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Backyard Breeding of Northern Queens December 2, 2014.

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1 Backyard Breeding of Northern Queens December 2, 2014

2 Sustainable Hive Management  Breed survivor stock and Stop Buying Bees! ◦ Hives with local queens survive the winter better* ◦ Overwintered nucs with northern raised (or Russian) queens are in high demand and short supply – become part of the solutionWhy? [*from Erin Forbes and Cindy Bee’s SARE research on requeening package bees]

3 Why? Swarm “Prevention”  Lost swarm = lost honey production  Hedge your bets against queen failure  Avoid terrifying your neighbors

4 When?  It starts with your comb culling program in April  Beginners – this is why we ask you to write the date on new frames  Wait till pollen is coming in and temperatures are warm enough for bees to fly nearly every day  Silver maples  Crocuses

5 Comb culling: ◦ Replace your oldest 20% (2 frames/hive body) of frames with new foundation each year so none are older than 5 years ◦ Pull out damaged or oldest frames when broodnest is small (don’t pull brood frames)  Save frames with capped honey and pollen in the freezer

6 When?  Make queens and nucs on the dandelion bloom, or when you begin to see queen cells. (You have to choose.)  If you wait for cells you might lose a swarm  If you split early you might sacrifice honey production

7 How? Remember: Where do your bees live? Finding young bees: ◦ Nurse Bees – 5 to 15 day old bees produce the most royal jelly – they are found on the young larvae  Nurse bees are essential for queen production, and queen health  Nurse bees don’t fight with other bees, and rarely sting

8 How? Remember: Where do your bees live? ◦ Finding your queen:  Use marked queens  Use only a little bit of smoke  a puff at the entrance should be enough in the spring  The queen is most likely to be on a frame with eggs and young larvae – go there first  Look where the eggs are

9 Setting up the Castle: Why find the queen?  Take out the strong queen for swarm prevention  Broodless hives in spring reduce your Varroa mite population  Set the queen aside in a queen catcher before you start shaking bees  If you don’t see her, check back in 4-5 days and look for eggs  You need a queen cell – more than one is even better

10 Setting up the Castle ◦ Need young bees – capped brood and nurses  Take the bees that come along with the queen cell frame  Capped/emerging brood will keep everything moving forward  Shake one or two frames of nurse bees from additional frames of open brood

11 Setting up the Castle: ◦ Need resources (at least one frame)  Use pollen and honey from comb rotation, or take it from a too-strong hive

12 To feed or not to feed? ◦ Nurse bees eat honey and pollen to produce royal jelly  If they have plenty of natural food they will be healthy and productive ◦ On the other hand, you may have a hive with no foragers  If you make up the castle in the same yard, foragers will return to the parent hive  If they don’t have enough food they may starve or produce an undernourished queen

13 WAIT! and try not to worry

14 And keep good records

15 Queen Math* * Egg HatchCell CappedEmergeLaying 3½ days8 days ±1 16 days ±128 days ±5 If you find a capped queen cell, how long before it should have emerged for sure? 9 days, but probably eight. If you find a capped queen cell, how long before you should see eggs from that queen? 20 days. [If a hive just swarmed today, how long before the new queen is laying?... about three weeks give or take a week. (two to four weeks).] *from

16 Advanced techniques: Miller frames allow you to manipulate the age of larvae and make multiple queen cells (sometimes) Mini mating nucs allow you to move individual queen cells and make a lot of queens with little resources and space

17 A few people can make a huge difference ◦ If 20 people in Maine make 5 nucleus colonies this year that’s 100 packages that aren’t needed  Every year with more winter hardy drones makes the whole area’s population stronger Red Brook Honey nucs, packed together for warmth

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