Golden Lucina Line
In ancient Roman religion and myth, Lucina
was the goddess of childbirth. The name was generally taken to mean "she who brings children into the light"
It just seemed to fitting that we name our golden line after Lucina. These golden beauties are generally solid gold in color and at times will have a little dark spot on the base of her abdomen.
This line of queens has been at the top of population quantity. The test colonies that we use these queens in generally have larger populations when compared to our other colonies. In many cases we had to add a 3rd brood box to these hives because if there is an empty cell, she will find it and lay an egg there.
The second best trait about these bees is
temperament. They are very gentle and do not
get as defensive in the late summer/fall as our other Italian bees do. They still maintain a very good front door defense against robbing and other pests that do not belong.
We have incorporated VSH in this line of queens but it is not a dominate genetic attribute with these queens. They handle slightly above average mite counts well.
Due to the large quantity of bees in these colonies, honey production was never an issue. The supers were always full of honey.
These bees do require acceptable feeding in the fall to maintain the vast amount of bees they can over winter with.
Pol-Line Hybrid Line
Our Pol-Line queens are a hybrid line that consist of a Pol-Line queen that was inseminated with semen from our best survivor stock. We then observed the queens we made from that breeder and were absolutely shocked how well the performed.
Background of the development of Pol-line
(Source Tom Glenn)
Queen bees with the trait of varroa sensitive hygiene (VSH), which have good resistance to the mites, were tested by researchers at the USDA Bee Breeding Lab in Baton Rouge, LA, for several seasons in a commercial migratory beekeeping operation focused on crop pollination. Colonies were created from out crossed VSH queens (that is, matings were not controlled, a method used by most large-scale beekeepers). Colonies were shipped nationwide and used to pollinate almonds in California, apples in New York, low-bush blueberries in Maine and cranberries in Massachusetts, followed by late summer honey production in New York. VSH colonies performed well in terms of survival, populations of bees, and resistance to varroa mites. The best-surviving VSH colonies from each year were propagated to form the Pol-line breeding population with enhanced genetics for both mite resistance and behavior related to crop pollination.
Due to the age of the Pol-Line program and age my Pol-Line breeder queen, 2019 will be my last year with this pol line generation. I will be getting some commercial beekeeper pollinator virgin queens this year and inseminating drones from my Pol-Line breeder to them. I will have these available in 2020.
How we turn little process changes into better queens
There are people who make queens and there are queen breeders. Unfortunately there are a lot of queen makers out there selling queens to anyone who will buy them. What separates a queen maker from a queen breeder is the production of quality queens through record keeping, best practices and quality breeder queens.
We start our best practices by making our own queen cell cups from our own beeswax. This doesn't seem like it would play much into a quality queen but it certainly does. Most beeswax that is used in production of wax cell cups comes from large commercial operations that treat for mites using various chemicals. Wax absorbs chemicals and those chemicals will be in the cells that come in contact with food the queen larva will eat. I feel that the most delicate time of a queen's life is the first 12 to 36 hours after hatching, therefore we do not expose them to any unnecessary chemicals.
Protein is what builds a healthy bee! We provide our cell builder colonies frames of certified organic pollen that we purchase. We literally dump granules of pollen in the center of empty frames and put them next to the queen cell bars. This gives the bees direct access to stored quality pollen. We do know that bees bring in locally sourced pollen but because of our rural farm area we get more pollen from wildflower sources that are untouched by pesticides. At the same time we are feeding with a pollen sub mixed liquid feed. This gives the bees a higher level of quality proteins in the most crucial time of a larva's life. I feel that its the same thing as a pregnant women taken prenatal vitamins during a pregnancy.
Record keeping! Every colony that is in our test group is serial numbered and the queens marked with specific colors for identification. There are multiple pieces of data we keep on every hive including honey production, temperament when opening the lid, disposition of workers when holding a frame, hygienic clean hive, hive population at season changes, quality of comb building, and diseases. Colonies that fail to perform at a certain level are removed from our selection hives and re-queened.
Breeder queens! Every queen we graft from has been instrumentally inseminated from the highest quality of stock from our apiary as well as other top queen producers in the world.