Beekeeping & Wildlife Supplies, Cornwall, South West UK

Queen Bees

Beekeepers who presume their colony is queenless often ask us if we can provide queen bees.
Do not presume your colony is queenless because you can see no brood.
If your colony was making its own new queen, she can take 3 - 4 weeks after emergence to start laying, they are not always quick so be patient.
Insert a Test Comb to confirm queenlessness.
A Test Comb is a comb containing eggs and/or newly hatched larvae from another colony - this is just one good reason to maintain a minimum of two colonies.
Check the comb after 3 days. If the colony has a queen, there will be no queen cells.
If the colony is queenless, there will be queen cells being constructed so the colony can rear its own queen.
Note that the only time this test does not work is when the colony has only just swarmed when there might be a newly emerged queen but the colony continues to construct queen cells in any case.

We breed from our own production stocks, we do not import.
If you are buying queen bees, our advice is to buy those that are bred in the U.K. and not imported.
Many types of imported bees are not suitable for U.K.
It is important to understand how bees breed.
A queen will leave the colony to mate with multiple males (drones) that come from other colonies that might be up to 3 miles away.
It is an evolved strategy that helps to prevent in-breeding.
That also means, that if 'purity' is to be maintained, bees must be bred on an isolated island or place where the genetics of all colonies can be controlled. That is obviously not generally possible in the U.K. because bees have been imported into the U.K. for at least a century so, with queens mating with every 'Tom', 'Dick' and 'Harry', this means all bees in the U.K. will already be 'mixed race'.
In our opinion, this is not a bad thing because, in general, pure bred or in-bred animals do not fair so well as those with heterosis (hybrid vigour).
Therefore, our advice is to avoid buying any queen bees that are being sold or advertised as being a specific strain, breed or type, they will have been imported or possibly not even as advertised..
Even if pure bred, subsequent queens will mate with every 'Tom', 'Dick' and 'Harry' in the locality and the results will be totally unpredictable, sometimes resulting in hyper-defensive and unmanageable colonies.

First choice would be to allow your bees to produce their own queens.
Second choice would be to source U.K. bred queen bees.
Avoid queen bees being sold with "names" or "colours" or anything imported.

All Copyright is Reserved and Protected © Heather Bell Honey Bees - Cornwall Beekeeping Supplies
You are agreeing with our Copyright Terms & Conditions when viewing this information.