Which temperature and humidity do you currently have? In common, the beginning of queens raising depends from the weather factors, swarming "behavior" of donors and the state of your starters and finishers.
BTW, it is quite interesting to know which methods and techniques do US colleagues use:lookout:
Not sure what method I'm going to try. This is only my third year of bee keeping. Know an old gentleman who has been bee keeping for years and thought we might go in together and give it a whirl. Any suggestions?
o.molchanov- Currently our weather is in the low 50's, but expecting 3inches of rain the next couple of days. From what I'm getting, won't be able to start raising queens till maybe May or June. As far as swarming, I've caught some in mid April. Interested to know if your hives look similar to yours, as far as design? Also, do you have aggressive bees?
In the Medford area, some Aprils have temperatures warm enough in the last week or 10 days for the queens to get mated. Some people try to push it and may succeed on any given year.
If you have any commercial beekeepers near you, who bring back hives from pollinating the almonds, they will likely have drones in their hives by April and some even in March. If your bees are within a couple miles of those colonies, the drone issue would not as likely be the limiting factor. If you do not have commercial beekeepers nearby, you might want to stimulate your hives to produce drones by feeding pollen substitutes, although I would suspect you would have drones mature enough to mate by the end of April from your own hives.
Weather in April is sometimes changeable and even in May, at least in Medford. I believe that the queens are better mated later in the season, but it depends on what you want and what risk you want to take. If I was a risk taker, I would graft the first or second week of April. If I was risk adverse, I would likely wait for May.
Weatherunderground has the temperature history for Roseburg. You can look at that website. In 2013 April 22 to April 28 was in the 70's and 80's! In 2003 April 8th was the only day in April which made 70 degrees. Most years have some 70 degree weather in the last week or two of April.
I'm in MO. so apples to oranges sort of. Walter Kelly said the earliest you could raise queens was when the blackberries bloom in your area. Here that can be from last of April to last of may.
I've raised several queens earlier than that. Not one of them saw fall much less spring. Most got mated but started laying drones after a month or so or just didn't lay enough to build up.
Any more I don't even start until the blackberries bloom. Woody
I'm in North Central California. I agree, blackberry bloom is safe. Some years March works here. It depends on the weather. May through July works well in my area, and sometimes March and especially April works.
Here in Tucson, Arizona, most years I can raise a few small batches, right through the winter. The stronger hives always seem to keep some drones.
This season, 2013/2014 I could have continued raising queens, but took a hiatus. But, this afternoon I picked my strongest full-size colony (one 8-frame deep with a plastic frame feeder and seven frames almost solid brood - and a medium box above that, with 9 frames. two started as empty foundationless, being grown into drone comb, already filled with eggs). I took three deep frames of solid sealed/emerging brood, 90% of the nurse bees, finally located their queen (this is the queen I've had difficulty locating), and marked her, leaving her in the original hive. I put new foundationless frames in place of the removed combs of brood. I moved the cell builder to the usual place where I keep them. Tomorrow morning I will graft a couple bars (30 cells - hoping for at least 15 keepers).
These past three weeks, plus, the temps have been in the 70'sF, 80'sF, and tomorrow expected to be 90F - daytime, and just below 50F, to just above 50F - nighttime. Though our last rains were in late October or early November, those rains caused a flush of wildflowers to germinate, and though more moisture, earlier, would have helped those wildflowers to grow at least a foot or more high, the wildflowers have matured, just four inches high, or less - they are blooming and there is a honeyflow on, which only happens during wet winters that are cool, but don't go below freezing, much.
I especially get a kick out of the blue-grey color of the redstem filaree pollen. It only grows in quantities sufficient for foraging, about one year in ten (when there is enough moisture in winter).
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