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It’s Not Easy Being the Queen Bee

It’s Not Easy Being the Queen Bee

It’s become fairly standard for beekeepers to order honeybee queens from breeders who ship the queen bees in the mail. You can pretty much bet these parcels are marked “handle with care!”

According to reports, high temperature levels during shipping and elevated pathogen levels are causing the queen bees to have a shortened reproductive lifecycle. In summary, the queen bee does not produce enough viable eggs to maintain the adult worker bee population in the colony. This is a problem, since this is precisely what the queen bees are for—to breed more bees, building up the colony.

“Either stress individually or in combination could be part of the reason beekeepers have reported having to replace queens about every six months in recent years when queens have generally lasted one to two years,” said entomologist Jeff Pettis, a USDA-ARS entomologist.

So, what can be done?

“With fairly simple improvements in packaging and shipping conditions, we could have a significant impact on improving queens and, in turn, improving colony survival,” Pettis said.

This is good news, not only for colony survival, but also beekeepers who can spend up to $15 per queen bee replacement.

What do you think? Do you think improvements to the shipping process is enough to fix the problem? Or do you think there may be something more complex going on?  GGA Pest Management will “bee” keeping our eye out on any new developments to this story.

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