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Introducing freshly instrumentally inseminated breeder queens

This year we started offering untested, or not yet laying II'd VSH breeder queens. These are VSH daughter queens that are II'd to a blend of drones from our top colonies that tested very high on Harbo's VSH assay. All test colonies have thrived at least a full season, survived winter, and received no miticide or antibiotic assistance. The queens that are shipped next day air the day after the instrumental insemination procedure, and two CO2 treatments. I modeled this after John Harbo's untested breeder queens as a more cost effective alternative to my breeder nucs that are available pick up only. My intro recommendations differ from others a bit, which usually involve a push in cage. I developed this method after unexpectedly receiving a couple untested Harbo breeders and needed a quick and successful intro.

Option 1) Pick out a medium sized colony that is healthy, and take out ALL the brood frames, and the queen. This leaves a fair sized population of bees with plenty of stores that is hopelessly queenless and broodless. (queenless shook bees or packaged bees work very well too) I cap or tape over the candy on the cage to prevent them releasing her pre-maturely. I like to let her sit four days. After four days, I manually release the queen and make sure everyone is being friendly towards her. If they are being aggressive towards her (biting legs, pulling wings, trying to sting), return her to her cage. You will need to make sure there are no queen cells on a patch of brood that was overlooked. If so, remove them, and repeat the process after letting her sit in a cage for a couple more days. After successful release I would leave them alone for a minimum of ten days to a little over two weeks, to start laying and get established before inspecting. Feeding thin syrup is recommended. (2 parts water to 1 part sugar)

Option 2) The push in cage method that I mentioned earlier is a popular option, which I occasionally use. With this method a queenless nuc is made up and the queen placed under a hardware cloth square cage with a few attendants. The cage is pushed deep into the comb over emerging worker brood. Be sure you push the cage deep into the comb as the bees often tunnel under it and release her prematurely. Check on them periodically and make sure they are not digging under it, and to verify they are not making queen cells. If they are, you will not want her to be released. Remove the cells and keep an eye on how they are treating her. Once they are not making emergency queen cells, and are being friendly towards her, she can be manually released. I ran into one recently where the queen cells were removed, but the workers started laying while she was in the colony. I added capped brood frames devoid of young eggs and larvae to boost the nurse bee population. This caused the laying workers to cease and the queen to be accepted.

Option 3) This is similar to the top method of manual release from her shipping cage. I like to make up a nice nucleus colony a week in advance of intro. (Same as I do with virgin intro) Move the colony and feed it thin syrup. Cut all queen cells on day 7-8. This eliminates any eggs or young larvae that will tempt them to try and make their own queen. Add the shipping cage with the II'd breeder to the hopelessly queenless colony, and tape or cap over the candy tube to prevent release. Wait 4 days after adding the shipping cage. Check thoroughly for any missed queen cells and manually release the queen onto the frames. If the bees are happy to see her and start grooming her, close them up. If they attack her by biting or attempting to sting, put her back in the shipping cage and wait a few more days to repeat the process.

Our breeder queens will be available to ship UPS next day air very late April through mid June. We will also have limited availability in August if you would like to winter breeder queens for early spring use. This is definitely recommended if you are in a warmer climate that starts queen rearing very early.

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