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  • Writer's pictureTrevor Bawden

Why Virgin Queens: Virgin Queens Take the Throne Best

Updated: Jan 23

Why Virgin Queens: Virgin Queens Take the Throne Best

We wrote the book on using virgin queens successfully, literally!

ABJ Trevor Bawden Published Article 2022
Download PDF • 4.16MB

We love using virgin queens in our operation so much, that we stopped using queen cells in our mating nucs completely. While it may sound difficult to beekeepers to install a virgin queen, it’s actually very similar to installing a mated queen. Lately we have received a lot of questions from everyone about virgin queens. We thought we would post some of them here for everyone to review:

virgin queen bees
A banking frame of virgin queens

How do I introduce a virgin queen?

I wrote an article on the how and why of using virgin queens in American Bee Journal, May edition 2022. You can download the PDF of the article here.

I want to split my colony, can I use a virgin queen?Yes, you can use a virgin queen to make a nuc, but you can’t use one to divide a large double deep colony in half. We suggest you buy three or more virgin queens to divide your large colony into multiple small nucs.

I want to requeen my colony, can I use a virgin queen?

We only recommend using the virgin queens when making up nucs instead of trying to use the virgin queens to requeen large colonies. We would advise using the whole nuc once the queen is mated to requeen the larger colonies via a newspaper combine. This is what we do in our operation to requeen colonies and have had close to 100% acceptance.

When should I split my bees?

We have a checklist we advise folks to use when considering splitting their colonies using virgin queens.

  • Split your strongest colonies first. Dividing weak colonies up will only make them worse.

  • Split them when there is a nectar flow on.

  • Split them when nighttime lows are above 50F consistently.

  • Split them when there is a heavy drone population.

Typically, all these conditions are starting to get ideal in WI around mid May to early June. Attempting to split earlier than this will only make your life more difficult.

I have never done a split before; I’m scared I’ll mess it up!

Learning to split a colony makes you a sustainable beekeeper. Using virgin queens to make up many nucs is a low cost/high reward way of doing things. If you buy 10 virgin queens from us and only 50% return mated, then you are only paying $40 for a mated queen in the end. Don’t worry though, our customers generally have a 75% or higher mating return when they follow our directions on virgin queen introduction.

Thanks for supporting local beekeeping,

Trevor Bawden

Lloyd St. Bees

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