Three years ago I started raising my own queens, and have not bought new bees since (it is a tremendous money saver). Everywhere I read, it always says “Raise you own queens, you’ll get good after a while, and it saves money.” I have also read “Get your queens from a local producer with a Good Stock of bees.” But I always wanted to try and develop my own Good Stock. Being part of the solution, as well as save money.
Assuming that I am able to raise quality queens after a few years of practice, I came to the realization this winter that I may never be able to raise this Good Stock because I have too few hives to work with. My apiary ranges from 4 to 8 colonies (full hives plus nucs) on any year, which gives me 3 to 6 new queens to be raised and tested each year. However, to keep a line pure, and viable, it seems like you need a minimum population of 20 to 25. Also, to get good tests, and comparisons, it would seem like you would need at least 8-10 full hives on any given year to compare between.
With this in mind, is there any way of achieving the fabled Good Stock, with my small apiary? Or would I be better off buying the Good Stock every two or three years, and breeding off them?
--Thanks, Jon D.