A specialist queen rearing course was held at Richmond, NSW on the 25th -27th March, hosted by the Wheen Foundation and conducted by the two NSW DPI, beekeeping specialists Dr Doug Somerville and Mr Nick Annand. The course was fully subscribed with 18 students who travelled from as far as Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, Northern Territory, Cocos Islands and regional NSW.
The course has been developed to provide beekeepers with the skills and knowledge to produce their own quality queen bees. The queen bee in essence is the engine of the colony, without her the colony does not survive. A queen bee reared from superior genetic stock on good nutrition, in a disease free environment will provide a colony of bees the basis to maximise productivity.
Subjects covered during the three days included:
- managing cell starting and cell finishing colonies
- queen mother and drone mother colonies
- nutritional requirements of a healthy hive
- disease and pest management
- the biology and anatomy of honey bees
- genetics and breeding programs
- looking after young queens
- handling queens
- artificial insemination
- calendar of operations - and much more.
There are very few opportunities for beekeepers to take part in specialist training. As the circumstances of keeping bees becomes tougher with increasing pressure from a range of pests and diseases, plus the variability in Australia’s climate, it is important that individual beekeepers give themselves every opportunity to maximise the productivity from each bee hive under their management. This course is an annual event and this year was fully subscribed with a waiting list created for next year.
Better informed and trained beekeepers are in a stronger position to provide colonies of honey bees for pollination services and honey production.
Author: Doug Somerville, NSW DPI