Breeder Queens and Genetics

We are sometimes asked about the genetics of our queens. We invest each year to maintain the genetics that we are looking for, and that includes investment each year in breeder queens that are II (instrumentally, sometimes called artificially inseminated), and these genetics come from breeding programs with more than 20 years of experience in this as well as the access to optimal genetics for both drones and virgin queens–simply creating II queens without this lengthy experience or already existing access to ideal genetics would not provide us with the benefits that we want. We have several breeder queens, including VSH Carniolan breeder queens each year from VP Queen bees as well as a VSH Italian breeder queen used for our drone yards. This brings up the next important point–drones. Queens fly to get mated to what are called DCAs or Drone Congregation areas, and the queens fly quite a distance to try to ensure that they are not inbred. So, while we control 50% of our mated queen genetics through grafting from our breeder queens, the other 50% is influenced by drones within a couple of miles of any direction. To influence that impact, we have outlying drone areas that we inject each year with genetics that we like, mostly Carniolan, Caucasian, and VSH Italian. We like the temperament (gentleness) of the Carniolan and Caucasian and the VSH characteristics that help improve the effectiveness of Varroa mite management. Because we have to invest each year in Caucasian queens, it is likely that we will add a Caucasian breeder queen in 2024 (a significant investment, because of the scarcity of good Caucasian breeders).

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