Every geographic area has its own challenges for honey bees. The bees in different locals experience varied weather as well as pests, pathogens, and parasites. Honey bees that thrive in one area may not be able to survive in a different area. A number of beekeepers are attempting to rear honey bees in their own area rather than relying on bees purchased from afar. They feel that the locally produced honey bees stand a better chance of surviving in the local environment. Recognizing the importance of honey bees for crop pollination, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture is helping the Tennessee Beekeepers Association fund a program to rear queen bees. The queen bees will help supply Tennessee beekeepers so that they can fill vacancies in pollination needs.
In today’s photo, Kent Williams, demonstrates queen grafting techniques to Shirley Murphy. They transfer one-day-old larvae into queen cell cups, and then they move the cell cups to a cell builder hive. The cell builder hive is established by brushing a large number of bees from frames of capped brood. The bees are of various ages, and they may come from different hives. With a large population of bees, plenty of food, and no queen present, the bees in the cell builder have a strong desire to create a new queen. When these bees are presented one-day-old larvae, they will begin feeding them royal jelly to begin the physiological changes that make the larvae develop into queens. As the larvae are being fed, other workers extend the queen cell cup into a queen cell using beeswax. The queen is encapsulated in a cell shaped like a peanut shell and resembling in size, shape, and texture. Two days before the queen emerges as an adult, the queen cells are moved to queen mating nucleus hives holding bees to tend to the new queens. As the newly trained beekeepers gain experience in rearing queens, they will share their best stock to develop a hearty Tennessee bee.