WNC experienced pretty significant honey bee colony losses over the past winter. The Buncombe County club reports an average of 70% loss. Our bees were wiped out as well, so this year, I’ve teamed up with friends Joseph and Erik, to raise queens from local, treatment free survivor stock.
For a better understanding of why local, treatment free, bees with good genetics is so important, check out:
Bees are expensive to buy, so this year (in addition to buying some bees, as locally sourced as possible) I’ve put up bait hives in multiple places with the hopes that I might be lucky enough to attract a feral swarm. If they find the bait hive an acceptable place to start a new home, they’ll move in and start building comb for the queen to lay in. Here’s an image of one on a roof in East Buncombe County.
Our first run of grafted queen cells (where you remove young larvae and place them into special cups for bees to rear as queens) weren’t accepted by the cell builder colony. They chose to raise their own queens instead, so we simply moved the frames with queen cells on them into mating nucs.
For our second round (grafted today) the cell builder now has no other appropriate aged eggs to use for raising queens so we’re hoping to have the easier to transport/share queen cell’s that we grafted ‘take’ and be ready in about 12 days.
Here’s a gallery of our queen rearing efforts so far this year: