy and have fun with. With luck I'll be able to report back to the club in the fall and we might even have a simple model for swarm control and queen rearing that we can spread throughout the club!

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