I stated earlier that honey production was for me just a small part of the fascination of keeping honey bees. I am far more interested in the general husbandry surrounding the keeping of bees and nothing more so than queen rearing. I think most would agree that it is the queen that dictates the behaviour of the colony, the speed of spring build up, foraging ability, temperament etc. It must therefore be to the benefit of all of us to have the best available queens heading our colonies. So, where to find such a queen? Well, as I stated earlier, like any other commodity in high demand, there are always plenty to be had “off the shelf” as it were, and like so many other items aquired in this way, these will essentially include good and bad. So surely, rather than take a chance, on buying “A pig in a poke” as it were and bearing in mind, that if you do, and she turns out a failure, you will have probably wasted a whole year before you find out. Unless, as do so many, she fails to see out a whole year.
So as I started to say, rather than take a chance on buying what just might be one of someone else’s rejects, why not have a go at rearing your own queens. By rearing I don’t mean taking a frame of brood at random,just because it has a queen cell on it and popping it into a nuc., I mean selecting your best colony which has your best queen heading it and taking from that the larvae to head your queen rearing program.Surely if you can do this year on year, always selecting from your best colony,then ultimately, you are going to end up with a bee that is infinitely better suited to your needs than anything you may buy in. And what could be more satisfying than having not just one or two colonies performing well, but all of them, and why, because they are all headed by the best queens, queens that you have produced, and not by some accident, but by design, your design! That is my aim here at Mendip. So those are my thoughts and aspirations on the subject of queen rearing, next I’ll tell you how I intend to try to turn them into a reality.