Requirements for Rearing Good Queens
In order to produce good queens the following is required:
A breeder queen to breed from:
It is very important that the beekeeper should choose a queen mother from the best hive in their apiary – that is one that lays well, produces a lot of brood, whose bees are gentle, easy to handle, disease resistant, greater honey producer, and not prone to swarming.
To breed high quality queens the beekeeper is advised to avoid inbreeding.
A one-day-old larva about the same size as an egg:
Best queens are raised from 12 – 24 hours old larva. A one-day larva has a crescent shape, and older larva is curved into the letter C, and fills the cell all the way. Old larvae are too old for queen rearing and will be rejected by the bees.
Cell raising colonies:
Bees will not raise a queen if their queen is present in the hive. To induce bees into raising queens, the queen in the rearing hive must be removed 1 to 2 days before insertion is made. By so doing, the bees go into emergency mode (queenlessness).
A queenless colony is absolutely necessary for the start of queen rearing. A queen-rearing colony should be vigorous and have a lot of young bees at age suitable for feeding larvae and constructing queen cells, that is between 5 and 20 day old bees.
A single brood box is used when only a small number of queen cells are to be produced, and should have at minimum eight combs thickly covered with bees. Weak colonies produce inferior queens and are unsuitable for queen rearing.
The most important thing about a cell starter is that it’s overflowing with bees, and is queenless
Sufficient food (nectar and pollen):
A Colony used for queen rearing must be well supplied with uncapped honey and pollen frames. If there is no nectar and pollen coming in the hive, it should be fed with syrup and pollen to stimulate the production of royal jelly and the secretion of wax, which is needed for feeding and constructing queen cells.
The beekeeper must ensure that there is plenty of pollen in the hive, because nurse bees eat pollen to be able to produce royal jelly. In contrast, poorly fed queens will have underdeveloped ovaries and will have a shorter productive life.
Ample drones to mate with the newly emerged virgin queens:
A virgin queen mates approximately with 10 – 15 drones. If there are lots of drones flying in the apiary, the queen can get mated with those local drones. Stimulative feeding of 1:1 syrup in March and April will help colonies raise drone early. It takes 37 days from an unfertilised egg being laid until drones become sexually mature.
Suitable weather for mating of queens and drones:
Both queens and drones are stimulated to fly on a sunny day with a temperature about 21 – 27C degrees. During a rainy day or unfavourable weather queens will not fly out for mating.