Young beekeeper Jack Geraghty along with beekeeping mentor Dennis Hertzog raised a batch of queens over the course of July 2021, experimenting with a new way of making increase for young beekeepers. They started by creating a strong, queenless starter colony full of nurse bees housed in a medium nuc (photo 1)a strong, queenless starter colony full of nurse bees housed in a medium nuc, into which they then placed a grafting frame holding 14 wax queen cups, which had previously each had a young larva grafted inside. The starter hive was left undisturbed for 24 hours during which the nurse bees began the process of turning the larvae into queens by building out the wax cells and filling the cups with large amounts of royal jelly (photo 2) a close up picture of bees on a frame with two queen cells visible from behind the mass of bees.

After 24 hours, the grafting frame with young larval queens was then placed above a queen excluder in a finisher hive. A finisher hive is comprised of a strong colony with older capped brood and queen placed below an excluder in the bottom two brood boxes, and young uncapped brood placed above the excluder in the top box. The capped queen cells were then left in the finisher until capped (6 days) (photo 3) a picture of a frame with a few bees on it and 11 queen cells visible. A hand is holding the frame in the upper left hand corner., after which they were separated and each put into a mating nuc (photo 4,5, and 6) a picture of 10 nuc boxes sitting side by side in the grassa close up picture of a single queen cell under a wire mesh cage on a frame. Only a portion of the frame is visible.a more zoomed out shot of a frame with a single queen cell under a wire mesh cage. Almost the entire frame is visible and a beekeeper is seen holding it up behind the frame.. After 9 days the queens had emerged and were released from their cages to begin their mating flights (photo 7) a close up picture of a queen bee on a frame with a red circle around her for easier identification.. Of the 14 queen cups grafted, 11 were accepted, built out, and capped. Of those 11 queens, the 10 largest were chosen to be put into mating nucs.

This project served as an experiment to learn about and practice queen rearing, and was the first successful attempt at raising queens for the Young Beekeepers Program, with two previous attempts being unsuccessful. We hope to use what we have learned to rear queens in the future, which will hopefully be used to create hives for current and future young beekeepers.