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Hygienic Queens Hygienic Queens

Around the turn of the millenium, we became interested in raising our own queens and began thinking about what kind of stock would be best for this purpose. At an EAS conference, Landi was fortunate to meet and become friends with Dr. Marla Spivak of the University of Minnesota. Dr. Spivak is responsible for expanding on Rothenbuler's work with hygienic bees, and developed a line of hygienic Italians at her research laboratories. We were very impressed with the potential of the hygienic trait and have been importing hygienic stock ever since that time.

The hygienic trait is characterized by bees which have the ability to sense, right through the pupal capping, whether a late-stage larva or pupa is diseased or heavily parasitized. The workers uncap and remove the damaged brood before it can become contagious to the colony.

Hygienic bees are strongly resistant to both American Foulbrood and chalkbrood. They also have moderate resistance to Varroa mites. (In fact, the "SMR" line, standing for 'Suppressed Mite Reproduction' has been re-named "VSH" for 'Varroa Sensitive Hygiene,' research having demonstrated that this line's varroa resistance is a variant of mite-directed hygienic behavior.

One thing we especially like about Dr. Spivak's queens is that, unlike most researchers looking to develop a mite-resistant line, Marla started with a GOOD BEE - one that was gentle, productive, and hardy. She then selected for the hygienic trait within this population. Many other lines were developed exclusively on the basis of their resistance to mites. These bees might not overwinter well, or be overly defensive, or not produce any honey.

Our "Jersey Girl" line of hygienic queens are bred from our own best queens, tested for hygienic behavior, in a mating area which we have taken great pains to saturate with hygienic drones. There are several drone mother apiaries surrounding our queen mating yard to enhance the opportunities for our "Jersey Girl" queens to meet up with the right kind of guys! We also continue to import desirable lines from outside sources to enhance the gene pool.

At this time, our Jersey Girl Queens are only available for purchase in our spring nucleus colonies.

Spring Nucs Spring Nucs

In recent years, we have begun nucs in summer with our Jersey Girl hygienic queens We spend the rest of the season building these nucs up to the point where they can successfully overwinter. Any queens that are not up to our demanding standards are either culled before entering the winter season, or never make it to spring. What is left, are PROVEN young, locally grown, overwintered queens in an established nucleus hive of their own daughters.

As of this time we will be keeping our surviving nucs in our own operation for evaluation during the growing season and use as breeding stock if they pass muster. We do not plan to sell any nucleus colonies in spring of 2013 but will spend the year building up our stock and focusing on honey production. We will likely resume nucleus colony production in 2014. Our 7 medium frame nucs will be available for pre-order starting the first week in January 2014.

It is quite a challenge to successfully overwinter nucs in New Jersey. Although our winters are not as cold as some areas in which nucs are overwintered, such as Vermont's Champlain Valley (Kirk Webster), they are damp. In addition, New Jersey's nectar sources are limited. A good summer/fall flow to help built a nuc's population is rare. This makes it especially difficult to produce the populous, heavy nucleus colonies needed to have a chance at seeing spring.

We take two two-story medium nucs and winter them together. The bees cluster against the shared center walls, enabling them to conserve heat more effectively. We provide an insulating pocket of air using bubblewrap under tar paper, and a cloth inner cover with a Bilt-Rite moisture board above it to absorb metabolic water. We prop up the outer cover to allow water to evaporate from the moisture board and provide an upper entrance. Natural selection guarantees only the strongest nucleus colonies will survive the winter, and even then there are no guarantees if conditions are exceptionally severe.

Two Nucs Ready to Wrap for Winter

Bubblewrap First Layer Provides an Insulating Air Pocket

Moisture Board Absorbs Metabolic Moisture Generated by Bees

See you Gals in Spring! (We hope....)

|About Us| |Semper Fi Fund| |About Our Honey| |About Our Cosmetics| |About Our Beeswax| |Buy Honey and Beeswax Products| |Buy Nucleus Colonies| |For Beekeepers| |Fresh Eggs| |2013 Farmers Market/Fair Schedule| |Helping the Honey Bee| |Belle the Bee Dog| |Contact Us| |Directions and Hours| |Basic Beekeeping Class 2014|