April 15, 2017

The first thing I look for in a potential cell building colony while I'm performing Spring inspections is size.  When I pop the top, I don't even want to see much frame. It needs to be black with bees. The first thing I think when I see a colony that size that is crowded is, o no, they're going to swarm. That's the perfect colony!  Why? Size equals resources. And they're already in the mood to rear queens. When the population approaches that size and the colony is becoming increasingly crowded, it triggers them to rear queens.  They're in the mood, and have increased brood production from incoming nectar and pollen.  The bees are programmed to know when to rear queens.  A period of abundant nectar and pollen will ensure the queens will be well fed, and if a swarm is issued will strengthen it's chance of survival. The timing is no accident.  Once I find a colony of this size, preferably wanting to swarm, I remove the queen, and all queen cells. If the queen is a rockstar, I typically ad...

April 6, 2017

 Everything affects the quality of the queen. This is why I'm obsessive about the process of queen rearing. I want THE best quality queens possible. For now we're leaving genetics out of the equation to focus on physical development. Genetics are quite an important factor, don't get me wrong. From day one, larvae intended to be queens are fed royal jelly. Worker larvae are fed a diluted mix around 24 hrs of age. This is where the developmental path diverges and the larvae will be either a queen or worker. Often beekeepers graft larvae that are too old and have consumed worker mix. This results in poor queens that do not perform, and have under developed ovaries. It happens often in walkaway splits, emergency worker comb queens from accidental queen death, or when larvae older than 24 hrs are grafted. It comes as a surprise to many that someone would speak negatively about walkaway splits, which are still a popular method of queen rearing. To me, this is old news. GM Doolittle, the fath...

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