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Learners will acquire a foundational understanding of the essential techniques and practices involved in raising queens.


Key Takeaways 

  1. The queen rearing process begins with the presence of purple-eyed drone pupa, indicating the drones’ sexual maturity for mating with new queens.

  2. Pre-feeding the hives with light syrup and pollen patties stimulates development and provides essential nutrients for nurse bees, accelerating the production of queen cells.

  3. Queen right finishers play a crucial role in successful queen cell development by supplying a continuous flow of young nurse bees to feed the queen cells with royal jelly, ensuring the growth of healthy and robust queens.

Welcome to the fascinating world of queen rearing, where beekeepers empower their apiaries by nurturing the next generation of queens. A strong and healthy queen is essential for a thriving bee colony, and in this blog post, we’ll guide you through the entire queen breeding procedure. 


Two Weeks Before Graft

  • Place drone comb into 8-10 colonies to ensure an adequate amount of mature drone families.

  • Drone colonies can be set up nearby in a secluded rural area or sourced from urban environments.

  • A good rule of thumb to start raising queens is when you have drone pupa with purple eyes.

Several Days Before Graft

  • Reorient the hive by turning it 180°, closing the bottom entrance, and helping bees find the new top entrance.

  • Rearrange the brood boxes, placing open brood frames in the top box and capped brood frames in the bottom box.

  • Move the queen to the bottom box and add a queen excluder between the boxes.

  • Stimulate hives used for queen rearing with a frame feeder containing light sugar syrup and pollen patties or pollen frames to ensure they are well-fed.


Day 0 – Preparing for the Graft

  • Set up a queenless starter colony in the top box by inserting the division board and opening the back entrance.

  • Consider adding a pollen patty and feeder if nectar flow is not optimal.

  • Ensure that the starter colony has frames of nurse bees, brood, and food.


Day 1 – Graft Into Queenless Starter

  • Wait at least 4 hours after inserting the division board before grafting.

  • Graft larvae under 24 hours old into the grafting bar frame, ensuring a temperature range of 24-26°C and humidity above 50%.

  • Cover the grafted larvae with a wet towel during grafting to prevent them from drying out.


Day 2 or 3 – Queen Right Finisher

  • Remove the slide after 24-48 hours, allowing nurse bees to move up with open brood frames.

  • Queen right finishers are used to provide a continuous supply of young nurse bees to feed the queen cells with royal jelly.


Day 6 – Queen Cells Capped

  • Sensitive development stage of queen cells begins after capping.


Day 7 – Top Hives

  • Prepare nucs to drop capped queen cells into, each with 1 frame brood, 1 frame food, and 2 frames foundation.


Day 8 – Place Into Mating Nucs

  • Place frames with queen cells into mating nucs.


Day 9 – Pull Cells

  • Move the grafting bar frame to incubator colonies when the queen cells are capped.

  • Ensure they are above a queen excluder and surrounded by open brood.

  • Pupae are delicate, so frames must be handled carefully with minimal disturbance.


Day 10 – Relocate Capped Queens

  • Carefully place mature queen cells into queenless mating nucs.



By following these steps with precision and care, you’ll nurture strong and healthy queens, paving the way for thriving bee colonies. Keep buzzing with curiosity and passion for beekeeping, and remember to cherish the remarkable journey of nurturing the future leaders of your hive!

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