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Gleanings from a new queen raiser

2302 Views 10 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  fatscher
Or queen rearer, whatever I be called.

I have learned:

1. That the best queens are easiest to raise during the months (here in No. Virginia) mid April, until Mid July

2. From easiest to hard, in this order: 1. Placing capped queen cells into mating nucs 2. making the finisher colony (Doolittle method), 3. making the starter colony 4. Grafting 5. Making the mating nucs, 6. Being patient for nearly a whole month for your mated queen

3. Royal jelly vs. distilled water? Use distilled water...royal jelly is hard to obtain (everytime I have some royal jelly on my hive tool, I never have anything handy at the moment to put it in) as well as hard to keep fresh over several weeks.

4. Expect a 55% acceptance rate in the first 24 hours. If you do better than that you're either lucky or really good. If you do worse, you're either unlucky, it's the wrong season, or maybe you better try your hand at golf, than beekeeping.

5. Mating nucs really don't require that many bees if you graft in July. I've never grafted earleir than June, so cannot say for those months outside of that.
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I think the title is called 'a queen breeder'.... knowing full well that that sounds ALL WRONG.
A queen breeder involves controlling genetics, selection criteria, maintaining a line of bees, with purpose and goals.

A queen producer, is one who constantly breeds first generation daughters from outside purchased stock, and does little beyond open mating from whatever the local genetics provide. Most beekeepers have this capacity and ability.

When someone brags about being a "breeder", ask to check out their dedicated drone yards, their record keeping, and different lines maintained seperately needed in being anything close to a "breeder". You will usually find that most items needed to be anything close to an actual breeder is lacking or completely void.

This may not fall into any actual category of producer or breeder, but numbers of bees to raise a queen is quite small. However, to properly select, cull out poor queens, and provide the best queens available, you certainly need an area of comb worthy of actually evaluating the queen's performance. And for this, bees, and a tad more than any so-called mini-nuc, is required. One of the constant complaints in recent years is the poor queens being produced. And to raise a queen in a mini-nuc, yank her, cage her, and ship her out, all based on the first egg being laid, does little to ensure quality queens are be sold.

How can anyone actually ensure pattern, or a good laying queen when the comb area given to her is 5 inches square? This is what large "queen producers" provide.

Queen producers....a dime a dozen. A good breeder....rare in today's bee industry.
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Well, I was kinda proud of myself until I read Mike's post. :oops:

Sigh, I reckon I have a lot to learn. I'm just starting and thus just learnin' too.

I promise I will become a better queen raiser, I promise I will become a better queen raiser. ;)
You can still be proud!
As I said elsewhere I never let "proper english" interfer with my talking.
Also, you got Mike up on his soapbox where he is happiest. That is also where we learn the most from him in a short period of time. Keep him up there!
Don't let him get you down, be proud of yourself for at least working with your bees and trying to raise queens, this is a very hands on hobby. You have to get your feet wet before you swim. Nothing like a little dabbling with it to start the learning curve. Bjorn has lots of experience to bring to these boards and we should at least have a good listen to him (that should keep him up on the soap box).

Good luck on the queen raising and keep us posted.

I was not intending to bring anyone down. Many times my comments are spurned on by the original post, but quickly goes into a reply not really aimed at anyone in particular, and is written knowing many people may read the reply. I actually had to go back and read the first post because I had no real idea what he was asking or seeking. I just focused on my own definition of producer and breeder, and was not even sure if it helped or not.

I think all beekeepers should raise queens. Those who try are way better beekeepers in the long run.
fatscher writes:
Or queen rearer, whatever I be called.

I have learned:

anyone of course could quibble with how you identify yourself (queen rearer, queen raiser or queen breeder) or perhaps quibble with what 'best' might mean in your original post, but at least you gave the entire process a shot and learned quite a deal in the process (and even prehaps reared a few good queens). as I have often time suggested.... every beekeeper (beehivers need not apply) needs to rear a few queen just to see what ALL is involved in the process. at the least it will make you appreciate those $20 queens a bit more and will in all likelyhood also make you a better beekeeper.

if I was there I would pat you on the back myself.
G3, rast, tecump: Guys it's ok, I knew Mike comments aren't directed at me personally. I'm fine, and find Mike's knowledge extremely useful. My comments basically saying "gee i thought I was going good until Mike spoke up," were intended with a little underlying humor. But in no way do I find myself deficient. I'm a queen-rearing bee-ginner extraordinaire.

I realize i'm learning, so I cut myself a lot of slack. And i strongly work hard to ensure i never try to convey something I'm not. I really didn't have a question at the beginning, rather, by declaring some basic findings to you all, I was hoping to (1) solicit your comments/reaction from mine and to (2) force you to recall back to when you first raised queens (with the intent of getting your sage advice on what you've learned to this point).

Here's Mike's main points that I feel are worth repeating:

First main point -- A queen breeder vs. A queen producer

Breeder: controls genetics, selection criteria, maintaining a line of bees, with purpose and goals.

Producer: constantly breeds first generation daughters from outside purchased stock, and does little beyond open mating from whatever the local genetics provide. This is far less challenging work than being a breeder.

Bee wary when producers call themselves a "breeder." Verify their "breeder" capacity with their:
a. dedicated drone yards
b. record keeping
c. maintenance of different lines

Second point: You don't need a lot of bees to raise a queen. But you DO need more comb than a mini nuc offers, because you need to evaluate the queens egg laying and a mini nuc frame is not enough data to be statistically confident she's a good producer. Bottom-line is mini nucs are NOT optimal to really confidently say the queen is a good brood-producing queen.

Mike Thomas was not responding on my definition as a queen raiser. He was simply pointing out there's a connotation in terms (breeder vs. producer) and a lot of producers call themselves a breeder, when they're really not, and that's deceiving.

Since i feel I'm WAY too small time to be labeled a producer and I certainly don't fit the bill of a "breeder", I call myself a "raiser." But I may argue with Mike and call myself a wanna bee "organic" queen breeder, (tee hee), since my virgins produce the mutt-iest bees, localized to my area so far. :mrgreen:
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Don't worry about me, I have a good sense of humor and enjoy using it. Just don't get that confused with common sense now. As I said, keep Mike up on his soapbox. I teach an adult Sunday school class and last Sun. morning was kinda getting dull, so I said that older people don't have the problem of wanting to sin like younger people do.
Boy oh boy, did that step it up, I'm still grinning.
Ok, back to bees, what are you using for a mating box? How many frames?
rast said:
...Ok, back to bees, what are you using for a mating box? How many frames?
I was a little skeptical using these styrofoam mini mating nucs (3 frames each) from Mann Lake, but... for the money... They ain't half bad! I'd say I sunk around $15-$19 into each mini nuc. These styrofoam bubbas are around 30 dollars a piece, but they are DOUBLE mating nucs--mini nucs in each end--3 frames each, total of 6 frames. You need some overhead expense (a build-out box) and you need to purchase the mini frames and mini foundation. Then you need to feed a mother colony a ton of sugar syrup, set the build-up box into it, then wait for them to build up the comb. Time = money so all in all I spent around $18 I estimate on each mini nuc.

BUt I have 8 mini nucs now as a result. To me this is the hardest and riskiest aspect of queen rearing, is getting the mating nuc operation going, and getting the queen mated. The variables in getting "mama" going are many and uncontrollable.
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