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Thursday, May 10, 2012

How to Raise a Queen...

Bee, that is!  Tonight,the boys and I were able to attend the monthly Beekeepers Association meeting.  We learned about how to raise queen bees in shallow boxes.  Mr. Floyd showed us the method he uses.  It was a long talk but very interesting.  I love that he and his brother are willing to experiment with their hives and processes in order to be the most efficient.

I am not sure if we will ever get to the point when we will harvest queen cells.  However, the process is fascinating.  The basic steps:

  • Create special queen raising shallow box with entrances on all four sides.
  • Box will be divided into four sections with dividers with each section allowing two frames.
  • Pull brood frame (possibly with honey) along with honey frame (or empty if brood has honey) for each section.
  • Place frames with brood closest to the entrance.
  • Wait 13-14 days to see if queen cells have emerged
  • Harvest any queen cells in drilled out Styrofoam or pre-made cages designed for queen harvesting
  • Place cages in hive to continue development
  • Place one queen cell in each section of divided shallow.  
  • Wait 18-21 days to see if queen cell was successful. 
  • Remove three of the sections to empty boxes adding frames to fill all box as needed (assuming all sections are successful)
  • Not only have you raised queen cells, but also split box for raising queen cells into four new boxes!

There are a lot of steps (hopefully I got them right!) and lots of room for error.  Mr. Floyd said he has not always been successful.  Weather, condition of bees, laying workers, and more! can cause the success rate to lower.

This meeting was very helpful to understand the process.  Mr Floyd did a great job of explaining in details with funny side stories and flare.  He did not even scare off the newer beekeepers (like us!).  The boys did get a little restless by the end but they enjoyed seeing the queen cells and equipment needed for the process.

Very thankful for our beekeeper association and more Mr. Floyd tonight for teaching us a little more about our bees.  They help us to "make the best better" with our bee hives!

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