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Queen Bee Rearing

If you are into beekeeping, you are familiar with queen bees and the significant role that they play in bee rearing. A queen is the heart and soul of a colony, without which the colony can't survive. There is a single queen bee per hive, and she is considered an egg laying machine. She's expected to live for about 2 to 5 years, but most beekeepers decide to replace the queen after two years. Why? For better bee rearing purposes; as the queen ages, she isn't as productive in laying eggs. So it's better to replace her earlier, otherwise you could have a smaller and weaker colony.

Queen bee rearing can be very rewarding. You're going to introduce a new queen into the colony, and with this, you can choose to raise genetically strong queens that can then help you to produce disease resistant colonies and reduce the risk of pests and diseases. Here are basic tips on rearing the queen:

o Consider the following characteristics when selecting from a colony for queen bee rearing: gentleness, disease resistance and pest resistance, hardiness, and productivity. You'll want to have these characteristics for your colony. You will then have less chances of stinging, less incidences of diseases and pests, a greater ability to survive the winter, and greater honey production.

o With queen bee rearing, it is ideal to start with a 24-hour old larva. Why? Queen bees come from the same class as worker bees, but after the eggs are hatched and they turn into larvae, a bee that's supposed to be the queen is fed only royal jelly. That's what makes the difference - their diet!

o Start raising "nuc" colonies, about four to five frames of a small colony. Remember to feed them with syrup to make sure that they are well nourished.

o Give the breeder hive an empty dark brood comb to lay eggs in. Once they hatch, move larva into artificial queen cell cups, made from the breeder comb. Then place this frame into a strong colony.

o Remove completed cells from the cell builder. Leave one cell behind to replace the queen. Keep queen cells warm (80-94 F) until they are placed in queenless hives.

o For mating, choose high-quality drones; 10 to 20 drones will be needed for this. The drones' role in the colony is to mate with the queen, when the time comes for re-queening. After mating, the drones will die.

o Make sure that the mating will take place during good weather. Temperatures should be warm when the queen is ready to mate. If the weather is not conducive, the queen may start to lay unfertilized eggs.

o With proper queen bee rearing, the queen bee will start laying eggs in 2 to 4 days after mating.

o The ideal time for queen bee rearing is during the spring. This is the time when the nectars and pollens are plentiful. You can still raise queen bees until the summer, but you shouldn't attempt to do this during the fall and winter.

o After successful queen bee rearing, you can now mark your queen bees.