7th June 2020

The BBKA introduced Queen Rearing Courses last year to encourage people to breed their own queens. Now surveys have shown high satisfaction with the knowledge they gained.

All photos by Rachel Hills

The reason for doing this is to encourage beekeepers to buy bees that are  locally adapted to their area, which are successful and avoid the risk of bringing diseases into the country and into their apiaries. The most recent example of this is Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus (CBPV) which has appeared in many areas of the country and is associated with the importation of bees. 

Funding was granted by Defra and late last summer 5 two-day courses with 10 beekeepers were run at four locations. Each course was taught by two Master Beekeepers, the lead tutor was Sean Stephenson.

The 62 beekeepers were shown the two simple and successful methods of getting a new queen - grafting and the Miller Method, although other methods were also briefly discussed. 

Each participant left with mini nukes which, on some courses, were populated with bees and queen cells.

Every course was surveyed and showed high satisfaction with the knowledge they had gained and also the intention to use it as soon as they got home. They were also encouraged to teach others in their Associations these methods of queen rearing

St Albans Beekeeping Association were so enthused by the beekeeper who attended that they gave her a £500 grant to set up queen rearing for the club apiary. 

One beekeeper commented “Excellent coverage of the subject from both a theoretical and practical perspective. I went home with a thorough understanding of queen rearing and a plan to put it into practise next Spring!”

Master Beekeepers attended each course to learn how to pass on the queen rearing skills to members within their own areas, aiming to provide more beekeepers with the knowledge to raise their own local queen bees for next year to help meet additional local demand.

Queen Rearing courses will be available during the Spring and Summer of 2021, as long as Covid social distancing restrictions have been lifted.