51 Heather Higo – Rearing your Own Queens (in English)

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Speaker 1: From the Oregon State University Extension Service, this is Pollination, a podcast that tells the stories of researchers, land managers, and concerned citizens making bold strides to improve the health of pollinators. I'm your host, Dr. Adoni Melopoulos, assistant professor in pollinator health in the Department of Horticulture.

Speaker 2: It's hard to argue the Honey Bee Queen is probably the most important individual in a colony. She carries the genetics that's going to define the characteristics of that Honey Bee colony, and if she's not produced well, mated well, it will affect the whole colony's performance. So it's my great delight today to invite Heather Hego on the show to talk about how to make a high quality queen. Now, Heather was the person who taught me how to rear queens in the 1990s. When we worked together, she was the technician in Dr. Mark Winston's lab in Simon Fraser University. She continues to be very active in bee research. She's currently working as the field manager at the University of British Columbia. Heather has a lot of followers around Western Canada, Canada, and even around the United States. And in 2017, she was awarded the Canadian Honey Council's Fred Rathjay Award. So I hope you're inspired, just like I was inspired many years ago by Heather on how to rear your own queens. I'm really excited. I'm at Bee Masters with Heather Hego. Welcome to Poly Nation, Heather.

Speaker 3: Thank you. Donnie, it's a pleasure to join you on Poly Nation.

Speaker 2: Well, you've been at a few Bee Masters. I don't know if our listeners know what Bee Masters is, so we should probably... It's amazing. It's this week-long...

Speaker 3: Yeah. So Bee Masters in Vancouver is a one week-long short course on medium to advanced beekeeping. So there's all kinds of topics covered that the ordinary beekeeper wouldn't necessarily encounter, but will give them a really good background to improve their beekeeping skills.

Speaker 2: And you've been involved with... So have I. I've been doing Bee Masters for a long time. It's a real institution here in British Columbia. Some of the speakers are like Jeff Pettis and Michelle Flanagan. Sarah Common, who was on an earlier podcast, she'll be speaking tomorrow.

Speaker 3: That's right. Yeah, there's a whole array of experts from different areas and different facets of the bee world that come and talk at Bee Masters.

Speaker 2: Well, I didn't catch your talk on queen-wearing, but I learned how to rear queens from the queen-wearing from you a long time ago. Uh-oh. And I know there's a lot of interest in Oregon in queen-wearing and maybe just a start off. Buying a queen is so easy. You call them up, you got to do it in advance, but it arrives, it's fully mated. Why would anybody go to the trouble of making their own queens?

Speaker 3: Well there's a number of reasons. With your planning to make your own queens, it gives you the opportunity to produce queens that have the traits that you want in your bees. Oh right, yeah. Yeah, so when you buy from a queen breeder, unless you know them personally or know they can guarantee what they're selecting for, they may be selecting for honey production or they may be selecting for high brood production. That may not be something that you're interested in. And maybe you're interested mostly in gentleness and maybe honey production and they're selecting for brood production. So it allows you the options to choose and select the type of bee that you want in your operation.

Speaker 2: Okay, so you get like a custom bee just suited to your own quirks and habits.

Speaker 3: Yes, I mean there's some caveats to that because you have to have a certain number of colonies in order to be able to make selection happen. You can't just do it with one or two or three colonies and think you're going to have a well-selected group of queens coming out of it. But certainly with 20 or 30 colonies and even if you don't have that many, you could work with neighboring beekeepers that you could also use their colonies to select from. That would give you a decent pool to draw from.

Speaker 2: Okay, and I know another thing that I've just been really amazed at the price of queens these days. Can this be done affordably? Can you rear queens on your own?

Speaker 3: Yeah, definitely. I mean, especially for a hobbyist, it's your own time kind of away from your regular job that you're putting into it. So basically you can rear queens with one queen right, queen starter colony and a few mating nukes. So it doesn't have to be atrociously expensive to do it.

Speaker 2: Okay. Well, I know one thing that always freaks people out is they say, grafting. I can't see those little first instar larvae. They just get freaked out. But one thing in your talk that you emphasized was that that's not the whole of it. You put a lot of emphasis in the preparation. Can you talk a little bit about why that preparation is important and what it involves?

Speaker 3: The preparation for your queen-rearing colonies and drone, actually drone-parent colonies too is really important because colonies aren't going to rear queens from you unless they're absolutely bursting with bees and you won't be able to rear good quality queens unless there's a really high level of nutrition in that colony. So it means feeding them well in advance, either having them in a good area where there's so much pollen and nectar that they can gather that they don't need to be fed. But I would recommend feeding them pollen patties and sugar syrup well in advance.

So they're really fat, healthy bees, the nurses that are going to be rearing those queens that you start generating in those colonies. And the same with the drones. The drones require even more advanced preparation because they have a longer prepation period. They take 24 days to mature from egg to adult drone. But then they take another two to three weeks after that to mature as drones after they emerge from their pupil cells.

Speaker 2: So if you see the first drones in the year walking around the colony, they may not be mature yet.

Speaker 3: They may not be mature yet. And if you're thinking of queen-rearing at any particular time, you need to start preparing your drone colonies about six weeks ahead. Really?

Speaker 2: Yeah. Okay. So there is this preparation. And I guess the other thing with those bees is the getting them really, but having a lot of the right-aged bees, I guess that's a key issue as well.

Speaker 3: Yeah, absolutely. It's the nurses that are going to be rearing the queens. So you need an abundance of nurses in your queen-rearing colonies. Okay.

Speaker 2: Well, let's we'll come back to how to kind of set this up and how to make these cell builders, but maybe just to let's come back around to this question of grafting. It really does intimidate a lot of people. What are, how does somebody get over that intimidation? What's the, what are some of the tricks?

Speaker 3: Well, I think I, I mean, I've got old eyes, so I need my reading glasses out there when I'm grafting. I'm not a kid. So it's, it's definitely something that takes practice. If you absolutely, I mean, I recommend getting reading glasses if you're having trouble seeing up close, but it's sort of the way to practice that is just start transferring older larvae to start with. You don't have to be starting at the very beginning with the right age, which would be a one day larva. You don't have to start with them right at the beginning. You can start, you're practicing transferring older larvae. And then once you get it good at that, move down in size to the ones that are the right age. And those are the ones that you're going to be incorporating into your graphs.

Speaker 2: Explain the right age.

Speaker 3: So, um, for the first, uh, one to two days of life, larvae are, call it totepotin. So they are capable of developing into either a queen or a worker.

Speaker 2: Okay. So totepotin means you have a larva that could become either, either thing.

Speaker 3: Exactly. So unless they're fed the right type of food and treated as a queen from an early stage, they will go on to develop as a worker or maybe even as an intercast. If you start really late and in your queen rearing, um, there's sometimes kind of intermediate casts that can be, that will come out.

So that's not what you want. You want to start, uh, when that larva has, uh, just emerged from the egg about 12 to 24 hours after the larva has emerged from the egg stage. That's a small larva. It's really small and you don't have to see it really well, but you know, by the amount of jelly that's in the bottom of that cell, that you're going to be picking up the larva.

And if you need to, you can actually look at it with good lighting or a magnifying glass and make sure that that larva is sitting on the little, uh, tiny droplet of jelly that you pick up with your grafting tool. Okay.

Speaker 2: Okay. So it's, so that you're going to, you start with stuff that, uh, will not lead to a queen, but you're going to work your way down to going as small as you can. And you're going to have a larva that's floating on a little puddle of jelly and you're going to try and scoop that up on some kind of a tool.

Speaker 3: Yes. Yeah. So commonly used that there's, um, uh, very fine camel hair paint brushes that can be used. That's what I first started with when I was first learning. And, um, I've, I've did that for years, but I've probably more commonly used now as a small Chinese grafting tool, which is a, consists of a, a reed at the end of a plunger. And, um, the larva gets picked up in the little bit of jelly gets picked up, scoop underneath the jelly and pick it up on that little bit of reed and go to lay it down in the cell, the cup that you're grafting into. And there's a plunger that just pushes that little jelly on which the larva is floating onto the bottom of the cup.

Speaker 2: Cause I've never used on these, just explain this to me. So you've got it on this little reed. It looks like a reed, like in a recorder or something. Like it's a little, yeah.

Speaker 3: Yeah.

Speaker 2: Like a miniature clarinet reed or a little bit flexible. Yeah. It's a little bit flexible. You go under the whole thing. You pick everything up. Yeah. And then you go into, uh, I guess, you know, we haven't talked about this, but you go into like a, another cell as like an artificial queen, a queen cup queen cup. And then you use the plunger to put the, yeah.

Speaker 3: So touch that reed to the bottom of the cell where you want the larva to be sitting. Yeah. Yeah. And then you just gently use the plunger and push it off of that little reed and it will slide off onto the bottom of that cup.

Speaker 2: And she doesn't get squished in the process.

Speaker 3: No, it's, and especially if you've, uh, if you're grafting from, uh, uh, a colony that has a lot of healthy nurseries, um, they will be putting a lot of jelly into those cells and that makes it easier to pick up the really tiny larvae.

Speaker 2: Oh, so there we're back to the cell prep, but getting it, doing that prep work.

Speaker 3: Exactly. Yeah. Okay. So then you've got them. Well, let, maybe just walk it. Let's just one take one step back. So I think we, we missed some steps here. We, we're talking about the grafting, but like these are going into these cups. Tell us about these cups and where they go. So what you would need to do is get, um, some specialized queen cups, uh, for rearing queens. So those can be purchased or you could make them on a wax yourself.

They can also be purchased out of wax. They're a little shallow, maybe about, uh, a quarter of an inch deep or a little bit less cups, uh, and they, they need to be attached to a bar that sits in a special frame that will go into the colony. So, uh, generally you would put 12 to 15 of these across the bar and of these cups.

Speaker 2: So that when it goes into the queen rearing colony, you've got a whole row of them that the workers can, can work on rearing at one time. And you're going to have a long array of these cups and they're just, uh, ideally you put 15 in and you get 15 queen cells.

Speaker 3: Oh, that would be wonderful. Yeah. That's very optimistic. Um, generally you would put, uh, in a, in one frame, you would put at least two rows of these. So you would put in probably 30.

Speaker 2: And so you've grafted them into these, these colonies are full of very young bees that are, you call them, you know, they're all juiced up and pumped up. They're full of food. And I guess the other thing that you were, uh, you sort of mentioned is there's no, nothing else for them to nurse.

Speaker 3: That's right. So there's, there's techniques for setting up the colony. It's not probably something that we can go, you know, through the whole procedure and get that all down in, in one short podcast, one short interview, but basically you don't want other competing larvae up, up in that area where the, uh, cells are going to be reared. So you want all the nurses to focus on these, these young queen potential queen larvae that you're putting in there.

Speaker 2: That have come tumbling off a reed into a cell and they're just like, these are our sisters. Let's get to work on them. Okay. So then they, they rear them out and then you've got, uh, these queen cells at the end of the process. There you go. In, in simple. Okay. So let's take a break.

Let's come back and let's talk about what those, what to do with those queen cells when they're done. Sounds good. Perfect. Okay.

We are back talking about queen marine with Heather Higo. Okay. So you've got these queen cells now. We've gone through this process. We've built these colonies that are really good at making queen cells. You did this grafting process. The cells have gotten are growing. What, what next? How does this whole thing go on?

Speaker 3: So there's a period of time that has to pass. Um, the cells need to be fully drawn out. So for the next three days, three to four days after you've grafted, um, there will be larvae, hopefully there will be larvae in there that are growing. And, um, on about the fourth day after you've grafted, they will be become sealed cells. So at that point, the larvae is about five days old from the egg stage. And then, uh, we need to wait a number of days after that, uh, for the queen to go through her pupation period. So from the date you grafted, 10 days after that is the time when you are going to, uh, get ready to get those cells out of that queen rearing colony.

Speaker 2: Well, if we were to open up those cells at this point, what would they look like?

Speaker 3: Um, so they would be if probably about nine days, they might be a little bit colored, but still a little, the queens would be a little bit soft.

Speaker 2: Okay. So they don't look like a larva anymore. They have pupated. They, but they're, they, they're starting to get colored. They're starting to have colors.

Speaker 3: They're starting to cut. They're, they'd be colored up by nine days. Um, they're not, you know, they're not able to, uh, survive if they were to be opened and let out at that point. They would usually emerge about day 11 to 12 after, after you've grafted.

Speaker 2: So they're only a couple of days away from popping out of those cells.

Speaker 3: That's right. Yeah. Great. But in during that period, they're very, they're cuticle hasn't hardened yet. They're very delicate. So if you are transporting them around, they really need to be handled carefully and with a lot of respect. So because you don't want to be damaging them, if they get chilled, then their wings may never fully develop or unfold. They could easily die. So they need to be kept warm at basically high temperature or a little bit less.

Speaker 2: Okay, so you've got them in this colony and now you're gonna take them out of this colony at this 10 days? Yes.

Speaker 3: Okay. So that's the point at which they're ready to be moved to what we would call a mating nucleus colony. Why not just leave them in there? That could be trouble. If you have more than one queen cell developing in a colony, the first queen that emerges, the first virgin queen to pop out, will move down the whole line of queens that are developing so nicely there and she will chew a hole in the side of those cells and sting each one of them and you'll be left with nothing except maybe that one queen. And some tears. All your grafting, all your effort will be for naught.

Speaker 2: Okay, so you really had this timing is really important.

Speaker 3: Calendar is really important with Queen Yiren. You need to be organized. You need to have a calendar. You need to know what's happening on what day.

Speaker 2: Okay, so day 10, you're gonna move, take them out and move them and you're telling us that we got to, we have to put a respectful face on for doing this whole.

Speaker 3: Absolutely. So when I do it, I have a little, a little foamy container inside like a six pack beer cooler with a couple of hot water bottles in the bottom, some insulating material above them so that there's not direct contact with where the queens are sitting. And then each of the queen cells will sit in the same orientation as they were developed in the queen rearing colony in one of those depressions that I've made in the foamy that I have in there.

Speaker 2: Okay, so they're gonna be, in some ways, they're gonna be moving through space, but they're not gonna be, you're trying to minimize them, they're moving laterally or any of that.

Speaker 3: Yeah, you want to minimize the vibration and no dropping and, and minimize any temperature, potential temperature shifts and, and so on.

Speaker 2: Okay, so then, and then you take them to something, you got to separate them out because otherwise they'd be at each other's throats.

Speaker 3: Yeah, so most queen breeders have a set of nukes that they've made up in advance. So these can be, you can, you can put them straight into other colonies that you've dequeened, but they need to go into somewhere where they can emerge as adult queens. And then over the next two weeks after that, they go out on first orientation flights and then mating flights to, to become a fully functioning queen, they need to mate with anywhere from 10 to 17 drones, those are kind of averages. So that there's a lot of fathers to the bees in each of your colonies. And that will happen in within the two weeks after you've put those cells into a mating nucleus colony.

Speaker 2: Okay, so let me get this right. You put this queen cell with bees that are not related.

Speaker 3: Yep, but that's fine. It's a queenless colony. You've made it queenless. Okay. And you don't need a huge amount of bees. There are very, very tiny nucleus colonies that you can use called baby nukes or you can use baby nukes.

Speaker 2: That's very cute. Yeah. And in some circles, that would mean a binocular or something. But no, so a nucleus colony, a little small colony.

Speaker 3: Okay. So a nucleus colony could be anything from four or five frames of bees with, you know, one or two frames of brood down to just, you know, 500 bees in a tiny little box.

Speaker 2: Enough to keep that queen cell warm, I suppose. Enough to keep the queen cell warm and the queen nourished after she emerges from herself. Okay, gotcha. Okay. So she pops out, she's walking around. And then what?

Speaker 3: For the first few days, she's just walking around in there and the bees are attending her and feeding her and her wings harden up, her cuticle hardens up. And then if the weather is good, about two to three or four days after she's emerged as an adult, she'll begin going on flights. Her mating flight, first of all, she'll be going on orientation flights to, so that she can orient to the colony where she's coming from and she'll be able to return there and find out where her home is. After she's mated. So she'll do a few of those orientation flights and then she'll go on actual mating flights after that. Okay.

Speaker 2: And she mates, what did you say, with a whole bunch of males?

Speaker 3: Yeah, a whole bunch of males. So she'll be flying up and looking for congregation areas. Usually they're about 60 meters up in the, you know, above ground and there's kind of, it's kind of a bit of a mystery on how they're developed. There's lots of theories, but you ever seen one of these things?

Speaker 2: I have actually. Yeah. Okay. Tell us about that. It was many, many years ago when I was doing some work in cranberry pollination and I was actually monitoring bees pollinating cranberries and counting the amount of number of seconds they spent on each flower and timing them. And all of a sudden I heard this really loud buzzing overhead and I, well, I didn't know where it was coming from, but I looked up and probably about, I don't know, 20 or 30 meters or maybe more up overhead was this big cloud of drones flying in a V and I obviously couldn't see individual ones, but it was, yeah, it was really, it was loud enough for me to hear it and it was quite a distance overhead.

Speaker 2: That is so cool. Yeah. And I never, of course I lost track of my counter that I was and my timing that I was counting bees and the whole thing kind of went out the window because I never in my life expected I'd see a congregation area. So, okay. That's really neat. So they find one of these congregate, they mate and then how long after you put that queen cell and will you have like a, you know, a mated queen?

Speaker 3: Generally two weeks unless you've had really bad weather and the queens haven't been able to get out to fly. You can leave them a little bit longer, but there's optimally it's within the first two weeks that they should get mated.

If a queen doesn't mate within the first two weeks, there is a possibility that she could start laying unfertilized drone eggs and that's not something that you as a beekeeper want, of course, because it's not going to make a productive colony. Right. Okay.

So, okay. So you can let it go a little longer, three weeks, and that would be my maximum of letting a virgin queen go in the colony before seeing evidence that she's properly mated.

Speaker 2: Now, I can imagine, you know, if somebody was inspired by this episode starts doing this, they work out all these steps. They start to make queens and they may even have extra queens.

Like, what happens? You got all these little mating nukes full of queens and somebody wants two here and four there and maybe you want to hold some for yourself, but you're not quite ready for them. What do you do with all these queens? You just leave them there?

Speaker 3: No, no. So the idea is with mating nukes that you could rear another batch of queens and do that three or four times throughout the spring and summer. Okay. So when you pull those queens from the mating nukes, if you don't have homes for them right away, you can do what we call banking. Banking.

Yep. You can put those queens in a bank and you won't get interest from them as they're in the bank, but which you probably wouldn't from your bank these days anyway. But yeah, so it's basically a colony that has a for mated queens, you can use a queen right bank.

So a nice big colony with lots of young bees with brood in two boxes. You want the queen down below and a splutter above the bottom box. So the queen is tucked away safely down.

Speaker 2: Oh, because if there wasn't a queen excluder, she would.

Speaker 3: Yeah, she would be going up and down between both boxes and they might react aggressively and not tend those queens if the queens you put in there, if the queen is roaming around there as well.

Speaker 2: The queens in a cage, can she hurt the queens in the cage?

Speaker 3: No, the cage protects them from being stung or...

Speaker 2: All right, of course, that's how you introduce a queen. Yeah. So they're pretty safe in the cages. Long-term queen banking is not a great idea because the Tarsie, the little tiny feet of the queens can get damaged over time, but for just a few weeks or a month, if you have to, it's not a problem. Okay, so you can hold on to them.

Speaker 3: Yeah, and you can store quite a number of queens in a queen bank, as long as you keep it well populated and there's lots of nurse bees. And you will also want to be feeding sugar syrup and maybe pollen as well, so that those nurse bees stay with nice, well, lots of great nutrition and nice fat glands that they're taking care of those queens because they're feeding them jelly from their glands.

Speaker 2: Okay, but you want to separate them from the other queen because the workers will start to behave differently. They'll be more conducive to these queens.

Speaker 3: Exactly. Yeah. So, I mean, you can also use a queen list queen bank in which you've totally removed the queen, but that's really not necessary for queens that are made at a queen right queen bank works perfectly fine.

Speaker 2: Okay, all right. So now we've got these queens and I guess at that point, you can use them for a variety of purposes. You can sell them, but you could also have a problem with a colony. Yep.

Speaker 3: Most beekeepers want to be requeening their colonies every year or every two years at the outside. So you can use those queens for your annual or our biannual replacement of queens, or you can, you know, share them with your beekeeping cohorts that you your friends and then in the area, or if you become a bit larger, you can even sell them. Okay.

Speaker 2: All right. So how does this all sounds really cool? I'm sure people are like, okay, I can do this. So what like, how does one get started to do this? Like, obviously a podcast ain't going to cut it.

Speaker 3: No, you really need some hands on mentoring or teaching with this. You can, although you can try it yourself. And there's some, there's some videos online. I'm sure I haven't searched them out, but I know they do exist online.

So that's another possibility. There are some books that you can get to and, and you know, the old classic laid law queen rearing book is one of the best. But there will be some new ones that are available too.

So that's something you can search out. But probably the best thing is to either have a mentor in your area who is already queen rearing that you could offer to help them a little bit and they would maybe guide you. Or if there's a queen rearing course available in your area, that would be absolutely ideal.

Speaker 2: Okay, great. I think that's, that's really great advice. And the laid law book is really great. I don't know if it's still impressed, but yeah, I'm not sure either.

Speaker 3: That's, yeah, that's a good question.

Speaker 2: It's such a great, but it's really kind of comprehensive as lots of different options

Speaker 3: for beginners and also people who want to be advanced things. Okay, great. All right. Let's, let's take it one more break. I've got some questions to ask you. Alrighty.

Speaker 2: Let's just go at it. The questions. So Heather, yes, I've known you for years and I am really curious what your first, we ask everybody if they have a book recommendation, what is your book recommendation on?

Speaker 3: Well, having known me for many years and knowing that the lab that I worked in for many years was Mark Winston's lab at Simon Fraser University. So going back to basics, I still, I would recommend Mark Winston's, the biology of the honeybee. It's a very good, all-around kind of bee biology textbook kind of reference that you can refer back to. I still refer back to it many times and, and just, you know, checking on things. Oh, how, how, you know, how big is the concrete, you know, how, how far can a drone fly?

How far can a queen fly? And, and just all kinds of things. I'm always referring back to it. And it was really well referenced.

It was well researched when it was made. So that would be my, my main choice. And I do have another suggestion as well.

For general beekeeping, the Canadian Association of Professional Apocultures has put together a fantastic manual on pests and diseases. And it's full of color pictures. It's full of information. And it's very, very reasonable. It's a soft cover book of a, and it's, yeah, I would highly recommend that one as well.

Speaker 2: Those are two such great recommendations. I do like Mark's book because it is so readable and it does have, at the same time, you got to, you want to figure out the average weight of a drone. I don't know. It's, it's there. It's all there. Yeah. But the Kappa publication, the first one to mention it, I don't think people know what Kappa is, Canadian Association of Professional Apocultures.

Speaker 3: So I don't think you have a similar organization in the US. So the Canadian Association of Professional Apocultures is regulators across Canada in conjunction with inspection, well, regulators slash inspection staff in conjunction with scientists and provincial. So all the research across, all the research, bee researchers across Canada are members of the Canadian Association of Professional Apocultures, as are the regulators. And it's a very active group. So they, they've put together like this amazing publication and they're constantly asked for ideas on policy by government and other regulatory agencies. So it's a really, just an amazing group that I've learned a lot being part of it.

Speaker 2: Well, I proudly remember myself and I guess it would not be as two members of Kappa just to point out that Canada will be hosting Epimondia.

Speaker 3: Exactly. In 2019 in Montreal, in Quebec.

Speaker 2: In Quebec. Yeah. It's going to be a great conference. And we are looking at each other's at 2019.

Speaker 3: 2019.

Speaker 2: Is it? Okay. It's coming up. Wow.

Speaker 3: Okay. We really, it's going to be September 2019.

Speaker 2: And you and I were, you were head of the Volunteer Committee at Epimondia in 1999 in Vancouver.

Speaker 3: It'll be 20 years since that has happened. Yeah. And I was one of your minions. That was an amazing conference. It was really amazing. Yeah. Yeah. I expect the, the same for the upcoming one in 2019.

Speaker 2: Listeners, this is a massive conference. It was, well, it, this hasn't been in North America since 1999. No, I don't think so. Yeah. No, I don't think so. It's really big. It's like, it's like the lullapalooza of like the world. So great. Oh, that's dating me. Let's move on. So tools, tool, your go-to tool, your tool that you want people to know about.

Speaker 3: Well, you might be surprised at this, but I was thinking about this. And I think one thing that I find most useful to me is my yard book. So I have, um, I have a yard book.

And so I keep track of all my B yards in this book. And, um, I'm able to make notes, all my colonies are numbered. So I'm able to make notes on colonies that I think are doing extremely well.

Or if there's problems on colonies that I think I need to go back and check, I can highlight those as well. And I use it, I never go into my B yards without it. So it's always there. And it's, um, I refer to it constantly.

Speaker 2: Can you give us an example of what you put in there? What was the last thing you wrote?

Speaker 3: So I was out there on last weekend in my visiting my B's and, uh, checking all the colonies and actually putting in pollen patties. So I had a general entry at the beginning that, uh, in whatever yard I was in, I was pollen patting and checking colonies. And then I have separate sheets actually in the book for each colony. And then I could write if I saw a problem on one colony that might be too small or if it needed some, we're still in the middle of almost the end of winter, but still too cold to be feeding properly. So if I saw a colony that needed emergency sugar feed, I would write that down in there. So I could, you know, double check and see how they've done if they've recovered from the small size that I saw or, or whatever.

Speaker 2: So is it a binder or is it like a regular?

Speaker 3: Um, I used to use a binder, but now I use a, uh, a regular, just a spiral bound notebook.

Speaker 2: Uh, they're playing foosball behind us. So we've got, I got a quick last question. Do you have a favorite pollinator?

Speaker 3: Sure. My favorite, my favorite pollinator. Um, well, I've mainly worked with honeybees and I have to say that my favorite thing to find amongst honeybees is a baby bee emerging from herself for the first time.

Oh, I know. Because that is such, if you're ever showing people bees for the first time, they can hold newly emerged bees. The cuticle hasn't hardened. They can't sting. They can't fly away. So that's how I introduced both my grandchildren to, to honeybees as well as being able to carry these young baby bees around because we knew that they were safe with them. So that's, that would be kind of my, my choice from my personal perspective.

Speaker 2: That's a great, I, and I have to say my capacity to pick up and mark Queens by hand came from years in the Winston lab of marking hundreds of thousands of babies. There you go. All right, Heather, I think we're being drowned out by a food ball game. It was such a pleasure having you on pollination.

Speaker 3: Yeah, thank you, don't need my pleasure to be here.

Speaker 1: Thanks so much for listening. Show notes with information discussed in each episode can be found at pollinationpodcast.organstate.edu.

Speaker 2: We'd also love to hear from you and there are several ways to connect. For one, you can visit our website to post an episode-specific comment, suggest a future guest or

Speaker 2: topic, or ask a question that could be featured in a future episode. You can also email us at [email protected].

Speaker 1: Finally, you can tweet questions or comments or join our Facebook or Instagram communities. Just look us up at OSU Pollinator Health. If you like the show, consider letting iTunes know by leaving us a review or rating.

It makes us more visible, which helps others discover pollination. See you next week.

Heather began working with honey bees in 1987 at Simon Fraser University (SFU) in British Columbia, Canada and completed a Master’s degree in bee research under Mark Winston. On completion she took on the position of SFU bee research coordinator, managing the university’s honey bee colonies and bee research lab, and mentoring students until the lab closed. In 2007, Heather began running a small queen rearing operation in Langley, British Columbia, Canada and continued in the bee community giving talks and teaching queen rearing and IPM workshops in the Fraser Valley while also working in Plant Health for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). In 2011, CFIA assigned her to work on the Bee IPM Project with University of British Columbia (UBC) and Agriculture Canada to improve honey bee mite and disease resistance through breeding and testing. After a short time back at CFIA, in 2015 Heather returned to bee research with UBC as the BC Field Manager for the Marker Selection and Beeomics projects, where she led a team sampling and testing colonies throughout BC as part of a five-province effort to develop new technological tools to enhance our breeding selection capabilities and improve the bee industry. In 2017 she was awarded the prestigious Fred Rathje Award by the Canadian Honey Council for her years of service to Canadian beekeepers. Heather is currently working for UBC on queen selection tools and other research projects in addition to rearing queens.

Listen in to learn more about how you can get started rearing your own queens, the many facets of it’s preparation, and Heather’s tips in getting started.

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“Basically you can rear queens with one queenright, a queen starter colony, and a few mating nucs, so it doesn’t have to be atrociously expensive.” – Heather Higo

Show Notes:

  • What Beemasters is and who it’s for
  • Why people go to the trouble of rearing their own queens
  • Why the preparation of queen rearing is so crucial
  • How to get past the daunting task of grafting
  • Some of the specialized tools you need to start rearing your own queens
  • The general timeline of queen rearing
  • Why separating the different queens is so important
  • What are typically the first days of life for a new queen
  • What to do if you end up with extra queens

“A calendar is really important with queen rearing. You need to be organized, you need to have a calendar, and you need to know what’s happening on what day.” – Heather Higo

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