We have a neighbor just west of our place who has allowed us to keep bees in his pasture/timber lot for the past twenty years. These days we do not use the area for honey production–now it is a queen yard.
Here are some of the 5-frame nucs I’ve set up to raise the 2010 queens for sale:
I think I started the queen project back in 2004–experimenting with a few dozen cells to figure out grafting, cell-building, development of the queens, and the art of picking queens off the frames to mark them on the thorax with my handy paint markers. After more than twenty years around bees, I had never picked up a queen until I started producing them. I usually take them by the wings–sometimes by the thorax. The next step was getting used to catching workers to place as attendants into the queen cages!
I use the full-sized frame equipment for a few reasons. The queen nucs pull a lot of deep foundation for us, people are welcome to purchase nucs through the summer, I can use a queen nuc to requeen our own hives, and I get a number of new hives to overwinter when I collapse everything together in late August/September. But it is true that I generally cut them back to 1-2 frames of bees between queen cycles though–hunting for queens in lots of bees takes minutes rather than seconds. I’ve already given the postal employee some free honey for staying late waiting for me to show up with the queen shipments!
Altogether it has been very educational and usually a lot of fun. (Two-week runs of bad weather that annihilate all hope of successful matings are what takes the fun out of it.)
Next year I need to greatly increase production to provide you with the queens in demand–but thanks for the orders to date and I’ll continue to produce as many as capacity permits in the next couple of months!