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I’ve had a somewhat unfortunate start to the season. I’ve lost one hive and two artificial swarms have failed to produce a new queen. It has got me thinking about how I manage swarms and queens going forward.

I’ve reached the conclusion I’m probably done with artificial swarms. This was the swarm control technique originally taught to me when I started beekeeping and I’ve stuck to it ever since. It is still popular with many of my beekeeping chums but maybe just because I like a simple life I’ve found the box jungling becoming increasingly tedious. The nucleus method in which the old Queen is rehomed with bees and some stores requires fewer pieces to me moved around. I’m a huge fan of the Payne’s poly nucs, they are cheap and with the recent additions of feeders, broad as well as super boxes very flexible.

it has become painfully apparent to me that hanging your hopes of requeening on swarm control provides enormous scope to be disappointed. This year two of my hives have failed to raise a new queen. this has left me with the choice of buying a queen, putting more young broad into the next and hoping for the best or simply uniting them with a stronger hive.

With this in mind I’ve decided next year I’m going to start raising my own queens. I’ve seen several demonstrations as well as attended talks about the mysterious art of breeding bees; frankly it’s all been akin to black magic to me. However; the advantages raising your own queens provide is undeniable. The ability to replace failing or lost queens with daughters from queens proven to perform well on your own apiaries gives options which are invaluable.

To this end I’m going to be researching queen rearing over the winter break and acquiring the appropriate equipment. As one of my association members who is a keen queen raiser pointed out to me beekeepers have practically unlimited access to the raw materials to raise new queens. So there is plenty of opportunity to get it right.

I’m both exciting and nervous to start this next stage of my hobby.


Beautiful picture credit –