Norfolk Honey - old queens

Honey comb ready for extraction

Old queens

As the beekeeping season progresses I have some old queens available for sale. These are queens that I don't need anymore. They are laying queens that have been taken out of one of my established colonies to be replaced by new queens. They are marked with the year's colour (2012 queens are marked yellow). Some beekeepers kill old queens to replace them with new ones. I only kill queens when I really have to - if they turn drone laying for example.

Why should you want an old queen?

Sometimes mistakes happen and a queen gets damaged or lost. During the height of the season it is easy enough to replace your queen by breeding a new one, (see queen breeding). Or by buying a new queen in - there are several companies that offer new queens for sale (often they are bought in from the continent). Or you can simply leave your bees to get on with it so that they re-queen themselves. However, if it is early or late in the year and you can't buy a new queen and the weather isn't suitable for queen rearing your choices are much more limited. If you have more than one hive you can merge two colonies together and wait until next year or later in the year to split them up again. But if you have just one hive you can't do that. Without a laying queen your colony is not going to thrive or even exist for very long. In these circumstances any old queen is a good queen.

More about old queens

Just because a queen is old, it doesn't always follow that she is in anyway inferior. Indeed many of my old queens are old because they are good queens and the bees are happy to keep them going. At the start of the season I may remove an old queen because I want to replace her with a new queen. There are advantages in putting new queens into strong colonies as early in the season as possible. I take the old queen out as a nuc and put her in another brood box draining off the flying bees. Then, given a little feed, she will soon build up a new colony. If the bees don't like her they may supercede her. If they like her she will still be there in the Autumn and go through the winter to the start of another season. If a queen survives into a third year and continues to lay well then she may be worth breeding from. Queens in recent years tend to be short lived, so long lived queens may have good traits that we want to encourage. At the end of the year I could have old queens that have been working hard throughout the season but have been replaced by new young queens in the autumn and become surplus to my requirments.

My stock of bees I've collected over the years and they are not just one strain of bee.

An old queen - £45

Collection from Norwich preferred - but I will post by special delivery (at the current rate) if collection from Norwich is not practical. Please give me as much prior notice as you can.

For more info on rearing new queens please see my queen breeding page



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