2010 'Born and Bred' in NC Initiative
Please note that the 'Born & Bred' initiative on queen rearing and bee breeding is no longer active as we were not able to secure ongoing funding beyond 2010. Please keep posted to any further developments, however, for possible new opportunities in training.
The NC State Apiculture Program is pleased to announce a new state-wide training initiative. We have recently secured a grant through the Golden LEAF Foundation to hold numerous workshops on queen rearing and clinics on bee breeding.
Most beekeepers acquire new stock by purchasing newly mated queen bees from large commercial queen producers, mostly located in the Southeast (GA and FL) or the west coast (CA), and then introducing them to their hives. This large-scale, national queen production strategy has several inherent problems, most notably an unreliable supply of queens, difficulties in obtaining queens when they're needed, and a lack of local genetic adaptation. We believe that local, small-scale queen producers located across NC is a viable alternative model for obtaining queens, which will enable individual beekeepers to control the genetic destiny in their own hives. In doing so, we hope to elicit every beekeeper in North Carolina to implement their own queen-rearing program if they so choose.
We will hold numerous queen-rearing workshops during the spring of 2010 in various locations all across the state. The purpose of the workshops will be to educate a large number of beekeepers in basic queen-rearing techniques (e.g., creating cell-builder colonies, grafting, establishing mating nucleus hives, etc…). Each workshop will be open to all beekeepers and the general public, capped at a maximum enrollment (roughly 50 participants, depending on the venue) on a first-come first-serve basis (concurrent sessions will be considered if demand warrants). In doing so, we will conduct separate workshops in each of the major geographic areas across the state to take advantage of the appropriate seasonality: roughly March for Eastern NC, April for Central NC, and May for Western NC. At each event, we will conduct hands-on training exercises that participants can implement immediately, and we will incorporate evaluations and surveys to collect information on each participant for subsequent follow up. These trainings are geared towards all beekeepers at all levels and aimed at helping to provide the tools and know-how in raising your own queens.
Once we establish an interested group of beekeepers specifically educated in basic queen-rearing protocols, we will then solicit participants for advanced bee-breeding clinics in the fall of 2010. Bee breeding is above and beyond basic queen rearing, since it involves a thorough understanding of genetics, selection, specialized techniques (such as instrumental insemination), data collection, and constant monitoring. We will conduct these trainings in the fall, again in each of the three areas identified above to enable us to concentrate on the unique aspects of the local climate. Unlike the queen-rearing workshops, we will select only those participants who have attended prior training on queen rearing and we will carefully vet the applicants to ensure that the participants are willing and capable of conducting a comprehensive breeding program. We will cap each short course at approximately 15 participants, and we will instruct each participant in basic pedigrees, genetic crosses, selection criteria, trait quantification, prevention of inbreeding, instrumental insemination techniques, and stock analysis. These trainings are geared towards experienced beekeepers with an expressed interest in not only queen rearing but stock selection and queen production.