Raising Good Quality Queen Bees

New discovery changes everything.

What makes a queen a queen and not a worker?

It was until now thought that feeding lots or royal jelly for an extended time will turn a lava into a queen, if they did not get enough they will turn into a worker. This is not true, what makes a lava become a queen and not a worker is a lack of honey. Feeding bee bread a mix of pollen and honey stops a lava becoming a queen and they will become a worker. If is not the fact that the queen is fed only royal jelly that makes her a queen, but that she is not fed bee bread.

This is a recent discovery, and requires a rethink of all we assumed about raising queens, all eggs are raised as queens until they are fed bee bread, until now we assumed that bees were raised as workers until being chosen to be a queen. All previous research now has to be viewed with this in mind.


If your hive does not have the resources to make one good queen cell, it may still try and you may end up a sub-standard queen. If they have enough resources to make 1 queen but not 2, they will only make one, bees do not make bad queens unless it is a single cell scenario stated previously. Bees will tear down queen cells that are not up to scratch. The amount of resources relates to the number of cells not the quality.

What size lava should I graph from

In the wild bees make queen cells from a variety of different aged lava and eggs, they do not pick only the youngest lava. It is true that an older lava is more likely to be torn down than a younger lava, but if it is not torn down then it is a quality queen. If the bees pass it, it is ok. There is no decline in quality for queens from older lava. We could in theory graph from an egg, but they are attached to the cell and cannot easily be removed.

Well mated queens

Queens mate with an average of 12 drones, this is true no matter what the weather. Some lines of queens will mate with only 2 or 3 drones others will mate with up to 50. Most of the seaman will be discarded, but she will keep some seaman from each drone. She will get enough seaman from one drone but she wants a diversity of seaman. The story you may have heard that drones that are mated out of season and do not mate with enough drones is false. The number of drones mated with is not reliant on weather and does not affect her quality.

So why do they mate with more than one drone if there is enough seaman from one, for diversity, hives with many fathers survive disease better.

If a queen dose not get mated to her liking she will venture out a second day but rarely, and very rarely ever a third, this also is consistent with the fact that queens have no trouble mating with enough drones. Having said this, it must be warm enough for the queen to fly, this temperature is been reported to be anywhere from 14c to 19c.

A case for early queens

In early spring you see some hives take off weeks before others and produce drones before the others. In Canada where this trait is especially benefaction due to their short summer, they are trying to breed queens early so that they mate with these early drones before late hives produce their drones and there for pass on this trait.


Bees only allow the best queens to survive, if they hatch it is a quality queen. Picking younger lava will give you a better percentatge of hatchings, but not better quality. It is worth noting that the tearing down of cells can happen even after the cell is capped and the taking of cells out of the hive and placing in the incubator too early may allow weaker queens to survive.