Queen Rearing Advice

Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum

Help Support Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum:

Moobee 

House Bee
***
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Jan 8, 2020
Messages
409
Reaction score
365
Location
Bracklesham Bay, West Sussex
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
3..... at the moment....
Ive searched quite a few threads but cant quite find what i am looking for......
I would like to try queen rearing next season and have sent off for the BBKA leaflet but would appreciate recommendations of any books and or good sources of information suitable for beginners please.
I currently have three hives, at least one has a suitable queen to breed from her daughters.
Thanks!
 

madasafish 

Queen Bee
***
Joined
Apr 10, 2010
Messages
10,348
Reaction score
1,733
Location
Stoke on Trent
Hive Type
langstroth
Number of Hives
6 to 8 Langstroth jumbos, a few Langstroth and National nucs.
Depends what your aims are.
More hives - so simple splits may be enough.
3 queens? 10 Queens?
Money to spend?
What do you want to do with existing hives? QR can be very resource greedy if you want to do a lot.. (mini nucs to fill with bees etc)

SO first state objectives.
 

Moobee 

House Bee
***
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Jan 8, 2020
Messages
409
Reaction score
365
Location
Bracklesham Bay, West Sussex
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
3..... at the moment....
Depends what your aims are.
More hives - so simple splits may be enough.
3 queens? 10 Queens?
Money to spend?
What do you want to do with existing hives? QR can be very resource greedy if you want to do a lot.. (mini nucs to fill with bees etc)

SO first state objectives.
Ah ok. So I will need to replace at least one queen next season (as she’s a 2020 model) but also would like to be able to supply a few to local members so I’m thinking 6-10 would be a good starting point without trying to be too ambitious.
Can’t increase hives as have no room but could also sell on the odd nuc if splits needed for swarm control (I bought a few spare poly nucs in the sales).
 

Swarm 

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
***
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2011
Messages
8,839
Reaction score
1,758
Location
South Wales
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
more than 30, less than 100.
As already mentioned, it's resource hungry.
 

rolande 

Field Bee
Joined
Oct 26, 2009
Messages
887
Reaction score
698
Hive Type
other
Ah ok. So I will need to replace at least one queen next season (as she’s a 2020 model)
Even though she's the one which you'll have most data on? When having a very small number of colonies to practice on an extra year of notes could make a world of difference.... OK, it probably won't, but it never hurts to start anything with the highest expectations.

With regards books, I reckon Vince Cook's 'Queen Rearing Simplified' is as good a starting point as any. But if you want something with real depth then anything by Gilles Fert would be a good call. Some may advise against such indepth books but I don't assume being a beginner at raising queen's makes you a beginner at reading...
 

rolande 

Field Bee
Joined
Oct 26, 2009
Messages
887
Reaction score
698
Hive Type
other
Regarding the possible drain on resources, I have to agree but will add that the sheer pleasure to be gained from raising queen's makes it all worthwhile. One way around the resource issue would be to invest in miniplus mating nucs because once established they can usually be over wintered relatively easily and then split to make up more mating nucs when needed - the extra overwintered queens can be very useful too.
 

Goran 

Drone Bee
Joined
Oct 23, 2012
Messages
1,800
Reaction score
283
Location
Croatia
Hive Type
langstroth
Number of Hives
65
At my place the most simple for beginner beeks.. Don't expand colony in spring with boxes, if no flow feed abundantly and since they will be topped with feed and brood and no space they will start to prepare for swarming. Then You get a lot of nice qcells for distributing into colonies.. After that there are myriad options..
If I have one strong crucial flow.. I wouldn't do it. I would make them strong and take the honey.. After that I would play..
 

madasafish 

Queen Bee
***
Joined
Apr 10, 2010
Messages
10,348
Reaction score
1,733
Location
Stoke on Trent
Hive Type
langstroth
Number of Hives
6 to 8 Langstroth jumbos, a few Langstroth and National nucs.
Well I raise approx 14-30 Queens a year from 6-7 full hives and four to five nucs.
Edit : I am always short of bees in Spring depending on weather .2021 was a struggle. Mating is variable here due to weather.

Start in end May (weather) and stop August (wasps). So a short window.

I use double nucs with a Cloake board to make upper one Q- to raise QCs and raise Qs in mini nucs. (I have about 16.) I overwinter queens in double sized mini nucs (supers or two boxes duct tapped together)

My hives (and nucs) are jumbo langstroth so multiply by two to get equivalent national brood boxes.
I used Miller method before, then cell punching then grafting. As my eyesight is poor I require magnification and cannot do work when tired as my hand tends to shake. (Grafting by far the best)

Lots of practise. Need to find out how to run mini nucs..It is different with lots of ways to make it more successful.

I have two Go To books:
Queen Bee Biology, Rearing and Breeding: David Woodward.
Queen Rearing BBKA News Special Issues Series.

I also find Richard Noel on YouTube and the Apiarist Blog (archives) Blog - The Apiarist very useful.


They should keep you busy.
 
Last edited:

Pembroke 

House Bee
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
May 11, 2019
Messages
197
Reaction score
99
Location
Carmarthen
Hive Type
commercial
Number of Hives
None
The Welsh Beekeepers Association may also have booklets that are useful to you. WBKA Publications – Welsh Beekeepers' Association no need to send off for them just download as PDF no need to be a member either although I'm sure a small donation would be appreciated if you want.
 

Hebeegeebee 

Queen Bee
***
Joined
Dec 4, 2008
Messages
2,135
Reaction score
143
Location
S.E. Norfolk
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
12 on a good day, often more..
Regarding the possible drain on resources, I have to agree but will add that the sheer pleasure to be gained from raising queen's makes it all worthwhile. One way around the resource issue would be to invest in miniplus mating nucs because once established they can usually be over wintered relatively easily and then split to make up more mating nucs when needed - the extra overwintered queens can be very useful too.
I agree with using mini plus hives - although I find them a faff to split the Abelo ones into two, using the two entrances and the supplied division board.
You can park a queen in them if you need and once you have got one going, you can potentially split over time. Once the season is over, you can unite if required.
 

rolande 

Field Bee
Joined
Oct 26, 2009
Messages
887
Reaction score
698
Hive Type
other
I agree with using mini plus hives - although I find them a faff to split the Abelo ones into two, using the two entrances and the supplied division board.
You can park a queen in them if you need and once you have got one going, you can potentially split over time. Once the season is over, you can unite if required.
I gave up using the twin capacity in those boxes a long time ago (despite being an advocate of twin mating nucs) because the ones I purchased came with the original lyson plastic frames which were too tight to work easily.
 

Swarm 

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
***
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2011
Messages
8,839
Reaction score
1,758
Location
South Wales
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
more than 30, less than 100.
Consider a queen rearing group? With lack of resources, this can be a great help and very rewarding.
 

mbc 

Queen Bee
***
Beekeeping Sponsor
Joined
Feb 16, 2010
Messages
6,351
Reaction score
1,186
Location
bestest wales
Hive Type
national
I gave up using the twin capacity in those boxes a long time ago (despite being an advocate of twin mating nucs) because the ones I purchased came with the original lyson plastic frames which were too tight to work easily.
I agree they're a bit of a fiddle, but for double the productivity for the same resources I've carried on stocking both sides of the abelo mini plus hives. I find them a very flexible format, very easy to divide and accommodate numerous queens and also aggregate into bigger colonies for overwintering at seasons end, I've a couple of dozen double brood mini plus going through the winter. It's a good way of banking queens over winter ready for use in the early spring, with the added benefit of all those resources being ready to split for the first rounds of cells.
 

rolande 

Field Bee
Joined
Oct 26, 2009
Messages
887
Reaction score
698
Hive Type
other
I agree they're a bit of a fiddle, but for double the productivity for the same resources I've carried on stocking both sides of the abelo mini plus hives. I find them a very flexible format, very easy to divide and accommodate numerous queens and also aggregate into bigger colonies for overwintering at seasons end, I've a couple of dozen double brood mini plus going through the winter. It's a good way of banking queens over winter ready for use in the early spring, with the added benefit of all those resources being ready to split for the first rounds of cells.
I still reckon they're the best all round mating unit on the market and, if I wasn't capable of turning out quality boxes of my own the miniplus are the ones I'd be investing in, we're still using mp units which we purchased from Thorne's circa 2006.
 

Hebeegeebee 

Queen Bee
***
Joined
Dec 4, 2008
Messages
2,135
Reaction score
143
Location
S.E. Norfolk
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
12 on a good day, often more..
I still reckon they're the best all round mating unit on the market and, if I wasn't capable of turning out quality boxes of my own the miniplus are the ones I'd be investing in, we're still using mp units which we purchased from Thorne's circa 2006.
I couldn't get any more mini plus boxes last summer so made a couple of 4 frame wooden ones with thick timber I had left over. It's possible to make frames out of DN4's to fit. The two 4 frame ones are stacked together with a colony inside.
Sorry Moobee, slightly off topic!
 

rolande 

Field Bee
Joined
Oct 26, 2009
Messages
887
Reaction score
698
Hive Type
other
I couldn't get any more mini plus boxes last summer so made a couple of 4 frame wooden ones with thick timber I had left over. It's possible to make frames out of DN4's to fit. The two 4 frame ones are stacked together with a colony inside.
Sorry Moobee, slightly off topic!
We did the same (lack of cash in our case, but as Norman Rice said, you should never let the lack of the proper kit get in the way of a good idea) , several years ago with osb boxes but made themo take six frames so the top feeders fit and the poly broods can be stacked on top.

IMG_20211206_112528.jpg


Edit : despite being made roughly (we thought they'd be a very temporary fix) we actually got several years out of them as can be seen by the age of this one which was finally scrapped this last spring. Never could see any difference in mating or wintering results.
 
Last edited:

Swarm 

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
***
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
May 29, 2011
Messages
8,839
Reaction score
1,758
Location
South Wales
Hive Type
national
Number of Hives
more than 30, less than 100.
Well that makes me feel much better about my equipment after seeing that box :) Mine are two and three way old brood boxes.
I would echo everything Rolande has said about the sheer pleasure of raising your own queens. Your 2020 queen has only done one season for you to evaluate her performance, another year or even two will give you a better picture. Of course, she may not last that long. If you can form a little group you will have greater scope and the camaraderie.

This is Blod (2017) we are hoping she is still with us next year when her colour comes around again. Her daughters and grand daughters have proven themselves to be a chip off the old block, with a number of 2019, 2020 and 2021 offspring heading colonies showing very similar, positive traits. Next year we will see what the green queens produce.
Go for it.
 

Attachments

Latest posts

Top