HOG BAY APIARY
QUEEN - THE HEART OF THE HIVE
The hive queen is only a part of the complex organism of a beehive. When she has reached the end of her egg laying capacity or if she dies suddenly, the hive replaces her by selecting a freshly hatched worker larvae and feeding it with royal jelly for 6 days until the larvae pupates.
A number of queens are raised concurrently and the first hatched then parades the comb searching for and destroying her rivals.
Beekeepers use their knowledge of hive behaviour to replace a queen in hives that are poor honey producers, or bad-tempered. Since all worker bees inherit the characteristics of the queen and to a lesser extent the drones with which she has mated, the productivity and temperament of a hive can be markedly improved within four weeks of re-queening.
Hog Bay Apiary selects the best queens from the production hives on the basis of productivity, gentle behaviour and lack of brace comb between frames.
These hives are then further assessed on conformity to the classic Ligurian, low swarming tendency and brood viability.
By transferring freshly hatched worker larvae to a strong queenless hive, a number of queen cells are raised. These are transferred to individual small hives prior to hatching and transferred to an apiary some distance away to ensure mating with non-related drones.
Following the queen's mating flight, approximately 5 days after hatching, the laying pattern of the queen can be examined.
Queens are introduced into a hive by culling the old queen and placing the new queen in an introduction cage so the hive can become accustomed to her over the course of several days. She then emerges and commences laying.