Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Queen Rearing Essentials, Dr. Larry Connor, Day One -VIDEO

This weekend we had the pleasure of spending three days in the mountains of Virginia, in a town called Syria, to take a queen-rearing class with the noteworthy Dr. Larry Connor.

What a pleasure is was to spend a weekend with such a wise beekeeping rock stare.  And to drive him around in the convertible was a blast.  Dr. Connor has been a prolific author of books about beekeeping.

Our base was Graves Mountain Lodge, which is an historic campus with clean and simple accommodations, and geographically appropriate southern cooking.  Our host was Shirley Ammon, proprietor of Haywood Honey, and a neighbor of the Lodge.  Shirley has her own apiary just around the corner from the lodge where she also raises nucs, and is completely self sustaining thanks to her queen rearing skills.

  The queen rearing process is fairly simple using a starter and finishing colony process.  But the process must be followed to a tee to be successful.

Starter Colony:
  • Four or five frame closed system nuc with plenty of ventilation;
  • Two pounds of bees, shaken into the nuc;
  • One frames of honey;
  • One frame of fresh pollen;
Make your grafts into prepared cell cups.  You can prime these cups ahead of time with a drop of a 50/50 mixture of water and royal jelly.  This helps float the larva off the grafting tool.

Place the grafting frame between the frames of honey and pollen.  Don't worry about filling the nuc with more frames, these bees will only be in the nuc for 24 hours and will be consumed with the queen-making process.  Leave the frames for 24 hours.

Here is the video of our first day:

After 24 hours, the bees and frames can be returned to the original colony, and the grafts can be prepared to move to a finisher colony.

Finisher colony:

Two-story strong, queen-right hive with:
  • Queen confined to bottom box with a queen excluder;
  • Frames of pollen and honey in the upper super;
  • Three frames of open worker brood in the upper super to draw nurse bees up from the bottom box;
  • Grafts between two of the frames of open brood;
  • Sugar syrup feed if possible.
Leave the grafts in the finishing colony for about ten days, until the queen cells are capped.

At this point you can cage the grafts with cell protectors, transfer the cells (place between two frames of brood) to a queen-less hive or nuc, or transfer to a mating nuc.  These virgin queens can be banked after they have hatched up to two weeks, after which their potential to mate successfully begins to fade.

Here is the video of our second day setting up the finisher colony and transferring the grafts.

Check out Queen Rearing Essentials for the complete guide to this system along with great color photographs.

On day one we also had the pleasure of a private tour of Early Mountain Vineyards.

 Not only did we get a lesson in viticulture, we were able to see the manufacturing operation and then the sip some of the excellent product.

What an excellent vacation and break.  Now to try my hand at making some queens.


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