I have a vision for urban beekeeping here in Calgary and Alberta. I would love to see a change take place with the views on urban queen rearing and have our beekeepers learn how to rear their own queens through natural methods (Miller Method included) or through grafting. I have spoken to beekeepers from all over the continent and those whom seem to have never handled a grafting tool enjoy talking about the difficulties of queen rearing, while those who do it for a living, encourage the practice! I am in my second season of queen rearing in both TBH’s and in Langstroth equipment, and I have to say, IT IS SO MUCH FUN! Here is an outline of what I would like to see happen with queen rearing here in Calgary over the next few years:
– Demystify the practice of queen rearing by offering more opportunities to try it out
– Choose our breeding stock from local beekeepers who have great bees that over winter, show varroa resistance, good honey stores left in the spring, calm behaviour, and clean bottom boards. These beekeepers will receive an award of merit from the community and have their colonies enter the A.B.C breeding program (also receive free mated queens for making splits in late June)
– Over time, create a great community of healthy and vibrant Calgary stock!
So, this year, through the apprenticeship program, we got started on the first step, and the 8 A.B.C apprentices tried their hand at Queen Rearing!
First, I had to prepare my incubator colonies, as we were using the Cloakeing Board method (John Gate’s uses this method, and its details are available here. See the pictures below for details!
Here are the students grafting with Langstroth and top bar hives as well as one Miller Frame.
The outcome. The grafts didnt take for many of the beekeepers, so try, try again we shall! The Miller Frame worked out incredibly well, 8 cells!
The queen cells will be placed in to mating nucs tomorrow tomorrow (June 12th)! Queens will be mated by the end of the month!