Newsroom Story Ideas
© Alison Van Alten
Queen bees are larger than worker bees and have an elongated abdomen. Beekeepers often mark their queens with a coloured dot for quick location. Queens can live up to three years, but it is recommended that they be kept for less than two years as young queens are more productive.
© Alison Van Alten
She travels long distances with her retinue in a carriage slightly bigger than a match-box. She has to eat her way out of the box before starting her reign and producing heirs....
We’re talking about the Queen Bee, of course. Queen bees are prized possessions and the pillars of healthy, robust bee colonies.
“Ontario is unique amongst provinces in that we are quite self-sufficient when it comes to queen supply,” said Paul Kozak, Apiary Specialist with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA).
This sector of the beekeeping industry owes its strength to a network of dedicated breeders who are well respected within Ontario and beyond.
“Queen breeders ensure that Ontario has a steady supply of queens that are bred for the local conditions. They provide the foundation that beekeepers need to build their operations, and they even export to other beekeeping regions of Canada,” said Kozak.
Over the past few years, queen breeders’ services have been more appreciated than ever. With the high levels of bee colony losses that have been observed here and in other areas of the country and the world, the demand for new queen bees went up significantly.
A significant factor in the success of this sector is the breeding program run by the Ontario Beekeepers Association through its Technology Transfer Team, which selects for mite and disease resistance.
“Ontario is very proactive in using resistant traits rather than using treatments against diseases and parasites,” explained Alison Van Alten, a queen breeder in the Guelph area, who just retired from the Tech Transfer Team after 15 years. “Some queen breeders select for disease- and mite-resistant stock, as well as other beneficial characteristics such as honey production, wintering ability, pollination and gentleness, for example.”
To support the health of the bee sector, anyone who sells bees, queens or queen cells is required to obtain a permit from the provincial apiarist. Permits are issued on the basis of inspection. This helps prevent the transmission of honey bee diseases from operation to operation.
Kelly Rogers (OBBA President)
Alison Van Alten
For more information, please contact:
Susan Murray, Communications Branch, 519-826-3145