Looking for source information on Queen production. You advice will be helpful.
Howdy, Friday 10 March 2000 11:30pm EST
I hope you have not become discouraged via not getting an immediate response. Queen rearing while IMO (in my opinion) an essential part of sustainable beekeeping is not practiced by the majority of beekeepers.
There are a number of books on the subject. I would search for bee books in the computerized card catalog at your school or public library and request any you find on queen rearing. This will enable you to see which one or two make the most sense to you and then you will likely want to purchase a copy of them as continuing reference books.
Basically it is not a great mystery to rear queens. It can be done in many ways - some are more effecient than others. The most effecient large scale methods revolve around learning to graft the quite very small "under 24 hour old" worker larvae floating in a pool of royal jelly in the bottom of the cell into a queen cup on a cell bar and introduce the grafted cells then into a starter or starter-finisher. 10 days later the cells will be ready to put into the nucs or colonies you wish to make queenright or requeen. To make grafting simpler to learn I advise using a "Chinese Grafting Tool" available from suppliers such as Mann Lake (and likely others) and using JZ's BZ's cell cups (we have used both styles - currently favoring the wide based cups with the little prongs that fit in a tight groove of a grooved #1 bottom bar shortened up to serve as a cell bar).
Still if you only want to raise 5-10 queens a year you don't need to learn to graft and you can still rear good queens - and you can do it without buying an expensive queen rearing kit of any make or model. You use the "Miller" method - meaning you take and make up a frame with a sawteeth shaped starter strip of plain beeswax foundation (no wires, no plastic) and put that in the middle of the broodnest of the breeder queen you have selected (your best queen) - then you wait a couple days and check on what they are doing. With a good flow they should be drawing out the foundation and as soon as they do the queen should be laying it up with eggs - even before they actually complete it. If ya don't see that picture on your first check then look in again in a couple days ad libitum until you do see that picture. Okay now you have eggs in your soon to be psuedo cell frame. Now find that dandy breeder queen of yours and put her on a frame of brood and bees along with a frame with stores and bees in a nuc box (or just any hive body) and set that nuc behind, beside, on top of, in some proximity to the now queenless cell builder you just made (wasn't that easy) since this was your best queen you automatically picked a STRONG populous colony with LOTS and LOTS of nurse bees to be your cell builder - which was way way smart of you.
Now take your Miller frame and get out a cutting instrument - could be your pocketknife or a serrated steak knife or whatever. Cut the pretty new comb them thar bees have just drawn so nicely back to eggs that are laying down (as oppossed to sticking nearly straight up) in the cells OR if you feel confident cut it back to expose a row of cells of larvae that are under 24 hours old - these will be small as per about egg length to one and a half times egg length and shaped like a little white "c" in the bottom of the cell - go with the lieing down eggs if ya ain't so sure. Put the Miller frame right back in the middle of the broodnest of the dequeened unit now your cell builder. Put in a couple frames of foundation if ya like ON THE OUTSIDE EDGES of the hive because otherwise they will fill up that space with comb you will end up destroying assuming this colony is REAL strong and a flow is on. This is your "start cell building" day.
In four or five or six days check your take. Cells will be near getting sealed or sealed depending on when ya check and if you judged egg age or larvae age correctly.
Count out nine days from you "start cell building day" - that is the day you dequeen colonies you wish to requeen OR make up nucs to put the cells in. Since you checked you know how many you will have (plan for 75% of what you counted).
Day ten after "start cell building" day. Carefully pull your Miller frame out and carefully cut your queen cells. They can easily be crushed so ya may wanna cut some extra wax above them as a handle of sorts. (this is one place where the sturdiness of plastic cups you grafted into is surely nice) Now go plant those precious cells of yours in the nucs or hives you prepared the day before being sure not to crush them in the process. On this your cell planting day with this type of cell production you need to plant the cells on a brood comb and push your extra wax handle in to the comb. Then be certain not to crush the cell when you put the nuc back together.
Now wait two weeks after cell planting. Go and see how many are queenright. Celebrate your first successful step toward sustainable beekeeping.
There are other non-grafting methods this is but one.
Wish ya all the best,
Honeybee Improvement Program: Breeding Coordinator
Country Jack's Honeybee Farm
Onsted, MI 49265 USA
Laidlaw and Page have a book out called "Queen Rearing and Bee Breeding" which you'll find your answers.
Jack was nice enough post a down-to-earth, step-by-step approach (Miller method) but the book will give you everything from methods to mating to care to selection and should not be overlooked if you're serious about raising good queens.
// Earthling Bees
>8(())))- "Take me to your feeder"
\\ Castle Rock, CO, USA