Managing the controlled mating of Buckfast Queen Bees
One of the main branches of our activity is represented by queen rearing. The breeding material for Buckfast queens comes from the most prestigious queen breeders from Europe. Therefore, to offer further quality material, the control over matings is providential.
To ensure this, along with detailed studying of distances, we realized also the supreme test, the one of virgin queens. Accordingly, we placed to the location a number of 20 mating nucs with virgin queens, being careful that in the mating nucs not to transport one single drone; therefore, all bees were “sifted” through a queen excluder. The confirmation that there are not indigenous drones came after 20 days, when the queens where still virgins, even though the mating condition have been appropriate.
In the mating station we have about 220 colonies with queens descending from F0 breeders with extraordinaire performances and as it is well-known, in order to obtain a quality production bee, a diversity of drones is needed, so the colonies contain daughters from the following lines:
Video: Nucs and drone holding colonies
These colonies have the role of raising and holding drones during the entire period of matings. The food we provide abundantly stimulates the queens to lay the frames with drone-combs until later on in the year. Adding to that, we develop hosting colonies following the method presented in the below article:
Considering the necessary number of drones per nucleus, from specialized knowledge, we ended up having 10 times more. (approx. 500.000 – 600.000 mature drones in mating station during mating period). This flood of drones has the role to neutralize the risk of appearance of wild sworms drones in the rarely case they get closer to the mating station area.
Bee color uniformity that result from our queens certifies the control of matings.
Over time we have tested most of the grafting methods, without noticing one in particular. We strongly believe that quality and abundant feeding of the strong colonies that participate in this process are essential elements in obtaining good quality queens.
Therefor we use simple grafting while making sure that the age of larvae is appropriate.
We use the Cloake Board method on very big colonies, to be sure the larvae will be fed properly.
After capping, the queen cells are introduced into incubators and taken out before or after emerging as needed.
After mating, before sending them to the customers, the queens are kept in the nucs about 10 days more to be easy accepted in their new colonies.
Video: Nucs in our isolated Buckfast mating station