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I've taken an interest in queen rearing, and through the many hours of reading on the various methods, there's one thing that still hasn't quite been answered in my mind. If I were to get into selling queens, I obviously would want to provide a good product...but as someone who is relatively new to beekeeping in general and has always bought bees and queens, how do you know when you've gotten to the point where you feel GOOD about the genetics that you're selling? Honestly, that's what we're really buying when ordering queens. I have some great queens, but how do you know that a hive has proven itself?

I feel like this point could be reached in either a few years or a few decades of meticulous selective breeding...so how do/did YOU come to the point where you're confident enough in the strains you've worked to breed to offer them to other people? I feel like beekeepers are the kind of people who are not tolerant of a subpar product (for good reason), and this is something I desperately want to get right the FIRST time.

Brandon
 

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You don't have to do years of selective breeding to be able to sell good queens anymore than you do any other livestock. Buy good genetics from a reputable dealer to begin with. You probably will need to hone your skills as a producer for a while though.
 

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There is an old adage that applies here: Poorly reared queens from superior stock are always inferior to well reared queens from average stock.

Technique is extremely important. Learn superior methods and source your genetics from the best available and things will fall in to place. Selection is always an ongoing process, but great skills, once mastered, should stick with you for a long time.
 

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You don't have to do years of selective breeding to be able to sell good queens anymore than you do any other livestock. Buy good genetics from a reputable dealer to begin with. You probably will need to hone your skills as a producer for a while though.
Im trying to raise my own queens this year. I did some last year, was very inconsistent- amount of queens, and learning what is a quality queen. My hope is to grow my apiary. then I can tell what my future in bees is beyond hobby beyond myself. Im having fun, but flustration with losses.
 

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Select/Buy good stock to begin with, raise under ideal conditions to produce fat jelly filled cells, flood areas with quality drones, after mating allow the queens enough time to adequately observe them.

Don't sell any queen that you wouldn't use in your own hive. Don't be afraid to squish duds.

All of that takes time/effort... I'd suggest that you start raising them to expand your yards and learn from that. Once you start getting excess, then you can setup dedicated mating nucs and sell from there.
 

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In my opinion...and my experience with buying 'superior' queens from out of state, nothing compares to rearing from a great feral,overwintered queen. But, I'm a strong believer that genetics and locale go hand in hand. I bought nucs from a great breeder down south and they never did well here. But, I have great swarm trapped,cutout and swarm removal stock that did great in their first year last year and wintered incredible. I've done very little queen rearing for others and what I have done has been no grafting with very well fed swarm boxes and let them draw there own. They made huge peanut sized cells and I am this year going to start a queen rearing program here on the far. I won't sell until next year soo I can see how it goes. Sorry....to make a short story long hahahahahaha. I think a breeder can do all they can and rear awesome queens but, if that queens genetics aren't suited for the area they are being sent to...it won't do well. I can't buy any more southern queens. They just can't handle our climate. But,I think a more northern queen could do well further south.also, if the genetics of that queen have a history of chem treatments...I don't see how they could do that well in a treatment free environment.


Alllll are my opinions based on my little experience and reading.
 

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Does that mean.... How do you raise them? How to you buy them? How do you know if they are well reared?
First, how do you raise them and secondly how do you know that they are well raised. For those of us who are trying to learn to raise them for ourselves and to sell.
 

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I think the biggest problem with queen rearing and selling is that anybody with a beehive and 60 bucks to invest into a graft-less system can do it. Then these queens are sold at market value, when they should have been culls. I hear a lot about people who bought a queen and she failed or was superseded or never started to lay. I think the vast majority of that is a market flooded with queens from inexperienced producers. People get in a jam to get a queen and they buy what ever they can get first instead of doing some research and finding out who has a reputation for good queens.

I think if you want to get started in queen rearing you should practice for a while, maybe the first season offer the queens for just the cost of postage so you can get some feedback on how they do... When you stop getting frequent complaints of failures, then think about attaching a price to them. There is a fairly new queen rearer in this area who is a few years in now and I still hear people complain that the queens they got from him failed and they will never buy from him again. You don't want to start like that, build the reputation, then ask the price.
 

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Bluegrass, I think this is a great idea. Or just keep them in your own apiary or offer them to club members/friends for little to nothing, but why assume that just because one is new at it they will receive complaints of failures? My thoughts are to keep the queens longer in your position to monitor their traits (particularly laying/overwintering/aggressiveness/supersede rates/traits). Either way, I agree that it should not be the first season, or at the very least, not until the breeder knows these things.
Tommysnare, great points.,,
 

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fieldsofnaturalhoney said:
Or just keep them in your own apiary or offer them to club members/friends for little to nothing, but why assume that just because one is new at it they will receive complaints of failures?
Oh don't get me wrong; I am not assuming that new and failures have a rigid correlation. Even the most experienced will receive c/o failure. It happens, but it is bound to happen more frequently while a queen rearer is still in the learning curve.

To think that a person can read some books and immediately start making successful queens is unrealistic. Just like it would be with anything else. Would you hire a guy who when to home depot, reads some booke on carpet installation, but never laid a piece in his life, to re-carpet you whole house?

It is going to take practice.
 

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Would you hire a guy who when to home depot, reads some booke on carpet installation, but never laid a piece in his life, to re-carpet you whole house?

It is going to take practice.
That exact thing happens far more often than you might think,

I agree to some degree that practice is necessary. I will go back to your carpet idea as an example. does someone that has become proficient in building skills have to have specifically carpet laying experience to then be able to lay carpet?

Does a person have to have specific queen rearing expericne to then produce quality queens right out of the gate.

Sometthing to consider. I have been successful right out of the gate with beekeeping. I tend to think that is due to a lifetime of experience at keeping animals of all sorts. it is nothing new to me. and the care and attention required i did not have to learn. many skills at observation and conclusions I also do not have to relearn. I tend to not make many of the stupid mistakes since I learned most of them long ago. In fact I do not find beekeeping all that particularly difficult. The single greatest problem I have had so far is a lack of adequate and reliable information to form expectations in regard to future planning. I am either constantly not prepared for what in fact happens next. Often never even having seen mention of it. or grossly over prepared having wasted money and resources on unnecessary resources. Such as making honey supers when I should have been making queen castles.
 

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That exact thing happens far more often than you might think,

I agree to some degree that practice is necessary. I will go back to your carpet idea as an example. does someone that has become proficient in building skills have to have specifically carpet laying experience to then be able to lay carpet?
Yes, which is why most builders sublet out many of the minor details like trim and carpeting. A framing carpenter isn't going to do a great job trimming a house, A cabinet maker isn't going to be the guy to get to pore the driveway... Each area takes special skill sets to do reliably well.

One problem with reading a book and then rearing queens is that beekeeping is local, and the methods and timelines written in one area are not going to be word for word what you need to do in another area.
 

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Perhaps there is a little bit of over thinking going on... If the person that is selling/wanting/thinking about selling queens.... The shouldn't do it until they know what they are selling and how to do it properly....

Period, the end of story..... If have done your research and you've raised queens for a couple hours/days/months/years/decades.... Use them yourself.... Have your friends try them... I don't think anyone will turn down a free queen.

But part of a being a buyer/breeder is to do your due diligence/research.... A good example would be not taking orders for early mar/april queens or trying to buy early local queens when you know your area doesn't mate well until the start of May.

Now, I understand that some people have smashed their moral compasses, but I tend to believe that most people aren't generally out to screw people. I also advise that you don't order 50k dollars worth of queens from some random phone number you found on the internet.... You should talk to the person, do your research, buy a few, and see how they do.

Personally, I'm still ramping up on the queen rearing adventure.. Hoping to do 50 a week this season....... But I've so far I've "sold" ~100 or so queens, and used/given away lots.. I've gotten great and some neutral feedback, fortunately I haven't had any bad feedback.... I also wonder where the problem points are at..

I.e. when I pull a queen that has laid up every frame in a 5 frame nuc with a solid brood pattern, etc.... I'd expect that to be a good happy queen, but I can't know if the person left the queen on the dash of their car cooking in the sun while they were eating lunch....

The best I can say is to document and ask for feedback.

I.e. if I pull and sell 10 queens, where 8 did great and 2 are drone layers... I'd expect something to be wrong with those 2 and not the customer.

But when I pull 10 queens that were laying well and the customer reports problem with all 10.... I can't but wonder where the problem really is...

As for the home depot comment vs skilled labor comment... I think that comes down to the person... I'm not a "skilled" laborer, but I've built 1sqft add to my house and a couple large shops... The "techniques" came from books, youtube, and hardknocks...

The same applies to beekeeping.... The aptitude of the person in question is always important... Both breeding and doing the installing....
 

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Kevin, My bet is any pro could look at your addition or shops and find many little things that are not right. I see this as the difference that is being discussed. there is capable and then there is proficient or refined in your skill. Of course I find a lot of professional work that was done fast and sloppy as well.

I see a bit of a problem in your reasoning with bad queens. you are limited to either being at fault or not knowing. Since I would assume the beekeeper is at least half of the typical problems or more being able to identify that has some importance. not saying it can be done at this time. All I know is I have no intention of paying for a beekeepers lack of skills. I make enough mistakes of my own.

Finally I have a different issue with even giving away those queens you are "Practicing" with. Unless it was set up specifically and clearly with the understanding you need to be able to evaluate your progress. I would not want inferior product to even be given away. a failed queen is a failed hive and people tend to forget it was free about then. Not the best way to build a reputation at the very least.
 

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>So, how do we get well reared queens?

You need them well fed and well bred. Meaning there needs to be adequate pollen and nectar and adequate nurse bees and adequate drones. The easiest way to insure these is timing. When a lot of drones are flying in the spring is when the bees are geared to raise queens and they have all those resources. If you are raising queens commercially you may find you have to fill the gaps with some food to encourage them to keep raising drones, when they otherwise wouldn't and that they have enough food when they otherwise wouldn't, and they are still raising more young bees to be nurse bees when they otherwise wouldn't. You may also have to feed the mating nucs to get them to accept the cells and to get the queens to fly out to mate, but this is problematic becauce they can so easily get robbed.
 
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