Queen Raising, also known as Queen Rearing
Honey bee queens can be raised in order to replace ageing queens, or those
whose colonies are of unsuitable temper or to populate additional colonies, such methods
are described as 'queen raising' or 'queen rearing'. This should not be confused with
'bee breeding' which is the process of selection that is used to decide which colonies
should have queens raised from.
Many honey bee owners think that raising queens is just a matter of splitting an
existing colony and letting the bees do the rest. At a very trivial level this may be
true, but if we want quiet and productive bees, that are easy to handle, we need to put
in a little more effort and breed queens from colonies that exhibit desirable traits
You should not be put off raising queens, it is not difficult and it is not a mysterious
"black art". Indeed raising queens is a satisfying and enjoyable pursuit.
The methods of raising queens vary, but none are hard to master, many beekeepers are put
off by grafting, but it is an easy learning curve and very much worth taking the trouble.
The Ben Harden method deserves special mention... It is a method that keeps the colony
queenright at all stages and is particularly adapted to the behaviour of
Apis Mellifera Mellifera bees that proliferate in UK and Ireland. This does not
mean that it cannot be used with other races and strains of bee or in other regions of
the world, but that the method may need a little adjustment if used on populous colonies
or those that do not use supersedure as often as A. m. mellifera.
Those that are not happy with grafting can use the cell punch method for raising
small numbers of queens, but if larger numbers are required, you should put in the effort
to master the grafting process, which is simple, quick, easy and very reliable.
to be expanded.