STRONG hives and quality stock are the key ingredients to breeding superior queen bees, says a Tasmanian apiarist featured in the latest best practice video developed by the Honey Bee and Pollination Program.
In the third episode in the series, Robbie Charles, from Blue Hills Honey in Mawbanna in the northwest of Tasmania, explains key attributes and processes favoured by their team to breed quality bees.
“Having quiet and strong bees is essential,” Robbie said. “This makes handling the bees an easier and smoother process.”
The beekeeper and honey exporter says good, strong hives are always selected for breeding, and preferably with a two year old queen bee.
“If you’ve got a strong hive then you’ll get a good start every time,” he says.
“Very regularly I’m grafting 20 out of 22 cells on a bar and sometimes I get the perfect one.”
Robbie Charles also outlines his suggested ideal timeframe and sizing for grafting, as well as the temperature and feeding schedules he adheres to.
“The message I send is quite simple. Anyone can raise queens and you can use whatever works for your area,” Robbie said. “This to me is as simple as putting petrol in the car.”
Honey Bee and Pollination Program’s Advisory Panel chair Michael Hornitzky said the best practice video featuring Blue Hills Honey follows a previous video showing another technique to breed queens.
“The beekeeping industry is unique and there are many types of techniques and processes utilised that fit within the recommended best practice guidelines,” Dr Hornitzky said.
“Ensuring best practice is met through collaboration, and sharing of knowledge is vital to the health of the industry.”