Jon, the fourth generation of beekeepers in his family, has many years’ experience of queen rearing. He set up and ran communal queen rearing for the Belfast Beekeepers Association and now runs his own queen rearing business based on Irish native honey bee stock.
Jon explained the advantages of Apideas, probably the best designed of all the mini-nuclei on the market. He took us through his season, starting with the cleaning up of the previous year’s boxes and the selection of better combs for sterilisation with acetic acid.
In normal seasons he will be inserting drone comb (a valuable resource for the queen rearer) into drone mother colonies in the middle of this month so that grafting can commence at the end of the month.
This year the season is a few weeks behind. He covered the requirements for good mating sites, including sufficient isolation, and discussed apiary vicinity mating, a controversial phenomenon not well recorded in the scientific literature.
Jon explained the filling and the management of Apideas, pointing out that initially they are best stocked with a fresh virgin with wet workers thrown on top whereas after removing mated queens it is better to provide a mature queen cell to maximise acceptance. He then covered the timing of all the management steps, the threats to Apideas, and a range of tips to make queen rearing go well.
Jon has been threatening to write a book for some time – we all encourage him to do so soon!