Queen rearing should be done at the onset of the rain season
Queens are reared for queen less colonies using the following steps
- Select a large healthy colony containing at least 7 brood combs
- Identify the queen and place her on a comb with adhering bees in the center of brood box between a full comb of stored honey and pollen and an empty brood comb
- Fill the lest of the box with empty combs
- Place a queen excluder over the lower box and add a second box containing the remaining brood , bees and sufficient stores of honey and pollen
- Four days latter the queen will have laid eggs and these larvae (less than 2a hrs old ) can be grafted
- This is the transfer of larvae from the worker cells to the artificial cell for raising the queen.
- It’s easier to graft using a relatively new comb.
- The comb should contain a large number of larvae which are 12 to 18hrs old. The larvae should be fed royal jelly by the workers.
- Artificial queen cups should be placed in the starter colony for at least 40 minutes for cleaning.
- Grafting should be done in a well lit room with temperature range of 18oC to 21 degrees C and a relative humidity of 60-70%.
- After grafting the cell bar (cells with the grafted larvae) are placed in a strong colony in the middle of a brood box between two open brood combs.
- The cells are left overnight and checked the following day for acceptance by young worker bees.
- Accepted queen cells will be soon filled with royal jelly secreted from workers less than 15 days old.
- On the 5th day after grafting the cells will be sealed.
- On the 9th or 10th day after grafting, the cells are separated and placed in nucleus colonies for hatching and mating.
Nucleus colony Preparation
- A Nucleus colony (NUC) is a mini hive consisting of three to 5 frames.
- A three frame NUC contains two partly sealed frames and one frame of stored honey and pollen, as well as adhering bees (approximately 1000) which nurse the broods.
- When collecting the bees for the NUC, Take care to exclude the queen from the parent colony.
- The bees should be left to experience queenlessness for 24 -48hrs
- The bees should be collected from an apiary placed 3- 4 km away from the apiary
- When the queen cell is introduced its placed between two frames facing down.