2009 Queen Bee Imports

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Drone Bee
Aug 25, 2009
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Oswestry, Shropshire, UK
Hive Type
Number of Hives
Taunton & District Beekeepers Newsletter reported that their Bee Inspector had provided the following figures for the KNOWN import of queens to this country in 2009.

From Europe

Greece 2085
Cyprus 778
Slovinia 2034
Italy 375
Austria 8
Poland 128
Denmark 44
Germany 113

Total 5565

From the rest of the world

Australia 300
Hawaii 4182
New Zealand 740

Total 5222

This produces a grand total of 10,787

Staggering when we are warned of the possibility of exotic species coming into the uk.
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It will be a lot more this year. I was hearing of 70% losses in parts of Scotland over winter, at Stoneleigh.

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looking at the number of Queen imports, one would think that beekeepers in the UK are unable to rear Queens, even bees now have a large carbon footprint, so much for sustainable beekeeping


All The Best, Enzo
Quite right ENZO,

Beehavers in the UK cannot rear queens.

For a very good reason.

looking at the number of Queen imports, one would think that beekeepers in the UK are unable to rear Queens, even bees now have a large carbon footprint, so much for sustainable beekeeping


All The Best, Enzo

Only a small carbon footprint and a lot smaller than short hall flights that are often avoidable.
But surely, the practice of beekeeping in our climate should be sustainable, at least form a queen rearing point of view otherwise you would always have to rely on someone. I know it can be difficult with only a couple of hives and thats where the association and it's members come in but once you get past those couple of hives there is no reason why a beekeeper cannot rear a few queens for him/her self and for friends with only a couple of hives.

I know the commercial boys don't always have time to rear Queens but for me at least, Rearing a few queens each year is part of beekeeping, surely.

All the information is out there and most is free. I do believe that as a beekeeper one should know/learn the queen rearing cycle if for no other reason than to try to understand what is going on inside the hive.

This is just my opinion, All The Best, Enzo
Our RBI gave us a bit of a breakdown of those figures:

in 2009 no queens were imported into Worcestershire

However 2502 queens were imported into Gloucestershire as follows:
1902 from Slovenia
100 from Cyprus
200 from Italy
300 from Australia

The implication is that rank and file beekeepers are not importing, but a handful of large operators are. I'm sure the bulk of those Glos. queens went into nucs for new beekeepers who weren't able to get bees locally. If you don't like it you need to provide an alternative, but very few do.
Enzo I think you are right I dont know what the proportion of queens imported relates to the actual amount of queens required each year perhaps it is quite small.
I think that all 2nd year beekeepers experiment with raising queens even if it is as simple as removing a good queen cell with frames and bees to a nuc it may just result in a better queen.
you need to provide an alternative, but very few do.

I agree,more beekeepers need to get grafting,or whatever other method they choose.
I reckon the main problem is rearing enough in quantity of the strains with the 'wished for' traits.

Most instances they want yield as ther 'first trait of importance' (I put instances to include the commercials who re-queen in bulk as a matter of course); others look for (or need) docility. That's about it; if the queen is replaced with another import next year, they don't really care about anything else (within reason).

With my mongrels I cannot be sure of the temperament of my reared queens - I just select away those that are delinquents. Not so easy if you are supplying hundreds, or even a dozen, to beginners. I cannot guarantee, so I just raise enough, and a few extras, for my own use. After all, I only need a few and a few is all I can manage with just a few colonies. Most are in the same boat, just too few colonies, to pinch bees from for nucs. And the rest probably have queens which we don't want to breed with, anyway.....

Perhaps typical of the society of today? Throw-away - don't mend it, change it!

Regards, RAB
I think the issue is multi-faceted. A major reason for queen imports is nothing to do with genetics but simply getting young mated queens in quantity early in the season when they can be used to make splits, doubling or trebling your colonies for small cost. There is an expectation of being able to acquire nucs in May and so long as this demand remains there will be people falling over themselves to get early season queens. If local BKA's don't manage the expectation or fulfil the demand then it will continue.
That makes real sense Chris. We create a culture where it is seen as quite normal to get a nuc with a foreign queen in May. If it were more frowned on perhaps fewer people would do it. I was really impressed that a local beekeeper manage to adapt the Kieler nucs so that they fitted an external feeder and successfully overwintered queens, which really helped some people out when no queen was available from elsewhere. I hope to try it.
Chris B,

You are perhaps correct that most can't wait to start up cheaper but I wonder how many of those 10,787 queens will be replaced this year. A large pecentage, I would think? Early queens, early crop. Payback done, get ready to introduce for next year.

Finances, income, balance sheet. Like mobile phones, update, update, update. 30 years ago, no mobile phones; now, can't possibly survive without them! Like air travel; taken as the norm these days, but just now learning that life does not need to stop if they are not flying. Like pesticides; 70 years ago - row crop production; now, can't get a decent crop without the continual use of pesticides.

That is progress. 'Progress to what?' may be the question. The future generations will be finding out the consequences of our 'progress'.....

Now back to making splits. It is easy to treble (or more) colony number, just no honey crop that year, if done early. If done near the end of the OSR, they should be strong enough to over-winter? No, it is new beeks (some with not a clue?), those individuals that are blinkered by the maximum yield per colony, and the commercial beefarmers (who are continually squeezed by the profiteers further up the food-supply chain, just as in other parts of the farming economy).

Regards, RAB

I will be trying my hand at raising a few queens this year and keeping a log of how things go. Starting small scale then building up over time if all goes well I will then give (sell) a few to members of my association and then may be offer a few to local beeks in associations nearby. The queens will be allowed time to build up a small nuc before I pass on (sell) a working mini colony.

I'm expecting to raise evil bad tempered queens - so I should be pleasantly surprised with my first serious attempt !

Once I start the process I'll add a link to my profile of my blog for those who are interested.


I'm expecting to raise evil bad tempered queens - so I should be pleasantly surprised with my first serious attempt !

Hi Mike although you say this as a form of jest it just may be the thought that most hobby beekeepers think will result if they attempt to raise queens and is perhaps what puts them off.

I think if people start to experiment and like you I am also keen to start to raise a couple in nucs and test for temperament and expand my understanding and experience later to move onto grafting.

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