In order to be more self-sufficient, I’m trying to raise my own local queens. Yesterday I grafted (moved (super tiny) larvae from just hatched eggs from the comb into “queen cups”). Today, I checked my grafts. 9 out of 11 took …but like chickens and eggs, no counting until these queen cells hatch .. and mate (OK, very unlike chickens on that last part). This picture is only 24 hours since the graft – so I’ll see in a few days how well the bees draw these 9 out. First attempt at queen rearing this season.
04/03 – Just an update from yesterday After 47 hour since the graft things still look good. Very well so far. Seems like they gave up on one but are still working on 8. From what I can see, the queen cups are nearly full of royal jelly if not completely full. Very pleased for the first graft of the season! Below is a picture of the same cell 23 hours after the first picture above.
04/06 – Below is a picture of a queen cell that has been just capped. Sorry for the blurry image, not easy to take pics and the phone kept focusing on the background. Overall I’m pleased but I wonder if those cells should be longer – indicating a chance for a larger queen. It might be too early to judge.
04/14 – Queen cells are hatching! A just hatched virgin queen from my first grafting of the year. Marked her and placed her back with the bees – hopefully they’ll take care of her. She’s #2 …more hopefully will follow.
Concerning marking virgin queens. I spent some time investigating this – and there is two (or more) different opinions. Some say you shouldn’t mark the virgin queen because if you do, she could be more readily nabbed by a predator (birds, carnivorous insects, etc.) – and they say they’ve seen a reduction in marked virgin queens returning from mating flights.
Others say that they’ve not noticed any difference at all. Dr. Lawrence Connor in his book “Queen Rearing Essentials, 2nd Edition” on page 59 states, “We have marked virgins for five seasons and have seen no negative effect.” In addition, Lauri Miller in Roy, Washington (about three hours south of me) marks her virgin queens all the time. She says, “I mark as soon as they are hatched. My return on my marked virgins is exactly the same as placed cells, which is very high. I usually get almost 100% returns. Truthfully, even if I noticed slightly less return on marked virgins, I would still do it. The time it saves me from looking for queens is more than substantial. But I see no reduced rate what so ever.”
All that said, I’m still learning and I still listen to everyone’s thoughts on the matter. For now I’m marking them unless someone desires queens without being marked. And if I see a problem with marking virgin queens, I’ll readily change.
I am selling extra queen cells, virgin queens and a very limited supply of mated queens. Visit to my queens page for details.