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No Small Dreams
No Small Dreams
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Graceville, Queensland, AU
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No Small Dreams

No Small Dreams

Graceville, AU

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A naturally raised queen

Project: No Small Dreams

Posted by Tim Auld over 12 years ago

First time letting a colony raise their own queen!

Since splitting off my first colony last year, I have been ordering a queen bee from a breeder. This is much faster (saves almost a month of no egg laying), safer (no risk of a bird eating the queen or being poorly mated), and has an assured quality (the queen is artificially inseminated).

When one of the top bar hives I manage swarmed on the 5th of February, and I saw queen cells being built, I decided to see how they go without assistance.

There were around 6 queen cells made, and the first one out killed 2 or 3 others. There were some queen cells that seemed to be left alone, but later were destroyed and dismantled by the workers.

I inspected once at about the 21 day mark and did not find the queen or any eggs. After checking the queen development timeline again, I realised she was probably out mating. The top bar hives produce copious numbers of drones, so I expect the queen quality to be good. Today, on day 29 after the swarm, I inspected again and found eggs first, then found the queen laying eggs! There's also plenty of fresh comb, honey and pollen as the workers had not been idle while waiting for their new queen.

I've seen a bought queen introduced and fill the comb with eggs in no-time. Is there little benefit to doing this because she will soon run out of empty cells to lay in? Perhaps a naturally raised queen will soon catch up and be locally adapted. Workers live longer when they don't have nursing duties, so perhaps the population doesn't decline much. Maybe nurse bees graduate to foragers and so nectar and pollen gathering is maintained.

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