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Queen Rearing


The branch Queen Rearing Group 2014

We’ve recently set up a group of branch members who are keen to explore the variety of methods of queen rearing.

Most of us have not got a lot of experience in this area but we are keen to work with each other to extend our skills.

A knowledge and control of queens in an apiary can help beekeepers in improving the quality of the queens and their colonies and this is our aim.

As a group we will be looking at a number of ways of rearing our queens. Broadly they are divided into:

  1. grafting from the eggs recently laid by the queen and raising queens from the grafted eggs.

  1. alternative methods which involve, for example, taking queen cells that have already been set up in the colony and raising them in a mini queen rearing nuc.

With the help and guidance of some experienced members of the branch we will be trying out a variety of methods during the summer.

We will be updating you with information and photographs. This is not so much a blog as an explanation of our experiences for week to week which ,we hope will keep you informed and, maybe, enthralled!


Update 14 April 2014 by Annabel Lewis

On Friday April 4th I took this sealed queen cell and put it on the frame from my mating hive.  I added a cup of bees to the mating hive and closed them in over night and then left them to it.

They were quite happy when I opened the door on Saturday….

On Sunday April 13th, this is where we were……
The queen cell has hatched……
And all the bees are in the food chamber, drawing wax comb in there.  I haven’t seen the queen, but they seem to be quite happy, so I plan to leave them for another week and then check them again.

Next instalment over the Easter weekend!
Annabel Lewis


Update 19 April 2014 by Annabel Lewis

On Friday 18th April there is still no sign of a queen in the mating nuc, however it is difficult to check due to where the bees have built comb in there. 

I did notice, however, that these bees seem quite happy and when I had closed them up there were quite a few by the door with their nasonov glands in the air. I’m going to give them another week and then check again.

In the mean time I have started a second mating hive off in the same way as the first with a queen cell from another of my hives.


Update 3 May 2014 by Annabel Lewis

While checking my bees on May 3rd I had another look in the mating hive and to my delight there is sealed brood in there! This meant that there was a mated queen running round in there somewhere! One of my other hives is queenless so I found my new queen and marked and clipped her, then put her in a butler queen cage and onto a frame in the queenless hive.

So, I have a Green Queen! It has been 4 weeks since I took the sealed queen cell and put it in the mating hive and now she is on the next leg of her journey. I hope the hive will accept her and the next time I look in the hive there will be eggs everywhere!


Update 18 May 2014 by Adrian Wells

I eventually got around to attempting to graft today. I intended trying for ten, but only managed to pull half that number of 1 day-old larvae.

I was doing this outside beside the hive with a veil on and a head-mounted magnifier inside the veil, what with glasses as well, it was not comfortable.

I found the cells to be very delicate and put this down to them being very warm and on virgin comb that had not been built on foundation, so the bottom of the cell was too easy to push through.

In future I will look for donor larvae that are in older comb, and so reinforced with old cocoons too; this should make for an easier transfer.

The process of choosing and eventually lifting the larvae took much longer than I expected, depositing them into the cups was much easier.

I’ll let you know if they take.


Update 25 May 2014 by Adrian Wells

I checked my grafts yesterday (Saturday); none had taken, They should have been capped. I don’t know if the brood was chilled, or if I’d damaged the larvae.

I’ll try again when the weather is next warm and dry. I’ll have a tray with me (to keep my car clean) and do it ‘indoors’ with my veil off and as said before, I’ll try older comb.