Queen Rearing: Why, How, When?

The matriarch of the hive, an egg laying machine, the mother and surrogate father to all the workers and drones, and a creature of true beauty.

There are three reasons why a new queen is made for a hive; emergency, swarming and supersedure.
  • The emergency response is because there has been a sudden loss of the queen bee within the hive.
  • The swarm response is usually because a new queen is raised due to lack of space in the hive and the hive may swarm as soon as the queen cells are capped and before the new virgin queens emerge from their queen cells.
  • The supersedure response is usually due to a failing queen either because of her age, disease and or injury, where a replacement queen is raised and the failing queen removed.

Understanding the reasons why a colony will produce a queen is important, along with the development and biology of the queen.

Why raise Queens?

There are a few reasons why you would want to look at raising queens, one could be that you want to re-queen your own hive so that each season you have a young healthy queen. You might also want to look at rearing queens to sell to other beekeepers.

What you need to raise Queens

There are a couple of ways you can look at raising queens, the grafting method, non-grafting method and the natural method.

If you are looking at grafting you will need to decide on which queen rearing system you will want to use, the JZBZ system or the Beetek Bozi cell system. The age of the larvae is important when you are grafting, the ideal age is between 0-24 hours old, any older and the graft will take but the resulting queen can be inferior with reduced ovarioles. Check out our queen rearing kit, that provides you with all the equipment you need to start grafting.

The non-grafting options are the Jenter system and the Nicot system, these methods are ideal to use if you do not feel very confident in grafting the larvae and placing them into the cell cups.

The natural method is simply that, where you split your hive into two and let the bees raise the queen themselves.

When is the best time to re-queen?

There are two windows of opportunity in which you can raise queen each has its benefits and pitfalls. They are Spring and Autumn.

Spring is the best time if you are wanting to have a new queen in time for the honey flow,

re-queening in the spring also helps with your swarm control and there is less chance of robbing occurring. Timing can be an issue with trying to get the virgin queens mated due to the unsettled weather and the availability of drones. Autumn offers more settled weather and there are usually more drones around making it easier for virgin queens to be mated.

Want to know more about queen rearing? Talk to the team at Ecrotek for advice.