Raising Honeybee Queens

We began raising our own queens after we discovered our bees had mites which had developed a resistance to both Apistan and Coumaphos in 2002. The option at that time was to use an even stronger chemical to kill the mites. It seems that no chemical will kill every mite in the hive, so by treating the bees, you are selecting for the strongest mites.

It made sense to us to make a total switch to Queens that have a natural resistance to parasites and diseases. It has been an expensive commitment, but well worth the investment. We only purchase queens from sources that do not treat at all.  Our most recent sources of queens include Susan Cobey and Charlie Harper.

We select additional breeders from within our own overwintered stock. These queens are selected based on Susan Cobey’s  Queen Selection Protocol. First, they must Survive. In addition, they must display a high percentage of Hygienic Behavior,  build up quickly in the Spring, show no signs of any brood disease, and produce honey. We maintain separate mating yards for our Russian and Carniolan virgins. Each new virgin is monitored in her mating nuc until we are satisfied with her brood pattern, at least 3 weeks. We have surrounded our mating yards with production hives headed by our own queens, in order to assure desirable drones for our virgins.

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