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An Open Letter to All Beekeepers
Paul Mann
Although a research programme will be great, we need to take steps now to preserve our bees
MY BEEKEEPING started in 1942 so you will gather that
I am in my twilight years. I have thoroughly enjoyed my
beekeeping and try to pass some of my experience on
to those taking up the craft nowadays.
Along with most of you, I am very concerned about all the
diseases and pests which trouble our bees these days.
Great efforts are being made to get funds to research the
problems. Even if successful, this will take time and, with
increased losses, we do not have time on our side.
I have an initiative to set before you which could benefit all g
nibeekeepers from 2009 onwards. r
Beekeepers are needed who are prepared to produce queen When we have colonies dying out it is in our own interests
cells for others in order to keep hives occupiedto replace them and keep our hives occupied. Making up
nuclei and adding a new queen is one method but this is
expensive and requires new queens to be available. Some I know it is possible to produce 20–25 cells per week from
queens are bred in Britain and many are imported. a strong queenright colony. These would be sold to other
Introducing a new queen is not without its problems so beekeepers at £4.00–5.00 each which would give a return
here is my proposal. to the producer. When cells are ‘ripe’, ie, 48 hours before
the queen emerges, the cells are quite robust and can beEach County has one or more beekeepers who are prepared
moved around with good produce queen cells for their local colleagues.
Beekeepers are asked to make up queenless nuclei and QUEEN CELL USERS
collect the queen cells which can be put into these nuclei.
Many of these queens will mate and can then be Any beekeeper can fall into this category.
developed into new colonies or used to re-queen existing
colonies. Four-frame nuclei can be taken from a good colony at about swarming time or later. I know of a method whereby you do
This initiative was launched in Dorset during 2008 and not have to find the queen. A ‘ripe’ cell added to the
some progress was made but it will take time to build up nucleus is very likely to produce a mated queen although
the numbers. not all are successful I am afraid. The resulting small colony
QUEEN CELL PRODUCERS can then be developed into a new colony or united torequeen an existing colony.
These will be beekeepers who have had bees for a few This is a low cost method of obtaining new queens. As they
years. Some may already be producing queen cells. Others would be already laying in a small colony, introduction
will be encouraged to get involved with cell production. I would not be required. I have short instruction sheets for
have done this myself in the past and will pass on my the various operations required. These do not involve you in
methods and techniques. finding the queen! I am happy to send these out by e-mail,
free of cost.
At this stage, I am asking any beekeepers who would help
in producing the cells to get in touch with me by e-mail at If we can get this initiative
There is no greater going then I am certain that it will help all beekeepers in
satisfaction than to see one these difficult times.
of your own virgin queens
moving over the comb Thank you for taking the time to read this article. z
Page 24 Bee Craft Digital November 2008
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