File Name: queen rearing and bee breeding .zip
- Queen Rearing and Bee Breeding
- Queen Rearing and Bee Breeding
- Graft-Free Queen Rearing by Morris Ostrofsky
This resource was created by Morris Ostrofsky. Raising queens helped me develop a deeper understanding of the hive, and helped me shape my own beekeeping practice. Many beekeepers reach a point in their beekeeping experience where they are comfortable with the basics and are seeking a new challenge. In an environment in which beekeepers have to deal with varroa and diseases and are dissatisfied with commercial queens there are reasons to raise your own queens.
Queen Rearing and Bee Breeding
This resource was created by Morris Ostrofsky. Raising queens helped me develop a deeper understanding of the hive, and helped me shape my own beekeeping practice. Many beekeepers reach a point in their beekeeping experience where they are comfortable with the basics and are seeking a new challenge.
In an environment in which beekeepers have to deal with varroa and diseases and are dissatisfied with commercial queens there are reasons to raise your own queens. However, for many beekeepers the idea of grafting and producing their own queens is intimidating. The purpose of this paper is to offer four simple methods of queen rearing that do not require grafting. I will explain how a few high quality queens can be raised without special equipment or tools by a beekeeper with just a few years of beekeeping experience.
To quote Dr. In the last few years a common complaint I hear is the poor quality of queens that are available e. Another frequent complaint is the lack of acceptance. Not only is the acceptance track record poor but even when the queens are accepted, too many are superceded. The queens you purchased from half way across the country often do not perform as advertised in your own back yard. Locally produced queens are well adapted to your environment.
Before describing various methods of graft free queen rearing, I would like to discuss some of the benefits of raising your own queens.
One is genetics. Many beekeepers are wisely looking to genetics as a means of a long term solution to solving the problems associated with the exotic pests and diseases. When you raise your own queens, you can select for desirable traits e.
Usually everyone has a favorite hive or knows a fellow beekeeper that has a hive with desirable traits. The queens in these hives are the cornerstone of improving an apiary.
Genetics is an excellent foundation. You can build on this foundation by controlling the conditions in which the queens are raised by selecting the genetic stock, using chemical free comb and ensuring that they are well fed as they develop.
Finally we all accept the fact the young queens are more productive and less likely to swarm. Having extra queens readily available means being prepared for emergencies; e. Because of these reasons, many beekeepers want to take charge of the situation and raise their own queens. Most erroneously assume that grafting is the only way to accomplish this. However, this is not the case.
There are multiple methods of graft-free queen rearing. Four methods are presented: Swarm cell, Nucleus, Miller and Hopkins. Regardless of the method selected there are certain considerations that are common to all. Time of year is one. Spring and summer are the ideal times to raise queens.
Fall is not the best time to raise new queens. There is less food available to produce a well fed queen. There are fewer nurse bees. Nor is there time for new queens to set up a hive with enough winter stores. But more importantly there are fewer drones available for mating.
Another consideration before venturing into queen rearing is preparation. Populations need to be strong; a decision needs to be made as to which will be the queen breeder queen mother and drone mother hives, and what additional equipment is needed. An adequate supply of protein supplements and feeding stimulants should also be on hand.
A schedule should be made especially if the Hopkins or Miller methods are used. All honey bees are not the same. When selecting which hive s is to be used for your source of your breeder queens AKA queen mother, queen mother hive , consider traits that are important to you.
This is one of the areas where you have the most control of the quality of the new queens. There are a number of desirable traits you may wish to select for: gentleness, honey production, early build up, hygienic behavior, disease resistance, and good wintering ability. Your experience with your hive s will dictate which colony colonies you select as the queen mother hive. Another decision you have to make is the number of queens you would like to produce. The most limiting factor in any queen rearing operation is the number of available mating boxes.
While mating boxes vary in size from as small as 2 full depth frames to 5 full depth frames, I use a standard 5 frame full depth nuc box with a follower board. Using this configuration means no special equipment is needed whether the nuc is used as a nuc or a mating box. Graft free queen rearing requires between one and four hives depending on the method used.
Each will be discussed separately with the corresponding method. Overcrowding and better fed queen cells go hand in hand. Ideally the hives you raise queen cells in cell builder hives should be overcrowded with lots of young nurse bees. In fact the colony must be on the verge of swarming. Feeding is the way to accomplish this objective. The quantity and quality of feeding greatly influences the quality of queens. This is one important way you can produce higher quality queens than those mass produced.
Feeding the bees a pollen supplement is added insurance that the growing queens will have an adequate amount of protein. Use your favorite pollen supplement.
Since you want a population that is booming, start feeding the potential cell builder hives about 2 months before you start raising queen cells. A large drone population is needed in the cell builder hive s in addition to a large worker population.
Drones do much more than serve as fodder for bee humor. They are an important, yet overlooked, part of the mating equation. It takes about 12 to 15 drones to mate with a virgin queen. Think of them as flying gametes. To build and maintain the population of drone mother hives start feeding them a sugar syrup solution with a feeding stimulant at least one month before starting to raise queen cells.
Feeding needs to continue until the new queen has been mated. If the bees perceive a slow down in nectar flow; e. Drone production needs to continue right up to the time the queen is mated. An additional method to increase the number of drones is the use of green plastic drone comb frames. The embossed cells are drone-sized; larger than the worker brood size. When the queen feels the larger sized cells, she lays an unfertilized egg which becomes a drone.
When inserting these frames place them on the edge of the brood area between the pollen frame and the outer most brood frame at approximately the three or eight positions. In most cases, two drone producing hives will be necessary for every hive that is producing queen cells.
If there are other hives within a quarter to a half mile of your apiary, extra drone hives are not necessary. In this case the best hives for producing drones drone mothers , will be your own. The reason for moving your own drone mother hives away from your apiary is to avoid inbreeding between virgin queens and their brothers. Additionally you increase the likelihood of matings with selected drone stock.
The virgin queens typically fly further away from the home apiary and have a better chance to mate with the desired drones. For example if you were to wait until day 17 to separate the queen cells in a cell builder, you would end up with a single queen. This is because on day 16 the first queen to emerge would dispatch all of her sisters.
The chart helps to visualize the process and is referenced as the methods are described. Before any queen rearing project can be started, production activities have to be coordinated with seasonal and personal calendars. Seasonal conditions set the pace for raising queens. When the average temperature reaches 69 degrees F, the queen is able to go on her mating flight s. For example in the southern Willamette Valley, the average temperature is 70 degrees F on June 1st.
This is one degree warmer than the absolute minimum required for a virgin queen to mate. I use June 1st as the focal point for activities I schedule before and after this date. The timing of the mating flight s is critical and thus set the pace for the rest of the calendar.
Because beekeeping is local, the date the temperature reaches 69 degrees F will vary as will specific calendars. While most scheduling is flexible, some manipulations are less so. For example once hour larvae are placed into the cell builder, the scheduling becomes more rigid. This is the point to make sure your personal schedule does not conflict with queen rearing activities. The Miller method, described later, will include an example of how useful a calendar is in organizing the sequence of steps for this or any other method.
Now that preparation common to all methods has been described, it is time to look at the specifics of the four methods of non-graft queen rearing. While raising queens is the objective, each uses a different approach. Although several of the steps are common to all, each will be presented as a stand alone process. Review each method and decide which is compatible with your goals and confidence level.
Swarm cell method: Ten to 15 quality queens can be produced from swarm cells.
Queen Rearing and Bee Breeding
To determine the factors that affect reproductive quality during development, we tested queens produced under larval treatments by supplementing the diet with juvenile hormone JH , additional sugars, or both, compared to untreated control. We analyzed newly emerged virgin queens for their morphological characters as proxies for their reproductive potential. We found that the application of a sugar-enriched diet in combination with JH application onto 1st instar queen larvae produced higher-quality queens, while for 3rd instar larvae only the JH treatment resulted in increasing queen quality. For mated queens, those treated with JH plus supplemented sugars showed a significantly higher sperm count and sperm viability. Our findings demonstrate that honey bee queen reproductive potential can be increased through diet supplementation.
Graft-Free Queen Rearing by Morris Ostrofsky
Queen Rearing for Commercial and Hobby Beekeepers. Requirements for successful queen rearing. A Simple Queen Rearing Technique. How to graft queens.
Why not rear your own queens? The University of Minnesota Queen Rearing short course teaches one method of rearing queens that works consistently for both hobby and commercial beekeepers. Topics covered include queen and drone biology, timing of queen rearing in northern climates, stock selection and breeding for hygienic behavior, setting up mating yards, and record keeping.
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