Sunday, October 13, 2013

Queen Rearing Workshop

On 9 June 2013, a group of enthusiastic beekeepers gathered in Burgessville, Ontario at Oxford Honey & Supplies for the day.

The Ontario Bee Association's Tech Team were doing a workshop on Queen Rearing.
We arrived with our bee gear and then got our manual and handouts.

With the agenda to cover both classroom and  hands-on experience we knew it would be a very interesting and educational day.

We reviewed queen biology drone biology and many of the queen rearing systems.

Then we got to the practical aspects.

Out in the bee yard we inserted frames set up with rows and rows of queen cups so that the bees could build queen cells for the queen to lay eggs in.

Next we practised finding the queen.

On other hives once we found the queen we created four frame nuc hives and put the queen in them.  (Two frames of brood, one frame of pollen and one frame of honey and shook bees into the nuc).

 We also dug down into the deeps' brood area to find eggs and very young larvae (1 to 3 days).

We took the frames back to the workshop where we sat down with magnifying lenses and intense light.

We experimented with four or five different grafting tools trying to lift larvae out of their cells.

It was very difficult to get the tool under a larvae and lift it out and set it into a queen cup, all without touching the actual larvae.

You can't flip the little larvae over either since their spiracles (breathing tubes) are only on one side - because they lie in a pool of royal jelly they can't have breathing tubes on that side.  If you flip them over with breathing tubes down they'd drown in the royal jelly.
Most of us preferred the Chinese made grafting tool.

It had a tiny plastic tip (instead of a goose feather) and it had a plunger which aids to slide the little larvae off the tool and into the cup.
We all really struggled to remove tiny larvae from cells without touching them.

There was 100% agreement that after this experience paying $30.00 for a queen from a queen breeder was a very fair price considering all the work involved.

We created mating nucs using these cute Barbie Doll sized boxes with tiny frames inside.

There was a partition where sugar syrup could be added and a locking entrance to keep the bees in, or to let the bees out but keep the queen in.

We shook frames of nurse bees into plastic tubs.  Next we used one cup measuring cups.  We scooped 2 cups of bees into each mating nuc.

One cup of bees = 140 bees.  (Yes someone at one time actually counted them).

We also practised clipping wings and how to pick up and mark queens (practising with drones).

The course was very worthwhile. I don't plan on rearing queens yet ... well maybe a few for my own hives at some point.

They had draws at the end of the day and many prizes.  I won a Chinese grafting tool.  So no excuses for delaying getting into queen rearing.

I took the course because I wanted to know more about queen rearing. It was a very worthwhile day and well worth the cost.


Sérgio R. said...

Hello from Portugal!
I have a big question for you: those bees don't sting you in your arms and hands?
Portugueses bees would sting you all over, including through your shirts.

Sérgio Rodrigues

Beekeeper Barbara said...

Hello Sergio. Yes the bees can sting through my shirt, sometimes they sting near the armpit where there is more smell. In Ontario most bees are buckfast bees which are gentle and don't sting a lot. Most of the time I find if they sting it is my bare hands. I usually wear a long sleeve shirt. In the photo our instructor where's a t-shirt. She did not get stung.