Being a provider of queen honeybees carries with it several responsibilities. First, and always foremost, is to raise quality queens. Anyone who is raising queens has an obligation to focus on quality in all facets of the queen raising process. This means paying attention to details and not cutting corners. From selecting a breeder queen, to grafting larvae, to raising queen cells, to optimizing mating conditions, and all the way to caging and shipping queens, any failure to maintain a high standard of quality can, and likely will, result in the raising of sub-standard queens.
Raising queens, however, is only half of the formula for developing a quality queen. What is equally important is the breeding of queens. The queen producer wants queens, but the queen breeder wants more. The queen breeder wants an improvement in the queen stock. Therefore, breeding cannot be overlooked as a key component of the queen rearing process. Most every queen producer, large or small, will start with a good breeder queen. But this is a long way from selecting heritable properties in the bees from generation to generation.
Breeding queens involves reproducing genetic lines of bees from generation to generation by selecting for specific traits that the beekeeper desires. It requires both promoting positive traits and removing undesirable traits. It also requires generational focus on combining the very best of genetic material. While some queen producers may overlook this part of the formula, fortunately, many conscientious queen producers throughout the years – and continuing through today – have understood the entire breadth and responsibility of raising queens. These individuals are much more than producers of queens; they are true breeders of quality honeybees.