Artificially inseminated Queens

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Michellec89 

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Hi, I'm on the hunt for some opinions. Currently in the process of a business start up, we aim to produce artificially inseminated buckfast queen's (maybe branching out in the future) at more affordable prices. I'm aware there are twice to three times more queen's bought in from the EU rather than buying from UK stock, I'm wondering if this is down to preference of bees or price related? Thanks for reading, Michelle
 

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Hi, I'm on the hunt for some opinions. Currently in the process of a business start up, we aim to produce artificially inseminated buckfast queen's (maybe branching out in the future) at more affordable prices. I'm aware there are twice to three times more queen's bought in from the EU rather than buying from UK stock, I'm wondering if this is down to preference of bees or price related? Thanks for reading, Michelle
The weather in the UK is such that we can't make queens early enough for them to get established and make a crop in the current season. Countries with warmer climates are able to provide queens much earlier than we can.
 

Michellec89 

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The weather in the UK is such that we can't make queens early enough for them to get established and make a crop in the current season. Countries with warmer climates are able to provide queens much earlier than we can.
Yeah, we understood that was a huge factor, we're working on ways round this to bring production forward. Thank you 😊
 

Vartusmeister 

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Keep us updated how you progress with the idea, it can be great. The problem is the timing of course, loads of folks have issues with early queen losses when no queens available in the UK yet. I read threads about colonies coming out of winter with changed behaviour/peppercorn brood which again can be queen problem. Etc.
Where should these beekeepers turn to when they want to replace queens quickly to resolve the problems? Either unite/play with the rest of the colonies or order from abroad. I think this is the main reason. No queens available in the UK early enough.
Saying so, I think there would be big market for later UK AI queens as well, as long as they are not falsely advertised as UK produced. Personally, I only choose UK/Irish queens, but the bigger question is, are they really UK ones or just tagged as such by the supplier.
 

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Hi, I'm on the hunt for some opinions. Currently in the process of a business start up, we aim to produce artificially inseminated buckfast queen's (maybe branching out in the future) at more affordable prices. I'm aware there are twice to three times more queen's bought in from the EU rather than buying from UK stock, I'm wondering if this is down to preference of bees or price related? Thanks for reading, Michelle
Out of curiosity, will you provide pedigrees with these inseminated queens?
 

Michellec89 

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Keep us updated how you progress with the idea, it can be great. The problem is the timing of course, loads of folks have issues with early queen losses when no queens available in the UK yet. I read threads about colonies coming out of winter with changed behaviour/peppercorn brood which again can be queen problem. Etc.
Where should these beekeepers turn to when they want to replace queens quickly to resolve the problems? Either unite/play with the rest of the colonies or order from abroad. I think this is the main reason. No queens available in the UK early enough.
Saying so, I think there would be big market for later UK AI queens as well, as long as they are not falsely advertised as UK produced. Personally, I only choose UK/Irish queens, but the bigger question is, are they really UK ones or just tagged as such by the supplier.
Now that is a question. My father has had bees since he was a boy (around 60 years) as his father always had 10-20 colonies. Although I've helped him quite a lot over 20 years I'm still fairly new to the scientific side of it and the buying queen's and new stock was always left to him. He now has around 120 hives and we'd quite like to try the artificial insemination side of it rather than the honey production side.
He only tends to deal with two people for stock and queen's and I'm fairly confident these are genuine UK stock. But I can completely understand how easy it would be to buy in and sell as UK produced, and I hadn't thought of that problem.
We were thinking about producing artificially inseminated Queens for around £60 each. With dad having a good few hives it won't cost a serious amount to start up, one of the guys dad deals with for queen's is offering a free course to me, and the stock is rearing to get producing, so the only real outlay at the moment is equipment. We are also thinking of producing a few this year (more for practice straight after my course) we are ready to graft and have enough drone brood coming on. These would be sold cheaper for a practice run and anybody who buys this year will receive a 15% discount off any queen's purchased next year.
I just feel that without bees we'd be pretty much on our backsides in respect of pollination, and as such, prices are becoming high. It would be nice to offer better prices but obviously still make a living at the same time.
Thank you very much for highlighting some subjects that hadn't even crossed my mind 😊
 

Michellec89 

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Out of curiosity, will you provide pedigrees with these inseminated queens?
This is the side of things I'm unsure of, my father has kept bees for 60+ years, I've been involved helping him for 20 years, I'm no pro, which is why I'm looking for opinions at present, I have A LOT more to learn over the next year as clearly the basics in queen rearing are no where near enough, I have 2 fairly big producers (1 now retired) willing to help me out wherever possible with theory as well as practical.
I'm meeting one tomorrow to buy insemination equipment so I will definitely ask that question and hopefully be able to answer with a bit more knowledge tomorrow evening.
I'd definitely like to provide pedigrees as it never even crossed my mind that people could be buying in Queens and selling as UK produced, this has just been brought up further down.
We definitely have no intention of false advertising. I believe it will be hard work but there's no sense of accomplishment after cheating. I'll try to answer the pedigree question a bit more directly tomorrow.
 

Vartusmeister 

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Now that is a question. My father has had bees since he was a boy (around 60 years) as his father always had 10-20 colonies. Although I've helped him quite a lot over 20 years I'm still fairly new to the scientific side of it and the buying queen's and new stock was always left to him. He now has around 120 hives and we'd quite like to try the artificial insemination side of it rather than the honey production side.
He only tends to deal with two people for stock and queen's and I'm fairly confident these are genuine UK stock. But I can completely understand how easy it would be to buy in and sell as UK produced, and I hadn't thought of that problem.
We were thinking about producing artificially inseminated Queens for around £60 each. With dad having a good few hives it won't cost a serious amount to start up, one of the guys dad deals with for queen's is offering a free course to me, and the stock is rearing to get producing, so the only real outlay at the moment is equipment. We are also thinking of producing a few this year (more for practice straight after my course) we are ready to graft and have enough drone brood coming on. These would be sold cheaper for a practice run and anybody who buys this year will receive a 15% discount off any queen's purchased next year.
I just feel that without bees we'd be pretty much on our backsides in respect of pollination, and as such, prices are becoming high. It would be nice to offer better prices but obviously still make a living at the same time.
Thank you very much for highlighting some subjects that hadn't even crossed my mind 😊
Please keep me updated, I am very much interested in your progress
 

Michellec89 

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This year will probably be through contacts or people interested like yourself
 
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Nige.Coll 

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Most of the Buckfast queens have some or all genetics from a European source now.
Either imported and then bred from by someone in the UK using II or genetic material is shared.
The Europeans have the benefit of island mating in their favour, something the UK doesn't have access to.
There are a few serious breeders in the UK but not many.
Most are just queen rearing outfits selling f1's for hobby beekeepers to play with.
It has become very hard to get any queens shipped to the UK since brexit from any reliable European breeder.
Noise made by the BBKA and other such closed minded bias groups have caused issues.
 

jeff33 

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If my calculations are right you would need to start your drone production by end of February and your queens by end of March if you want to compete in the early season queen market... unlikely to be achievable by all accounts.

£60 is slightly more than the average price of a good F1 from a reputable UK breeder, so very competitive indeed. Breeding true to race in the UK is very challenging with open mating as previously discussed, even with 120 hives so using your stock for II will need good consideration. Unless you have a strong pedigree behind you to reassure UK breeders (small and large) of the quality of your queens as breeding material, you may end up selling to the hobbyists who just throw money at beekeeping as if there was no tomorrow!

I would expect that some of the breeders on here that work with buckfast (reputable) would only be able to use your II queens at the end of year 2 once they have proven themselves for a full season and winter either as breeder or drone producers.

Good luck though, it's great to see people turning a passion into a venture.
 
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This is the side of things I'm unsure of, my father has kept bees for 60+ years, I've been involved helping him for 20 years, I'm no pro, which is why I'm looking for opinions at present, I have A LOT more to learn over the next year as clearly the basics in queen rearing are no where near enough, I have 2 fairly big producers (1 now retired) willing to help me out wherever possible with theory as well as practical.
I'm meeting one tomorrow to buy insemination equipment so I will definitely ask that question and hopefully be able to answer with a bit more knowledge tomorrow evening.
I'd definitely like to provide pedigrees as it never even crossed my mind that people could be buying in Queens and selling as UK produced, this has just been brought up further down.
We definitely have no intention of false advertising. I believe it will be hard work but there's no sense of accomplishment after cheating. I'll try to answer the pedigree question a bit more directly tomorrow.
In the absence of further information, can we assume that you've given up on the idea?
 

Hebeegeebee 

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"If my calculations are right you would need to start your drone production by end of February and your queens by end of March if you want to compete in the early season queen market... unlikely to be achievable by all accounts." Definitely not in my part of the world.
 

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"If my calculations are right you would need to start your drone production by end of February and your queens by end of March if you want to compete in the early season queen market... unlikely to be achievable by all accounts." Definitely not in my part of the world.
Actually, you only need about 45 days from the egg being laid until the drone is mature enough to collect his semen. I have frames of drones in my colonies now that are almost ready to "harvest".
My doubt is not whether it is possible to do it, but, whether it is possible to make a profit from it. My friend Rene van der Molen inseminates for Arista Bee Research and the Dutch carnica association VCI - he only charges 15 euros per queen.
 

Markthebuilder 

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Could bee semen be frozen . So that it was then available for insemination at anytime. Iimagin bees feed properly could be kept active and laying in a heated building. I sure those doing repurchase don’t have to stop just because it’s winter
 

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Could bee semen be frozen . So that it was then available for insemination at anytime. Iimagin bees feed properly could be kept active and laying in a heated building. I sure those doing repurchase don’t have to stop just because it’s winter
If you're asking if bee semen can be cryo-preserved, the answer is "Yes". However, this is a specialised technique that requires the semen to be stored in liquid nitrogen so it isn't in common usage. The value of the breeding line would have to be quite high to warrant using a technique like this. It wouldn't be cheap. Nor would it be a guarantee of success. Things can go wrong at any stage - just like beekeeping really!
 

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Personally I think Q's in this country are painfully expensive hence why people look further afield for their Q's which certainly doesn't help the grow your own debate. I've seen prices this year for Q's in the UK for sale at £90 each.

Also, I've been a member of three different BKA's over the years and not one has taught queen rearing. How damning is that for the argument for self sufficiency.

I have a Q management system as part of my swarm prevention strategy and this year, cost effective Q's are in very short supply for various reasons. If I was to buy queens at £60 each the cost this year would be close to £2k therefore, I have used QC's produced by the hives and will pick up next year where I left off last year, a bit like the euro 2020 football.

Now, I'm saying this to share my opinion only and not to start the usual w***y waving these conversations always descend into. I wont discuss the points/observations I have made here.
 

sipa 

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I've seen prices this year for Q's in the UK for sale at £90 each.
Queens cost money to produce, simple. And they cost substantially more to produce in the UK.
Why is it beekeepers will spend hundreds if not thousands on harware or gadgets that are useless, but baulk at paying a fair price for queens ?
 

Sutty 

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I find it interesting with so much talk of bee "selection" for breeding driving the desire to use instrumental insemination.
However this then removes selection of the drones by their ability to detect the queen and fly to mate in competition with many more males.
Also genetic diversity within a hive (eg across a comb of brood) will be likely to be lower (unless drones collected from very many hives), this is thought to potentially increase the spread of brood disease within a hive.
I'm not arguing against ii, but there may be unexpected, unintended, or unknown consequences.
 

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I find it interesting with so much talk of bee "selection" for breeding driving the desire to use instrumental insemination.
However this then removes selection of the drones by their ability to detect the queen and fly to mate in competition with many more males.
Also genetic diversity within a hive (eg across a comb of brood) will be likely to be lower (unless drones collected from very many hives), this is thought to potentially increase the spread of brood disease within a hive.
I'm not arguing against ii, but there may be unexpected, unintended, or unknown consequences.
To be honest, I don't think that's the case at all. When I joined this forum, only a few people practised instrumental insemination. Over the years, others have "jumped on the band-waggon" without understanding that it is only a technique. It means little unless you test the progeny you've mated and breed from the result - like this!
The thing that really makes me laugh, and I see this countless times on Youtube, is when people collect drones from the hive entrance with no idea where they came from. They might just as well leave the queen to mate naturally than do this. It makes no sense at all!
The drone is often referred to as a "flying gamete". In breeding terms, he is only a means of translating 16 of his mothers (queen) 32 chromosomes into sperm, so a virgin queen from another colony can be mated. Since he is haploid, he only has 16 chromosomes to pass on, so all of his sperm are clones. Therefore, in single drone insemination, the only variation that can occur is in the queens egg. This is an extreme case though and instrumental insemination still usually involves multiple drones (mdi), albeit from the same queen - at least in selective breeding programmes. The drone-producing queen is, herself, selected for this purpose after her colonies performance is assessed and her relationship to the dam(queen), if any, understood. The point being, that you are selecting from from a large population the individuals that you will propagate to form the next generation. Those individuals influence the direction of the populations development more, simply because there are more of them in the population i.e. If I make 100 daughter queens from a particular combination, and they all survive long enough to reproduce at least once, their impact on the direction that the population develops is 100 times more than a colony that may only produce one successful progeny.
lets say that the population includes some 10,000 colonies -the impact of breeding 100 from a particular combination is 100 times greater than in the case where only a single progeny colony survives long enough to reproduce.
 
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