Working with Honeybee Queen Customers

We no longer offer nucleus hives because we need every frame of brood to support our queen rearing operation. We keep our mating nucs crowded, to better support the new queen and to keep down those pesky SHBs. We keep a waiting list of beekeepers that are interested in our queens and provide periodic updates to them on the queen’s progress and their availability. When queens are ready we contact the beekeepers in the order of their original requests, and full payment is expected when the queens are picked up.

Every Queen must show me a frame of healthy brood before I release her. We let our queens lay one to three weeks to show us her stuff.  Sometimes, if the timing works out, I will wait until the buyer arrives before caging the queen, so he or she can see the queen’s laying pattern. I want every one of my queens to have the best possible chance of success in her new home – but that can’t be guaranteed. And no beekeeper has ever asked me for a refund. The typical practice in the industry is that bees are the buyer’s responsibility once they have them.

Near the end of last years’ honeybee season we realized that we had become frustrated with beekeepers that knew very little about their own bee’s condition. We discovered that  inexperienced/novice beekeepers do not understand the effort that goes into a queen selection process and breeding program and concluded that for those beekeepers a $12.00 queen from the “big guys” will do well for them while they earn their beekeeping sea-legs. We realized we could only work with those beekeepers that understand the time, effort and research we have put into selecting our queens and who truly value those queens.  We have made a long-term commitment to chemical-free beekeeping (even to the point of accepting some losses) and we are truly committed to encouraging honeybees that can stand on their own; the money we receive for our queens is secondary to this commitment.

When a beekeeper contacts us we carefully interview them to be certain they know what they are talking about. We will not sell a queen to someone who has never installed a queen before, and who doesn’t have a mentor to confirm their situation. Listed below are some questions I will ask:

What evidence do you see that tells you, you need a queen?

Have you ever made a split before?

Do you have an experienced mentor?

How long has your colony been queen-less?

For the beekeepers that we sell queens to, we will walk them through the queen introduction stage, by telephone or email. If they are located near us we may even offer to inspect the colony and help them install their new queen.

After selling a queen, I love nothing more then hearing the following Spring that “the hive is boiling over with bees”, and the beekeepers wants another one like that. But not every story ends that way.

Regards,

Mary and Ed

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