What makes our queens unique?
A good queen is the backbone of any apiary. So what makes a good queen?
Local - Our bees live in WI 365 days a year. We don’t do pollination and we overwinter all our colonies outdoors here in WI. When we say local, we mean it.
Winter Survival – Our bees have been bred to survive the long and cold WI winter while consuming less resources. We overwinter our colonies in single 5 frame nucs, single 6 frame nucs and single 10 frame deeps. This might sound impossible to some folks when they first hear it, but I can assure you it happens.
We Don't Bank Our Mated Queens- Our mated queens don't sit in a cage being held in a hive just waiting for someone to place an order like many large scale queen suppliers. The time the queen spends not laying can be detrimental to the queens longevity and career. When we prepare a shipment, only then do we remove the laying queen and cage her.
Mated Queen Evaluation - We don't pull our queens until they have laid a frame of eggs that we can examine. We want to see the brood pattern before we sell you our queens. This means queen mating can take anywhere from 14-21 days before she is ready to be handed off to you. This goes against most large scale operations that pull a queen on day 10 and bank her before she has started to lay or just a day after.
II Breeder Queens - Lloyd St. Bees revolves around the import of II (instrumentally inseminated) breeder queens and crossbreeding them with our local stock towards the goal of elevating the quality of the queens produced in Wisconsin. These II breeders are not the same as the queen you receive in a package from CA or GA. They have been specially selected for their traits (VSH, nosema resistance, winter cluster…). Virgin queens are inseminated with drones that carry the same traits in order to insure purebred stock and can cost from $300-$1200 apiece. We source our breeder stock from Olympic Wilderness Apiary and Harbo Bee co.
Varroa Sensitive Hygiene – VSH is the best alternative to treating your bees because the bees manage the varroa for you. Our II breeders come from top VSH specialists in the US and insure a strong VSH trait is passed down to our daughter queens.Even though we trust our suppliers, we submit our breeder queens to a one year trial before introducing them into our stock. During this time, we monitor their performance and the performance of their daughters. All breeder queens from our own stock or imported are subjected to a test to measure the level of VSH they contain. This involves counting the number of reproductive and non-reproductive mites within 100 capped brood cells. We score them on this metric and advance them into the breeding program if they have high marks.