Monday, February 24, 2014


YES, it's easy just to order a queen, and for 20 bucks or so, it’s a good deal.  However, if you crave the self-sustainability of raising your own queens, looking to save $$, interested in deepening the queen gene-pool, then maybe queen raising is for you.

In northern climates, queens lay up to 2000 eggs per day for four to five months.  Even without changing all those diapers, she gets worn out.  An older queen, the presence of mites and disease, decreased pheromone levels can cause a hive to swarm or supercedure.  To keep hives happy and healthy, beekeepers know it is important to have a young, productive queen. This means replacing the queen every two years or less depending on her performance.  There are varying ways to raise queens, ranging from simple to more complex.  

At our last meeting, we heard about the queen raising experiences and techniques of Bob Sitko, Adrian Quiney, Yuuki Metreaud and Joe Meyer (  Here are some methods that were discussed and the associated links for you to research the details on your own.

The most straight-forward and easy method is the Walk Away Split.  If you have time, and don’t mind not producing honey in this hive for the season, this may be for you.

  • Walk Away Split – This method takes a long time but is simple.  You take a 2 deep hive and divide it in half. You just split it and walk away.  However you will not get new bees for 1.5 months but it does put a break in the brood cycle and may stall swarming.  You should be sure both deeps have honey, pollen, open and capped brood.  The hive without the queen will go 6 weeks before it has emerging brood.  You can add capped brood 3 weeks after splitting to give the hive a boost in nurse bees.

Bob Sitko uses Jack Knives and Hair Curlers

Bob Sitko started off the discussion with some of the more interesting methods that he has used. 

The Jack knife method is taking a frame of eggs and inserting a knife blade into a cell and bending the lower part of the cell down flat against the foundation. Every cell you do this to, the bees will build a queen cell.

Starting with a box with 5 frame plastic plugs, Bob uses a hair curler looking thingy.  The hair Curler is a long round plastic cage that is put over a sealed queen cell to capture the newly hatched queen so she doesn’t kill her sister queens.

Here are some links to help you:

Queen rearing according to Adrian Quiney….
Raising queens is FUN! 

Besides being FUN and making us more self-sufficient, Adrian says that queen rearing can be as simple or as complicated as you wish to make it.  It’s easy to get bogged down with all the gizmos that are used, but all that is really needed for the backyard beekeeper are some spare boxes, lids, and bottoms.

Adrian learned a lot from the practices of these beekeepers:

Michael Bush:

Kirk Webster:

Michael Palmer:  here is a link to a you tube video lecture of Palmers

Other beekeepers who have inspired Adrian are Brother Adam and Harry Hyde Laidlow.  Brother Adam was a monk who immigrated to England from Germany and was famous for developing a thrifty productive bee which was resistant to tracheal mites. He wrote a popular book entitled Beekeeping at Buckfast Abbey.

Harry Hyde Laidlow wrote the classic text on queen-rearing, Queen-rearing and Bee-breeding.  Unfortunately it is out of print.  You may be able to find it on ebay and in used bookstores.  IF you have an old copy, it could be worth big bucks!  Here is one listed for $500.

We were lucky enough to be joined by two beekeepers from Four Seasons Apiaries, Yuuki Metreaud and Joe Meyer.  They shared information on their methods for raising queens.  They will soon have queens for sale.

Four Seasons Apiaries

Minneapolis, MN


One thing that all of our speakers stressed, is that it is important to have a schedule.  How we raise bees is often in contrast with the bees schedules, so as part of our management we need to get in synch.  Here is one schedule:

Please join us on March 17 for a talk by Lex Horan from the Pesticide Action Network

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Pollinator Policy Forum and the Healthy Bees Healthy Lives Campaign Kick-Off Update

From Terry McDaniel:

The link below will bring you to 10 videos from the Pollinator Policy Forum held by Rick Hanses in W. St. Paul. Each speaker has its own video which are less than 15 min. if there is a longer talk it will have "part one" or  "part two" in its title.

Also on the bottom of the above videos are four videos from the Healthy Bees Healthy Lives campaign Kick-Off.

Everything  you need to see in one easy link. 
Pass it on to others you think may want to know this information. 

Link for the Pollinator Policy Forum videos:

Link for the Healthy Bees Healthy Lives campaign kick - off videos:

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

New Announcement from the University of Minnesota Bee Squad!

Governor Dayton's bonding recommendations for the U of M's 2014 Capital Request include funding for a new Bee Research and Teaching Facility.  Please click on the link below to find out how YOU can help convince legislators that this funding is important.