After the workshop it was time for lunch, which was almost the same as last night’s dinner: soup, chicken and circular chips. After lunch I sought a quiet spot to write up these notes and it was only when I got the programme out to see what was next that I saw that I had missed the annual group photograph!
I found out later that I hadn’t missed it as it had been postponed by a day because of the rain. Phew!
I went to an Intermediate lecture by Tom Prendergast on Queen Rearing on a Small Scale. I took notes but they are barely legible so there may be a few errors in what follows. If anybody else who was there and reading this wants to correct me, please do! As I have mentioned before, I wish people giving powerpoint lectures would hand out notes.
First note is the association website: http://www.southtippbees.com and I have the letters FB next to it,which makes me think that they may be on Facebook. The first question was ‘What is a small scale?’ to which I have no recorded answer although I recall that my mind at the time was envisioning a little spring balance!
Benefits of Queen Rearing: It’s for everyone. Continuous improvement. Maximise yield with minimum of effort. Breed suitable bees for your area. Reduce swarming. Achievement – over years.
Criteria for queens: Age (2+). Frames of brood April, May, June. Swarm cells: date,how many? Egg laying, brood pattern, supers of bees.
PATH TO SUCCESS: Record keeping. Select drone breeders. Disease check: chalkbrood and nosema. Eliminate the worst. Select breeding stock.
METHODS OF QUEEN REARING: Harvesting queen cells; grafting; Cupkits. Incubator unnecessary. Use of queen cages in hive: cover top of queen cell with foil.
GRAFTING : donor hive; cell raiser; distribution of queen cells; mating; assessment.
MAKING UP A CELL RAISER: dummy board feeder, frame of open fresh stores, frame of pollen, cell bars, open young brood, frame of stores with pollen and brood. Graft from new comb.Cut cell walls down to make larvae easy to reach. Use Chinese grafting tool.
RECORD IN YOUR DIARY: Graft Sunday (3.5 days old). Check Monday for acceptance (4.5 days old). Check Thursday for sealed cells (7.5 days old) and break them. Friday -sealed cells 8.5 days old. Cage on Wednesday, 13th day. Hatch on Saturday, 15th day.
DISTRIBUTION OF QUEEN CELLS: Apidea, nucleus, mini-nuc, full hive. Feed small nucs.
All beekeepers should give it a go!