Monday, April 11, 2011
I recently purchased a book called Queen Rearing Essentials by Larry Connor, who is one of the experts in the beekeeping community concerning queen bees and queen rearing. I've also been reading a lot of on-line articles on queen raising written by other beekeepers.
Last year, when I was dealing with a hive which was looking to swarm, I split off some frames and made "walk-away splits." This is where you take the frame(s) with the queen cell (which the bees made as a result of an urge to swarm) and separate it into a nucleus hive, to hatch and mate. I had some good success, but it is a reactionary process.
When you set out to raise some queen bees specifically, you take action by grafting some 2-day-old larvae into special cell cups, and then induce the bees to make them into queens. You can do this and make a lot more queens than the swarm cells generally produce. Then you can set up the queens into a Queen Castle (basically a beehive condo) while she matures and goes on a mating flight.
This is a natural progression for beekeepers - they begin with hives and after they get comfortable keeping those, they make increase via splits. Eventually they try their hand at grafting. You can either sell the new queens, or use them for re-queening your own hives.
I know I have a few hobbyist beekeeper friends who follow this blog. What do you think? Should I do some queen rearing this season?