Small Scale Queen Rearing
Many beekeepers never attempt to raise their own queens. This may for a host of reasons. But the main two reasons are: 1) Lack of knowledge 2) The thought that they can not graft or that it is too complicated to attempt. But reality is that queen rearing can be one of any number of procedures that can be effective with little experience or involving the grafting process. Any beekeeper can raise their own locally produced queens with the basic knowledge they already have.
We will cover some of the easiest ways to produce a few extra queens for your own operation. The information found below is to help you with some of the basics and encourage you to start rearing a few queens.
Using Swarm Cells
Even with the best swarm prevention procedures, most beekeepers will find swarm cells. Removing extra swarm cells and making up small mating nuc colonies is a very effective way to raise your own queens. Some will suggest negative swarming traits being passed on if you use swarm cells. But almost all hives will swarm every year if left to their own devices. Bees naturally perpetuate their species by swarming. Using what honey bees naturally produce is cost effective and the queens produced can be some of the best you will ever see. Honey bees swarm in time of peak flow, and under ideal hive production and strength.
To use swarm cells, put two or three frames of bees and a frame of honey in a nuc box. One of the frames must have one or more swarm cells. Use these queens to build replacement hives for winter dead-outs, or using them later in the season to requeen old queens or failing queens. Having an extra queen or two throughout the summer allows you to be flexible in your beekeeping management. And you may find out that your locally produced queens are higher than the last queens you bought elsewhere.
There are many topics of queen rearing regardless of the scale of your queen rearing efforts. And we encourage you to do some research in queen rearing. The information we provide is to encourage you to get started in queen rearing. But we just simply can not cover every detail of the queen rearing process. What we want to pass along is the idea that using your own swarm cells is an effective and easy way to raise a few of your own queens.
Forced Emergency Cells
Some beekeepers will force colonies to raise queens by removing the queen. Although good queens can be produced in this manner, you must pay attention to the seasonality of this process and the bees needs within the hive. Honey bees naturally make cells (swarming) at the optimal timing in regards to flow, hive population, and other factors. When a beekeeper forces hives to complete this process by removing a queen, a hive must have the same ability to raise, feed, heat, and produce quality queens.