I had the opportunity to go to a queen rearing class Thursday evening and Friday morning. Keith Tignor the State Apiarist and Rick Fell from Va Tech taught the course. They knew their stuff. We spent Thursday evening in class learning about queen and drone biology and a review of queen reaering techniques. Friday morning was a "lab" outside in the bee yard to look a "starter" and "finisher" hives. Honestly, I do not intend on raising queens for sale or anything, but I learned a lot about replacing my own queens information that will be useful for splits in the future.
Key learnings for me:
- queens take from egg through development (15 days), maturity and mating (5 days) - all toghether about 21 days before you should see new eggs.
- When making a split make sure their are new eggs (1 day old the best) and the workers will begin making a new queen after just 8 hours of quenlessness.
- You can mark queens with just your fingers, a toothpick and tempura paint from the art store. Keith picked up the queen with his fingers and put her in a pill jar while he worked the hive.
- Drones must be present before queen mating flights (ie don't try this too early in the season).
- Best time for splits is nectar flow.
- Easy method for raising 8-10 queens the Miller method
- I think I have heard this before but it is the first time it clicked. To set up a split you should have five frames center frame should have new eggs (these are needed so they can start "emergency" queen cells) then two frames of brood with nurse bees, then two frames of food (honey and pollen). This can be done in a 5 frame nuc or the center of a 10 frame with empty frames outside the center 5. They also suggested shaking some extra nurse bees into the split, as many of the forager bees will return to the original hive unless you set up the split 1 or 2 miles away. Make splits during the swarm season.
- Several splits (nucs) can be made from one strong colony.
- Fumagillan is the only effective treatment for Nosema
- If you put a swarm cell in a nuc you want no eggs in the nuc (or they may start another queen cell)
- Virginia queens - www.sustainablebees.org
I think I'll post my hive update as a seperate post...