Queen Rearing - Steve's Bees

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Queen Rearing the Jacklin Way

Traditionally in Queen Rearing you start from the day when the egg is laid which is Day 1 and it then takes 25ish days before you have a mated Queen, but of course there are many things that need doing prior and during the Queen Rearing Process. Hopefully this timeline will provide a helpful reference detailing when things need to be done.

Another thing that Beekeepers need to be able to plan for is when do they need their mated Queens for? If your expecting a large flow from a particular crop you need a hive chock full of Bees headed by a young vigorous Queen to get the most out of the Honey flow. For instance Hives are traditionally taken to the Heather on the glorious twelth (12th August) and if worker Bees spend the first 3 weeks of thier lives in the Hive and then the second 3 weeks of their lives foraging you need your queen in lay on the 1st July to be able to field a full foraging force. You therefore need to be able to plan when you need to start your Queen Rearing. So just enter your target date for when you need your Queens in lay and the calculator will tell you when to startyour Queen Rearing.

Day -18

Place frame of drone comb into chosen drone producing colony. Bees mate on the wing and unless you can afford to spend thousands of Pounds on Artificial Insemination Equipment then you need to control which Drones are going to mate with your Queens some other way. To do this I place frames of drawn drone foundation in my best hives in the hope that my new Queens will mate with my Drones.

Prepare Mini Nuc by using molten wax to secure starter strips of foundation ino the frames. Charge the feeder with a block of fondant wraped in cling film. This can be done earlier but don't leave it until last minute.

Frame of Drone Brood

Day -6

Create Cell Builder Colony by creating a queenless colony. Feed with sugar syrup to simulate a flow

Day -5

Jenter MethodGrafting Method

Place Jenter kit in hive containing chosen queen to acclimatise. Spray the kit with some sugar syrup so the Bees clean it and get used to it.

Nothing to do yet.

Preparing the Jenter Kit

Day -4

Check Cell Builder Colony for Queen Cells carefully and remove it found. Emergency Queen Cells can be difficult to spot.

Day 0

Jenter MethodGrafting Method

Place Queen into Jenter Box. Ensure all Jenter is sealed properly

Nothing to do yet.

Queen in Jenter

Day 1

Jenter MethodGrafting Method

Check for Eggs in Jenter Cells. A torch is useful for this. If eggs seen release queen and place frame back into hive. If no eggs seen in cells leave another 24hrs and reset to Day 1. Queens can be reluctant to lay in a Jenter Kit so may take a couple of days to get started.

Open hive and mark any frames that look to have newly lain eggs. Makes finding suitable larva easier on Day 4.

Day 4

Jenter MethodGrafting Method

Remove Cells from Jenter Kit and place on Cell Bar. Look for cells with Hatched Larva with a puddle of Royal Jelly around them

Identify a frame of suitable aged larva. The larva should of just hatched and should just be starting to curl into a C shape. Transport the frame to a suitable location to perform the grafting. Transport the frame, even a short distance, in a warm and humid box. A hotwater bottle with a damp towel wrapped around it paced in the box will provide the right temperature and humidity. Using a grafting tool or fine paint brush pick up the larva and place into cell on call bar.

Place the cell bar with the larva into the cell building colony. Place a frame of pollen either side of the cell bar. This provides a ready source of protein for the nurse bees to produce royal jelly. Keep feeding cell builder colony

Populated Cell Bar

Day 6

Drones Hatch

Day 7

Check queen cells are being drawn in Cell Builder Colony. Wax being used to build cells should be a light colour. If they look dark it means the bees are scavenging old wax to build the cells and could means the Queen Larva will be susceptible to Black Queen Cell virus.

Sealed Queen Cells

Day 8

Mini Nuc MethodIncubator Method

Find a strong colony and shake a supers worth of Bees into a box. Bees from more than one hive can be used. These Bees will be predominantly young Bees. Spray the Bees with water or Sugar Syrup. Place a cup full of Bees into each mini nuc and piece the cling film around the fondant. Seal the entrance to the mini nuc ensuring there is adequate ventilation. Place mini nuc somewhere cool and shaded.

Turn on Incubator and set temperature to between 32°C and 34.5°C and the Humidity to be about 40%

Day 9

Queen Cells should now be capped

Mini Nuc MethodIncubator Method

Transfer the Sealed Queen Cells to the mini nucs. I find it easier to gently bang the mini nuc down so all the Bees fall to the bottom of the nuc and then quickly take of the top and put a queen cell in the nuc and then close the lid on the nuc. Place the mini nuc in a suitable location in the apiary. Try to make sure your mini nucs are pointing in different directions and they are not close to other hives in the apiary to ensure a queen returning from a mating flight does not go in the wrong hive. Dont forget to leave one Queen Cell in the Cell Builder Hive.

Transfer Sealed Queen Cells to Incubator enure cells are in Queen Protector Cages.

Mini Nucs in Apiary

Day 15

Mini Nuc MethodIncubator Method

Leave well alone and DO NO disturb.

Find a strong colony and shake a supers worth of Bees into a box. Bees from more than one hive can be used. These Bees will be predominantly young Bees. Spray the Bees with water or Sugar Syrup. Place a cup full of Bees into each mini nuc and piece the cling film around the fondant. Seal the entrance to the mini nuc ensuring there is adequate ventilation. Place mini nuc somewhere cool and shaded.

Day 16

Queens Hatching

Mini Nuc MethodIncubator Method

Leave well alone and DO NO disturb.

You should be able to hear Queens piping as they are hatching. Transfer the virgin Queens to the mini nucs. I've done this in the past by either transferring using queen cages or I've even just pick them up and placed them in the mini nuc. The Bees seem to accept them.

Day 20

Queens and Drone reach sexual maturity. Orientation flights begin.

Day 23

Mating flights begin. You can tell when this is happening as large clouds of Bees emerge from the hive and fly around to provide a distraction to any predators around as the Queens and Drones leave. Everything settles down and then it all happens again about an hour later as the Queens and Drones return.

Day 25

Hopefully the Queen should now be starting to lay. Leave her for a few days to get established and then she can be transferred to a nuc.

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