Never Waste a Queen Cell
by Tony Jefferson
Far too much emphasis is placed upon queen rearing and not on the wider aspects of bee breeding, such as the selection of quality breeding stock. Bees have far more years experience producing good quality queen cells then we have, so why not keep things simple and let them produce their own queen cells?
The talk will discuss the importance of positive selection of breeding stock, primarily drones, consider that during the summer months every beekeeper destroys many good quality cells in their efforts to control swarming, not having equipment to utilize the spare cells.
Hopefully it will lead to questioning why it is perceived as difficult to produce queens.
The main issue is how to use surplus queen cells, get the queens mated/laying, evaluating them for performance, then deciding how/which ones to use to build up into productive colonies.
This talk will explain in simple and practical methods how to select good quality breeding stock, the use of simple non specialist equipment that does not rely on keeping to dates/timetables, the difficulty on the NE coast due to unpredictable weather in the key breeding time in May.
Tony Jefferson is the middle of 3 generations of Jefferson beekeepers, he describes his beekeeping as, “a hobby that got out of control a long time ago”.
Up to 150 colonies have been managed between Father Allan, Tony and Nephew Richard in the weather challenged North East coast around the Whitby area. Tony now heads up the empire, whilst still working full time as a high voltage engineer.
Through many years of practical observations, using WBC hives for winter, limited use of queen excluders, use of brood and half, glass quilts and own design of floors, all based on simple techniques. The beekeeping practice is all based around 2 weeks of good weather in August for the prized heather crop.
Bee breeding and active selection of drones as opposed to queen rearing is his passion, especially concentrating on the progression of the black local bee.