I’m not sure what exactly is happening in the world of queen production, but it seems to me that there is some big shortage of queens. We get calls daily demanding we produce an extra queen for them now (out of thin air apparently). We typically get a few a week this time of year, but it’s been nearly a 10 fold increase this year. Some of them have been outright rude demanding that we do something about their problem and/or lack of planning.
Queens unfortunately don’t store on the shelf well, and they are a time and resource consuming product that also is affected by the weather. And not just the weather today, the weather weeks ahead of the shipping date. We also will always fill the orders of those who pre-ordered as they are our customer and we have an obligation to them and will do our best to keep it. So that means we often won’t have extra queens just sitting around, and when we do, they get snatched up quickly (Not to mention I need to requeen 140 hives myself sometime this year or there will be few bees next year)
So I’m sorry we don’t have extra queens for everyone who happens to call. I appreciate your need and fully understand what it means for a hive to remain queenless. But please don’t yell at my secretary. She (and I) can’t raise enough queens for everyone and don’t have a crystal ball.
So what can the beekeeper do when they really need a queen now? Not a lot besides spend time calling around. Most producers this time of year won’t have any extra queens, but you might get lucky. Also try resellers, beekeeping supply companies that buy queens in bulk and resell them. Or contact a local producer and purchase a queen cell or virgin queen. It will be longer before they begin laying, but it’s better than no queen at all. In fact, this is what I end up doing because I don’t have queens for myself this time of year.
And for next year… there is a lot you can do but it doesn’t happen overnight… more on that in a later post.