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Thread: Queen rearing problem

  1. #1

    Default Queen rearing problem

    I have been keeping bees for about 10 years and each year. My bees are dark locals supplemented with Qs from good local breeders. They are productive, good tempered and not plagued with disease. But - I struggle to get queens mated consistently. The climate in west Fermanagh is mild, wet, windy and cloudy, with May and June the driest month. Regardless of the Q rearing method I use, getting the Qs mated seems to be the bottleneck.
    Can fellow beekeepers on the Scotland west coast plagued with a similar climate help with this - or is poor mating something that bee keepers on the edge of the honey bee distribution limit just have to put up with?
    Alan.

  2. #2

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    Not Scotland, but the south west, usually never ending Atlantic lows with rain, rain and more rain... queen mating in the lap of the Gods. The only guaranteed way around it is to use instrumental insemination, but not really a quick way of getting large numbers of queens mated.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Mellifera Crofter's Avatar
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    Alan, how do the other 'good local breeders' manage? Or are they perhaps not quite so local? I wonder if it might help if you encourage some of your colonies to lay more drone brood? (Not that I'm an expert at all!)
    Kitta

  4. #4

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    Kitta - the good local breeders I have bought black bee Qs from occasionally (to supplement genetic diversity) are in areas within Northern Ireland with a warmer, more sunny climate. As Q sellers, they presumably have a lot of colonies dedicated to rearing. Which makes me think that maybe I should dedicate more than one colony to Q rearing to compensate for the weather-related mating problems here. I am not sure I want to get int AI but will consider it.
    Alan.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Adam's Avatar
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    I think that many beekeeping books have been written by people who live in Devon or Sussex or somewhere where the weather is good and they suggest that all queens will be mated and laying in a couple of weeks. Not so for me. I too have problems - especially for early queens (May) as I am near the coast and get a cool east wind more often than I would like. It's really annoying to have to discard queens as they have been unable to mate. I am usually OK in July/August but that's not when I really want them! You have my sympathies!

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