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Rearing queen bees in beekeeping operations requires the accurate timing of events and activities. This article guides you on how to use a queen rearing calendar for success in your queen rearing efforts. It also explains the queen rearing calendar while exploring major concepts in the queen rearing process. Beekeeping operations require healthy queen bees in their honeybee colonies for optimum productivity. With a queen rearing calendar, you are able to produce new queen bees on schedule to meet your need to replace queen bees. Newly reared queen bees require mating before they are useful in the honeybee colony, so be sure to get them fertilized using the method available to you.
What is a Queen Rearing Calendar?
A queen rearing calendar is a device in beekeeping that you use to plan and schedule the events and activities that you need to carry out in each round of rearing a queen bee. You can use it to raise one queen bee or many queen bees at a time. The queen rearing calendar that you use can be in one of the following formats:
1. Circular Queen Rearing Calendar
Circular queen rearing calendars are popular and have seen wide usage in beekeeping operations. There are many varying circular queen rearing calendars you can find today. They are a result of beekeepers and beekeeping organizations tweaking the queen rearing calendar to better suit their specific needs. The circular queen rearing calendar features concentric circles of information including dates, events, numbers, and beehives to use among other information types. They are made using two or more circular pieces of paper that rotate independently of each other. Rotating one or more constituent pieces of paper of the circular queen rearing calendar, allows for the reading of information sets in one section against information in the other sections of the calendar.
Most circular queen rearing calendars are color-coded. It helps you to read the information easily from the calendar. Color-coding the calendar also helps with the separation of information groups in the circular queen rearing calendar.
A pointer running from the center of the calendar to its outer perimeter edge is included in the calendar. It points you to events and activities as well as indication various other information that you should put into action.
Advantages of Circular Queen Rearing Calendar
The circular queen rearing calendar makes it easy to plan the process so that queen bees emerge or are mated on a specific future date. You can do this by aligning the emergence day or mating day with the date of the month on which you want the event to happen. By reading the calendar backward, you are able to easily see the day of the month on which you should graft larva to queen cell cups. It also shows you the date on which you should note the laid eggs in the beehive so that you will use them after four (4) days as your source of newly hatched honeybee larva.
2. Tabular Queen Rearing Calendar
Tabular queen rearing calendars present information in a table format. You read the table to determine the stage that you are at within the process of queen rearing. Reading the table also informs you of what you should do at present – if you need to do anything. From the table of the queen rearing calendar, you can also see upcoming events and activities and prepare for them.
Different tabular queen rearing calendars have varying features based on the person or organization that makes the respective tables. Due to this, they can be color-coded or not. They may also have side notes and instructions on how to use them. If you settle on using a tabular queen rearing calendar in your beekeeping operation, make sure that you are able to read it for guidance in your queen rearing process.
3. Linear Queen Rearing Calendar
A linear queen rearing calendar presents information in a linear format. Typically, it features a number line with queen rearing events and activities along the line. The number line denotes successive days in the queen rearing process. The number line may have space within or along it for you to enter actual dates of the month for easier reading of the calendar.
You may find various features in your linear queen rearing calendar, depending on the maker of the calendar. Some makers include color-coding in the calendars they make.
4. Electronic Queen Rearing Calendar Applications
The adoption of technology in beekeeping has led to the development of electronic queen rearing calendars. Such electronic calendars are mostly available to beekeepers in form of applications. They can be smartphone applications, online applications, or offline software applications. Online applications utilize the advantages of internet connectivity and cloud-based computing. All these applications are good for use because they are accurate. Their availability at all times may be impacted by your access to internet connectivity. Offline applications are thus the best route to go if you adopt electronic queen rearing calendars in your beekeeping operation.
Queen rearing calendars usually go for the day on which eggs were laid to be the starting day of the queen rearing process. With an electronic queen rearing calendar, you can choose any day of the process to be your starting day of the process. The grafting day is a popular alternative starting day for many beekeepers. Some electronic rearing calendar applications allow you to choose your starting day, thereby easily meeting your preferences.
Advantages of Electronic Queen Rearing Calendar Applications
Advantages of using electronic queen rearing calendar applications, in place of those printed on paper or other materials, range from ease of use to the ability to present detailed information to users.
- One major advantage that stands out is the ability of electronic calendars to send you reminders of various types. When an activity or event in the queen rearing cycle is nearing, you can receive an email, SMS, sound, and vibration alerts based on your preferences. These increase the likelihood that you will not forget to carry out the queen-rearing tasks required of you.
- The second major advantage of these applications is their ability to give you information that is localized. It can be specific to the breed of honeybees that you are rearing. Some breeds of honeybees develop their queen bees in timelines that differ from the general timeline for European honeybees. Beekeepers with such specific honeybee breeds are there very well suited to use electronic queen rearing calendar applications and software.
- Thirdly, electronic apps have an advantage over other queen rearing calendars because of their ability to customize information for different queen rearing methods. It allows the app to be easily used with several methods of queen rearing where traditional calendars would not work. Beekeepers that are not experienced in queen rearing may go for simple methods of queen rearing such as using emergency queens, exploiting supersedure, and making use of swarm cells among others. These methods do not require the grafting of honeybee larvae and are thus attractive to beginner beekeepers. You may also find yourself having to deal with an emergency queen, supersedure, or swarm cell without having triggered the process. In such a situation, the guidance you get from a customized calendar is very welcome.
Features of a Queen Rearing Calendar
Calendars for guiding your queen rearing process come with different features on them. Such features are largely determined by the type of calendar and the preferences of the manufacturer. Major features that you find on the best queen rearing calendars include:
1. Numbers Denoting Days
A queen rearing calendar will have on it a sequence of numbers denoting days. The queen rearing process takes a minimum of 20 days from its start to the end. The queen rearing calendar must be able to lead you through the process of queen rearing in 20 days or more. Some queen rearing calendars have days after the 20th day during which some activities may be suggested. Even then, the queen bees you are rearing will in all likelihood have emerged. Suggested activities after queen emergence are often geared towards smooth introduction of the queen bee into a honeybee colony, or further handling of the emerged queen bee. They may include fertilization of the raised queen bee or not.
Color-coding is a simple and effective method of presenting the information. In a queen rearing calendar, there is often a lot of color-coding used. It helps separate different groups of information, as well as denotes information in the same set. Within an information set, color coding can indicate differences. Queen rearing calendars use color-coding to allude to differences in the day of the month and the number of days that have passed since you started queen rearing, phases in the process, and the location of the queen cell or emerged queen among others. Circular queen rearing calendars make the most, and best use of color-coding.
3. Sliding or Rotating Sections
You can read different queen rearing calendars in various ways depending on the respective calendar. Linear and circular queen rearing calendars can have sliding or rotating sections. The calendars are built in such a way that the sliding or rotating sections are durable and do not come off the calendar easily. Sections that move along each other have one or more sets of information that you need to align in a specific way to other information on another stationary section. Once the correct sets of information are aligned, you can then read information from the calendar. Even though you do not need to carry out any maintenance on the sliding or rotating parts of a queen rearing calendar, you should handle them with care so that they last long in your beekeeping operation.
This is a feature that is usually found on the queen rearing calendars that have sliding or rotating parts. It helps you align sections on the sliding calendars. On circular calendars with rotating points, the pointer helps you to align sections of the calendar before reading information from the calendar. A pointer on the queen rearing calendars may be a freestanding pointer or a distinct straight line on one or more sections of the calendar.
5. Queen Rearing Events
Various events that occur during the queen rearing process are shown on the calendar. The events may be in form of text-only or accompanied by images and illustrations. Additionally, the events may be color-coded to ease differentiation of respective events. Major events include egg-laying by the breeder queen bee, grafting larvae, queen cell sealing, and queen bee emergence among others.
6. Queen Rearing Activities
You are expected to carry out various activities in the queen rearing process to ensure the success of the process. These activities in the queen rearing cycle are clearly indicated in a queen rearing calendar. Honeybee colonies also participate in the process and their activities are shown on the calendar. Major activities that you will find on the queen rearing calendar include: preparing various beehives, appropriately adding the required beehive frames to beehives, transferring queen cells, and fertilization of the queen bee among others.
7. Images and Illustrations
Images and illustrations are powerful visual communication avenues. They are very good when used alongside text to pass information. On a queen rearing calendar, you will find various images. They help you to understand the information in the queen calendar easily and quickly.
8. Data Input Fields
Electronic queen rearing calendar applications require you to input some data into them. They then make various computations and layout the queen rearing process based on the results of their computations. Users are therefore provided with input fields through which they provide the applications with the information that they need to successfully guide you through the queen rearing cycle.
Non-electronic queen rearing calendars may also have input fields. These are fields in which you can input data or information many times over. You are advised to use input tools that allow for rubbing off of the data and rewriting. This ensures the continued usability of the calendar. Typical input fields on such calendars are for your addition of actual dates of the month. Other input fields may vary based on the manufacturer of your queen rearing calendar.
Proper Use of a Queen Rearing Calendar
You must use your queen rearing calendar properly for success in the queen rearing process. Different calendars have their individual methods of use. Make sure that you know how to properly use the queen rearing calendar that you decide to make use of in your beekeeping operation. The calendar may come with instructions for use. If it does, go through them severally until you are sure that you are conversant with using the queen rearing calendar.
In the event that your queen rearing calendar does not come with instructions for use, or you have damaged or lost them, the internet might help you with information on how to use the calendar. Copy the information and save it offline such as by printing it out on paper.
Online and other electronic queen rearing calendars may come with instructions for use or not. Those that generate calendars for you may allow for printing out onto paper the generated calendar, pushing it to other calendar applications, emailing the calendar to you, or any other method of sharing the generated calendar.
Save the information contained in the generated queen rearing calendar in a safe and accessible place. You should also write down in your beekeeping records information detailing the application you used, how to access it, and the data that you inputted into the application for it to generate the calendar for you. This record is handy if you lose the originally generated queen rearing calendar and need to generate your calendar again.
Using a Linear Queen Rearing Calendar
Linear queen rearing calendars are the easiest to read and use. They feature a sequence of numbers denoting days in the queen rearing cycle. Important days of the cycle have text boxes linked to them. The numbered days may also be in large boxes which allow for text to be in the same box. Text boxes contain information and guidance on what should be happening in your queen rearing process.
For best use of this type of queen rearing calendar, use a pencil or pen with erasable ink to write the start date of the month against the first day on the linear scale of the calendar. This enables easy referencing when you need to check progress using the calendar. You can easily calculate the date of the month when you should perform checks and activities on your queen rearing.
If you are comfortable with it, use the erasable writing instrument to write actual dates of the month next to the number denoting the day in the queen rearing cycle. It eases subsequent reading and use of the calendar during the respective queen rearing cycle. When one queen rearing cycle is completed, erase any markings that you made on the calendar so that it is ready for use in another cycle. Failing to remove such markings can result in confusion when using the calendar in subsequent queen rearing cycles.
Using a Tabular Queen Rearing Calendar
In a tabular queen rearing calendar, days in the rearing cycle are in a table with several rows and columns. Typically, there are seven (7) columns and five (5) rows in the table of the calendar. These allow for the table to have 35 boxes which are enough for a queen rearing cycle. If some boxes are filled with a color that is different from other boxes, color-coding may be being used in the table. Get familiar with the color code that the table uses and be sure that you know what each color means.
Commonly, one color is used to denote the stage where the queen rearing process is taking place in the breeder beehive. A second color indicates the days of the cycle when the process is taking place in the cell-builder beehive. Manufacturers may use a third color to help you easily see the days of the queen rearing cycle during which the process is happening in nucleus hives such as a mating Nucleus beehive (Nuc hive).
For easy reading of the tabular queen rearing calendar, use an erasable pen or pencil to write the actual date and day of the month near the box showing day 1 of the queen rearing cycle. This is the day when the eggs that you are using in the cycle were laid in the breeder beehive. You may also calculate and indicate actual dates against the days of the cycle on which you are required to check on progress or perform tasks. After completing the cycle and, therefore, using the tabular queen rearing calendar in one cycle, erase all the dates and other markings you made on the calendar. Erasing them readies the calendar for its next use.
Using a Circular Queen Rearing Calendar
Beekeepers that have previously used a queen rearing calendar are highly likely to have worked with a circular queen rearing calendar. This calendar is very popular due to its ease of use and impressive depth of information. It features two circular pieces of hard paper that are joined at the center with an allowance for the papers to rotate independently around the axis at the center. There are different types of information presented in circular arrangements on each paper. You read the information from the papers after manipulating the calendar.
The outer circle of the calendar has a sequence of numbers starting from one (1). It denotes the date of the month. The second circle also contains a sequence of numbers that denote the day in the queen rearing cycle. In the second circle, day one (1) refers to the day when the egg you are using to rear a queen bee was laid in the breeder hive. You can also call this the age of the queen bee that you are rearing.
The third circle and the subsequent circles of information in the circular queen rearing calendar contain information and relevant prompts for activities that you should carry out, events that happen, the beehive in which the queen rearing process should be taking place, and the state of the queen cells among other information.
Rotating the Wheel of a Circular Queen Rearing Calendar
Using this queen-rearing calendar involves rotating the wheel of the calendar as the first step. This is basically rotating the inner paper against the outer paper. Align the first day of the cycle with the date when the eggs you are using in queen rearing were laid. Optionally, align day four (4) of the rearing cycle with the date of the month on which you carried out the grafting of the larvae into queen cell cups.
After this rotating of the calendar pieces and subsequent alignment of events, days of the cycle, and dates of the month, you can now read the calendar. It shows you the dates of the month on which you will need to carry out various activities. The calendar also shows you events that will happen during the rearing process and the dates on which they will happen. Major events indicated in the calendar include the capping of queen cells, the emergence of mature queen bees, and orientation flights by the emerged queen bee among others.
For your easy referencing to this calendar, you may make erasable marks on the calendar’s front or back. They help you to remember the correct alignment of the calendar’s moving parts. Information that you may capture in your erasable markings could be the date of the month and year when eggs were laid in the breeder hive, or when you grafted bee larvae to queen cell cups in the queen raising honey bee colony’s beehive. Remove all such markings when you finish the queen rearing process so that you leave the calendar ready for its next use.
Using an Electronic Queen Rearing Calendar
Electronic queen rearing calendars are catching on among both beginner and experienced beekeepers. This is because of many varying factors not limited to internet connectivity enjoyed by beekeepers and the adoption of technological advancements in the various branches of agriculture. The electronic calendars available to beekeepers are accessed through various methods. Some are for smartphones, while others are for use on desktop computers (PCs).
Another difference between electronic queen rearing calendar applications is based on whether the application is available online, offline, or both. These different queen rearing calendar applications have different interfaces. They also present information differently based on the preferences of the respective makers of the calendars.
Your typical electronic queen rearing calendar application requires the beekeeper to input some information into it. Commonly, the applications ask for the date of the day of the month on which you grafted honeybee larva into queen cell cups. This date becomes the starting day of the queen rearing process for you. After you have inputted the required data, the calendar application quickly generates a timeline of events and activities for queen rearing with a date for each event or activity. Other information may also be provided alongside the timeline of events and activities generated for you by the calendar application.
Once you get your timeline of events and activities, save it in a safe place using the various methods available to you. Additionally, ensure that you know the date of the month that the application asks for so that you can easily generate the timeline again if you ever need to.
The process of rearing queen bees is important to beekeeping operations. Successful queen rearing is easy when you manage it using a queen rearing calendar. The calendar helps you to carry out rearing activities in a timely manner. Both beginner and experienced beekeepers can use the calendar without any problems. Queen bees that you raise in your beekeeping colonies lay many eggs because they are young. They also release large amounts of pheromones that bind the colony together. These advantages among others of queen replacement ensure your beekeeping operation is productive at its best levels. Use this guide on how to use a queen rearing calendar to enjoy these benefits in your honeybee colonies.