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Feed ’em Up: A DIY Frame Feeder : 17

roller’ queen cages, to prevent any early- emerging queens from killing off the others. This was followed by another wait until just before the queens would emerge. As you can see, timing in queen rearing is everything.

Mating Nucleus Hives

The next session was to prepare the Apidea mating nucleus hives to mate the queens from. They had to be charged with

Populated Apidea mating nucleus in the shade

fondant and bees. Adding fondant was easy, but we had to go around the apiary taking house bees from all the colonies to fill the Apideas. The bees, sprayed with water, were shaken into a bowl and then a cupful put into each mating nucleus. Thankfully, some of those on the course

brought their own Apideas already charged with fondant and bees. That was a great help as we needed so many house bees to cover the quantity of queen cells we had.

Adding a Queen Cell Each queen cell was carefully removed

from the nursery frame and a circle of tape put around the side of the cell to protect it from attack by the bees until they accepted her. The end of the cell was left free so that she could emerge normally. These were placed in the Apideas, through the hole in the crownboard specially designed for the job. The bees were then left to ‘do their thing’ with the queen cell. We did this with all the cells raised in the Cupkit system and also those from the grafting method. In all we had raised over 70 queen cells, not that we could take all the credit, our bees were with us all the way.

August 2013 Vol 95 No 8

The Apidea mating nucleus is stocked with a cupful of dampened bees and a sealed queen cell

Clever little bees. The queen cells were distributed among those on the course with some being held back by the branch for our new beekeepers. All the Apideas then had to be kept closed for three days in a cool dark place while the bees adapted to their new home.

Out-apiary Mating

The branch Apideas were sent to out- apiaries where there were lots of drones of

suitable British black bees with which the queens could mate. At the moment, we are still waiting for the results although I have seen the bees taking pollen into the Apideas I am looking after, which is always a good sign.

At this stage, there have been a couple of losses where the queens did not emerge satisfactorily but, on the whole, all is looking good.

Queen Introduction

Rearing queens, either on your own, or in a group, is a productive way of improving the quality of bee stocks

However many queens we manage to rear, the next hurdle will be to introduce them to colonies and for the colonies to accept them. A queen cage will be used with tape to protect the queen until her pheromones are accepted by the colony, but I am told this is the most hazardous part of the queen rearing procedure. This is a couple of weeks away so we will have to wait and see.

Keeping Records

We have all been asked to keep records so that we can monitor our failure or success. Let’s hope with the current good weather all the queens have good days out with the boys, before settling down to rear their new families. ¤

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