Ordering queens for beekeeping

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One of the best ways to be successful at beekeeping is to re-queen your colonies every year. Queens work just as hard as all the worker bees, because a single queen can produce up to 3,000 eggs a day, 90% of which become bees. You’ll want the right one in each of your hives.

Queens are usually good for one or two years, but first-year queens are better. Queens are developed from larvae selected by worker bees and specially fed in order to become sexually mature. The bees will usually follow and fiercely protect their queen.

Beekeepers use a special process to raise queen bees from young fertilized worker bee larvae. The most commonly used method is known as the Doolittle method, in which the beekeeper grafts larvae, which are 24 hours or less of age, into a bar of queen cell cups. The queen cell cups are placed inside of a cell-building colony, a strong, well-fed but queenless colony that feeds the larvae royal jelly and develops the larvae into queen bees.

The cost of a queen honeybee ranges from $30 to $50. Carolina Honeybees provides a great post with step-by-step instructions on the buying a queen bee for your operation.

You’d want to purchase a queen bee when you want to add different genetics to your apiary, your colony is unable to produce a queen or attempts to requeen themselves have failed. Purchasing is definitely easier during the warmer seasons – from late spring through early autumn.

Ordering online does have a drawback, however. You’ll never be 100% certain your new queen will arrive alive in the mail. If your queen is dead upon arrival, call the supplier ASAP. They will instruct you on the next steps to take. Before ordering queens through the mail, it is a good practice to ask questions about live arrival guarantees.

Like anything else you purchase online, just do your research first. See which providers offer the best support systems should anything happen to your queen in transit, and check out customer reviews.

As warm spring weather approaches, you’ll want the right queen in your hive.

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