Saul Creek Apiary
Raw Honey Pollination VSH (Cordovan) Italian Queens
Queen Rearing/ Grafting
Pure Italian Honey Bee Queen with Cordovan Recessive Color Gene In Push In Cage
The Queen is the most important Bee in the colony. A colony headed by a Queen with poor genetics will result in poor Honey Production, Colony Aggressiveness, Very Poor Brood Patterns and low tolerance to Diseases an Pest. Raising your own Queens has many advantages over purchasing from a Queen Producer or a Queen Breeder. Starting your own Breeding program has many advantages over purchasing Queens from large Queen Mills where many times thousands of Queens are hastily produced and pulled from mating Nucs without allowing time to check that the Queens are properly mated and producing quality brood patterns. Quality Queens have everything to do with how well a colony will perform. A colony can start off with thousands of bees but if it is headed by a poorly mated Queen or a Queen with Poor Genetics the colony will eventually dwindle off, supercede the old Queen or the colony will completely die off. In colonies where the mother Queen is superceded and a daughter is raised from one of her eggs the new daughter Queen will in most cases likely perform as poorly as her mother.
Click On Picture To View Full Size Image
The above picture shows a pure Italian Breeder Queen and 1 to 24 hour old Eggs. It takes aporxamatly3 days for an egg to hatch into a larva. One day old eggs look somewhat like a hot dog standing on end as shown in the picture. For Grafting, you will want to graft from 12 to 24 hour old larvae that have just hatched from eggs that are floating in large quantities of royal jelly.
Note: If you are going to start rearing your own Queens, by all means graft from your very best colonies. Look for colonies with exceptional Honey production as well as gentleness and hygienic behavior. If you do not have colonies that at least meet these three criteria purchase a specialized breeding Queen to graft from. Although the initial expense is somewhat high the Queens produced from Breeder Queens are exceptional!
Queen Producer: A Queen producer relies on open air, natural mating to produce Queens in a controlled environment. Normally a Queen producer will pick eggs to Graft from their strongest hive or use Breeder Queens of known race in hopes of producing Queens with traits like their mothers. This is of course dependent on the Drones (Male Honey Bee) that they mate with which may not come from the Beekeepers own Apiary. In areas where AHB (Africanized Honey Bees) exist this is a major concern as Africanized Traits will then be passed on to the Queens Colony.
Queen Breeder: A Queen Breeder is much different than a Queen Producer. A Queen Breeder uses artificial insemination to breed traits and qualities such as Genetics, Disease Resistance, Gentleness, Honey Production and Exceptional Brood Laying patterns just to name few. Queens and Drones come from known Genetics so that pure races such as European, Russian etc... are produced. Breeders are an exceptional few and a single Queen can and often times can exceed the purchase price of a 3lb package of Honey Bees. Breeder Queens can run upwards of $100.00 to $5000.00 for quality Honey bee Queens.
Tools Needed for Rearing/ Grafting Queens:
Cell Cup Base Holder and Frame
Queen Confinement Cage
In order to rear your own Queens several tools are required. A Grafting tool is required to remove larva that is at least 24 to 24 hrs old. Grafting tools can be home made or purchased through most Beekeeping Supply Stores.
Queen Honey Bee Biology:
Both Queens and Workers are Females that develop from Diploid (Fertile) Eggs. Upon hatching the egg is neither a worker or a queen. Depending on the food the hatched egg is fed will determine if it will be a Worker or a Queen.
Drones are Male and develop from Haploid (unfertilized) Eggs.
A Fertilized (Female) or Unfertilized (Male) Egg takes approximately 3 days to hatch.
Any Fertilized Egg can be developed into either a worker or Queen depending on how it is fed.
Queen, Drone and Worker Development Time Line:
Queens: (16) Days Day 1 a fertilized egg is laid in a clean empty cell. In three days the egg will hatch. On Day 16 the Queen will emerge from the cell if it has been fed .
Workers: (21) Days Day 1 a fertilized egg is laid in a clean empty cell. In Three days the egg will hatch. On Day 21 the Worker will emerge from the cell.
Drones: (24) Days Day 1 an unfertilized egg is laid in a clean empty cell. In three days the egg will hatch. On Day 24 a Drone will emerge from the cell.
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