Queen Rearing

The Idea

 

The Details

New beekeepers are eventually faced with dispatching a queen and replacing her. It’s often an unpleasant task. Beekeepers can become as attached, to a queen and her colony, as any pet owner does to their pet. But it’s a necessary action or eventually the entire hive fails.

In nature, a bee colony doesn’t live forever. Even if they get established in a good location, a colony will only live about 3 to 5 years. Then their cavity and comb is scavenged. Defects or diseases are cleaned out by natural processes. And another swarm will move in.

Natural colonies are relatively disease free. Colonies fail when the queen looses vitality, or dies and isn’t replaced.

A beekeeper desires to keep his hives alive and productive. So, a queen’s condition is closely monitored. When she fails, she is dispatched and replaced by another. That’s necessary as a hive will only tolerate a single queen. And the bees often prefer their old, failing queen to a different one.

Natural or Legacy?

When I wrangled commercial migratory bees for a living, queen replacement was always a troublesome and expensive necessity. Back then as the BWrangler, I looked at numerous ways to improve the process.

Today, I let the bees do most of the work. When a hive needs requeening, I’ll simply insert a mature queen cell, in the honey storage area above the broodnest, and let the bees take care of the rest.

-dM

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