Queens in Honduras
I am heading to an island off of Honduras to help revive a once thriving honey bee population that was wiped out by hurricanes 10 years ago.
There are 5 or so hives being maintained currently there and friends of mine on the island want me to help them increase the number of hives. I want to start raising queens to install in good splits. How can I do this simply with limited supplies? I am interested to hear what other beekeepers out there recommend for a project like this.
I have experience grafting into queen cups but that seems to be too large a scale for what I am trying to accomplish here. Should I just take the queen out of current hives and harvest capped cells? Make queenless splits and give them a frame of eggs to raise their own queen?
Note: Honduras has flowers all year round but swarm season is in March.
Note: I am also in the market for smokers and hive tools and veils...I want to bring supplies to help revive beekeeping there. Thanks
I am glad to see your mention of swarm season in March, because that was my first question that came to mind. Keep in mind that although flowers bloom all year round, the colony will still follow a natural seasonal cycle. If swarm season is in March, then my guess is the bees are heading into "Winter" right now as that is what their physiological cycle directs them to do.
Grafting would be a great way to raise your queens and it would give your splits a head start, but keep in mind, your best success will be in the spring of the year.
Personally I would remove the queen from the best of the 5 hives along with 2 frames of brood and bees. Graft into this hive. Graft extra cells so you cull later or if the acceptance rate is low you still have enough. 7-8 days later remove the 4 other queens along with 2 capped brood. These are moved in the same yard, just make surwe there are enough bees on the brood. 3 extra shakes should do it. Some bees will fly back. On day 10 break the hives up into 3 frames of bees. Depending on the strength of the hive you could get 1-5 more splits. Place these nucs in a circle where the mother hive used to be. Place the queen cells later that day or the next into the mating nucs. So based on pretty good hives starting out you should have 5 mother hives (only 2 brood) and 15 mating nucs of 3 frames of bees. If the original colonies were top notch you'd have 25 mating nucs.
Personally I'd have your friends start feeding about 6 weeks before grafting day and keep feeding until all queens are mated. Anything that does not get mated gets shaken into the weaker nucs. Change the old queens after the virgins are mated. That way if things go really wrong they still have 5 old laying queens. Best case scenario they have 20 newly mated queens and 5 old ones.
Will that strong colony that I graft into once the queen is removed be able to start the queen cells and finish them, or do I put them in the nucs to be finished? And you think I should feed all the nucs once queen cells are installed? That is my only question, your strategy sounds good. Thanks
Rob you should read dave cushmans method.
Here it is....... http://website.lineone.net/~dave.cushman/increase.html
I am specifically referring to the first method. It allows one to make 2 nucs per week all summer. It does require 2 apiaries, and 10 colonies to start with, so if you don't have that, you'll have to do something else.
PS - the bees in Honduras will be mostly Africanized, right?
The cell builder will finish the cells. Keep feeding during the whole process unless there is a great honey flow. I like the extra insurance of feeding. I would think that sugar is readily available there and hopefully cost isnotan issue.
Kushman's method is ok but I think Rob is the out of town expert with limited time. I got the feeling he's visiting friends for awhile so time is precious.
Why not take 25 queens with you, split down to nucs, and feed? That would be the quickest way to boost the population and add genetic diversity. Get queens from 4-5 different suppliers.
Many, if not most, of the islands in the Caribbean have been AHB for years.
That's a good idea, but the government over there may not approve. Rob you'll certainly want to know this. If they approve there may be a long list of paper work which may not be worth the trouble.
Is this the bay islands? Maybe Roatan?
The island is Gunaja and I've been told they have not been Africanized yet. I just recieved word from my contacts down there that at least one of the few hives has totally absconded. I have heard that tropical climate bees tend to abscond more frequently than temperate. Any thoughts?
This sounds like an interesting project you have lined up. All my experience with beekeeping is on the mainland of Honduras, dealing with the Africanized bees. I’ve been working with bees in one form or another in western part of the country for the last 17 years. I suspect, however, that the seasons should basically be the same. That means the first strong nectar flows might have started or will start soon. It should be the correct time of year to make splits. Most blooms are during the dry season, which is now beginning.
All the bees on the mainland are africanized, but I’ve never been able to get good confirmation about Guanaja or the other Bay Islands. The distance is enough where swarms would probably not readily try to cross over the water to them. And although people sometimes say that their hives are not defensive/Africanized, there are other factors that could cause an africanized hive to act that way. Use caution when you first enter the hives.
Beekeeping equipment is available here in Honduras. Woodenware, foundation and most other things can be bought or made. It’s not out on the island though.
I would be careful about bringing queens into Honduras from the States. Check into the rules and regulations first. You don’t want to invest money in buying queens and then have customs confiscate them. They do raise queens in Guatemala but I believe they are a cross with Africanized bees. Using the local stock to raise queens is sometimes considered best.
I’m sending you a pm with some other thoughts. Look for it. If I can help you with my five cents about beekeeping here, just ask.
Re: Queens in Honduras
I'm interested to learn how this project turned out. I live on Utila and want to start keeping some hives here. The only local honey available is from either cut outs or locals destroying wild hives in the jungle. Not Eco friendly behavior! Can you tell me if there is an equipment supply source in Honduras? I would like to avoid all the costs and hassles of shipping everything in.
Originally Posted by Rob7
Re: Queens in Honduras
I live on Utila and am interested in starting a few hives. Where can I get equipment in Honduras?
Re: Queens in Honduras
There is a cooperative over most of Honduras to buy bee supplies from, COAPIHL, La Cooperativa Agropecuaria Apícola Pionera de Honduras Limitada.