We rear our queens for instrumental insemination here in the UK at our farm in North Devon. We’ve been really busy grafting more queens for II. These queens are ideal for use as breeders for stock improvement and raising your own queens.

Queen Grafting

Queen Grafting with Chinese Grafting tool
Queen Grafting with Chinese Grafting tool

We graft day old larvae from our breeder queens into cell cups which have been polished by the bees. Queen right hives are used for rearing our queens. Therefore there is a good supply of nurse bees to raise the new queens and just one hive acts as both the cell starter and cell builder.

We use both Chinese grafting tools and stainless steel tools. Though I must confess a preference for the stainless steel tool.

Queen Rearing

Newly emerged Buckfast Virgin queen
Newly emerged Buckfast Virgin queen

Once the queen cells are sealed, we remove them from the queen rearing colony and place them into the incubator. We keep the cells at a constant 34.4ºC to aid the development of the queens. As the virgin queens emerge from their cells we feed them a candy/honey mix and move them to a nursery colony where they will continue to develop and mature. A virgin queen will take around 7 days to fully mature before mating, once our virgins have reached this age they will be ready to be inseminated. 

By using queen right hives to rear our queens we can keep a constant supply of young nurse bees available to raise new queens. There is also the benefit that grafts are not being moved between hives and reduces risk of harm to the grafts. 

Queen right rearing hives make hive management easier as they do not need to be re-stocked on a regular basis. The required re-arrangement of the brood can be carried out during routine inspections. This reduces the number of hive manipulations you make and causes the bees less stress to the bees.

If you wish to learn more about queen right queen rearing, try visiting the NBU’s website for more details.


We’ve Been Queen Grafting